Interview with Abattoir and Insidious franchise star Lin Shaye
by Bobby Blakey
There are actors and actresses out there that make a huge impact in a variety of ways no matter what the project they are working on. One of these is actress Lin Shaye who has made a name for herself over the last few years in the horror genre with her fan favorite turn in the Insidious franchise, but has racked up an impressive resume throughout her career appearing in There’s Something About Mary, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dumb and Dumber, a variety of TV shows and too many more to name spanning all the way back to the 70s. She is easily the hardest working actress in Hollywood and never fails to deliver. I had the chance to sit down to speak with her about her latest film Abattoir about the film and her process of bringing her character to life like only she can.
Bobby: How did you get involved with Abattoir?
Lin: Darren Lynn Bousman is a favorite of mine and is a terrific guy. I have always been aware of his films like Repo: The Genetic Opera and met him through the horror community that is just a big wonderful group of people who respect each other who all have friendships and artistic visions that are really rich. I met him through that and he told me he had this script with a character he thought I would enjoy about 3 years ago. I read it and thought it was a really interesting take on the haunted house and I loved the character of Allie. The idea of playing the story teller who was cryptic and has this secret life of her own that we don’t really find out about. These are all aspects for an actress that is really golden.
Darren kept me up to date on things and there was twice the film was supposed to get made and the second time they were in New Orleans ready to start and one of the producers past away and they had to shut down production. When they were finally able to get going on it they had made some changes to Allie’s dialogue and I asked Darren if they could put the poetry back in because the elements were still there, but they had taken away the atmosphere of the character. So they put it back and I love the way she turned out and think she is a fascinating person with a lot of problems. (laughs)
Bobby: One of the things I always love about the characters you play is that you not only bring the great performances, but there always seems to be more depth to them even with things we don’t see on screen. What is your process to bring these kinds of characters to life?
Lin: I try to always tell a personal truth, but has to be a personal truth that is appropriate to the story, which is kind of an interesting problem for an actor because it might be a scene that you would think you cry your eyes out, but the character wouldn’t. You have to temper your internal truth with elements of storytelling. Mostly I try to be in the moment with the other people that I’m with because no matter how much work you do alone to develop it and I do a lot, by the time you get on set everything is different. Sometimes I will learn something facing one direction and get there and be facing the other direction and have to sometimes go learn it all over again. (laughs) You have to then incorporate your thought process and what you have developed with the reality who you are talking to, the room you are in, the glass you are picking up and then make it all come together. I have had training a Strasberg, Stella Adler and a lifetime member of the Actor’s Studio so I know how to create at this point in my life. I look for all the elements, even it if is just a reflection in a glass and that in itself can lead to something. It’s really being constantly aware of the physical elements around you which ultimately feed the growth of the character on set. Those are some of the tools I use, but ultimately it is about telling the truth.
Bobby: With this character it was like she was trying to have a more youthful look with the hairstyle and make-up. Was the look written into the script or did you have input on bringing the aspect of the character to life as well?
Lin: It really is collaboration. When you arrive often you have no idea what the wardrobe is going to be until you arrive in this case in New Orleans. I always want to have a conversation with the wardrobe designer and they give me their thoughts and I give them my ideas and it’s the same thing with make-up. She’s got kind of a mix of different decades and so we give a little cats eye eyeliner that is kind of inappropriate for her age, but it was kind of her element, the same thing with the red lipstick. I don’t know if people are aware of it, but I did one tiny detail when we did the lipstick I wanted it crooked. It was a little droopy on one lower lip and a little higher on an upper lip and when you see the character I don’t think you notice that, but somehow you notice something is wrong. That is kind of her; there is something wrong with her. The ponytail was an element that I brought and I did the big sister wife kind of curl in the front. Shoes are also very important to me because it is how they walk. The opening scene where I come in there were some garden gloves that were just lying there that were probably from one of the crew that had been back there and I saw them laying there and thought they would be great. No one even knew I was using that element and I think it was great moment to open up this character and says so much. It’s very important as an actor to keep your eyes open and to use the physical elements around you to create your character because it will give you so much.
Bobby: The first thing I thought when I saw her was something was off. That she was trying to hold onto her youth, but was a bit out there. Almost an Ellie May, Beverly Hillbillies style when I first saw her.
Lin: (laughs) That is great! I didn’t think that, but what I create on screen and what it makes you feel are not always the same. That is what is so great about art that you can show five different people the element and they will see five different things. That is awesome. (laughs)
Bobby: I agree, a film should elicit some sort of response good or bad or it is not successful. I know this is a smaller role for you and of course I wanted more of you, but you packed so much in that it was great as always.
Lin: That is a great compliment for real. I love what I do and hope I am good at it. I learned a lot of over a bazillion years of doing it and no one is more surprised than me about my career. (laughs) I think all the time “Oh my, I did all those things?” I look at my own IMDB and elated. (laughs) I am just so grateful for having the opportunity to do what I am doing with my life. My message to people is just do what you love. You don’t have to get paid for it always, but if you have a passion just do it and don’t let go. At the end of the day that is what you got and it is all about who you are and who you were.
Bobby: I love everything you do and always think you are great in every project, but I cannot let you go with asking are we going to get to see you in another Insidious film?
Lin: We just finished 4 in September and it is fantastic. It’s being released on October 17, 2017 and it is one of the strongest and scariest so far. It is scary in ways that you cannot imagine on certain respects. Not just jump scares, which there are plenty of, but there are other elements that are so scary that I had to sleep for about three days after we finished it. (laughs)
Bobby: That is great to hear. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.
Lin: It was my pleasure, everyone go see Abattoir you won’t be disappointed.
Abattoir is available now on VOD, Digital HD and theaters.