The Grudge actress Lin Shaye on working in the horror film: 'My scenes make me squirm every time I see them'

Suryasarathi Bhattacharya

Jan 04, 2020 14:18:22 IST

This Friday, cinephiles across the globe got to witness the reboot of Takashi Shimizu's 2004 breakthrough horror film The Grudge, which was a remake of the director's 2002 Japanese supernatural horror film Ju-On: The Grudge.

The 2020 film reboots the Ju-On franchise, which already has 13 productions (nine Japanese and four American) to its name. Starring Andrea Riseborough, The Grudge, directed by Nicolas Pesce (who has previously helmed the terrifying 2016 indie horror The Eyes of My Mother and Piercing in 2018, starring Mia Wasikowska), also features John Cho, Demián Bichir, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, and Jacki Weaver.

Lin Shaye is a veteran when it comes to the American horror genre. Having worked in cult comedies like Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There's Something About Mary in the 1990s, Shaye emerged as a constant feature in many horror franchises, namely A Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious, Dead End, 2001 Maniacs, Alone in the Dark, Amityville: A New Generation, and Ouija to name a few.

It is one of the reasons she earned the title of 'scream queen' for her stellar screen presence in these horror flicks. Andrew Barker from Variety, in his review of Insidious: The Last Key (2018), talks about Shaye's performance: "A veteran character actress, Shaye clearly knows how rare it is to have a role like this at 74, and she sinks her teeth into every scene. Given a line like 'My presence draws the spirits out of their dark little corners,' Shaye is too respectful of her character to deliver it with a wink, but nor does she invest it with the sort of bug-eyed intensity that would make it ridiculous."

 The Grudge actress Lin Shaye on working in the horror film: My scenes make me squirm every time I see them

Lin Shaye in a still from Insidious. Image via Facebook.

In an interview with in 2018, Shaye regarded The Grudge as the "scariest movie" she has ever been a part of. She also added, "It's the scariest part I've ever had, bar none."

As The Grudge releases on Friday, Shaye speaks with Firstpost. Below are the edited excerpts from an email interview.

Having been in the industry for so long, what keeps you coming back to the horror genre time and again?

Honestly, what brings me back to the horror genre are good stories, good scripts, good characters, talented people, and lovely offers.

What was unique about The Grudge you decided to become a part of this franchise?

I was attracted to The Grudge for several reasons. Nicolas Pesce is an amazing young director, whose first film The Eyes of My Mother (2016) blew me away. I also loved the characters in his script: Three women of different generations, all struggling with different issues, and especially, of course, the character of Faith. And then the theme of rage and how it destroys — something very current in our real world right now.

In the Insidious franchise, you played one of the most pivotal parts. Your performances have always been lauded regardless of how the film turned out. How was the experience of playing this role in The Grudge?

It is hard to compare the Insidious experience with The Grudge. They are totally different characters of course, but I was a part of the Insidious franchise from the beginning. We became almost family, and spending that much time, and developing one character over the course of four films — Insidious (2010), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) and Insidious: The Last Key (2018) — is a very different journey and experience. I loved working with Nicolas and the cast of The Grudge, and that experience was unique unto itself as well.

Could you throw some light on how an actor prepares for such extreme horror films? I am sure a lot of it is VFX but for you, what is the challenge while filming it?

I prepare for work on any scene and character the same way, no matter the genre. It’s always about the story and the journey of your character — finding the beginning, middle, and end in a way that serves the story. The 'personal expression' is always different, and… a secret!

Lin Shaye in The Grudge. Image via Sony Pictures.

Lin Shaye in a still from The Grudge. Image via Sony Pictures.

Have you ever felt scared watching your own movie later on? If yes, could you name the film and a scene in particular?

I have never really felt scared watching any of my films later. But my scenes in The Grudge definitely make me squirm every time I see them.

Does shooting for these horror films leave an impact in the psyche of the actors over time? How do actors cope with it then?

I don’t believe my psyche per se has been altered by the scary things I have played in any film. I think you find a way to separate yourself from the story. The personal truth you are revealing within the character, and the emotions you call up or let happen in a scene are there for the moment, but you have to be able to let them go. It may take a few moments to gather yourself, particularly after a volatile scene, but otherwise, you would end up in a hospital instead of another film!

After these horror flicks, do we get to see you in lighter genres? Do you have any plans to work in a rom-com maybe?

I do not have a wish list. I love surprises... I welcome any story that is exciting and important to tell, even if just for a good laugh.

What are the next films in pipeline for you? Would you like to share with us?

I am currently a recurring character in Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, exploring pre-World War II Los Angeles in 1938 — from the building of the city’s first freeways, its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, and the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich, and the rise of radio evangelism. I am lucky enough to be working with the great Nathan Lane. We are partners in hunting the Nazis... it is very exciting. A film I did called Dreamkatcher with Henry Thomas will be released sometime in the Spring this year. Also, who knows what will happen next? It's 2020. That anyway sounds like a license plate, not a year!

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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2020 17:12:15 IST