The fabulously scary Indie Horror film Curse Of The Witching Tree was released on Monday and David Martin spoke to one it’s stars Lucy Clarvis…
Lucy Clarvis plays Emma Thorson in the film and is involved with some of the films most horrific yet stunning moments. It was a pleasure to speak to her and she is one of the British actors that you will want to watch in future projects.
“Hello Lucy and thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Curse of the Witching Tree is a tremendous horror film and I absolutely love it. Your performance as Emma is wonderful. What attracted you to the role?
Hi David, its a pleasure thank you also, I’m really glad you enjoyed the film and thank you for your support
I think the thing that attracted me to Emma the most is the fact she goes through such a range of emotions throughout the story. Each scene required a different side to Emma, whether that was in the scenes with Amber and their antagonistic mother / daughter relationship, the scenes with Mike or by herself where we get to see the softer, more vulnerable side of Emma, who is after all still a teenager. And the fierce determination and strength she shows towards protecting her family. It always makes it so interesting as an actor when you have a character that has such a wide spectrum of emotions to cope with, and to have a strong female character is such a blessing, something that James does well and that you don’t come across enough is strong female leads in scripts, so when I read the script I new that Emma was a part I would love to play.
What do people need to know about the character of Emma and how did you prepare for the role?
Emma isn’t just a one dimensional character there are so many layers to her. It was really important for me to build on this, as I said earlier she is so strong, and she has to be, as she carries the story, and holds the responsibility of introducing the new characters that come in to enable the film to push forward until the final climactic scene. I think its easy to forget that she is also only 16 because of the underlining maturity she has, but after all she is a very young girl desperately trying to keep her family together while it seems like its all crumbling around her, and the thing I feel makes her most relatable is that when she is alone you see if even for just a little moment the worry and fear that she keeps buried beneath that strong exterior.
Up until right before filming Emma’s mother in the script was in a coma and her main onscreen relationship was with her father, so I did a lot of work initially on her relationship with her dad. When I found out the script had changed and it was now her father in the coma, I went back to the start and repeated the same process scene by scene putting a mother into the mix. A father daughter relationship is very different to a mother and daughter’s. Dads handle things differently to mums, for instance the scene where Amber catches Mike in his underwear in Emma’s room would have been very different if it was a father to catch him in there, and I’m sure, Mike would have practically had heart attack, Emma would have been absolutely humiliated and have given her dad far less attitude, if any at all than what she gave her mum after she threw him out of the house.
Each situation and conversation would of had a different tone. Getting the scenes as realistic as possible with Emma and her mum was really important to me and Sarah. Now I look back I can’t imagine it any other way, having a mother to argue against for me, made it the relationship so much more intense.
Emma has some really haunting scenes especially in the bath. Can you talk us through the filming of this intimately horrific moment in the film?
Acting isn’t always glamorous, especially when you are sat in a bath for 2 hours. What I remember is I had a crew member occasionally run the hot water tap in attempts to keep some heat in the bath, the next day waking up with huge bruises on my back and pelvis from being pushed down and shooting back up right, gasping for air…and by the time we had wrapped that scene I was so pruned I looked like a granny… haha.
When Elliot came in to film pushing me under the water he was the most professional little boy ever. He stared at my forehead the whole time, focused and in character. And boy did he go for it, he didn’t mess around, the first time I genuinely sat up coughing out water. It was not at all comfortable for me or him as the roll top bath was not a full length one, and I have legs for days so we squished in all legs tangled as much as we could to get the shots needed, and in the end I think the finished product came out well.
Your character goes through a tremendous arc in the film, from disbelief to incredible protection of her family. Was this challenging for you to perform?
Its very rare you get a character that allows you to go through a range of emotions like Emma does, so firstly I was excited about this as well as being a little nervous before I got on set. I feel like I’m very similar to Emma in many ways which really helped, I am a very strong person, and share that steely determination that she has. Only behind closed doors or to someone I am incredibly close with would I allow myself to be emotional, very much like Emma, she will only crumble when she is by herself. So that side of Emma I didn’t find hard to connect too. To get the protection of her family right I just though about my own family and friends and if this was them what lengths would I go to to help them, I’m sure most people would go to the ends of the earth to help the people they love, no matter how scared they are.
My favourite scenes to film were the ones where she was arguing with Amber, there’s something liberating about raising your voice at some one repeatedly, free therapy for actors haha. And finally for the emotional scenes I like to use triggers from my past that I know will put me emotionally right back in that moment and I also find classical music a help too, I have specific songs that I feel again help me connect and get to where I need to be in that specific moment. I’m not sure if I ever thought of Emma’s emotional arc as challenging to perform, more incredibly exciting and I remember feeling like I couldn’t wait to bring her to life.
Ive said one of the most striking elements of the film is that you all, as cast, bond so effectively what was your experience with filming like?
The cast were all so so lovely and we all got on really well. Lawrence is a great young boy, by the time we got to know each other it was like we were really brother and sister with me telling him to make sure he’s eaten and drank properly and to not just eat the snack food. Having a giggle on set, and when running our lines together. We even made up a handshake, and everyday we arrived on set we would do the handshake to great each other, he was great to work with.
I really enjoyed my day filming with Jon Campling, Ive worked with Jon before and he is from my neck of the woods too. The thing that impressed me is when he arrived to set he looked at me and said ‘Im ready for the handshake’ I replied ‘What and shake?’ with that he held out his hand and did mine and Lawrence’s hand shake move perfect! Yes he had learnt it from Instagram ready to come to set, you can’t really get more brilliant than that!
Shane who played Mike was a really relaxed guy on set which made creating Emma and Mikes on screen relationship so easy, we had been in touch before the film had started and got to know each other a little bit so when we got to set it was not like strangers meeting for the first time, I feel like this really helped.
I met Sarah Rose Denton at the table read the day before we started shooting and I have to say we clicked from that first day on set. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and I honestly felt like I had known her for years, we were very lucky to have made this bond. I felt we managed to bounce off each other and create the tension that was necessary for our characters relationship and with most of our scenes together being very tense it was good that both me and Sarah could let go a little bit, this mainly happened if you can believe it with us singing musical theatre songs and doing bob fosse routines.
You are a tremendously talented actress, what have you got planned next?
My next project is a TV Pilot called Knobs which will be filming in the next month or so. The script is written by Joseph Sultana and Dean Maskell and is the funniest thing I have read in a long time. It has a great group of people attached to it, and I’m very excited to get started. And I also have a horror short booked for later in the year as well.
Finally, what was the last book you read and what is your favourite horror film?
I have to say I’m not a huge reader, but I do try, it has to really grab my attention straight away or it looses me. The book I’m reading at the minute is ‘The Dog Listener’ which makes me sound incredibly boring, although as you will see by my Instagram I am mad about my pup.
And this may shock you but I’m really not good with horror films, especially modern day ones, I can cope with the classics but I remember watching all the Scream films, Gothica and The Ring when I was in school and having nightmares. I love to act in them, but when it comes to watching them I’m a real chicken.
Thanks for a wonderful interview Lucy and I look forward to seeing your next project”
You can purchase your copy of Curse of the Witching Tree from Amazon or in store at Sainburys and Asda, American customers can purchase at Walmart or Target and downloadble from iTunes.
Follow Lucy Clarvis on Twitter @LucyClarvis
You can follow David Martin on Twitter @ventspleen2014
Images courtesy of IMDB and Curse of the Witching Tree