Lauren LaVera in Terrifier 2, as Sienna, courtesy of Jeff Harris
Terrifier 2 has had a sensational run in-theaters, effecting audiences in a way rarely seen in the modern era. In support of the film I was given the opportunity to speak to Lauren LaVera, who plays the final girl in the film, Sienna. Below is our conversation and I would like to thank Kim and Alex over at Simply Legendary Publicity for all of the help with covering the release.
Q: In researching for this interview I noticed you have a background in martial arts, I would love to know how that affected your role and how many of the stunts you were able to do.
I was fortunate enough to be able to do the majority of my own stunts, there were only two stunts, which were both from the same sequence, that Damien wouldn’t let me do, because it was a little bit too dangerous and he felt if I were to get injured doing those stunts he would be kinda screwed. Those stunts involved Sienna falling through the ceiling, I don’t know if you remember that part, it was towards the end. I really wanted to do it because the stunt woman got to fall on this huge cushioned thing and that looked so fun. That was the sequence he wouldn’t let me do but all the fighting sequences, all of the other falls, everything else was all me. And what I really loved about that is that I got to really feel what Sienna was going through, obviously on a lesser scale, it was much safer than what Sienna would be going through but I was able to really embody her character in a way that a lot of actors don’t really have the opportunity to do and I think it was really able to inform how Sienna was feeling in those moments, even more for me. And I love being physical in roles, I think the more I’m physical the more I can understand the character, so I was really grateful for that experience.
Q: On the flip side of that coin, I would love to know if there was anything you could learn from your character Sienna from that process.
Absolutely, I actually learned that it’s okay to be imperfect, it’s okay to have flaws, it’s okay to embrace your fears, and also to be brave in really messy ways. I also learned what it’s like to have a panic attack: before taking on the role of Sienna I had never had a panic attack in my life and I realized that she suffered from anxiety, so I did a lot of research around anxiety and what that’s like. Speaking to medical professionals, as well as reaching out to people that are very close to me that have gone through those type of experiences and I don’t know what it was, I don’t know if it was from learning about the mechanics of it or the research, I started having self-induced panic attacks, ranging from really light panic attacks to on the floor, fetal position, thinking I was about to die. So it was a really interesting experience and I was happy to experience that, I mean I wasn’t happy but I was grateful to experience that because first of all I can empathize more with my friends and other people that have gone through that and also because I was able to embody that a bit more for Sienna. Oh, and another thing is I got to see what it was like to have a sibling, I never grew up with a sibling, so that was really fun to explore with Elliott that plays Jonathan.
Q: I would love to know what the most special memory you have from the set of Terrifier 2 that you’re comfortable sharing.
Definitely, there were some days after we wrapped and one day, in particular, it must have been a day where we had the next day off because we all decided to drink and party. And we were all staying in the same house, in this white house in Canajoharie, and we all just kind of let loose and danced around and we were silly, just like really letting go of all the hard work we put in that day and we were all just embracing each other’s company and just having such a great time, so those were the times that I really hold near and dear to my heart because I got to embrace all of the fucked up shit we were going through with these incredible set of artists and we all go to just let loose together. So I was really happy to have that.
Q: I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the effect of shooting things in-camera, on location, in regard to the success of the film.
Yeah, I mean, listen, I was truly uncomfortable and cold most of the time and as much as being cold and uncomfortable sucks, I was happy to use that to feed and fuel my performance because I think that the more uncomfortable I was, the more truth it brought to the character. So, I was happy that I was able to do all that because I do think it brought a certain amount of authenticity because as fantastical as the film can get, as absurd as it can get, I think that there are moments that are so grounded, like a lot of the fight scenes and a lot of the conflict between Sienna and Art, that it really grounds in the audience and they are like “Oh, this scene looks like it could be a real fight” or “this looks like she’s really scared” or “he looks like he could really kill someone”, so I was really happy to have those moments as an actor because as an actor you’re always trying to find truth in a scene. Even if it is absurd, you’re trying to find the grounded truth there.
Q: Lastly, I’d love to hear what the most fun scene to shoot was.
Oh, definitely the final standoff between Sienna and Art because I got to just let loose, like just guttural yelling, and visceral feeling and I can do that every day because it felt so good to yell and it felt so good to just let it all out, especially because we were all working so hard, so it was really cathartic and yeah, it was my favorite because it just felt really great to do.
Terrifier 2 is now available via Screambox and will be available on 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD in December.