Interview on Laura Allen by Shock Ya!
Parents are often driven to only act in ways that will positively influence their young and impressionable children. Unfortunately, at times even their best intentions can fail and ultimately do more harm than good. That’s certainly the case with the married main characters in the horror film, ‘Clown,’ as they try to make their son happy on his birthday with a visit by the title iconic figure. But actress Laura Allen’s well-meaning character soon uncovers the frightening consequences of depending on superficial societal expectations to fulfill a sense of happiness, instead of following her own instincts.
Dimension Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment are set to distribute ‘Clown’ in select theaters and On Demand tomorrow. The fantasy drama was directed by ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ helmer, Jon Watts, who also co-wrote the script with Christopher Ford.
‘Clown’ follows Meg (Allen) as she learns that the clown she hired to provide the entertainment for her son Jack’s (Christian Distefano) sixth birthday party isn’t able to attend. So she decides to call her husband, Kent (Andy Powers), who’s finishing up the day at his job, to let him know what’s happening. Since his work as a realtor often keeps him busy and away from his family for long hours, Kent decides to surprise his son and wife by dressing up as a clown himself. He randomly finds a clown outfit, wig and makeup amongst the belongings of the deceased man whose home he’s preparing to sell, which he initially views to be a miracle. But unbeknownst to Kent, the costume he discovers in one of the late man’s trunks actually contains a demon that possesses its wearer.
The day after his son’s birthday party, Kent comes to discover that the costume, including its red nose, wig and make-up, won’t come off. He also begins to notice that his personality begins to horrifically change. In order to try to stop the outfit’s curse, and protect his family from danger, the once promising realtor realizes that he must make grim choices about his future.
The longer Kent has the costume on, the more his personality is dangerously altered, and he finally decides that he can no longer care for his family. He’s able to obtain some answers about what’s happening to him when he speaks to Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare), the brother of the deceased homeowner who previously had the costume in his possession. Kent then feels the need to end his suffering, but is quickly stopped when he develops an appetite for children’s blood. As Meg concurrently learns that she’s pregnant with their second child, and wants to reunite Kent with their son, she becomes determined to save her husband. As she sets out to protect Kent, Meg must also make drastic decisions that will alter her family forever.
Allen generously took the time recently to talk about playing Meg in ‘Clown’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actress discussed how she immediately became interested in portraying the female lead in the fantasy film because being a mother herself allowed her to understand the character’s unfortunate situation, and develop compassion for a woman whose husband is unable to stop his increasingly damaging behavior. The performer also mentioned that she enjoys working with practical effects, like she did on the horror movie, as it helps her relate to not only the woman she’s playing, but also her co-stars and the environment where they’re filming.
The actress began the interview by discussing why she was interested in playing the role of Meg in ‘Clown,’ and revealed that she “had a three-month-old baby when I first read the script. I was working on set in New York City in the fall when I was given the script. Then Hurricane Sandy hit New York (in fall 2012), and I was suddenly in a blackout situation in a hotel with a brand-new baby. During that time, I was reading ‘Clown’ and for the role of Meg, and started to get inside her head.”
Allen added that she started to understand the journey of a mother, who was pregnant with her second child, and who’s put into a situation “where the circumstances are uncontrollable. So I was trying to develop compassion, patience and hope for a woman whose husband is turning into a monster. There were steps along the way that she took that I thought I would have absolutely done. It didn’t take a far reach to imagine what her human instincts were.”
The performer added that as a result, she was “really drawn to Meg’s internal conflicts that went along with trying to keep her family together and safe as she attempted to get her husband back.” The experience also made the female lead character in the horror film question if her husband is really the man she thought he was. “She then becomes an accomplice to his urges and hunger, so she begins to struggle with herself. So I thought all of those aspects were so appealing.”
Not only does Kent undergo a true transformation throughout the drama, Meg went through a real metamorphosis, too. “In the beginning of the film, she’s a married dental hygienist who’s celebrating her son’s birthday. But then she becomes tough throughout the rest of the story,” Allen revealed before comparing the character to actress Linda Hamilton, who’s best known for her portrayal of Sarah Connor in ‘The Terminator’ film series.
Allen then continued discussing how throughout the course of the fantasy film, Meg refuses to give up hope on her husband, despite her father’s urging to separate herself from Kent, and her initial concerns about his mental health. She divulged that she feels it was important for her character to not give up hope on her spouse, and instead prove to him that he truly could fight back against the clown suit’s effects on him. While Kent is transforming into the clown, “Meg is simultaneously trying to comprehend what’s really going on with him, as well as her decision to be complicit to his actions. Those things are happening simultaneously, so her mind is racing throughout most of the film.”
But during that process of Meg becoming complicit to her husband’s crimes, “there is a moment where she turns on him, because Jack no longer recognizes his father. So her witnessing and becoming associated with anything that has to do with the children is a big part of Meg’s struggle.”
Since Allen had a newborn baby when she initially read the script for ‘Clown,’ which helped her relate to Meg, she also noted how important is it to her to be able to identify with the characters she plays in all of her projects. “I can’t imagine taking on the role without identifying with the character. There’s usually always some kind of human aspect in every character that you’ve felt before or recognize,” the actress revealed.
“Or it becomes an imaginative process, and you think, If I were put in those circumstances, would I behave this way?” The actress then noted that she wouldn’t consider feeding her husband children like Meg does, but would contemplate the lengths she would go to save him. “Being in New York City with a brand-new baby when you haven’t had any sleep, and it’s freezing cold outside, you resort to doing whatever it takes,” Allen emphasized. “So I got her, and understood that it’s important to have a basis compassion. I didn’t want to judge her, as she’s not a bad guy in this movie, but she makes some horrific choices. So it was just about getting to the place where it was easy to imagine what it took for her to make the choices she made.”
Allen then discussed her experience of collaborating with Watts as both the writer and director on the film. She divulged that she didn’t have much time to rehearse with the filmmaker when she signed onto the movie, as she “got off the plane and immediately went right to the set. They ushered me straight to Jon in the effects trailer, where they showed me diagrams and imagery of what the clown becomes. So the story suddenly became very real.”
The actress added that “While reading the description on the page, I didn’t quite imagine that the clown would become quite that grotesque. All the make-up and effects were all so horrifying that there wasn’t much acting to do. So Jon understood that a lot of Meg’s journey is about reacting to a circumstance that is so supernatural and strange, and is growing worse every day.” Allen further explained that the process was benefited by the fact that they filmed a lot of scenes at night, “and things were getting gorier and more gruesome every day. Those situations started to work in our favor.”
Further speaking of the horror movie’s visuals and practical effects, Allen added that she hasn’t much experience as an actress working with Green screens. She noted, however, that “actors really have to sell their performances in that situation, and their characters are really in that environment. But when you actually get to act off of other people, as well as the props and set, it’s so much easier, as everything’s real, tangible and visceral. I’ve been able to work with some great talent throughout my career.”
Allen concluded the interview by discussing the experience of shooting ‘Clown’ on location in both Ottawa and New York City, and that she prefers filming in real places. “I love being on location. Working in Canada is fantastic, because there’s such a great crew up there,” the actress said as she expressed her appreciation for the people she collaborated with on the horror film.
“In general, I loving working on location and then going home to a hotel, because I can really immerse myself in my role,” Allen also explained. “I’m not able to do that as much when I’m at home, and my children are in school, and I’m with my family. So being on location helps me get into the world of the character in a different way. It’s a wonderful experience, and I love being an actor who gets to travel all over the world, like Ottawa. I also went to Shreveport, New Orleans and Toronto last year, so it’s a wonderful profession.”