With director Omar Naim’s supernaturally-tinged Dead Awake opening in limited release this Friday, December 3 (the flick is set to hit DVD/Blu-ray on March 29 of next year), this writer caught up today with one of the film’s principals, actress Amy Smart, who dished on the movie as well as the possibility of a third film in the Crank series and her potential inclusion in a future horror project.
Known best as a comedic actress for her turns in the films Just Friends and Road Trip (among others) and to genre fans for her roles in The Butterfly Effect and Mirrors (as well the gonzo action flicks Crank and Crank: High Voltage, in which she portrayed the girlfriend of actor Jason Statham’s adrenalized hit-man ‘Chev Chelios’), Smart appears in Dead Awake as ‘Natalie’, the long-lost love of young funeral parlor employee ‘Dylan’ (actor Nick Stahl), a young man who works diligently to piece together the events which shattered his life ten years prior. Rounding out the cast of Dead Awake is actress Rose McGowan (Planet Terror, Scream) as the junkie ‘Charlie’, a character who befriends Dylan and sets in motion an altogether surprising series of events.
Penned by Johnny Harrington, Justin Urich and David Boivin, Naim’s New Films Cinema flick (the director previously helmed the 2004 Robin Williams thriller The Final Cut) proves to be a bit of a cipher, which is one of the things – according to Smart – that attracted her to the project.
“I feel that the movies which are now being made are hybrid movies,” stated the actress, whose real-life persona proved to be just as charming and witty as her on-screen demeanor. “They have supernatural elements. They’ve got romance, and they’ve got drama and they’ve got comedy. I feel like they are starting to mingle the genres. It’s hard to market a hybrid movie, though, because it looks like a horror film (on the surface), but after reading the script and seeing the final cut (of Dead Awake), I knew that it wasn’t, and that it was a hybrid. I just love Omar as a filmmaker, and I think he is really talented, and I really wanted to work on this project. I thought the story was really interesting, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m really happy with the way it turned out because it’s the kind of film where you are hanging on to the last moment wondering what’s real and what’s not real.”
As for what attracted her to her Dead Awake character of ‘Natalie’, an RN who leads an emotionally conflicted life, ”I really liked her,” stated Smart, “because she has this past with her ex-love, and it was such a deep love that I don’t think that she has ever been able to move on from him. She settled with a new guy and sort of decided to settle in her life, and she isn’t completely happy. So in rekindling the relationship with her past love, it makes her see that she had settled. I liked the nuances of seeing her struggle with her present-day life situation and wanting to break free from it. The fact that she is a nurse and isn’t a doctor (is also indicative), too, because she didn’t push forward towards her dreams. I liked that she is awakened.”
Commenting on the project, Smart stated of co-stars Stahl and McGowan, who at the time were already attached to Dead Awake (the film shot in Des Moines, Iowa for an estimated 3.5 million), “It was funny because the first acting role I ever had was in an ‘MTV Rock The Vote’ (spot), and it was a vignette about gun violence, and it was with Nick. We played a boyfriend and girlfriend in that (too).”
While Smart hadn’t worked with Stahl since (interestingly, Smart appeared in Alexandre Aja’s 2008 horror film Mirrors while Stahl took the lead in that film’s Vincent Garcia-directed sequel Mirrors 2 – a fact the actress was surprised to hear), she stated of Stahl (whose other genre projects include Disturbing Behavior, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the venerated series “Carnivale”), “We stayed friendly but not super close, but I was so happy to work with him again. I think he is such a solid, great actor, and he just brings a lot of weight to whatever project he is working on.”
Smart also enjoyed her working relationship with Rose McGowan.
“She was really fun,” said the actress. “She’s funny and witty and sarcastic, and while we didn’t have that many scenes together in Dead Awake, we definitely spent a lot of time together in Des Moines, and I think she’s really talented. It was the type of character she’s never played before. She’s known as the gorgeous bombshell who can act, and in this film it was so outside of anything she’s played, and I think she did a great job. I know that she was definitely pushed out of her comfort zone, and what’s fun as an actor is to take risks at things that you think you may fail at and to go for it and to grow and to expand.”
As for what else Smart has been up to, she revealed, “I just finished a film earlier this month called Blood Brothers. It’s another hybrid, a family drama slash comedy slash action film. It’s with Ethan Embry (Vacancy, Freakylinks) and the WWE wrestler John Cena. It’s basically about these four siblings – three brothers and a sister – who come together for their father’s funeral and who have all been estranged, and the father’s wish is to bring everyone back together so the sister sort of facilitates that and lies about what’s in the will to bring everyone back together. It’s a great dysfunctional family that then has this incredible challenge that they must overcome.” (Produced by WWE Studios and directed by Michael Pavone, Blood Brothers recently wrapped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and also stars Michael Rispoli and Boyd Holbrook).
We of course weren’t remiss in questioning Smart as to her character of ‘Eve Lydon’ in the Crank films and whether she’d be interested in returning to the franchise.
“A while back I heard that it was a possibility,” hinted the actress. “The second one was so over-the-top. It was like, ‘Let’s try to top the first one!’ It was pure entertainment value. I’m actually slightly scared to see what they would write for a third, but I would be interested in returning. I had such a great time working on both of them, and I love Jason Statham, and we’ve become friends since, and I really like (Crank directors) Brian (Taylor) and Mark (Neveldine) so it would be fun to work with them again. I’m just a little bit wary of where they would want to take my character in the third one! I’m not sure where they could – possibly to the insane asylum!”
And while the actress’ current personal interest lies in returning to comedy, Smart hasn’t ruled out the horror genre.
“There’s actually this one film called Glimmer that I am supposed to shoot early next year,” she concluded, “and that’s more of a horror film. It’s a supernatural thriller, but it has much more of a horror element. It’s a very original idea, but I think they just maybe switched the director. The script is really good so that’s a possibility coming down the pike.” (Dread posits that Glimmer may perhaps be the feature which Farmhouse director George Bessudo has been rumored as attached to).
Check out the trailer for Dead Awake below, and our thanks to Amy for taking the time to speak with us.
Dead Awake – Trailer
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