Exclusive: Julie Benz Talks Havenhurst

If you still haven’t seen Havenhurst, I suggest you find a cinema where it’s playing and head to a screening immediately. Because it’s really not to be missed. It’s also hitting DVD on March 7, so you might want to pre-order your copy on Amazon.

In addition to my earlier talk with director Andrew C. Erin, I was also lucky enough to get the chance to interview lead actress Julie Benz, whom you may remember from her roles in “Dexter,” Rambo, Saw V, and Punisher: War Zone. It was truly an honor to speak with such a talented and respected actress, and I found what she had to say to be illuminating. I hope you will too.

Dread Central: I thought you did a great job in Havenhurst. What attracted you to the script?

Julie Benz: Thank you. Two elements attracted me to the script– The character of Jackie and the story structure. Jackie is battling demons on many different levels… internally and externally. She has to live with the knowledge that her addiction caused a horrific tragedy. That was interesting to me. I also loved how the script interwove the story of HH Holmes into a modern day setting. And the ending… I don’t want to reveal too much… but that ending really got me!

DC: How did you find the process of playing a recovering alcoholic? Was it a difficult role to get into?

JB: It was a challenge. In preparation for the role, I did a lot of research about recovery and read quite a few memoirs written by former addicts that revealed their personal struggles with recovery. Jackie has to live with the knowledge that her addiction resulted in the death of her own daughter…. I tried to infuse that into her physicality… into every breath. She has to carry that burden with her for the rest of her life. She was definitely a tough character to shake off at the end of the day…

DC: Were there any stunts involved?

JB: There are a lot of stunts in Havenhurst! My stunt double, Janelle Beaudry, did an amazing job! She’s fearless!!! I love trying to do stunts, but on a film like this it was impossible for me to do anything too dangerous. I did get to be locked in the furnace as the fire was igniting… and I had the floor pulled out from underneath me a couple times (which is a pretty scary feeling). But ultimately Janelle did the heavy lifting and took a beating!!!

DC: What do you hope audiences will take away from Havenhurst?

JB: My hope is that audiences are scared and left wanting more!! Andrew Erin and Daniel Farrands created a compelling story inside the walls of Havenhurst. And the ending suggests there is more to reveal!!

DC: Do you have an affinity for the horror genre?

JB: I have a love/hate relationship with horror. As an actor, I find the horror genre incredibly challenging, emotionally and physically… the given circumstances are always so extreme, and it takes a lot of imagination to make it real…. but as an audience member I’m a big scaredy cat… horror films (especially psychological horror films like the Saw franchise) affect me on a deep emotional level, leaving me with nightmares and insomnia. And yet, I can’t not watch!! It’s like I’m addicted to being terrified!!! Watching horror films during the day helps a little bit.

Synopsis:
Welcome to Havenhurst, a Gothic apartment complex in the heart of New York City’s historic Tudor City district. A beautifully maintained, turn-of-the-century building that houses over 3,000 residents… and countless dark secrets. The rent is what you can afford, and the rules are simple: Live a good and decent life, and you can stay forever. Break the rules and…

Jackie (Julie Benz), a troubled young woman with an unyielding alcohol addiction, is released from rehab and given a second chance with a new job and a furnished apartment at Havenhurst. Guilt-ridden over the tragic loss of her 8-year-old daughter, Jackie is quickly drawn into the mysteries of Havenhurst, in particular the unsolved disappearance of the apartment’s previous occupant, a young woman (Danielle Harris) she befriended in rehab who disappeared recently without a trace.

Aided by a hardened New York police detective (Josh Stamberg) and a lonely foster child (Belle Shouse) who lives under the shadow of her caretakers’ sadistic whims, Jackie must not only battle her inner demons… but the very real ones that live deep within the walls of Havenhurst.

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David Gelmini

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