In the upcoming thriller The Fields, award-winning actress and comedienne Cloris Leachman portrays Gladys, a protective grandmother whose family is being harassed and threatened by a group of transients passing through her small town.
Directed by Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni, The Fields also stars Tara Reid, Joshua Ormond, Bev Appleton and Brian Anthony Wilson. On April 24th, the indie thriller comes home on DVD and in honor of its release, Dread Central had the opportunity to briefly chat with Leachman about her role in the project as well as more on her experiences working on the indie thriller and what other films the actress has coming up.
Dread Central: So how did you get involved with The Fields then?
Cloris Leachman: Well, I got involved the usual way- my manager brought me the script and since I’m originally from Iowa, the rural aspects of this story really interested me. I also really liked this role- there was no ego in it and she was a strong-willed woman who wasn’t written to be your typical overbearing mother character. She was stubborn but she had a heart too and her grandson was part of what kept that character very humanized.
Dread Central: In The Fields, the story uses the Manson Murders as a way to set up this eerie atmosphere in the story; did you follow what happened with Manson and everyone back then and is that something that affected your world at all when it was happening?
Cloris Leachman: Well, I never really felt my world impacted by the Manson Murders the way these characters were impacted; I do remember all the news reports and stories in the papers but it’s not something that affected me at all when it happened. It’s some pretty creepy stuff though when you think about it.
Dread Central: Can you talk a bit about your experiences making this film since I know it was an independent project with somewhat limited resources?
Cloris Leachman: Yeah, our shoot was pretty bare bones but it was a lot of fun to make this movie. When we got out into the farm house, it felt really natural and I settled in quickly. I really felt like that was my farmhouse, that was my kitchen and this was my real family that I was working with. It was wonderful. I felt at home in this world and loved making this movie.
Dread Central: Since you don’t necessarily do a lot of thrillers, did you have to change up anything with your approach while working on The Fields?
Cloris Leachman: I wouldn’t say that I had to change anything really. I mean- sure, I’ve done a lot of theater and comedy work in my career so it’s nice having that experience in your back pocket on something like this thriller; usually I’m keeping in mind pacing for laughs but on this, it was more about just keeping an overall steady pace as a performer.
I’ve studied the piano and I have found that music is very much like acting- it’s all about the different rhythms and getting them to sync up to make a melody. That’s how it is when you’re acting alongside other performers or with your director- everyone has their own rhythm so bring all of that together and do the best we can to make it a wonderful experience.
Dread Central: With The Fields coming out soon and “Raising Hope” doing so well on Fox, do you have any plans for more feature film work in the future?
Cloris Leachman: Absolutely; it’s pretty easy to balance television and movies so I like to keep doing both while I can. I’ve got a few movies coming out including Gambit with the Coen brothers and Adult World with Emma Roberts. I’m really excited to see how those turned out.
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