Exclusive: Actress Kiele Sanchez Talks 30 Days of Night: Dark Days

It was a difficult challenge I think at first, just because I had never done something like that,” actress Kiele Sanchez told Dread Central of her casting as ‘Stella Oleson’ last November during the principal photography of 30 Days of Night: Dark Days in Vancouver, Canada.

Bundled in a cold warehouse in Terminal City on the set of director Ben Ketai’s sequel to 2007’s hit 30 Days of Night (the sequel Dark Days bows direct-to-video from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on October 5), The Perfect Getaway actress was thoughtful regarding her assumption of the film’s lead character, as originally essayed by Melissa George, and spent time waxing on that as well as the other challenges inherent in portraying the character.

I think that in the first graphic novel Stella starts off as so different (from the sequel) that it gave me a lot of freedom to sort of do it my own way,” said Sanchez of the character of Stella, a woman whose husband, Eben (played in the original by Josh Hartnett), and fellow townsfolk met their grisly end in the original film in the Alaskan town of Barrow. “I think also, due to the fact that there’s been eleven months (of narrative) between the end of the first film and this one, that there’s been a lot of transformation that happened to Stella over that time period so that also gave me a lot of freedom to pick up in a different place,” continued Sanchez. “Not just because it’s a different actress that is playing the character, but because Stella is in a different place.”

30 Days of Night: Dark DaysCo-written by director Ketai and series originator and co-producer Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (review here) opens on the heels of the original and, while serving to initially document Stella’s unsuccessful attempts at convincing the general public of the vampire menace which awaits the world following the decimation of her town, ultimately follows her descent into pure vengeance. Unexpectedly recruited by three other victims of related vampire attacks (Rhys Coiro, Doira Baird and Harold Parrineau) and alerted to the existence of Lilith (Mia Kirschner), the vampire queen ultimately responsible for the genocide of her Alaskan town’s inhabitants, Stella sets off on a mission of revenge in the underbelly of Los Angeles.

Commented Sanchez during our interview on being courted for the role in the original 30 Days of Night (scheduling conflicts forbade her from portraying Stella at the time) and ultimately portraying the character in the sequel, “It is fate,” she said, “because I loved the first film and was kind of sad that I wasn’t part of it. It’s kind of crazy how it came back and it was sort of meant to be. At the time (of casting for the first film) I was also up for (the television series) 'Lost' so it’s all timing, and I was actually surprised that Melissa didn’t do the second one. I was grateful. I hope I make the fans (of 30 Days of Night) proud!

Viewers should expect a more emotionally damaged character in Dark Days, however, than was portrayed by George in the original, and while Stella was by no means weak in the first film, the widow here is a woman suffering from a mean case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

I think that it was interesting in this screenplay that she kind of goes on this journey, and I wanted to depict that whole journey from beginning to end,” said Sanchez. “In the beginning it’s about trying to convince people that vampires exist and really trying to get into the mind-frame of someone who has for the past eleven months gone around the country trying to do talk shows and newspapers and everything that she can do to get people to understand that what happened in Barrow wasn’t from an oil fire - that it was from vampires - and being laughed out of places and being called a ‘liar’ or ‘haunted’ or ‘crazy.’ I tried to get into what that would do to a person over eleven months, the trying to scream out something that you experienced as the truth, something that was so traumatic and something that literally took everything that you loved away and no one believes that that’s what happened, and what that would sort of do to someone. (Particularly) where are the vulnerabilities in that? Such rage would come from such a place. I think that’s where her ‘tougher than nails’ aspect comes from and why she’s so vengeful.