Exclusive: Actress Kiele Sanchez Talks 30 Days of Night: Dark Days
Sanchez didn’t deny though that such a character wasn’t fun to play, and when questioned if she was enjoying herself on set, regardless of the bitter Vancouver cold, replied, “I totally am, but it’s sort of ‘out of my element’ in a way. I’ve done action movies before, but this is the first time where it’s been revenge-focused. ‘Kill Lilith!’ is the motivation for Stella throughout a whole bunch of the movie. Of course, she hasn’t been fighting vampires all of the time (during the narrative gap), and she doesn’t really want to go back into hell. She’s been trying to expose them, but she’d rather not see another fucking vampire again so making that switch, in trying to cover her fear, is the hardest thing to portray. I have stage-fright actually so I kind of have to cover up my fear in my own profession and used that (in informing my character).”
This being a horror-action hybrid, though, Sanchez’s challenges didn’t reside purely in the dramatic.
“The technical stuff is much harder for me,” stated the actress, whose other horror credits include the 2008 feature Insanitarium. “I’m much more used to manipulating emotions and accessing them (as an actress), and in that I feel very comfortable and confident. With the action stuff I literally went from being a vegetarian to eating meat again, to the point where I literally starting drinking two raw eggs in a smoothie every morning and worked out very hard, even though I was working long hours, just to physically be capable to do this role. We had to do some gun training, too, which was probably the hardest for me because I don’t like guns at all. I thought my shotgun would be really scary, but it’s my handgun with the blanks in it that scares me the most because I want to drop it and run away.”
She whispered with a smile.
“But I can’t.”
With Sanchez having suffered physical damage during the production (a thumb dislocation for one) as well as the inherent physical demands, she reflected, “It’s tough to remember where you are at emotionally after having run up and down stairs and through here and through there and being sweaty, instead of just concentrating on the emotional things you carry into a scene. It’s also like, ‘Oh, I’m injured’ and just having to remember all of your ailments let alone what you need to do emotionally. I found it kind of a screwy thing to keep track of. But with all of that chaos you hope that you are still telling the story and not getting caught up in any of those things.”
This being a 30 Days of Night film, requisite gore, too, had to be endured, and she commented,
“We’ve done a lot of bloody scenes where we are shooting out of order, and I come to work and then they put blood and cuts and bruises and dirt and sweat and everything on you, and then they jump to another scene, and you are back at your trailer and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is just the one blood-spattered shirt with the jeans that are kind of torn here,’ and then they clean up some of the blood and the cut on your lip and put you in another blood-spattered shirt with a different pair of ripped jeans. So you are going back and forth sort of all day, which is a little crazy, especially for hair and makeup, but it’s fun!"
As for shooting winter Vancouver for summer in L.A., “I didn’t really think about it,” stated Sanchez, “but there’s definitely been moments where I’ve been here shaking in a tank-top on this dry-dock which was the most miserable place to shoot ever! We were all miserable. They were all night shoots, and we hadn’t seen daylight in five days, and you come to work and you are basically working in a submarine, and everyone is on top of everyone, and you are stuck there all night, and it is freezing. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this! Can I quit?’ It was terrible, but we got through it.”
As for the amount of inspiration she took from the Niles-penned trilogy of graphic novels on which the 30 Days of Night series is based, Sanchez allowed that, “I had to be careful because I did take a lot from that, and I wanted to pay homage to the comic book, but I had to be careful because (in the comic book) she starts off so strong, where’s she’s just a bad-ass from the very beginning, and you can’t really start off a movie as a bad-ass. There’s got to be some history as to how you got to be that amazing so there had to be an arc and a journey there for Stella; I almost had to be become Stella. I do a lot of geeky actor homework so I literally for this had to go through each scene and break it all down and figure out where I was to be emotionally and physically and what I am bring into the scene. Just all of that for every single scene, since we are shooting out of order, so that I could just look at that and see where I am at.”
At the time Sanchez was unsure whether all her hard work had paid off.
“I haven’t been offered to see any (of the assembly cut),” she laughed, “but I wouldn’t want to anyway because I hate seeing myself, and it would probably crush me. I would find eight million things that are wrong with my performance and it would crumble me. I have other actor friends that can watch themselves and laugh and say, ‘That was a good one!’ and I wish I had that! It’s torture for me.”
Photo credit: Chris Large
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