Exclusive: Sarah Butler Talks I Spit on Your Grave
“I basically decided that in taking on this role, I had to go all the way, and in having no personal context to rape, that I just had to rely on my imagination and in being in the moment,” Butler communicated. “It was helpful that I had these amazing actors (Jeff Branson, Rodney Eastman, Daniel Franzese, Chad Lindberg and Andrew Howard) who were able to bring a lot of malice, surprisingly enough, to their characters. A lot of things they were doing to me were really happening. There was real fire involved. There was a real baseball bat being swung near my face and a real gun. I had to really be there and to picture what it would be like, but I don’t think I ever could (regardless) as much as I tried, be able to fully put my feet in the shoes of a woman who has been through something like this, and I know that there are woman out there that have been, and I can only hope that I got close to doing justice to the emotions that they would go through in a situation like that.” (Writer’s note: In conferring with female friends post-premiere who were in attendance for the screening, and who sadly have suffered real-life abuse akin to what transpired to Butler’s character on-screen, I came to find that the cinematic retribution doled out did prove for them entirely cathartic.)
“It was a weird feeling,” continued Sarah of shooting the rape sequences of I Spit on Your Grave. “There were quite a few moments where I felt that I was falling out of control, but I knew that having that feeling was really going to help with what we were trying to accomplish in the film so I had to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I had to know that I could give myself completely over to that feeling. It was tough. But (director) Stephen was just so amazing during those scenes, and he decided early on to shoot all of my close-ups in the first couple of takes in order to achieve the intimacy of the emotions I was going through and to make the audience feel as if they were right there with me. That really helped because going through those emotions once or twice was one thing, but having to do those scenes over and over again for days on end was very draining. I really owe a lot to him in regards to my performance.”
We wondered given the grueling nature of the shoot (the actress was on-set for every day of principal photography but one) if Butler felt a twinge of mild PTSD post-shoot, as demonstrated to an extent by one of her male co-stars (Eastman stated that the production briefly clung to him following wrap – see our interview with him here).
“Surprisingly, after having to be so ‘on’ for so long, and having expended so much energy, ‘no’,” answered the actress. “We wrapped just before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I flew immediately to Seattle to be with my family and to start making gravy and casseroles and baked biscuits and things. It affected me more the first time I watched the finished product. I cried during that screening, and I wasn’t able to let it go for a couple of weeks. It was very affecting. I know that people that have already seen it have felt the same way.”
As for her feelings in regards to today’s theatrical release of the film, “I think I’ll definitely get some butterflies in my stomach, wondering what people are going to think across the country when they see this,” mused Butler. “What’s unique about this film is that it’s shocking and crosses a lot of (cinematic) boundaries that people assume are there. I’m grateful to Anchor Bay for having the guts to release it unrated. I feel that people will talk about it, and whether they say something good or they say something bad, they will say something.”
As for what she’s up to next, following the press circuit for I Spit, Butler concluded with her inherently infectious and good-natured laugh, “I’m being careful and looking for the right project. Maybe a romantic comedy might be a good thing!”
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Spit on things in the comments section below!