Arriving to Lara Flynn Boyle’s trailer outside Gower Studios in Hollywood, California, this writer chatted with the Emmy-nominated actress regarding her character of the witch “Agnes” in the then-shooting feature Hansel & Gretel Get Baked.
Written by first-time feature screenwriter David Tillman, directed by Duane Journey, and starring Boyle, Twilight actor Michael Welch as “Hansel,” Molly C. Quinn as “Gretel,” and Bianca Saad, the film (formerly known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch) revolves around an old crone who lives in Pasadena, California, who lures teens into her house with a special blend of marijuana in order to eat the adolescents in an effort to maintain her own youth and beauty.
Shooting day nineteen of twenty-one, Boyle, in a robe and fresh out of the extensive prosthetic makeup required of her role (courtesy of Vincent Guastini and his company VGP Effects & Design), politely asked if I would mind if she smoked. I didn’t.
Related Story: Interview with Molly C. Quinn of Hansel & Gretel Get Baked
Related Story: Interview with Bianca Saad of Hansel & Gretel Get Baked
The forty-two-year-old actress, best known as “Donna Hayward” on David Lynch’s cult-classic television series “Twin Peaks” (and later as Assistant District Attorney “Helen Gamble” on “The Practice”), told me of what attracted her to Hansel & Gretel Get Baked.
“Mostly I love being an actor because there is no fear of consequences, and you can do whatever you want, and you don’t get in trouble,” she stated between drags. “So playing ‘Agnes,’ I can’t get in trouble, and all of the things that you want to do and say in real life, I can, and I can get away with it. It’s ideal.”
“This isn’t an easy role,” she continued. “It’s very challenging because I want my witch to have a heart and to come from a very emotionally centered place, but I hope the audience doesn’t see how challenging it is and the work I put in. I hope it comes across as very breezy. But eating eyeballs, eating people, and cutting people up – it’s not as fun and easy as it looks! I said to Duane (Journey) and David (Tillman), ‘Wow, you people are really twisted!’ But I guess I’m really twisted because I said I would do it! We are all really nuts. But I shouldn’t say ‘nuts’ because then they’ll have me eating nuts, too!” she laughed.
“So, with all of my theatre training, I’m eating eyeballs and making sure that the blood squirts out in a certain way,” Boyle mused good-naturedly, “and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I’m a trained actress. What am I doing?’ But it’s so challenging that way and really lovely!”
As for the makeup required of the role (Boyle plays a character four centuries of age, whose visage changes dramatically from young to old, depending on the amount of human flesh she consumes), “It takes about five hours to put it on, and it’s so impeccably done that by the time it’s done, you can be so lazy as an actor,” she stated.
“It changes the way you walk and the way you talk,” the actress continued. “It is an ‘out of body’ experience. I mean right now, I look like me. But I’ve seen myself when under makeup, and I’m like, ‘Who is that freak? Who is that person?’ The special effects people do such good work that I feel like I don’t have to do any. It is like, ‘Where do you want me to stand? What do you want me to do? Roll camera.’ Then it just all flows. It’s very psychological. It’s seriously trippy. It’s so easy to become this character under this makeup. It’s bizarre, but in a beautiful way.”
On the head space required to endure such extensive makeup application (Boyle first became familiar with this process during her filming of Poltergeist III), “You have to go to a certain space,” she offered. “I play a lot of ‘violent femmes,’ and it’s very hypnotic. It strangely gives you five hours to just sit with yourself. It can be very claustrophobic if you don’t just relax and give it up. It can be very odd, and also really beautiful.”
As for removing the prosthetics, “I get a little frightened because I don’t know what I’m going to look like when they take it all off,” she laughed. “It takes about an hour and a half, and this sounds so corny, but its like, ‘Oh there you are; welcome home, Lara. How was your day off?’ It really feels like I had a day off. It’s really cool.”
The conversation turned to her approach to the character of “Agnes.”
“It’s fun to play with it,” she stated of her varied approaches to her takes. “It’s really, really fun to just play. I don’t want to be selfish and to throw anyone for a loop, but it is fun to stay on your toes, and it is fun to take little moments you have and to bring them into a scene. I was in the shower the other day and the hot water ran out and I still had conditioner in my hair so when I got to the set, I was so fucking cranky, and it was fun to put that into a scene. Or like beautiful loving moments that you have with someone while you are walking the set, and it changes what you are going to do during the next three minutes when you shoot a take, and it’s fun to always have that going. I love to be afraid and to have that ‘Oh my gosh, is this going to go well?’ moment. I don’t like getting lazy [as an actor], and that’s why I’ve been doing this. I don’t like to be stuck in a rut. I like to bring everything into a scene.”
As for her connection to the character, “I just fell in love with her; to know her is to love her, and I hope people love her as much as I do,” gushed Boyle. “There has to be a tragic sensibility with the character in order to relate to her, I think. And I think you have a responsibility to take care of the character that you are playing. I’ve never, ever embarked on any role that I didn’t have the utmost compassion for. I just love the character. I think she’s just phenomenal. I would want to hang out with her. I wish she was my roommate. I would have loved to have gone to college with her. I would have loved to have been able to sic Agnes on a boy who had hurt my feelings. ‘Go eat his eyeballs out! Go stab him! Go get him for me!’ And she’s just so great that way. She’s fantastic. Unfortunately, I think playing this role is a little too easy for me. It’s really cathartic. It’s great, and at the end of the day, I’m so relaxed.”
With the actress called back to the set, our interview came to an end although as I departed the trailer, Boyle stopped me.
“You have really pretty eyes,” she told me. “They are amazing.”
“Donna Hayward” told me I had pretty eyes. Surreal.
Check out three new stills from the film below, and for more on Hansel & Gretel Get Baked, visit its Facebook page, and be sure to stick around for our upcoming interview with the film’s director, Duane Journey, soon.
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