In retrospect, I probably should have asked newcomer Jade Dornfeld if that’s actually her real name or just a stage name, because it makes her sound like a badass right off the bat.
Speaking of baseball, Dornfeld gets down and dirty with a Louisville slugger as the titular lead, Alyce, in Jay Lee’s Alyce Kills, but not before being put through the ringer in one of her first horror films. Jade was excited to talk to DC about her experiences on set when we spoke recently.
Dread Central: …Speaking of LA, you came from the LA theatre scene, right? What’s your acting background? You’re very natural on screen and I would guess you’ve had some training.
Jade Dornfeld: Yeah, I did a lot of work with The Elephant Theatre Company here in Los Angeles and they’re really wonderful. I studied for some time with Arthur Mendoza over at the Actor’s Circle Theatre which is no longer open, but that was some really great training. So yeah, just lots and lots of plays.
DC: Yeah, I went to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York for a while and some of the classes that you’re in, you know, you’re suddenly pretending to be a tree and it can be quite bizarre.
JD: (laughs) I suppose I did a little bit of that stuff but Arthur was the Stella Adler technique, so it’s a lot of writing and a lot of imaginative stuff but, yeah, I didn’t spend all that much time pretending to be a tree – but I can’t say I never did it. (laughs) And you know what? I was a damn good tree when I did it.
DC: Amen. So, obviously, being in the horror world and being an actress in a horror movie, you’re expected to do things that are a lot more demanding than in other genres. Not just watching films but I’ve seen it on set, too, it really can be gruelling. Was it difficult to endure some of the abuse in Alyce Kills or did your theatre background kind of prepare you mentally?
JD: Yeah, I think doing theatre definitely prepared me. Yeah, I enjoyed the challenges. I loved being really focused and having to … ‘cause basically we shot out at every location, so I was time-travelling throughout the day. So, we didn’t have the luxury of shooting it in sequence at all. That aspect was really challenging but really fun and Jay, the director and I, he would basically … I would ask, ‘Okay. Where am I in the story? How many drugs have I done? How many people have I killed?’ and that kind of got me in the time and then we would shoot the scene. But as far as the physical stuff, the physicality and some of the fight scenes, that was just a blast. I really enjoyed that; I loved the challenges.
DC: Was it difficult to not take your work home with you? It must have been pretty exhausting.
JD: My life was the work during that time period. I had a funny situation, we were shooting down by my parents house for a couple of days – the apartment scenes. One of the apartments we used was right near my parents house so a couple of times I went home and was splattered in blood – in fake blood – when I walked in the door. Just another day at the office, just splattered from head to toe.
DC: You had a few of your friends working on this film as well, is that right?
JD: Yeah, a lot of the people are my friends … when Jay and I talked about and decided that I was the right person to play Alyce, there were some roles in the film where I knew some really great people and wanted to plug them in and also felt, you know, supported in that way going into the project not having worked with Jay before. And he turned out to be just an absolute pleasure to work with. I think I felt going into the process, a little bit more comfortable and a little bit safer knowing that I had, not only friends, but really good actors.
DC: Do you think you’re easier to root for because you’re a woman who goes off the edge in this movie as opposed to a male actor going through the same thing? Horror is usually so male dominated and borderline sexist at times.
JD: Yeah, the last time I watched the film at the Los Angeles screening I came away from it feeling like, wow, this has a feminist quality to it. There’s something in it that feels like a feminist horror film? (laughs) The way she takes revenge, because of the writing and it being written well, and Eddie’s [Rouse] character being written so well, it becomes a little bit clearer and it also takes it off of her. She spirals out of control but you also see that Alyce could represent something a little bit bigger, maybe? I mean, I don’t know if that’s too lofty of an idea. Yeah, why not? There should be space for feminine horror films. The feminist horror film is kind of an interesting idea. But yeah, I think that because Alyce is a female, and also the way it’s written, she’s kind of a lost soul so it makes it a little easier to root for her on some levels.
Guess what? Alyce Kills is available now on DVD and Video On Demand.
Life takes a downward spiral for Alyce after a night of partying goes terribly wrong and she accidentally pushes her best friend off of a building. Panicked, Alyce lies to the police about her involvement. When she later learns that her friend miraculously survived, she begins to unravel, losing sleep, her job and eventually her sanity. When she eventually decides to take control, she unleashes enough chaos to satisfy any gorehound.
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