On November 22nd Eric England’s new film Contracted (review) arrived in limited theaters and VOD outlets (including iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon Instant Video, GooglePlay, SundanceNow, and more) via IFC Midnight, and we got a chance to speak with the film’s star, Najarra Townsend.
Dread Central: Eric told me that you are quite a trooper considering all the makeup and everything you had to go through. Can you tell me a little bit about what that process was like for you, having to sort of do your thing without being able to see?
Najarra Townsend: We luckily had an amazing special effects artist. She just made everything comfortable. I feel like this could have been a disaster for my face, but luckily she was awesome. I just found it to be really fun. I mean, there were challenges that came with it, [but] even the not seeing kind of helped with my character… (laughter) It kind of threw off my equilibrium so everything was a little dizzy, and it all just kind of worked, thank God.
DC: Using the word “fun” in connection with a movie like this sounds really odd… but what was the most fun thing on a professional level when you did this film, in such a short amount of time?
NT: Really the whole experience was so amazing. Every day was just so fun. Samantha is going through such hell and has so many emotions that she is just shoving down, it sounds like it would be, I don’t know, a rough experience; but it was just amazing and really fun.
DC: What did you think when you first read the script?
A: When I first read the script, I was really just excited. It was a new take on something we see so much in TV shows and movies, and this just felt so exciting. When I read it, I was excited. I thought it would be challenging, fun, and I never worked with special effects like this so it was really appealing to me. And reading it I got literally nauseous towards the end. (laughter) If it read on page this well, I just felt it would be a great film. I was just really excited.
DC: Did you want any input on your character, or did you feel like it was pretty much on the page? Was it a collaborative experience with Eric? I am kind of curious because you do bring her to life. She is, if you think about it, a stock character, but there is a little bit of twist to her.
NT: What Eric put on the page was great to work from, but I definitely tried to… I mean, I gave her a back story and I definitely worked on her layers… ’cause you don’t want to watch somebody, like a girl that seems miserable, deteriorate. You want to see the struggle she is going through because it is so much on her shoulders. So it definitely was collaborative. We would sit down and talk about Sam during certain scenes to talk about why this is happening, and it was an awesome process.
DC: Can you talk a little bit about your co-stars? Because even though you do carry the whole film, there is a lot of great support there.
NT: Yeah, definitely. We had Caroline Williams as my mom, who is just such an amazing, vibrant personality; working with her was really fun and like a good learning experience. She always had something wise to say, which is awesome. My rehearsal process was pretty much with her, which was needed since she was plying my mom, that was really fun. Matt Mercer, who plays Riley, is actually how I got involved with this film. I worked with him in 2009 and stayed friends so that was awesome to work with him. Yeah, everybody like fell in love with each other, so it was the best experience.
DC: Are you a fan of horror films?
NT: Of course, I love horror films. They are like the best. Every time there is a horror movie in theaters, I have to see it just because I feel like everyone likes being scared – it’s uncontrollable. (laughter)
DC: Horror has had a really great renaissance this year, in the box office especially. The Conjuring and The Purge come to mind. So is this a genre you would like to continue in and explore?
NT: Yeah, definitely. Horror is just always fun. The first feature that I ever did I was ten and a horror movie. So I feel like it has really just given me so much, I want to give back. And it’s always fun to play these roles, they have so much emotions going on and I like to be emotional on screen. So yeah, I definitely want to keep doing horror.
DC: And what is your next project that we can look forward to seeing you in?
NT: It’s actually not a horror movie. I just wrapped a feature called the Toy Soldiers, and it’s set in the 80’s. It’s a drama; you will probably hear about it a year from now. They are going to be doing post-production for about a year. It’s definitely much different than Contracted. But it was a good experience.
Contracted tells the terrifying tale of a young girl who has a one-night stand with a stranger, contracting what she thinks is a sexually transmitted disease, but it is actually something far worse. As things begin to crumble around her, she’s sent on a disturbing and bloodcurdling journey, sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
The film is directed by Eric England (MADISON COUNTY) and features a who’s who of horror film and television thesps including Najarra Townsend (2005’s hit indie ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, “90210”), Caroline Williams (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, HATCHET III, “NIP/TUCK”), celebrated horror force Simon Barrett (V/H/S, ABCS OF DEATH, YOU’RE NEXT), Charley Koontz (“COMMUNITY,” RUBBER), Dave Holmes (“RENO: 911″), and Ruben Pla (INSIDIOUS), amongst others.
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