Charlene Amoia of the ever-popular TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” had only appeared in a few episodes before we caught up with her on the set of the gory new organ-theft thriller, Vitals, far from her cushy network TV gig.
Now she’s spending her days covered in fake bruises and blood, sequestered in a remote independent studio in the San Fernando Valley. In Vitals Amoia plays Dr. Jane Carson, a woman whose medical degree gets her nowhere after her husband is kidnapped and surgically plundered for his kidneys right before her eyes.
Still, the knowledge does come in handy – read on to find out what she has to say about that.
Dread Central: So, what sort of doctor do you play in this film?
Charlene Amoia: I can’t say what kind of doctor I am, but what I can tell you is that my character’s occupation only comes into play when her husband’s kidney gets removed and there’s massive internal bleeding. By looking through the hole in the wall, she is able to talk him through opening it back up and fixing it. So, other than that, that’s all that’s really dealt with.
DC: These themes are so upsetting to a lot of people, but I think there’s a lot to play with the urban myth and the horror aspect and the physical parts of it.. what, among those things, made you want to be in Vitals?
CA: The script is really well written and this role specifically is an amazing role for a woman to play. I mean, I just fell in love with it. It’s one of those roles that you would do a theatre piece in because it’s really juicy and often times we don’t get those roles with TV and film so it was a really easy decision for me, it was something that was going to be challenging and require a lot of emotions and colors and fun in the same time. I’m playing a woman who appears to be a victim who turns out to be not so much the victim. And it’s just great. It’s really juicy.
DC: What’s the tone of the film? I mean, is there any levity in it or is it all pretty harrowing?
CA: It’s harrowing. Completely. If there is any levity, it would be with Sachin’s character, who you just interviewed, because you know he’s a bad guy, but there’s a callousness that brings humor with his stuff, so depending on how it’s edited and all that, that will bring some funny possibly if they decide to go that way.
DC: Well, he mentioned that you guys had been shooting for almost a week now… so what kind of things have you done on set that you maybe were surprised by- as you were reading the script maybe you thought, “Oh this is going to be easy” but then it wasn’t- is there any scene that kind of stands out that you’ve shot so far?
CA: Because I’m alone in my motel room, there’s no other actual other characters once they throw me in there. The whole movie I’m pretty much talking through the hole in the wall to my husband or on the phone, but I’m with myself. So the first three days of shooting were only me, all of my scenes, just my half, so it was the most amount of material I’ve ever had to prepare in such a short period of time. Monday, I had 20 pages and three huge scenes. One of them was this huge monologue were I’m pouring my heart out. So I guess that was my biggest surprise… getting the schedule and seeing that I’m going first, and it’s all of my stuff, and there’s no turn-around so there’s no time to even breathe, you know?
DC: How did you feel in that moment?
CA: Completely overwhelmed and panicked. Even just memorizing it. And the work goes way further than just the memorization. Just even the task of memorizing a whole script and being ready to go for three days, so that was a great challenge. The benefit of it was I didn’t have time to over-think anything. I just had to know the material and then let my instincts take over and that was a beautiful thing.
DC: It’s so good to have that behind you now!
CA: Oh yeah! Now I just have little bits and pieces. So I feel better.
DC: What is the organ of choice that these people are harvesting?
CA: They harvest his kidney, and then are coming to do his heart.
DC: Ouch! Yeah, he’s not going to survive that one, I don’t think!
CA: Right, exactly!
DC: Does Vitals have a similar feel to Turistas or Hostel or some of those films? Are you a fan of those?
CA: I’m not a fan of scary things… they get into my psyche, so I don’t really watch them, but someone had referenced Saw because you know…
DC: Right, you wake up in a strange room.
CA: Yeah, you’re in a room. And so I watched it to kind of get an idea of the world, but yeah I don’t really jump out to go see those movies.
DC: Well let’s hope a lot of other people will!
CA: Yeah, yeah, well there’s a huge market! Most people love this stuff.
DC: So what kind of scenes have you got coming up today?
CA: Well, today is where they kind of abduct us and throw us into the room and knock us out. Later today I have the second part of the scene where I actually go and kill someone which you don’t really see coming and will require a lot of emotion and stuff. But it’s not heavy in the dialogue area, so that’s a relief.
DC: I watched you getting thrown around a little bit on the monitor there. Do you enjoy that aspect of it?
CA: No, it’s my least favorite part of it. I get scared that someone’s going to have an accident. There’s just a bunch of big guys whaling around and I don’t like to be around it. So this is probably my least favorite.
Vitals comes to us from writer/director Marc Morgenstern. Christopher Showerman, Sachin Metha, Tim Russ, and Claudia Wells co-star. In it Showerman stars as an unassuming electrician who wakes up in an abandoned motel room in a tub of ice with his kidney missing. It’s only a matter of time before he finds his wife in the adjacent room waiting to be the next victim to a horrible organ harvesting organization. Now they must use each other’s wits and skills to escape before their captors return and their dark secrets are revealed.
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