TIFF 2012: Exclusive Lords of Salem Interview with Stars Sheri Moon Zombie and Jeff Daniel Phillips
Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem (review here) made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and as soon as the credits rolled, fans couldn’t stop talking about the film that managed to raise more questions than answers!
The film offered solid performances from Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, as doomed DJ Heidi and co-star Jeff Daniel Phillips (last seen getting butchered in Zombie’s Halloween 2) as fellow DJ Herman Whitey. Dread Central was lucky enough to have an opportunity to talk to the affable stars about their roles, their own reactions about the premiere, and if they themselves understood what Rob Zombie was setting out for in his ambitious and abstract horror film about the Salem witches.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that Sheri Moon Zombie is nothing like the characters she plays onscreen, and despite what horror fans may believe, she’s not as confident about showing off her naked body like the characters she plays, as she pointed out when discussing the premiere of the film.
“The premiere seemed to go over great. It’s dreadful for me to sit there and watch my face and my butt twenty feet in front of me. I am extremely self-conscious that way, but I love that the audience was rambunctious at the beginning and then slowly just went quiet and sank into the movie.“
Sheri then went on to discuss her character and how she was unlike any other character she has played before.
“Heidi is definitely a role that is different from any other role I have done. She is a recovering drug addict, and she’s a part of a deejaying trio at a radio station. She then receives this crazy record in a wooden box one day by a group called “The Lords.” She plays the record, and every time she hears the record, she starts to get sick. You don’t know if she’s being cursed from these Salem witches or if she is just declining into her own madness,” Zombie explains.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to watch Lords of Salem at the Midnight Madness premiere knows that calling Rob Zombie’s latest project “abstract” is definitely an understatement. We took the time to ask both co-stars about their first initial reactions after reading the script, and they both chuckled to themselves before attempting to answer.
“I was very flattered and was excited to work with Sheri and Ken [Foree]. We actually rehearsed together for three weeks. By the time it came to shoot the movie, we had built the chemistry we needed to and treated each other like a team,” Phillips stated.
Sheri was far more playful and candid with her honest reaction to her husband’s script:
“When I first read the script, I was like, 'NO! I’m not doing this! Don’t make me do this! This is crazy! You’re just weird'," Zombie admitted through laughs.
The pair then talked about their interpretations of the film and how, just like the viewers, they themselves didn’t understand everything that was going on.
“I don’t understand everything in the movie, and I think that it’s subjective. Every time I watch it, I feel a different way about it. I think it’s kind of great to take an open-ended approach,” Zombie explained.
“Yeah, I’m not a big fan of movies that are all spelled out and predictable. [Rob] had a reason for everything; it just might not make sense until the third viewing," Phillips added.
While preparing for the grueling 23-day shoot, Phillips and Zombie also took some time extensively preparing for their roles.
“I hate when actors talk about their ‘process’; I think it sounds a little douchey. (laughs) But, we did do some fun things. Ken [Foree], Jeff and I went to a radio station in California together and just got familiar with the workings there. That was tremendous,” Zombie indicated.
We then talked about the polarizing reactions of the film since no review of Lords of Salem has been the same and how they felt about the positive and negative buzz for the film at the premiere.
“I wasn’t nervous about the audience’s reactions because I can pretty much predict what the response would be at this point. It’s a lot to take in, and I think people are either going to love it or hate it. There isn’t going to be any middle zone,” Zombie confessed.
“You could tell the audience completely became committed to it and slipped into the zone. Good or bad, Rob definitely achieved what he set out to do,” Phillips added.
Concluding our interview with the stars, we got them to divulge their future projects and life after The Lords of Salem.
“Right now, I’m getting ready to go on tour with Rob [Zombie], and he’s doing Broad Street Bullies as his next film. That’s what’s happening in the Zombie household, and I don’t know if I will be in the next movie until he’s finished writing the script,” says Sheri.
“I just did a western [The Last Duane] and I’m continuing to work on it. Lords of Salem is my first lead. It didn’t start out that way, but I couldn’t be more flattered and happy that he actually trusted me, said Phillips.
If you happen to be in the Toronto area, come out and support Sheri and Jeff by catching a second screening of Lords of Salem at the Toronto International Film Festival.
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