Exclusive: Ashley Bell Discusses The Day, The Last Exorcism Part II and More
Ever since she took audiences by storm with her fearless performance as a possibly possessed and tortured young girl in The Last Exorcism, Ashley Bell has quickly become one of our favorite up-and-coming actresses of the last few years.
Her performance as Mary in Doug Aarniokoski's The Day is equally as fearless, which is why we were eager to hop on the phone with Bell this morning to discuss her latest kick-ass cinematic endeavor, which arrived on Blu-ray/DVD today courtesy of WWE Studios and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
During our exclusive interview with Bell, she discussed what attracted her to the ambitious post-apocalyptic project and her experiences during the arduous shoot in Canada, teased us with some information on The Last Exorcism Part II, and much more.
Check out our interview with Bell below, and make sure to check out The Day (review here) now that's it's available everywhere!
Dread Central: First of all, fantastic job in this movie. You guys were all really great…
Ashley Bell: Oh, thanks so much! Really, thank you. We all worked really hard on this so it's great to hear when people respond to that.
Dread Central: Definitely. Well, I want to start off by asking what initially attracted you to The Day.
Ashley Bell: It was Mary; the character of Mary is what really caught my eye. After The Last Exorcism I was fortunate to get a lot of scripts that came my way but nothing like what I saw in The Day and in Mary. I mean, what a remarkable opportunity as an actress to play a character like this who has a real arc and real depth to her even if she doesn't say a lot in the movie; it's so rare to get a gift like this. Mary really transforms, and I wanted to take on that kind of a challenge.
I knew the shoot was going to be demanding, too, but that didn't faze me at all; in fact, during my initial meeting with Doug and Guy [Danella, producer], they tried to talk me out of taking this role, but they couldn't stop me. I didn't care; whatever I had to go through - the cold weather, the physicality, shaving my head or whatever - I was ready to do it.
Dread Central: And was the shoot just as bad as they had told you then?
Ashley Bell: Well, the word 'brutal' was probably used more than once on set so…yeah, definitely. I would even bet that the dress I wore in the movie has already deteriorated by this point, too- it was that bad. But the thing of it all is that no matter how bad it is, you're still making movies, and that's an incredible thing to be a part of. Plus I got to play with a shotgun, too, while we were shooting so that kind of kept me preoccupied most days (laughs).
Dread Central: And how was it collaborating with Doug on The Day? Did you guys work together to develop Mary more or give her some of your own personal touches?
Ashley Bell: Doug is like a master of action- he was so great to work with! It was really amazing to be on set with him every day because he really had a keen sense of what needed to happen and how to get all the action just right. He would get right in the middle of all the fight choreography, too, as we were learning it just so he could shoot it in the same style. He wanted to be in those fights alongside all of us. It was pretty cool.
In terms of the characters, Doug was also really great about giving us all freedom to find things we wanted to add to what was already in the script. One of the things I did for Mary was that I worked with the costumer about her look; my idea was that she was the kind of girl who would just bandage up after a fight, making makeshift bandages out of whatever fabric she could find. Those bandages, as there were more and more of them, became like her warrior armor; I even started calling the bandages on my hands my 'boxer gloves' because that's kind of what they felt like by the end of the shoot.
Dread Central: What would you say that you loved most about Mary then and if given the chance, is this a character you'd like to revisit if everything goes well with The Day's home release?
Ashley Bell: Oh, absolutely. I think with Mary, even that first time I read the script, I just completely understood her. I understood that struggle for her to shut down her natural instincts in order to survive. That's really the part of her I fell in love with the most, and I would definitely love to play her again.
And I do think there's already talk about another movie- whether or not it would be a prequel or a sequel is still to be decided though. What was kind of cool was that at a fan screening, everyone there was chanting over and over, 'Prequel, Prequel!' 'Sequel, Sequel!' when we asked what they wanted to see so yeah, I think it could go either way. With a prequel, though, you get Dominic back, which would be just great to see more of his character before we meet up with him in The Day, but we'll see how it turns out.
Dread Central: Since this is my final question, I would love to hear any sort of update you can give us on The Last Exorcism Part II? Are we going to see even more physicality to Nell in the sequel than we did in the first film?
Ashley Bell: You bet! This movie is a continuation of that first story so we do address some of the questions from the original. Eli created this story, and he will really prove on this one why he is a master of the horror genre; I think we both went into Last Exorcism II with this 'how can I top myself?' mentality, which is great. And as far as the physicality goes, this one is even crazier. Fans are going to freak out; Eli and everyone really figured out how to scare the hell out of people, and I think Part II is so incredibly scary. Not in the slash and gore sense but in the psychological way. It's a far larger story, and I'm really excited to see what people think when it comes out.
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