‘Brooklyn 45’ Stars Larry Fessenden and Kristina Klebe Talk Ghosts And Witches

brooklyn 45

Ted Geoghegan‘s new film Brooklyn 45 feels like a play as it revolves around six players almost entirely in one room. And those six players are stunning, taking Geoghegan’s tight script and bringing it to terrifying, heart-breaking life. Starring Anne Ramsay, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Holm, Ezra Buzzington, and Ron E. Rains as a group of friends with Kristina Klebe as the mysterious Hildy, all six actors realize the film to its ultimate potential, selling the love and tension they all experience in just 90 minutes.

Dread Central spoke with two of those stars, Larry Fessenden and Kristina Klebe, about their personal connections to the story, the power of acting, and more.

Dread Central: My first question for both of you, and we’ll start with Kristina, is how did you get involved with Brooklyn 45?

Kristina Klebe: I know Ted. Disclaimer, he’s a good friend. I read the script a long time ago, before the pandemic. And I since then tried to convince Ted that I should play Hildegard. Then I auditioned for it and I got it. <laugh>

DC: I spoke with Ted and he said you had a personal connection to the role of Hildy, right?

KK: Well, I just felt very connected to it because my parents are German, they both have accents. I felt connected to it because even I, not having an accent, as a German grew up with people calling me Nazi. I remember I was in middle school in upstate New York. I was kind of an outsider and nobody knew what I was about. So people would call me a Nazi, just because they knew my parents were German. It’s just one of those things that are upsetting or you think is par for the course being German.

People are cruel and just want to call names, those were obviously bullies anyway. But I guess I just could understand what it feels like to be called something that you totally don’t believe in or that you feel even associated with. I imagine if that was my case, it’s much stronger for people who actually do have an accent. And obviously, this goes onto a whole deeper level of judgments and assumptions that people make on a daily basis about people who have different accents or, you know, look different, anything that makes them the other of what you are.

DC: And then Larry, what about you? I know that you have been in previous films of Ted’s, but what attracted you to this script and collaborating with Ted again?

Larry Fessenden: Ted is fantastic. Very often I think in the arts, you work with people that you like being with them, and their ideas and their enthusiasm. Ted is very nurturing and puts a lot of faith [in his actors]. He invited me to play the role. It was so juicy a role that I couldn’t refuse. But it’s still an act of generosity on his part to presume that I could carry the water for this character. So I certainly appreciated that. And as for the role itself, a lot of us have military in our families. My dad was in the war.

But furthermore, it’s a story about power and obviously mental illness to a certain degree, and all those things I understand. A lack of power and the grieving over this incident and the paranoia that leads my character to be so forceful and to try to take advantage of your friends. All of those are just really great juicy dynamics to put out into a story. So there was just no question. I do think one other thing that’s fun is that I was in a seance scene in Ted’s previous film, We Are Still Here. And he always says that this whole story came about because people would say, “Oh, I’d love to see a whole movie with the seance.” I said, “OK, there you go.”

DC: It’s awesome to see you have such a juicy role. I know that a lot of the time you’re directing, but I really love seeing you in front of the camera. Is there something that keeps you wanting to do roles both in front of and behind the camera?

LF: I wanted to be an actor when I was younger, and I did a lot of theater. That was really my idea of my future. But then I ended up doing everything outside. I would say now where I’ve landed as an ancient person, I do like having the full picture and all the colors and everything else that a director actually does and then editing. In a way, acting is the purest part of filmmaking in terms of you make your mark on a film. But you don’t have quite the control. If you’ve ever heard of my film Habit, I do all the roles including acting. So there you go. That would be my ideal. <laugh>

DC: This film is also a chamber piece. It’s so contained, but it’s also a period piece. So I was curious for both of you, what it was like getting into the headspaces of your characters. And I’m sure the costuming and the set design were probably a big help in kind of transporting yourself back, but the psychology of the characters is even more complex. So starting with Kristina, I wanted to hear more about what it was like getting into Hildy’s headspace.

KK: Well, I think I just put on my grandmother’s wedding ring and it just transported me. <laugh>

This is a time period that obviously I feel greatly connected to, and I’ve always wanted to act in more period pieces. And I think, you know, just having grown up in New York. I could imagine what Brooklyn in 1945 looked like, even just from the movies. I imagined what the street that they lived on looked like, and where the grocery store was, you know, stuff like that.

DC: Larry, for you, I mean your character, no spoilers is going through a lot, uh, to say the least. And so what was like kind of occupying his headspace and creating that character for yourself? Both like, you know, aesthetically with the costume, but also just, you know, your mannerisms and how you made him into like a full character.

LF: Well, you think about his role in this group of friends, he’s obviously the Alpha male accustomed to giving orders. So then you support yourself in a certain way. I’m a very scruffy person, but then you clean up, put in the tooth. All of that is part of truly putting on the costume.

This is the whole pleasure of acting. It is a separate person from yourself. You quickly bring a certain amount of immediacy and intuition and empathy from your own toolkit, but then you’re creating another image. Of course, there’s always a thing of acting from the inside out or the outside in, there are different styles. And even on a set like this, everyone has a different process to get where they’re going.

And that’s one of the thrills of working in an ensemble piece like this. Most movies, you show up, you do a scene, even if it’s two or three pages, and then it’s sort of over. Whereas here, we really were all, you know, hanging out, making silly jokes. In fact, we were scolded by the AD department. <laugh> But then you get to the business at the end. But you feel the support, like in a play. A lot of people have said Brooklyn 45 is like a play, obviously, but it’s also the amount of time and dependence you have on your fellow actors. So all that.

DC: The ensemble is incredible. You guys, and then Anne Ramsay. Kristina, you have incredible scenes with Anne Ramsay, and I wanted to hear about your experience working with her. Both of you are so magnetic. So what was it like collaborating with her on these scenes where you’re whispering together? And again, no spoilers, but there’s kind of a connection, the two of you have throughout Brooklyn 45.

KK: I looked up to her. I always look up to women who’ve had more experience around the business and especially who’ve experienced, what it’s like being a woman in this business. I always hope to garner some advice or some hope to get some kind of insight into how I can manage the next part of my life. <laugh> That scene, in particular, seems to really affect people. So I’m happy that it turned out like that. It’s funny, it doesn’t affect me because I was there. But I’m so glad that everybody loves that scene and that it is as powerful as it comes across.

DC: Well, and then Larry, you and the rest of the friend group outside of Kristina, have such incredible chemistry. Did you all know each other before this or are you guys just really good actors?

LF: Well, it’s like I said, we did hang out. We had one day of rehearsal. I know Jeremy Holm, he was in a movie I produced. But, you know, I’ll be honest, the whole job of being an actor is to show up and be immediately forced into a certain type of intimacy. Even if you don’t like your fellow players, which wasn’t the case here, that’s the job. You use whatever tools you have to get into that place where you’re being vulnerable with some people you don’t know. But Ted knew everybody and had great faith in them. So that creates immediate cohesion.

Then it was just, once again, from the top down from Ted’s aesthetic, he hired just wonderful people. So we all had a great time and we were in there to support the text to the project. So that was the alchemy. That’s why some productions have a better vibe. And as we all know, you can have a bad vibe on the movie and still make a good movie. But it’s fun when you have a good vibe, to be honest. <laugh>.

KK: Yeah. Sometimes I think that the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie was not a good movie, <laugh>. Like, it turned out horrible. But we had so much fun, it was kind of like, well, whatever. <laugh>, it’s already out there.

DC: Kristina, this is not about Brooklyn 45. You were in Two Witches and also wrote Two Witches, which is one of my favorite movies I saw last year. Are you gonna do more writing horror? Because Two Witches freaked me out.

KK: I am trying, I’m trying <laugh>. I wrote my feature, but it’s not a horror movie. It’s called Gene Therapy, I’m trying to get it produced. Unfortunately, it is a big budget. It’s about my diagnosis with BRCA2, and it’s a fun kind of drama, fantasy movie. And I’m dying to get made. I just co-wrote another script, that I’m trying to get made. So it’s just, you know, things are hard in this business. <laugh>

But I’m so happy that Pierre got that [opportunity]. I really supported him as a first-time filmmaker and I cast Rebekah Kennedy. Originally, he wanted me to play The Witch, and I was just not in a place. I just didn’t wanna do it. It’s just quite heavy, you know? And I was like, “Eh, I can’t do that right now, but I have a great person for you.” And Rebekah was just much better than I could have been, I think. She was fantastic. I hope to do something else with Pierre.

DC: Well, you scared the shit out of me, so congratulations on that. Larry, what do you have coming up?

LF: My own film called Blackout, a werewolf movie that’s premiering at Fantasia.

KK: I wish I would’ve known, I would’ve paid you to be a werewolf. Next time you make a werewolf movie, I wanna be a werewolf.



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