Earlier this month, Dead Awake (review), the latest film from Final Destination creator Jeffrey Reddick, quietly landed on home video formats (Amazon). Well, we couldn’t let that slide past so we got in touch and not only got some behind-the-scenes photos of actress Natali Jones getting made up as the film’s villain The Night Hag, as well as a few modeling shots of the creature, but we also got a short interview with Jones about playing the character!
Dead Awake was written by Jeffrey Reddick and directed by Phillip Guzman. It stars Jocelin Donahue, Lori Petty, Jesse Bradford, Jesse Borrego, Brea Grant, and James Eckhouse.
Dread Central: The Night Hag character is described in this film as being rather timeless and has affected people throughout history (hence the Fuseli painting). How did her seeming agelessness play a role in your performance?
Natali Jones: Actually, thats an interesting question. Her being timeless actually didn’t play a role. I felt that she only knew the present and lived in the present to haunt and isn’t even aware of how long she’s been around. Her being more of a super natural being, time doesn’t exist. I do approach each character completely different though. I’ll create long back stories, sometimes I’ll go more method (just depending), but with The Night Hag, she organically came together.
DC: What challenges are present when you play a character that is so important to the film yet has no lines?
NJ: The Night Hag speaks for herself when she walks into a room. Well, crawls. You don’t know whats going to happen… if your dreaming or awake. I would say the main challenge was the contacts. The make up team at Hawgfly, (Meredith Johns, Jason Vines, Eric Zapata) were amazing and super professional! The make up was head to toe, face prosthetic, chest prosthetic, about 4 hours to put on, and and hour and a half or so to take off. But, we would have to put in the contacts first, because the make up was literally right up to my eye. I don’t normally wear contacts (knock on wood), but they didn’t either, so it was comical in the beginning when we were all trying to figure it out! I did not mind the hours of make up… I absolutely loved it and would do it over and over again!
Even though the contacts were the biggest challenge, they were the best thing that could’ve happen to the costume, honestly. They were light reflective, so if it was really bright or really dark, I couldn’t see, and everyone looked like shadows. But, for example, if the sun was setting, I could see enough to walk. I had to fully rely on my senses, which was super interesting and made her even more powerful for me.
The contacts created the world for my character! Phillip would give me my mark, before I crawled onto the bed and I would have to feel around for an object to use as my mark, or once I hit the carpet, count the number of crawls, before I reached the bed, couch, or whatever it may be, to climb up.
I had to re meet the crew, once I wasn’t in make up, because I only heard their voices, and didn’t know what they actually looked like! The crew and everyone at Hawgfly was great and made sure I was safe around set, even telling me what was for lunch because I couldn’t see what I was ever eating, ha!
DC: What inspirations did you draw from to portray the Night Hag?
NJ: Well, there is the obvious tons of online research, but what was amazing is how she naturally came together for me. In the script, it just says I appear and sometimes didn’t give much description, so a lot of times, Phillip would throw direction at me shortly before, or give me different directions last minute to play with and it all completely worked! Phillip also gave me direction on her movements, making her spider like in one scene, but he also gave me the freedom of playing with her more. She would be more spider like, but also giving her more snake like mannerisms with her lower body, so I actually drew from multiple things, but they all came together as one, once the make up was fully on and we started rolling.
DC: Did playing the Night Hag affect your sleep at all?
NJ: Ha! Nope! And don’t know if thats a bad or good thing, but I guess I have done more horror movies than anything, so I guess I’m used to it. But I also think thats why I was able to add more to her, not coming from a personal place to draw from. I was able to create more and add more to her individuality. I do have so many friends and been approached by so many people that do suffer from sleep paralysis, and it’s absolutely terrifying! And event hough they know me, they still are too scared to see it!
It was so great to finally work with Jeffrey Reddick, and Phillip Guzman, as a director, and such an talented cast and crew, and so thankful they brought me on board! Up next, I’m currently working on a comic book/ feature called MadCat and comic book to be released this fall of 2017!
From the creator of the immensely successful Final Destination franchise comes the paralyzing thriller Dead Awake. Drawing on the well-documented and infamous affliction known as sleep paralysis, Dead Awake features acclaimed genre actress Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil) in a terrifying new addition to the horror canon as well as Lori Petty (Tank Girl, A League of Their Own, Point Break), and Jesse Bradford (Romeo + Juliet, Bring It On, Hackers).