Interview: Hayley Griffith on Starring in Her First Movie, SATANIC PANIC, and Her Favorite Behind-the-Scenes Moments

Hayley Griffith at the Beyond Fest screening of Satanic Panic
(photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth)

Watch out, actress Hayley Griffith is about to take the world by storm in her first starring role as Sam in the wild horror comedy Satanic Panic. Griffith is also known for the TV series The Mysteries of Laura (2015) and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2015). Satanic Panic features an iconic cast that includes Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O’Connell, Ruby Modine, Jordan Ladd, and Jeff Daniel Phillips, and tells the story of a pizza delivery girl who ends up being pursued by a Satanic cult who want to sacrifice her. Satanic Panic was directed by Chelsea Stardust, and written by Grady Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan, who worked together on Mohawk.

The ensemble cast works together perfectly to pull off an absolutely hilarious, and terrifying, movie that features some bonkers practical effects. From her intense, comedic performance, you would never know that this is Griffith’s first movie. She’s genuinely funny and has to endure some unbelievable scenes, including a virgin sacrifice to Baphomet.

Dread Central was excited to have the opportunity to talk with Hayley Griffith about Satanic Panic, her favorite moment on set, trying to keep a straight face with co-star Jeff Daniel Phillips, and a lot more. Read on to find out what we talked about!

Satanic Panic is the first original film from the recently relaunched Fangoria label and will be released by RLJE Films in theaters, On Demand, and digital on September 6.

Dread Central: I think you’re fantastic in Satanic Panic. What appealed to you about the role of Sam?

Hayley Griffith: Thank you! What really drove me to the part was that she wasn’t just this innocent victim. I feel like it’s easy for characters to fall into that trap of, “They’re just the innocent virgin and that’s all they are, and they’re trying to stay alive.” I like that she had moments of being a badass and, you know, punching a kid in the face (laughs), because she will do whatever it takes to survive and she won’t just let it all happen to her, which I really, really love.

Dread Central: This is your first movie and your first horror movie. What was it like compared to doing comedy and drama?

Hayley Griffith: It was crazy! It was different in the fact that it’s more physical. I feel like it’s a lot more demanding in that way, especially with horror. You have to be at a ten all the time. The stakes are always really high, so that was a lot different than doing straight comedy or drama. It was just fun to get to work with practical effects. I’ve always been a huge horror fan, so it was kind of my fucked up little kid dream come true, which was great (laughs).

Dread Central: Satanic Panic has a great ensemble cast and everyone works so well together. I know horror/comedy isn’t easy. What was it like working with everyone and do you have a favorite moment from filming?

Hayley Griffith: Getting to work with everyone was incredible because they are all just the nicest people and I was genuinely shocked by how kind everyone was and how open everyone was, not only as actors, but as people. That was just so nice to have. Everyone was so fucking funny. Jeff Daniel Phillips, who plays Steve, has a huge background in horror. I could not stand next to him because he was making me cry laugh the whole time and it was a nightmare trying to keep a straight face (laughs). It was a joy to have everyone be so funny and have that kind of rapport on the set. It is tricky to get the horror and comedy right, but I think we were given a great gift with Grady Hendrix’s script, because he is such an amazing writer and he does it so well that he easily makes it very clear which parts are horror and which parts are comedy. It just made it a lot easier.

Honestly, my favorite thing about filming was probably Jerry O’Connell (laughs). That really was such an iconic moment for me (laughs) and he was so funny and so down to earth. That was such a big, action-y, bloody kind of scene, so it was just amazing, to not only work with him, but to get to do such a crazy scene, it was just unbelievable.

Ruby Modine and Hayley Griffith in Satanic Panic

Dread Central: Satanic Panic features some crazy practical effects and you have some pretty intense scenes, especially the scene with Ruby Modine in the kitchen. What was it like filming that and working with the effects?

Hayley Griffith: It was amazing. Like I said, I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid and I’ve always dreamed of doing stuff like that, which might be a weird dream to some (laughs). It also makes it feel more real, that everything is happening right in front of your eyes, so it makes it more thrilling and exciting to watch. Those scenes were just crazy. It’s very intense to do it and it’s a lot of, everything has to be very specific, which can be very challenging. But the end result, and even just watching it there, makes it more satisfying and fulfilling.

I’m telling you, that scene with Ruby in the kitchen was absolutely nuts! I said to her after that day, “You are the baddest bitch I’ve ever met (laughs).” She even put live worms in her mouth. I was like, “Ruby, I almost vomited and I didn’t even do it.” Stuff like that made it even more real to us, which was just nuts and amazing. I didn’t really talk a lot that day (laughs). I had my whole monologue throughout that intense scene, so trying to stay focused on that, but also making sure to have all the writing correct and do everything correctly. I was very quiet that day (laughs).

Dread Central: Can you tell me what you’re working on next?

Hayley Griffith: Right now, I’m auditioning a lot for a lot of great, crazy stuff that hopefully works out. I just finished my second movie, which is exciting. It’s a period, drama piece, so it’s extremely the opposite of Satanic Panic (laughs). So, I have that coming up and just the hustle of auditioning, so I’m hoping things work out.

Dread Central: I was really blown away by your performance in Satanic Panic! Congratulations!

Hayley Griffith: Oh, thank you so much! That means a lot!



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