Interview: Actress Ashlynn Yennie Talks About Hopping The Creepy Congo Line Again For 'The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)'
It must be difficult to not only be part of a twisted three-person human centipede, but to also be the last link of a single digestive system creature. Actress Ashlynn Yennie not only experienced that very horror the first time around, but in the upcoming sequel "The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)", she’s facing the creepy congo line once again, but this time as herself. Playing a version of Ashlynn Yennie as an actress from the first film, she now goes toe-to-toe with twisted and demented cinema geek loner Martin (played by eerie looking Laurence Harvey), whose fascination with the original Centipede inspires him to create his own homemade twelve-person version – minus the surgical experience of course. We got a chance to talk one-on-one about all things Centipede with the lovely Yennie, who shares her experiences working on both films, the differences between film foes Dr. Heiter and Martin and the possibility of crawling back for a third human helping. So please welcome "Human Centipede" tail-end gal...
How did you hear about the original "Human Centipede" and what was your reaction about possibly acting in it?
Ashlynn Yennie: It happened really fast. I was living in New York at the time and I had done a few TV spots, a lot of commercials, stuff like that. But I really wanted to start working in indie films and my manager e-mailed me – and I remember having this conversation with her – and she said, ‘Hey, do you want to audition for this controversial European film?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, cool, controversy, I love it! Awesome – let’s go!’ So I went to the audition and there was a sheet of paper outside of the casting room and it had a description of Dr. Heiter and all the characters and what he was going to do. And I remember thinking this isn't real, this is fake – it’s not gonna be a movie! So then I watched a bunch of girls just leave and go, ‘This is disgusting – this is so gross!’ And I’m just crazy enough to be like I’m gonna talk to them. I’m gonna see what these people are about and it’s sort of interesting. So I went into the room and there was the producer Ilona (Six - Tom’s sister) and she’s this beautiful woman sitting there. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god – is this for real?’ And she’s like, ‘Yeah, Tom my brother he’s got all these ideas in his head.’ I sat there and asked her a million questions and of course I did my audition and you can see our auditions on the end of the DVD of the first "Human Centipede." But I was cool and she was like, ‘You’re not scared by all that?’ And I was like, “No. Just so long as you make sure that that doesn’t happen to me, I’m cool.’ I got called a few days later and the next week I was flying to Amsterdam. But we had no idea that "The Human Centipede" was going to become a pop culture thing.
Dieter Laser gives an incredibly disturbing and creepy performance as Dr. Heiter in the first film – I must know was he anything like that character off camera?
AY: Here’s the thing about Dieter – Dieter is such a sweet man. The first time I met Dieter, I met him in the hotel and he’s really about the acting. In Europe it’s different than it is here in America; if you’re an actor in Europe, you’re an actor your whole life. That’s all you do – you can’t have other jobs. I think Dieter’s been in the same theater company since he was seventeen and he’s in his late sixties now. He was great and sweet, but the minute he got on set as Dr. Heiter, he WAS Dr. Heiter for the rest of the filming process. He didn't hang out with us, he didn't talk to us, if he saw us in the hallway he would give us a weird little smirk and he was in character the entire time. That created this huge barrier for us where we were like, ‘Oh God, he’s SO creepy’ – it was just so weird. And when we were done filming, he came into the wrap party and he was smiling and dancing and all of us were like, ‘Dude, Dieter - turn it on a dime huh?’ He was like, ‘I’m done filming! I’m fine now – I can have a drink!’ But he is an amazing actor!
You did end up as the tail-end of the original "Human Centipede" – what are your thoughts about it and do you find yourself getting recognized for the role?
AY: Absolutely not! (Laughs) I’m asked if people recognize me from the film and I’m like NO! Also because in the film I have very, very curly hair and I wear my hair very straight in real life and it’s not so red. So I feel like I looked a lot different than I do normally, but my face was in ass for half the film, so I don't think people would recognize me! (Laughs)
Laser’s demented doctor did mention the term “First Sequence” – did you know that Tom Six had future films in mind?
AY: Yeah. When we were filming he talked about doing a second one and we were like, ‘That’s weird!’ I think Tom knew that this film was going to be huge. I remember even asking him, ‘Are you really gonna call it "The Human Centipede" – that’s such a weird name!’ He knew from the get go what this film was gonna do and what his vision was for it. He had this foresight for what was gonna happen with "The Human Centipede." I didn't know about the third one, but I knew about the second one.
Not much is known about Six – what kind of a director is he on-set?
AY: He’s amazing. He’s one of those guys who give you an idea or a sentence or a nugget of info and he’ll let you take that and go with it. He’ll direct you, but in the slightest way, and then all of a sudden you realize you’re doing exactly what he wanted you to do! And he’s right there with you. Like when you’re in the centipede, he’s not a million miles away watching on a monitor, he’s right there next to you - even if he has a coffee in his hand! But especially when we filmed part two. He was with me so much when I was down on all fours during my scenes with Martin that I said, ‘I feel like you’re in the centipede with me Tom!’ And he was like, ‘I am!’ He has all these crazy ideas in his head – and he’ll execute them all very well.
What were your thoughts upon learning that you would once again be involved in the world of "The Human Centipede?"
AY: I was actually excited about it! The thing that was hardest was keeping quiet about it for so long. I couldn’t talk about it for a year and a half – only a select few like my boyfriend and my mom! I just remember when we were filming it thinking this is exactly what Tom told me he wanted to do. He really did want to create something that again would cause a lot of stir, which this obviously has. But a lot of horror fans and a bunch of critics had said of the first one that it was kind of slow, it wasn’t really gory enough, it doesn’t really stay true to horror and all that stuff. So Tom was like, ‘You want to see what a real centipede would look like – a real one?’ And so when we were making the film, I just thought this felt more like real life to me than anything. With part one I felt like we were making a move about a centipede, this one felt like I was really being made into a human centipede. The working conditions were just disgusting where we were filming and it was so gross, but it worked because it looked so visceral on film.
Was it at all strange to be back, but playing yourself as an actress from the first film?
AY: It was actually really, really hard because I had to throw in a lot of little things that I’ve just picked up along the way from being an actress and also what other actresses have done. Tom wanted me to play an actress in LA and he was like, ‘You’re playing yourself - Miss Yennie!’ But I was playing this actress who is so about herself and she thinks she’s amazing. Amazing enough to think she could do one film and then audition for Quentin Tarantino – that’s how pompous she is. I come across that a lot in LA, people who are like ‘I don’t audition anymore’ and I think that’s so ridiculous. Dustin Hoffman still auditions! Come on kids, let’s be real! I think it’s funny because for me I’m nothing like that and I’m still working my butt off! Tom thought it would be really funny to throw that in there. You end up in the film seeing a thread throughout all of the characters that become the centipede - none of them ever talk to Martin, they talk at him. No one ever engages him in a conversation and no one is ever really nice to him. You’ll see in the movie how it’s like that person is actually a bitch, but she’s gonna become a centipede, so it’s kind of funny – Tom had this all in the back of his head.
Laurence Harvey looks a tad on the demented side in this second outing – what was he like to work with?
AY: Laurence is completely the opposite of Dieter and I think for Laurence the biggest thing was he didn't want to be compared. And it’s really hard because people are going to, but at the same time it’s a totally different film. So Dieter was one way, very commanding on screen and the character of Martin is this very twisted individual, but he’s so hurt by so many things in his life and you get more back story about him. You learn more about the character and why he’s doing what he’s doing. So I think that helps support the film a lot. Some people think it’s a very thin layer of plot, but actually there’s a lot below the surface if you really dig for it. But Laurence is this guy who on my first day on-set bought me these little candies and I was like, ‘Wow – a gift from my hometown! You’re so sweet!’ I hung out with him on-set and he’s just a fun guy. But he has this face that can look two different ways very easily. He does a lot of children’s shows, which I know is surprising, in London and it’s because kids think he’s so cute. If you take off the glasses and the mean look and he just stands there with a little pout he looks like a cute little kid. But then he can also look completely evil, so it’s weird, all the twists and turns.
Any talk about coming back for a third helping?
AY: I mean, I don't think so. I can't say anything about it because I really don't know anything about the third one, but I know that Tom is planning on shooting it here in LA. But look, he killed me as a character and he killed me as me, so I’m not sure there’s room for me to come back! (Laughs) I don’t know what Tom has up his sleeve, but of course I would be happy to do the third film.
Any other projects for yourself on the horizon?
AY: Right now, I have a couple of films that I did in between the Centipede films that will be out later next year, some straight independent films. But for now, I’m a working actress and I’m just trying to find that next role. It’s hard to break away from Centipede once you’ve done these films and I’m kind of associated with them. So it’s not that I want to break away from them, but I need them to be a springboard for other things - I’m just working and seeing what I can do next.
“THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)” OPENS IN SELECT THEATRES IN NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES ON OCT. 7 FROM IFC MIDNIGHT