Interview: Actress Danielle Harris On 'Hatchet III', Directing And Wedding Bells
There’s just no denying the fact that we love actress Danielle Harris. From her early work playing memorable kid roles in films like Halloween 4 and 5 and "The Last Boy Scout" to her more adult fare with "Stake Land" and "The Victim," Harris just keeps captivating us with each outing. Her latest sees her going back into familiar territory as she once again goes toe-to-toe with monster Victor Crowley in "Hatchet III." Reprising her role as the emotional Marybeth, Harris’s role this time around calls for a more sullen, scared and surprisingly sassy turn that is by far her best work yet. We got a chance to chat one-on-one with Harris, who was delightfully candid as she talked about everything from her return to the swamps for "Hatchet III" to directing for the first time and even some personal nuptial news to boot. (Congrats Danielle!) Being true fans of her work here at Starpulse (we even donated money via Kickstarter to help her finance her directing debut "Among Friends!") we’re so proud to present our chat with the multi-talented...
Again, I have to say the final moments of "Hatchet II" are not only chilling and lingering, but some of your most memorable work...
Danielle Harris: Thank you!
For "Hatchet III" how did it feel starting of right from where you let off?
DH: Exhausting! (Laughs) It’s been really challenging because most feature films or projects in general you get a chance to ramp up a bit. But in "Hatchet II" I had to start where the other girl left off and do all the hard work and then in part three I had to do even more. Never does that ever happen. But got to really feel the arc of the character come full circle and it was pretty intense. It felt like home this time around and I just picked up where I left off. (Self-mocking) It felt like home she says – that’s weird! (Laughs)
In the opening scene you’re covered in about as much human blood and guts as I’ve ever seen – what was that like to shoot really?
DH: It was one of those times where I thought ‘Oh God, I forgot how much I hated this.’ It’s so fun though and when you’re taking your clothes out of a bag that they put them in completely covered in blood two years ago and you’re having to put them back on and they can literally stand up on their own, it’s pretty nasty and disgusting. But you’re just used to it – it’s almost comical. I was doing a scene that involves someone falling on a chainsaw and there’s blood being squirted on me in every different direction. We had so many people squirting me with blood from the air pump machines in my mouth that I was literally choking on it and I just started to laugh. And BJ and Adam and our special effects guys were all laughing because they were completely destroying me and I was laughing being destroyed – and it was kind of fun.
What I love about your character in this one was how much you kept the anger and angst bottled up and internal – was that a conscious choice you made for Marybeth?
DH: Yeah. I think there has to be something that happens to you - the anger phase of it all. There’s denial and anger and it’s sort of where Marybeth was at that point and there’s really nothing to lose. There’s such an internal anger from what has happened to her and all that she’s gone through and it builds strength. But it’s funny because there are comic relief moments from Marybeth in this one.
Absolutely! Your character is much more sassy and verbally vicious this time around – especially in the scenes where you’re in the back of the cop car. It reminded me of you as a foul mouthed little kid in "The Last Boy Scout." How much fun was that to unleash?
DH: (Laughs) It was really fun! But the back of that car we were sitting in was in a hundred and ten degree garage and the actors I was working with were having a hard time getting their lines out. There was no air and I was sweating and my boyfriend at the time put these ice packs down my pants and shirt so I didn’t get some sort of heat stroke. So there’s that anger of having to go through all that and be so friggin’ miserable – all that sassiness and attitude towards everybody was a hundred percent the way that I was feeling! I think a lot of people could be one trick ponies sometimes – even me with the genre. But Marybeth in the second one was a little bit different then I had ever been offered because there was more emotional vulnerability. And three was tougher, but as you were saying paying homage to Last Boy Scout a little bit, which is kind of cool for fans of that film. But I didn’t realize it until you brought it up, so I think there’s something fun about that.
"The Victim" was had one of the most intimate and raw kills for you I’ve ever seen – can you talk a bit about what that was like to shoot?
DH: Shooting "The Victim?"
Shooting that scene – it’s really harsh.
DH: I know. Well, that’s a lot of editing too and sound and all that stuff. If anything it was more uncomfortable. Listen, I love Michael Biehn, he’s like family and Jen’s like my sister and I trusted him completely. I looked when he was setting up the shot and I kept going back and forth to the monitor and seeing things because like you said it’s pretty brutal. There’s just something not okay with the way it looks and the way it sounds. It’s pretty gnarly. It’s the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever watched me have to do – I still have a hard time looking at it. And then I felt bad because I saw Ryan (Honey, co-star) like a week after and I was like, ‘I’m so sorry – I know this is worse for you then it was for me!’ I just had to take it and do it. But it came out really well.
I am so excited to see your directing debut "Among Friends" – how did it turn out and when the heck do I get to see it?
DH: It turned out amazing. It’s August 27 and it will be VOD and DVD and Digital Download. It’s really great and we shot it in 10 days with a shoestring and a toothpick and a deck of cards and we pulled together. It was like six days before we went into production and then we just went to work. Seven cast members in every scene, three cameras in every set up, eighteen pages a day, amazing contribution from my fans, which made me feel like you guys wanted me to do it. But "Among Friends" is awesome, it’s funny and it’s all kinds of wrong.
You and AJ Bowen for me is a slamdunk – can’t wait!
DH: And he’s so friggin’ great in this movie too. All the stuff that I captured of him on film, if you know him like I do, when you’re watching it you’re like, ‘That’s AJ, that’s AJ.’ He’s not playing something else – I got all of those authentic moments on camera and I love it. He’s hilarious and charming, but he’s also got a really f*cked up side to him that I love.
Any itch to direct again?
DH: I may take on directing more. I may do one movie a year instead of five and direct one movie a year – it’s a little more where I want my career to go. I still have a wicked f*cked up sense of humor like Todd Solondz and I like "Kids" and "Bully" and I loved "Spring Breakers." Those kinds of movies to me are a little bit different and creative and that’s what I like – think out of the box.
What’s next for you directing wise?
DH: I’m in the middle of optioning a script right now and I’m hoping we can do it. My producing partner on it found it for me when she was working on another project and sent it to me and said, ‘This is gonna be your next movie.’ And I read it and went this IS my next movie. I read a ton of scripts just to make sure and there’s nothing that can touch this movie. I can see it, I can smell it and I can taste it. Now I just have to get the writer to sign off on it, which we’re doing right now. And then I’m getting married in January...
DH: Thanks. So there’s like wedding planning and then I’m gonna go and start to shoot this ideally end of winter, early spring of next year.
And finally are you super excited to eventually be working with great Xavier Gens on "The Farm?"
DH: Yeah – I’ve been waiting to do that for so long. I’m like, ‘Guys, when are we doing it?’ I love him obviously - I put him in "Among Friends." He’s such an amazing director and writer and it’s such an incredible character that I’ve never done before. And the script is so twisted that I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s rumored that it’s maybe going in the fall, but it keeps moving around a bit. But I’m super stoked and I’m looking forward to working with him.
"HATCHET III" HITS SELECT THEATERS ON JUNE 14 FROM DARK SKY FILMS.