October 22, 2015 Interview – Ashley C. Williams
Gore fans everywhere are familiar with the 2009 cult Horror film, The Human Centipede: The First Sequence, a disgustingly horrific movie that leaves an unforgettable taste in one’s mouth, both figuratively and literally. Directed by Tom Six, this film is where actress Ashley C. Williams made her big film debut. The Human Centipede was an outrageous movie to start her career with, but William’s passion for film began long before 2009. Growing up, she fell in love with the stage and that is where her acting roles began to prosper. Continuing on with her passion, she graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and received the Charles Jehlenger Award for Best Actress. Now after catching her big role in the aforementioned The Human Centipede, Ashley has acted in films and television shows such as Empty (2011), Selene Hollow TV Series (2012), Lady Business TV Series (2013), A Guy Named Rick (2013), Leaving Circadia (2014), and Hallows’ Eve (2014). However, 2014’s Julia is William’s most recent leading role where she has received multiple Best Actress awards at several film festivals. A Neo-noir revenge Thriller about Julia Shames, who, after suffering a brutal trauma, seeks out an unusual form of therapy to regain her strength, empower herself, and take revenge on those who harmed her. William’s great performance will be sure to impress audiences everywhere. Recently the actress took time out of her busy schedule to sit and talk with CrypticRock about her years of acting, on set memories of The Human Centipede: The First Sequence, what she wants for her future, and the passion for her new film, Julia, which is being released on October 23, 2015 in theaters nationwide.
CrypticRock.com – You have been working in entertainment since you were a child. Since then, you have gone onto a career in film with a variety of credits. Tell us, what inspired you to get involved in film?
Ashley C. Williams – I only started doing film about five years ago. I was mostly doing stage up until then. I got into it because my mom started taking me to auditions when I was ten years old and I ended up booking lead roles in plays in my hometown and just fell in love with it. I love being able to entertain people and inspire people and take them into a whole new world and do it believably and to continually practice doing it believably. So I really love that challenge.
CrypticRock.com – That is great. A lot of actresses/actors start off that way. Your 2009 feature film debut, The Human Centipede: The First Sequence, is quiet a compelling film to be involved with. Do you have fond memories of working on that film?
Ashley C. Williams – (laughs) Fond memories, hmm. We had a lot of down time, when they were setting up shots and there was this brilliant chef on hand that would make us really delicious food, and we would all just chill. Akihiro (Katsuro in The Human Centipede) and I would just be sitting there with the scars on our cheeks painted on, but our mouths could only open so wide and we had to keep them on for the entire day. So when we had lunch breaks, I could not open mouth really wide, so we would just have so many laughs, so many laughs about trying to stuff food into our mouths in any way possible (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, one cannot imagine eating at all, after filming a movie like that. Was it hard for you to eat after watching the film for the first time?
Ashley C. Williams –When I first saw the film, I saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse at Fantastic Fest, which is in Austin. They had dining theater so you can order food, and the waiters bring you food and drinks while you are watching the movie. And I remember ordering a grilled cheese and fries. It was like comfort food at the time, because I was really nervous to see the film for the first time. So, I ordered the food and it comes half way through the film, and I just couldn’t touch it… not that I was grossed out it, but it just didn’t seem right.
CrypticRock.com – Totally understandable. Now, recently you took on the lead role as Julia in the film of the same title. How did this role come about for you?
Ashley C. Williams – The script was just sent to me from old managers of mine who happen to be the producers of the film. They had thought of me for the role and they sent me the director’s statement and his prior short films. I watched his films and knew he had vision for this and that it would be done in a quality way. I read the script and was completely enamored by the character. She goes on this incredible journey and it was exactly what I had been looking for at the time. I did not even know it was going to plop into my lap like that. It was amazing timing and I ended up having a three hour chat with the director and the production office, and they were actually gearing up to start filming days later. I did a screen test and we were so on the same page. I already related to some of who Julia was to begin with so that really helped dive into it. We shot the film days later and I did not have a lot of prep time, but that is how I got involved… just very quick!
CrypticRock.com – The film is very impressive, especially with how they took a different take on a rape revenge story. With that said, the film has a very strong message and it could be viewed as empowering in many eyes. How do you feel about the character of Julia?
Ashley C. Williams – Oh yeah, I took a lot from that character. Even though she is this made up character, I was actually very inspired by her journey and how she empowered herself, how she gained all this strength and internal power. The transformation she goes through, I definitely took that into my own life and it was one of the more challenging aspects of playing her. She was a truly powerful kind of goddess character that does not give a shit about anybody or what anybody says to her and she’s just going to live her life and that is it. With taking that into me, it kind of just stayed after I played the character, like, “Alright, lets do this!” I gained my own sense of empowerment by playing her.
CrypticRock.com – Completely agreed. What really works with Julia is that the film is not heavily reliant on special effects and it creates an atmosphere mostly with dialogue and soundtrack. Working with Matthew A. Brown, how important was it for him to create this eerie atmosphere?
Ashley C. Willams – I think he was heavily influenced by the movie Drive (2011) with Ryan Gosling: the neon coloring, dark moody streets. I think that was what he was going for. Most of this film was shot at night in New York’s Chinatown and he wanted to have that juxtaposition of light and darkness, beauty and evil, kind of all coming together. The visual aspect was very important to him. The neon colors, the dark streets, the bitter cold all show the emotional place Julia was in. The visual shots of the street lamps and the snow falling down was all done on purpose.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, and the visual shot of Julia on the escalator before her transformation, and then the exact same shot after her transformation was pretty powerful. So, the film has received a variety of releases over the past year internationally. How are you feeling audiences are reacting to it?
Ashley C. Williams – Exactly, it was beautifully done. As far as what people are thinking about Julia, I think people are acting positive towards it and there are definitely people who want to compare it to other rape revenge movies like I Spit On Your Grave (1978, 2010). I think the people who want to compare it to other movies are really only seeing the surface of Julia and not the underside spiritual awakening that she is going through during her journey and transformation. The people who have experienced that type of thing in their own life will see that in Julia and appreciate the movie even more for that. I do not think we have received any horrible reviews. It has been pretty positive. I’m eager to see what the United Sates thinks of this film.
CrypticRock.com – It will be very exciting to see for sure. Seeing you have starred in a few Horror films now, do you enjoy the Horror genre and do you want to expand into other genres in the future?
Ashley C. Williams – Yes, when those opportunities arrive I will grab them by the balls! I came into the Horror genre from The Human Centipede and I had no idea my career was going to go in that direction. Before that, I wanted to be in films like Braveheart (1995), Gladiator (2000) – big kind of epic emotional Dramas. That is where I saw myself. I kind of got catapulted into the Horror genre and those are the only scripts being offered to me because that is how people see me. I’m definitely eager – not to get out of the Horror genre, because there are aspects of the Horror genre that I do love – but because I’m ready to move on to other genres.
CrypticRock.com – Those who have seen Julia would agree you are already a step there, because it goes way beyond a Horror film.
Ashley C. Williams – Exactly. That is why I chose Julia. I was not going to do any more Horror, and then Julia comes along. I did not consider it a Horror film. Yes, it had graphic violence, nudity, and blood, but there was so much more to it. Not so much a Horror film, but a psychological revenge Thriller, and I thought, “This is good!” If anything, the coloring the character has and the array of what I can do as an actress can help people see me in different types of work.
CrypticRock.com – It most certainly will. What are some new projects you have on the horizon?
Ashley C. Williams – I cannot really talk about it because there is still a negotiating process going on with couple of directors. But definitely some good stuff coming up and of course I will announce them when I can. I’m also writing my own screenplay at the moment. I am very excited about that. Of course, it is (for me) to star in and I will possibly produce it as well; a passion project. So, that is taking up most of my time and I’m just excited to see what Julia has to say for me!