Interview – Jane Widdop

Jane Widdop - It's A Wonderful Knife photo

Working professionally since a young age, Jane Widdop is a talented actor with a bright future. Early on known for roles in such things as Amazon Prime’s The Kicks series, Widdop would go onto a list of roles in various sitcoms and films before landing on the very popular Showtime series Yellowjackets. A successful step forward for Widdop, they now find themselves as the lead in the new Horror Comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife.

A fun film mixing Horror, Comedy, and yes, Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Knife premiered on Shudder December 1, 2023 just in time for the holiday season. Excited about the film, Widdop recently sat down to talk about their career to this point, what they have learned from it all, plus much more. 

Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in acting for over a decade now and been involved in some interesting projects. How would you describe your career acting to this point?

Jane Widdop – I started doing it when I was a child. I kind of would take anything that was offered to me, I still do that. I’m definitely always the type of person to say yes.

I really fell in love with doing it as a kid. It was a way for me to skip school… no, just kidding (Laughs). I was never really good at sports or all the other extra curriculars; it was a way for me to feel like I had something that was mine as a kid. Then it just kind of blossomed into this wonderful thing that I fell in love with. I didn’t even really think about it as a career until I graduated from high school. Everyone was saying, “I’m going to go to college and be this and that.” I felt, I think I’ve already found it. That was really cool to be able to have under my belt just knowing that I love what I do and I want to keep doing it.

I think a lot before that time was just me having fun. It was doing whatever came to me, and being happy and grateful that I was able to do this. Now I really look at every project/role as a way to find a different piece of myself; to experience how somebody else might live and take a walk in their shoes. I love that I’m able to do that, I think it’s very unique.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, when you are young you really do not know what direction you want to go. Some people do not even know as adults.

Jane Widdop – Exactly! My mom went to a completely different thing than what she does now. You just never know.

Cryptic Rock – Very true. You started young with series such as The Kicks, among other things, and moved onto Yellowjackets most recently. What has it been like working on Yellowjackets?

Jane Widdop – Yellowjackets was incredible. When we shot the pilot, I was the same age as Laura Lee, 17. I was the baby on set, so everyone took care of me and brought me under their wing. It was really amazing to be able to see all of these different, older actors that I could look up to. I could ask them questions like, “Hey, what did you do for that scene?,” or, “What did you think about this?” For example, Ella Purnell, I would ask her a lot about how she went about a scene. I really liked that they were so open and receptive to me. Jasmin Savoy Brown was probably the first person to ask me, “Hey, do you want to be an actor?” I thought that was really cool… nobody has ever really asked me that before… I had to go home and think about it (Laughs).

It was really nice to be able to have a group of older actors who took me under their wing and helped me grow in my career. I’m really grateful for that. It is also such a cool project to be on. You’re out in the woods and you really bond with the people that you are working with because you have to. You have all these insane props… you’ve got a giant propeller just in the middle of the woods! It was all really cool, especially as a 17–18-year-old, it was just surreal.

The Kicks Amazon series poster
The Kicks / Amazon (2016)
Yellowjackets series poster
Yellowjackets / Showtime

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a fantastic experience. Which leads us to your latest film It’s a Wonderful Knife. So, are you a fan of Horror-themed films?

Jane Widdop – Huge, huge Horror fan. I probably blame it on watching M Night Shyamalan’s The Village (2004) when I was in fourth grade… like way too young. After watching that I thought, oh, I’m not scared… so I need to watch more Horror films (Laughs). I feel like it had an effect after that. I am also a really big fan of the Scream Queen/ Final Girl type thing. I love that I was able to embody one in It’s a Wonderful Knife. I do love Horror films, but my partner on the other hand does not… so I have to watch them in secret (Laughs).

Cryptic Rock – Very cool. In It’s a Wonderful Knife you have a leading role. The filmmaker, Tyler MacIntyre, asked you to be a part of this because he enjoyed your role in Yellowjackets. What did you think of this film when you read the script?

Jane Widdop – Before I even read the script, I was a fan of Michael Kennedy and Freaky (2020). I thought it was really cool that he had written a script, wanted me to be in it, and sent it to me. As soon as I read it, I fell in love with it. I loved the idea of this high fantasy/alternate reality aspect. I had never done anything like that before and I thought it was really cool.

I also love the way Michael writes. The first description we get of Winnie is a teenage girl… but he added that she had an air of loneliness. I took that and ran. Winnie is one of those girls that is with the popular crowd, but she feels a bit outside of it. She relates to the town weirdo. You are always wondering, why is she relating? It is because she has always been in the popular crowd growing up, but she doesn’t truly feel like she fits in… even though she’s supposed to fit in.

I really love that message that – even though it could look like you have everything, you are with the popular kids, and supposed to feel like you are doing everything right, you can still feel like you are lost.

Cryptic Rock – That is a very interesting underlined message. This is obviously a Christmas related Horror film. What are your ideas of the Christmas/Horror theme mixed?

Jane Widdop – I love the juxtaposition of the sub-genre. I like how you are taking this really scary thing and combining it with what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. Who would think to do that? I think that’s really cool. I also think that blood looks really good on snow (Laughs).

It’s a Wonderful Knife movie poster
It’s a Wonderful Knife / RLJE Films and Shudder (2023)

Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) This is certainly a fun film to watch. What was it like for you on set?

Jane Widdop – It was a great experience. I would kind of attribute it to something like a little family that all took care of one another. Even from an OG production standpoint, we had a paper attached to our call sheet everyday about pronoun edict. Each actor and character’s pronouns were listed. I’ve never had that before on a set. Everybody was really taken care of and made sure they were good before going onto doing another thing and if there was a problem.

I felt like we were able to do our best work because of that. I’ve never had that on another project before where everybody felt so safe and like a team. I think that was amazing to have and I’m really grateful for that.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a great environment for everyone; the best material comes when everyone is comfortable. You mentioned how you learned a lot on Yellowjackets from older cast members. What was it like working with the cast of It’s a Wonderful Knife?

Jane Widdop – What I love about being able to go on different projects is you get to see different actor’s processes. That is so cool to me. I’m a child actor so I’ve just done it in my head ever since I was little. Seeing the different ways people do it; seeing what Joel McHale, Justin Long, Katharine Isabelle, versus what Aiden Howard and Jess McLeod brings to a scene. Aiden, who plays my baby brother in the film, has not been in a lot, but he is just so brilliant in what he brings to a scene. Jess as well, they had this little book that was everything in the project that they needed to know.

I love looking at different actors and seeing what they do differently and what they do similar to me. I think that it was really cool that I was able to look at veteran versus baby actors on this project.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like a good balance. Since you do enjoy Horror films, what are some of your favorites?

Jane Widdop – I love Black Swan (2010), but I’m not sure if that is Horror per se. I do love X (2022) and I’m really excited to see MaXXXine. I also love Ready or Not (2019). Those are what I can think of off the top of my head. I just love the final girls in both X and Ready or Not.

For more on Jane Widdop: Twitter | Instagram 

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