November 23, 2022 Interview – Kevin Lewis, Mena Suvari, Sarah Grey, & Alexis Knapp Talk The Accursed
In many circumstances the working environment on a film is the most vital aspect. When all cast and crew are in line with one another, there is a level of comfort that shines through in the final product that is evident. This is the case with the recently released Horror film The Accursed. A film directed by Kevin Lewis, known for 2021’s Willy’s Wonderland, The Accursed unifies a cast of talented actresses ranging from veterans such as Meg Foster and Mena Suvari to newer talents such as Sarah Grey and Alexis Knapp.
Each bringing something different to the project, together they unite for a Horror flick that is compelling, at moments tense, and other eerie. Released on October 14th, Director Kevin Lewis along with cast members Mena Suvari, Sarah Grey, and Alexis Knapp recently sat down for a conversation about their experience in film, working on The Accursed together, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have all traveled very interesting career paths and had successes along the way. Briefly tell us, how would you describe your careers to this point?
Mena Suvari – I have forgotten how old I am… I think I’m forty-three. (Laughs) At this point in my life I’m just trying to live in gratitude. The first time I connected with Kevin Lewis he had just survived COVID and it felt like such a refreshing conversation for someone who was pumped for life and to make art; it felt so exciting. I’m just happy to be alive and do what I do. I get to work with fantastic people and make art. I love the genre of Horror; I’ve been a fan of it my whole life. I get to work with really incredible people who are really passionate about what they do, it’s a win-win situation.
Sarah Grey – I also feel very grateful. I feel lucky that I get to do this, it blows my mind constantly. To get to work with such great people… the people you work with make the experience. The comfort and ease we had with The Accursed was such a blessing and made for such a fun experience.
Alexis Knapp – My career has been rooted mostly in Comedy and Party films… with a little Horror here and there. As an actor I’m grateful to make anything, no matter what the genre is.
Kevin Lewis – I’m grateful to work with these amazing actors and work on The Accursed. As Mena said, I survived COVID; I was in the ICU for two weeks, and that kind of changes you. Willy’s Wonderland (2021) was coming out at the time, and it’s funny, you just have a different perspective. I just want to live life – I have four kids, be there for my family, and make movies. One of the big highlights for me was when my kids were watching Willy’s Wonderland at a watch party with all their friends from school. That’s what I want to do, I want to make movies for people to enjoy and get away.
I know The Accursed is a deep and dark movie, but it also is entertainment. Also, if someone sees a film I made and they say it inspires them, that to me is one of the best things. We are only here for a certain amount of time and we are going to leave, then it’s the next generation, etc. We got to work with Alexis’ daughter Kailani on this film too, and she will also take the reins one day.
For me it’s all about human connection and the human spirit. I know I may sound like a cheeseball, but I don’t care. That is another thing after COVID, I don’t care. I don’t care about Hollywood producers or this or that, it doesn’t matter to me anymore, it did before, but not anymore. As Robin Williams said in Dead Poets Society (1989), “Carpe diem”… and that’s it.
Cryptic Rock – Wow. It sounds like you all work together well. You mentioned The Accursed, which is a new Horror film that explores witchcraft in a unique way. How did The Accursed come about for each of you?
Kevin Lewis – I read the script, it was Rob Kennedy’s script, and I loved it. The first seven pages captured my imagination completely and I said I have to make this film. We started on the path to making it and I’m so thankful that these lovely ladies saw the script, met me, and talked about what they and I wanted to do. We all came together to make this film.
Mena Suvari – I got the script and I was already a fan of the genre. I was really excited about this character and what she was going to do… it was really different. Once I connected with Kevin and had such a great conversation, it was simple, these are the kind of people I want to work with.
I have worked on so many things where directors were not present and didn’t have a passion. Just knowing that Kevin had such an aura and demeanor about himself, there was just so much in place that I was excited to challenge myself with.
Sarah Grey – When I got the script, I also really loved the writing. I then talked to Kevin and he had such a disarming quality to him. I just knew I would feel so safe and ready to play this role. I love Horror so I was super excited to work on this with Kevin.
Alexis Knapp – I got the offer when I was visiting my ex-boyfriend in Milan, Italy for his birthday. It was quite a surprise, I read it while I was there, and after soothing my nervous system for a while, unsure if I could handle this, I realized I most definitely wanted to do it. I especially wanted to do it because my character was so powerful and strong. My character was rooted in not trying to entertain anybody; unlike a lot of other characters that I’ve played before.
I already agreed to do it, but once I met Kevin, I knew without a doubt I wanted to do it. Kevin is such a beautiful person with a very good heart; you do feel safe around him, he has a paternal energy about him. Whenever we were on set, he always asked if we were ok about things and was never forceful.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a wonderful working environment. The Accursed has a lot of creepy scenes within it. For example, the scene where you hit with this imagery of the deceased mother (portrayed by Meg Foster). So, what was like creating the dark imagery within The Accursed?
Sarah Grey – The image you reference, I kept dreaming about. I was having a few nightmares from that. (Laughs)
Kevin Lewis – I like movies that are very dynamic and the cinematography is moody; I guess I’m not the Hallmark kind of guy. (Laughs) There is a great place for Hallmark though, my wife loves those movies. (Laughs) I always say I like the drama on the screen, not in real life. I like moody, dark, atmospheric, and dim lighting. I love exploring the human condition, and what better story to explore that than with The Accursed where the sins of the mother on their daughters.
Seeing that it is a cyclical thing and seeing that Sadie is going to wind up like Marylin… it’s kind of tragic. We can do something about it as human beings, right? I tell my kids, “You are going to make your mistakes, and here are mine. I don’t want you to make my mistakes, so I’m giving you the 411 on everything that I did. You can make your own mistakes.” For me, with these characters, there is a particular tragedy with them that they don’t learn.
Again, Sadie is going to wind up like Marylin; If Elly lets the regret go, instead of letting the guilt eat her, and instead talks to somebody… maybe she wouldn’t go to the cabin. These are all things in the human condition that I think we can all learn from. I wanted to make a movie that resonates with people. Yes, it’s Horror movie and entertainment, but you think about things.
A friend of mine saw The Accursed who said he was really thinking about his mom who is getting older and it got to him. That is really exciting for me because now we are talking about things, things that are bigger than us and the movie; we are talking about things that really matter in people’s lives. I love making movies that give people insight or look into who they are or who they can be. It’s cathartic, and The Accursed is really cathartic for me.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly does make you think about what really matters in life because we all deal with loss, guilt, and regret. The Accursed also stands out for Horror fans because there are some practical effects used. That is refreshing to see in a genre where it seems like CGI is everywhere. Tell us about the practical effects.
Kevin Lewis – I love the idea of maybe a 60/40 or 70/30 split of practical effects, depending on the projects. The idea is practical effects are very tactile; you can feel it and touch it. I was very adamant on doing as many practical effects as we can.
However, doing an Indie film like this and the days we had, it eats up time; you have to make sure you are spending that time wisely. We did a practical demon; Troy James played the demon and he was awesome. With the hand out of the mouth of Meg Foster we had a practical hand and we mapped it, so we knew the movements. We also had a model hand as well, so the hand with the lips to Ellie was really wild. It was fun creating the demon. I love practical effects; I try to do them as much as I can.
Cryptic Rock – It works well. There is a scene where Meg Foster’s character has a disgusting mucus oozing out of her mouth. What was that like working with that?
Mena Suvari – We shot that just after lunch. (Laughs)
Sarah Grey – I was just trying not to gag, it was so gross. (Laughs)
Kevin Lewis – The sad thing is when you get older things are kind of gross. I wanted that believability. We said as we rolled the camera, “More goop, more goop!” (Laughs)