May 6, 2020 Interview – Nicole Brydon Bloom
Some actresses spend their entire careers searching for that one special role in that one bold film that truly makes a statement. Not Nicole Brydon Bloom. Entering into television and film after an early career in community theater, Bloom has already been featured in such high-profile series as The Michael J. Fox Show and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Add to this her work in films such as 2016’s Better Off Single and the 2016 short An Ideal Marriage, and you have a talented woman who is consistently honing her craft.
Her biggest challenge to date came in the form of the new Horror-Thriller 1BR, which arrived to Digital on April 24, 2020, via Dark Sky Films. In the lead role, Bloom enters into a kind and caring rental community in hopes of finding love and acceptance, but what she discovers is something far more sinister. Perfectly depicting the psychological and physical struggles of her kind-hearted character, Bloom gives an exemplary performance amid a wonderful cast. To celebrate the film’s release, Bloom sat down to discuss her career, all things 1BR, the film’s strong message, and if she’ll ever trust a landlord again.
Cryptic Rock – Nicole, you have been involved in acting for going on a decade. What initially inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – My parents put me and my twin sister in community theater when we were seven years old. It was a fun after school activity at first, but then I grew to really love it. I ended up at a theater camp called Stagedoor Manor where I met some of my best friends. My love for performing really blossomed there. Those summers at that performing arts camp also showed me that acting and working in this industry was an attainable goal, a viable career option.
I quickly discovered that if there’s something in life you are so passionate about that no matter how difficult it can be you still find joy in almost every moment, then it’s worth pursuing. The entertainment industry is not easy—I’ve dealt with many, many “no’s”—but that makes getting the “yes” so much sweeter. I think there’s something very cathartic about performing. The opportunity to delve into a writer’s environment, a whole new character with perhaps a completely different experience or worldview than you, is just absolutely incredible. I’m happy to be doing what I love.
Cryptic Rock – Well said and also wonderful to hear that you get to do what you love. Speaking of which, you’ve worked in both TV, including such high-profile series as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Michael J. Fox Show, as well as in film. What have you taken away from your involvement in series acting and brought with you to your roles on the big screen?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – I think there’s a lot you can learn from each medium of entertainment. I grew up doing theater and performing live on stage. In some ways performing live is the easiest for me, because once you begin you continue through the entire story at once—every moment is alive and present and happening right then and there. Of course, it’s more difficult because of that too—you don’t get a chance to cut or call for a line and start over. Whereas in TV and film, you do have the opportunity to do multiple takes if you feel off or just want another go at it. That said, a lot of the time you’re diving right into an emotional scene that’s three quarters of the way through the story without having filmed the first half of the project yet. So it’s an interesting thing to navigate.
I transitioned from the stage to TV and film around the same time. My first experience on set was for NBC’s The Michael J. Fox Show. I had a small day-player role but it was such a wonderful way to begin to understand how things work on a television series. That was basically a crash course for me in the world of on-screen entertainment.
1BR was one of the first things I booked out of college, and it was my first leading role. So that in itself was a huge learning curve, as well. I think if I took anything from my experiences in television, it was probably confidence in myself that I knew what it would be like on set, and also knowing that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. For a long time I thought asking questions would highlight how “green” or inexperienced I was, but that’s the thing—that’s the time we should be asking questions. In fact, we should never stop asking questions.
Patience was another big thing I learned while on set for both television and film. It’s funny because you might be prepared to do your scene, but suddenly the lighting needs to be adjusted or someone needs to go back into hair and makeup. So you end up waiting an hour and then you have to get back into whatever headspace is required for you to give your best performance under a deadline.
Cryptic Rock – Clearly you have learned a lot along the way, and you channel that into your starring role in the upcoming 1BR, which marks the feature debut for Writer-Director David Marmor. What was it about this project that drew you in, and what was it like working with David on set?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – I absolutely loved David’s script the moment I read it. I have to admit, I’m pretty easily scared and usually need to be coaxed or bribed into watching a Thriller or Horror film. (Laughs) However, I love reading books and screenplays that keep you on the edge of your seat. That’s exactly what 1BR did for me. In fact, my roommate made fun of me because I kept exclaiming as I was reading the script for the first time. I’d be like “Ahh!” and “OMG” when I came to a suspenseful or scary moment, and definitely cringed and looked pretty horrified when I read those particularly difficult scenes—not to give anything away.
I also think I felt a connection to Sarah, as I’m sure many people will, as well. She’s in a new city, she’s trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Everyone has been there. We’ve all dealt with some sort of uncertainty about our future or frustration when you just can’t seem to get things going. And despite a rather difficult childhood, Sarah remains a kind, trusting person. Which, unfortunately, is ultimately what gets her into trouble. But she’s lured into this community with the promise of family and love, which we all desire on some level.
David was wonderful on set. As I mentioned, we had a very tight shooting schedule, so most of the time we could only do a couple takes of each scene. David was always very calm and measured, even when production around us was a bit crazy. You know, you’ve got so many things that all need to happen at once—lighting, background actors, hair and makeup, marks, camera angles, etc.—and he always kept us calm and focused on what we were doing. Despite the time crunch, I never felt rushed. And he was very good about giving us actors the freedom to play around with it a bit until we found what felt right together.
Cryptic Rock – That’s important to be able to provide input to get everything to click. And as you already stated, 1BR is also your first starring role in a feature. Considering that his particular Horror-Thriller has a lot to say, was taking on the role of Sarah ever daunting or did you find yourself at ease in the character?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – I definitely found the process a bit daunting at first. I was actually one of the last actors brought onto the project, about three days before we started shooting, so I did not have a lot of prep time. But as I said, David was super helpful on set, and I fortunately was able to memorize the lines very quickly thanks to my time in live theater. It’s a helpful first step!
From there I could delve more into the character and her motivations. My co-star, Giles Matthey, was a great support on set, as well. I felt at ease almost immediately with everyone there. He’s a bit older, and far more experienced in the world of TV and film, so it was nice to have his guidance and support, as well. As serious and dark as the film goes, on set everyone was so lively and charismatic. I never felt weighed down by the subject matter.
Cryptic Rock – That is also important that you were at ease and no doubt contributes to the success of the finished product. Now, as we’ve already noted, Sarah is a super sweet, trusting young woman who is just trying to find her way in Los Angeles. Along the way, she ends up befriending the fiery Lisa, splendidly portrayed by Celeste Sully. In real-life, are you more of a Sarah or Lisa?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – (Laughs) That’s an interesting question. I’d like to think I’m a bit of both Sarah and Lisa. I could never have pulled off such a fabulous Lisa though! Celeste really brought that role to life. I think Sarah is ultimately more passive than I am in real life, but I definitely felt at ease with her sweet disposition and desire for happiness for herself and those around her.
There was a day when I was in costume for one of the last scenes—my face was all bloody, as were my clothes—and one of our producers had music playing during a break. I was eating a bag of Doritos and dancing literally like nobody was watching. Our producer Sam got it on tape—that was probably more of a “Lisa” moment for me. I took “dance like nobody’s watching” pretty seriously—just a girl covered in blood, dancing to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” while munching on some junk food.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) But that’s important! We all have to harness our inner-Lisas sometimes or life would be boring. Speaking of ladies who are definitely not boring, Susan Davis, who portrays Miss Stanhope in the film, is a bright and bold personality who has been acting for decades. Did you learn anything special while working with her?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – Oh my goodness, Susan is an absolute sweetheart! She was such a delight to work with; she was like a bright light coming onto set each day. Susan has been acting for so long and I think we were all just thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a talented, kind woman. I think she was a great reminder of why we love to do this. She’s been acting her whole life and still gets so much joy out of it. I hope I’m half as happy and half as talented as she is when I’m her age.
Cryptic Rock – We have no doubt that you will be! To delve back into the specifics of filming, there must be a fine line to walk when you’re creating a film that is not just about thrills and chills, but also has meaning to it. Were there any challenging moments on set?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – There were a few scenes that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Sarah goes through quite an ordeal of both psychological and physical trauma in the first half of the film. Those scenes where I’m quite literally in that “1BR” all alone were challenging. I wanted to honor the story and the script, and the reality of what she’s going through, while also maintaining my own sanity. But as I said, everyone on set made that so easy for me. I felt safe going to those extreme emotional places because of the support from our cast and crew. I studied psychology at Elon University and have always found the way the mind works fascinating. So it was cool for me to work with David on discovering exactly how this kind of physical and mental torment was affecting Sarah at any given moment.
Cryptic Rock – There is a lot of deep, dark psychology involved in the film, definitely, and your performance really drives that home. That said, besides entertainment, what do you hope moviegoers take away from their time with the film?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – I think David’s script makes an interesting commentary on society. Almost all the details he pulled for the guidelines of the community were from real cults and communities throughout history. Many of which were based in LA. It’s an interesting lens into that aspect of our world.
Cryptic Rock – Will you ever trust a landlord again? (Laughs)
Nicole Brydon Bloom – (Laughs) Never! And I will most definitely respect any “no pets” policies.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, that sounds like a good plan! (Laughs) Understanding that everything is very up in the air at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully, what is next for you?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – Things are definitely at a bit of a standstill at the moment—our whole country and world is. I think a blessing that has come out of this time at home is that many people are turning to artists. You know, whether you’re binging a new Netflix series, checking out some cool independent films, taking a virtual tour of a museum or reading poetry, we’re all looking to artists for support and inspiration right now. I’m excited to get back to auditioning, and hopefully working on some challenging, unique projects in both TV and film.
Cryptic Rock – Last question. If you are a fan of Horror or Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites?
Nicole Brydon Bloom – Psychological Thrillers are my favorite. I love The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Dead Calm (1989), Silence of the Lambs (1991), Split (2016), Black Swan (2010), and Secret Window (2004). Special shoutout to The Shining (1980) and Psycho (1960)—I don’t think I slept for weeks after seeing those two. (Laughs) I also really enjoyed Arrival (2016) with Amy Adams. I think she’s a brilliant actress and I loved the premise and detail of that screenplay.