A veteran of stage, screen and television, Michelle Tomlinson is one of the strongest names in the indie horror world. Michelle was the recipient of the 2007 Shriekfest Film Festival’s “Pretty/Scary One To Watch” award for her role in ‘The Cellar Door’, a psychological terror film that ups the ante in the archetypical girl-trapped-by-a-serial-killer theme.
You won’t find many actors or actresses enjoying four films of theirs simultaneously making the rounds in the festival circuit, but Michelle has earned her top notch reputation thanks to a high-motor work ethic and a commitment to the craft she loves.
While her acting skills aren’t only reserved for the blood and guts of horror (she’s also played a white supremacist and an ex-stripper. Not in the same film, mind you..), the genre we all love so dearly is certainly where Michelle is able to showcase her arsenal of talents in the most awesome ways possible.
I had the chance to chat with Michelle, and she was nothing but an absolute joy the entire time we emailed back and forth. Her infectious gung-ho attitude and positive mindset stand to make her a presence in the indie community for the long haul. And that is fantastic news for anyone who enjoys a great performance.
Ladies and gents, I present to you my interview with the fantastic Michelle Tomlinson.
1. Your list of skills is mind-blowing. (juggling, speed talking, kung fu and pogo stick, just to name a few). I literally can’t do any of those things. What is one special skill you strive to learn?
I WOULD LOVE TO LEARN HOW TO SWORD FIGHT. IT’S A POETIC AND SMOOTH FORM AND ONE OF THESE DAYS… ONE OF THESE DAYS I’LL GET TO PLAY!
2. You won the 2007 Shriekfest film festival’s ‘Pretty/Scary One To Watch’ award for ‘The Cellar Door’. Did you know right away that this was going to be a special project, so acclaimed? How did you prepare for the role?
I HONESTLY HAD NO IDEA WHAT WOULD COME OF THE FILM. TO SAY I WAS STOKED TO PLAY RUDY IS BEYOND AN UNDERSTATEMENT. SHE GOES THROUGH A ZILLION TRANSITIONS THROUGHOUT THE FILM AND WAS EXTREMELY CHALLENGING. I NEVER LOOK AT A PROJECT AND SAY “THIS IS THE ONE.” I THINK ONCE YOU DO THAT, YOU ARE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR A SINCERE BITCHSLAP OF REALITY. EVERY AND ANY PROJECT CAN BE SUPER KICK ASS IF IT’S EXECUTED PROPERLY ON EVERY LEVEL–OR IT CAN GO DOWN IN FLAMES. THE TEAM THAT CREATED AND EXECUTED THE CELLAR DOOR ARE ALL AMAZING HUMANS AND I CAN’T WAIT TO WORK ON THE SEQUEL WITH THEM.
IN TERMS OF PREPARING, I READ THE SCRIPT PROBABLY ABOUT 100 TIMES OR MORE. I WROTE AN ENTIRE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY CHARACTER AND WORKED ON THE RELATIONSHIPS SHE HAD WITH EVERYONE IN HER LIFE–INCLUDING HER ROOMIE CHRISTA AND THE RELATIONSHIP THAT EVOLVED WITH HERMAN. I BROKE EACH SCENE DOWN USING A MIXTURE OF ADLER AND LYNDON TECHNIQUES TO GET TO THE BONE MARROW OF EVERY MOMENT, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. THEN… I JUST LET MY IMAGINATION TAKE OVER FROM THERE. I MEAN, WHAT THE HELL WOULD IT REALLY BE LIKE TO BE CAGED LIKE THAT AND TORMENTED?? I FIND IMAGINATION TO BE A LIMITLESS TOOL WE GET TO PLAY WITH… A TOOL THAT ALLOWS US TO REALLY DISCOVER TRUTHS WITHIN THE WORK WE DO.
3. You really are an actress of 1,000 faces. What is your favorite kind of role to play?
ANYTHING WITH SOME JUICE AND DEPTH. SPANNING ANY GENRE, REALLY. I NATURALLY GRAVITATE TOWARDS TOUGH GIRL CHARACTERS BECAUSE THEY ARE A BLAST! BUT CHARACTERS I CAN SINK MY TEETH INTO THAT STRETCH ME AS AN ACTOR HAVE THE UTMOST APPEAL.
4. Having done a variety of pictures in several genres, is horror your favorite to work in? Why or why not?
IN A LOT OF WAYS, YES, I LOVE THE HORROR GENRE. WE HAVE TO FORCE THE IMAGINATION TO WORK OVERTIME IN THIS GENRE. I LOVE BEING SPLATTERED WITH FAKE BLOOD AND BEING STICKY AND GOOEY! BUT I ALSO SIMPLY LOVE THE CRAFT OF ACTING. I FELL INTO THE HORROR GENRE–HAPPILY SO–BUT MY ORIGINAL INTENT ON THIS JOURNEY WAS TO STICK TO INDIE DRAMAS AND GO DOWN THAT PATH. NOW I’VE DONE BOTH AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER WITH THE MIXTURE OF EXPERIENCES. I BELIEVE IT’S IMPORTANT TO CROSS GENRES WHEN YOU CAN AS AN ARTIST AND NOT BE MARRIED TOO MUCH TO ONE IDEAL. THE THREE FEATURES I’M IN THE MIDST OF GETTING OFF THE GROUND ARE ALL IN… THE HORROR GENRE. 😉
5. Who is your favorite woman in horror?
THAT I DON’T KNOW PERSONALLY? JAMIE LEE CURTIS. I’LL NEVER GET ENOUGH OF HER IN THE HALLOWEEN FLICKS. THAT I DO KNOW PERSONALLY, IT’S DEFINITELY A TIE BETWEEN MY GIRLS KIMBERLY AMATO AND BROOKE LEWIS. THEY ARE TWO OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS IN THIS BIZ AND NOT ONLY ARE THEY SOLID ACTORS, BUT THEY ARE BOTH GIRLS OF MAGNIFICENT INTEGRTIY AND ARE A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION TO ME.
6. What led you into the horror genre?
I FELL INTO IT! NO COMPLAINT THERE! ALSO, NOT A HUGE SURPRISE. I GREW UP WATCHING A TON OF HORROR AND VIETNAM WAR FLICKS WITH MY DAD. IT’S A GENRE I’VE ALWAYS LIKED. I ACTUALLY BOOKED THE FILM “BRAIN DEAD” AND SHOT IT ABOUT A MONTH BEFORE I SHOT “THE CELLAR DOOR.” IT’S AN AWESOME GENRE TO GET TO PLAY IN.
7. If you had to have one role represent your entire career up to this point, which would it be?
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, IT’S NOT IN A FILM. IN COLLEGE, I DID A STAGE PRODUCTION OF “FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE.” FRANKIE… IS MY MOST FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE WORLD. SHE’S INCREDIBLY FLAWED. SHE STARTS OUT VERY GUARDED AND COMES ACROSS PRETTY BITCHY. BUT IT’S JUST BECAUSE THE GIRL HAS ISSUES! SHE HAS DEEP SCARS, BOTH VISIBLE AND WITHIN THE REALM OF HER SOUL THAT SHE CARRIES AROUND WITH HER. SHE’S BEEN TERRIBLY ISOLATED AND HAS FOUND A BIT OF HERSELF IN JOHNNY. THE INTENSITY BETWEEN HER AND JOHNNY IS A MIXTURE OF ANIMALISTIC PASSION AND SENSITIVITY. THERE’S A LOT ABOUT THAT CHARACTER THAT’S ALWAYS RESONATED IN ME AS BOTH AN ARTIST AND A HUMAN. THAT’S ABOUT THE ONLY PLAY I THINK I’D BE WILLING TO DO AGAIN……
8. Who is your favorite horror villain?
FREDDIE. ANYONE WHO CAN COME AT YOU IN YOUR DREAMS AND MAKE IT ALL INTO SOME F**KED UP TWISTED LETHAL REALITY IS TRULY A SUPER VILLIAN! NOT TO MENTION HAVING A HAND OF KNIVES IS SUPREMELY BAD ASS…
9. Any chance we see juggling in any of your upcoming horror projects?
OH DAMN I HOPE NOT! HAHA! MAYBE I’LL JUGGLE FOR SOME OF THE OUT TAKES AND STICK IT IN AT THE END… I’LL HAVE TO PRACTICE WITH SOME SEVERED HEADS OR SOMETHING…
10. What projects are you currently working on?
AS AN ACTOR, I’M ABOUT TO SHOOT A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SUPER GRITTY DRAMA FEATURE FILM CALLED OFFICER DOWN, WHERE I PLAY AN ABUSED BUT VERY MANIPULATIVE GIRL. I’M ALSO TO BE IN THE BIO-PIC “MANSON RISING” AND THE NEXT “DAHMER VS. GACY”.
AS FAR AS PRODUCING AND ACTING, NEXT UP IS A SUPER TWISTED FEATURE FILM CALLED “THE LOATHING” AND IT IS RAPIDLY REACHING PRE-PRODUCTION. THE SEQUEL TO “THE CELLAR DOOR” IS CATCHING SOME TRACTION, AS IS THE FEATURE FILM VERSION OF ITCH. ITCH IS A PROJECT I’VE BEEN WORKING ON WITH MY BIZ PARTNER KIMBERLY AMATO FOR SOME TIME NOW. EVERYTHING IS IN KILLER SHAPE AND MY FINGERS ARE KNOCKING ON WOOD..
I sincerely appreciate Michelle’s time and support with this interview. I look forward to hearing, reading and seeing years and years of more amazing work from you, Michelle!
Please check out Michelle’s official website for all news and info related to the kick-ass actress!