You may remember me chatting with Sadie Katz a while back about Wrong Turn 6 (here), well now I’ve sat down for a bit with her costar Aqueela Zoll to chat about the film, horror in general and more… read on for our interview!
Was it the franchise’s history which particularly drew you to the role, or was your decision influenced more by the script?
During the audition process I only knew I was auditioning for an Untitled Film and had two sets of sides to read for Toni, the character I was auditioning for. Some of the time you don’t have a chance to read the script before you’re actually booked on the film. I knew that the film was shooting in Bulgaria for almost a month and I liked Toni’s character from the character breakdown and sides that were provided. So I was ideally attracted to the opportunity to travel and spend a month working with a cast and crew in a completely new part of the world.
Many reviewers, including the one on this site, found that the film was stronger and more inventive than they would have perhaps expected from such a long running series – why do you think the Wrong Turn films have been able to stick around as long as they have?
The amount of people that support the horror genre is larger than I really imagined. At the Wrong Turn 6 premiere in LA I was ecstatic to see how many fans were out supporting the series and the new installment. I think the Wrong Turn franchise has lasted as long as it has because fans keep coming back for more. I know the purpose and goal of Wrong Turn 6 was to keep true to what the fans expected from a horror film in the series, while raising the bar on the storyline and attributes of it as an almost stand alone film. I was impressed and happy with what we did in such a short amount of time.
Do you have a preference for working in either a film from a long running series or a standalone film? What differences, if any, are there between the two?
I can’t say that I have a major preference. There are benefits to either. In a long running series, you have an opportunity to follow the back story that the audience knows as well. If you need to draw from those characters or situations it’s all very accessible. If you have a chance to do more than one of the series you have the chance to work with a team you’ve worked with before and hopefully have good standing with. A stand alone film doesn’t give you or the audience the same history but that can be rewarding for an actor. You have a chance to create, with your director, those secrets that the audience may or may not discover on their own, and you’re telling a new story for the first time.
Frank Woodward, the writer, gave us a great script to bring to life. He had given us the story to live in so we didn’t have to invent so much as just bring to fruition. With Frank’s script and our director Valeri Milev’s creative eye and mind, I found I had a lot of freedom to still give Toni all of the dimensions that I could. There are always things that come up on set that maybe I hadn’t thought of before, but that’s natural. When you’re there and in the space you’re constantly being like how you are in normal life a lot of the time and just…as your character. So every time there is something a little bit new.
Was there much freedom to experiment and improvise on set then? Do you enjoy having the ability to improvise on a set? How does that inform and shape how you build a character?
We did have freedom to improvise on set and I am a big fan of that. Sometimes more than others. We would naturally discuss that sort of thing with Val ahead of time, but we all had the same goal in mind. We had no intention of rewriting any of the script, we just wanted to bring it to life as naturally as possible and that can call on natural improvisations. My character, Toni, was a very motherly and doting kind of girl, so I would always stay true to her in any of my improvised lines or reactions.
When I was talking to Sadie Katz recently she gave me her theory about why we all love horror films and being scared; essentially that the thrill of being scared is hardwired into us from birth… hence our first game being peek-a-boo. Do you have your own idea about why horror films are so successful and why we love to be scared?
I think some people love horror films for the same reason some people love comedies. Films are ‘entertaining’ and they’re designed to be for completely different types of people. There’s an entire global industry built on producing work that millions of people will pay to watch because in some way, it captivates them. I wouldn’t say I believe that the thrill of being scared is hardwired into us from birth, but I know that curiosity is. Horror films to me and the shock factor of them definitely fulfill a specific type of curiosity and then a reveal compared to other genres I think. People like problem solving, but they also really like feeling a step ahead of the game. Horror films give the audience both feelings. And obviously a lot of blood and sex, and a lot of people are just really into those.
You two appear to be off-screen friends now, did you first meet on the shoot?
Sadie and I met in Bulgaria, yes. We also went back and forth between sharing a trailer so we had a chance on set and off set to spend time and get to know one another. She’s a talented actress and a lovely, spunky lady. I think she’s absolutely wonderful.
Is it at all possible to seek out work where you’ll be spending time with friends from previous shoots? Or is it basically a matter of luck in regard to what projects you’re offered?
Working with actors, directors, crew, etc that you’ve worked with before isn’t out of the norm. I have done a lot of work this year on films where the director knew my work and called me in for an audition, or I’ve referred an actor I’d worked with before and thought would be great for a role. Sometimes it does come down to chance that you’re on set with a close friend, but not always. Everyone loves working with people they know they can count on so referrals are prevalent in a lot of different areas.
So, what else do you have on the way which we should be keeping our eyes open for?
Right now my biggest project is Red Matter Media. A talented actress and good friend of mine, Angie Dick, and I started it as our own media group very recently and already shot our first test run short film called The Phone Call. Our goal was never to actually make a media group but one thing led to the next and we’re both excited to see our work grow. We’re in the baby phases right now but it’s a step at a time process. It’s already been a massive educational outlet for us both, which was our intent, so we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do with it.
Excellent! Well I hope you all enjoyed reading my interview with Aqueela. Be sure to leave comments in the box below!