Today we are very pleased to be able to say that we have actress and model Sara Malakul Lane on the site in order to talk with us about her new horror film Pernicious. You may already know Sara from films such as Sun Choke, Jailbait and Sharktopus and now she brings us this Thai set horror film about a murdered child out for vengeance. We talk with Sara about the film, her Thai background, working in Hollywood and how she sets out to challenge perceptions of how a “good Thai girl” must act and dress. Read on for more…
Let’s talk Pernicious, first of all can you introduce both the film and your character to our readers?
Pernicious is a horror film that was shot in my home country (Thailand). The producers Kulthep Narula and Daemon Hillin are good friends of mine, I love working with friends in my hometown so for me this film was more about just hanging out with good people. I actually took a meeting with Kulthep for a movie around ten years ago and it didn’t work out but I knew another opportunity would come up and it did.
I play Samorn, it was a small but intense role. I enjoy playing supporting roles because the pressure is off, there is a sense of freedom and you can really have some fun. I don’t want to give away what happens for those that haven’t seen the film but it was a pretty epic few minutes of screen time.
It is, Samorn has quite a lot of impact upon the viewer! How do you prepare for small intense roles like that compared to leading ones?
In terms of preparation, its pretty much the same process for me, however big or small the role is.
What would you say marks Pernicious out as different to other horror films you have worked on?
I think the deaths in Pernicious were pretty creative and I always enjoy movies set in Thailand since I grew up here. And it was refreshing to read a script about Thailand that didn’t base itself around the infamous red light district. I am also loving female driven horror right now (ever since Babadook) and Pernicious fits right into that box.
It’s interesting to see you return to Thailand in an acting capacity but now within a Western film. In what ways does working within the two country’s film industries differ and how do they shape you as an actress?
When I left my career in Thailand my dream was always to be able to come back and shoot Hollywood produced movies here. 2015 has been amazing because I am currently shooting my second feature here in Thailand. I get to work with people I grew up with, for example the gaffer on this show (Knights) was the gaffer from the first movie I ever acted in over ten years ago. As for working in both industries I think Thai and American cultures are so vastly different there are bound to be misunderstandings on set but I feel very lucky to have a good grasp on both, although since moving to America I definitely feel more westernized. The highly competitive cut throat world of Hollywood has made me a much stronger more committed actress and person.
The lead characters in Pernicious make quite a few cultural blunders, the scene when one talks loudly and patronisingly to a shopkeeper springs to mind. Clearly the film is critical of this attitude and to an extent of the Orientalism many American (and British) films engage in when filming in Asia, do you find that people and films do often have misconceptions and inbuilt judgements about Thailand and her people?
As aforementioned a lot of the scripts set in Thailand highlight some of its uglier sides – the sex trade, the red light districts, but there is so much more to this country and its culture. Thai families, the belief systems, the way of life in the countryside, these are all complex parts of Thailand that are often overlooked by foreign filmmakers and yet are so interesting if you really dig deep.
I’m pretty interested to hear about your new project Wishing for a Dream. What can you tell us about that?
Wishing for Dream is probably the most personal project I have ever done and I was terrified. To be honest I didn’t think that we would ever show it to anyone, that it would kind of stay as a “home video” but there was a lot interest when we showed it to some producer friends and now it has worldwide distribution, a fast approaching release date, and has been nominated for some awards at various film festivals. This film is definitely biographical in every way, everything about it is so raw and real, a lot of the scenes were improvised and we shot it chronologically over 40 days so its very much a slice of life story.
Having started out as a model how did you find the transition into acting? I understand that, to an extent, you learnt on the job so to speak…
I began my career acting in a Thai TV series when I was 15 years old, so I actually transitioned from acting to modeling, but my modeling career took off and more people knew me as that. But essentially I learned everything on the job.
I’ve previously heard you speak about striving to work in the middle of the Thai binary representation of women (either the jealous man stealer or the angelic sweet girl), representing real women who can be sexy but also good natured, intelligent and sympathetic. Was this something you set out to do when you first became a model, or did it evolve over the years?
I have always strived to change the perception that a “good Thai girl” never dresses sexy, never goes out dancing or has a boyfriend. I think this all started when I was in my teens making a name for myself in the Thai entertainment industry, I felt immense pressure to be this perfect angel, that never does anything naughty. I really didn’t know any better at the time and my teens and early twenties were incredibly boring. But soon as I moved to America I learned that things weren’t so black and white, and I had this huge revelation. Ever since then I’ve done my best to get the message out to Thai girls that maybe haven’t had the opportunity to leave and spend time in America. It actually took me a good three years to shed the “I have to be a perfect princess” mentality so it doesn’t happen overnight.
What sort of feedback do you receive from Thai men and women about breaking out of those moulds?
Obviously there are people who totally understand where I am coming from and support me, then there are others who think I am crazy, that I tainted my image, but at the end of the day I am now able to be myself, and really not give a shit about what anyone thinks.
And finally, what else can we look forward to seeing you in during the coming months Sara?
I have Kickboxer coming out in early 2016, followed by a horror movie called Beyond the Gates and I am currently shooting a very cool sword fighting movie directed by my all time favorite director, Jared Cohn so lots of exciting stuff !
And that’s all folks! Hope you all enjoyed our interview and thanks again to Sara for taking time out of her busy schedule for us. Be sure to drop your thoughts off in the comment box below before you leave!