I was about 5 or 6 when I decided I wanted to be a plastic surgeon because my mom wanted bigger tits. She always said, “Lauren, if you become a plastic surgeon, then mommy can have bigger boobs! And a face lift!” So I decided I would be a plastic surgeon. My mom brought all kinds of cool stuff home for me to look at: Dermal Regeneration Templates, books for kids who were interested in becoming surgeons, and a list of costs of procedures. I didn’t really understand the concept of money at that age, I thought that if you ran out of money you could write yourself a check and the bank would just help you out. I didn’t really think one way or the other about my mom’s rack, or being rich, but I wanted her to be happy because she worked so hard. My grandmother was a nurse, so she offered to let me come to work with her and watch her help patients. On the first day, she had to clean a man’s stitches from a severe head wound. As she peeled off the bloody bandages, I backed into a corner, turned green, and fainted. We decided that a life of surgery wasn’t for me.
I began writing plays after that, and forcing my classmates to rehearse them at recess and perform them for the class. One day, fed up with the gross amount of improv and diverting that was going on, I fired the lead actress (my best friend) and became Thespis. Since then, I never stopped and found that I had no other skills. So, here we are.
How did you first break into the industry?
Break into the industry? That’s news to me! My first film was a mo-cap animated movie called The Prodigies that tanked. Rising Stars was my first live-action film that was produced by Andrew Van Den Houten who subsequently produced The Woman and Jug Face. I auditioned for Rising Stars and then Andrew found out that I was a horror fan, and suggested I meet Lucky McKee the following year to discuss a potential role in The Woman. The Woman was a huge success, and after that the horror roles kept coming. But I wouldn’t say I’ve broken in anything that wasn’t a previously owned pocket book.
What do you bring to the film set?
Working in indie film, I know now that I need to bring at least 10 cans of Deep Woods Off, 12 bags of beef jerky, 30 bags of throat coat tea, Neosporin, 4 bottles of red wine, 2 boxes of nuts and sea salt Kind bars, 4 dvds I can watch over and over when the wifi stops working and I can’t watch Netflix, one big ass depressing book, two bottles of sunscreen, and one bottle of my favourite moisturizer Weleda Skin Food.
From my actual self, I try to maintain focus, empathy, humour, and I’m working on grace…
Your most insane day at work?
There have been so many. Every day on the set of Jug Face was insane because we were constantly checking ourselves and each other for ticks. One day, 7 guys came in saying they were members of the T.O.D club. I named it that after finding out that ticks really like a particular place on a man’s genitals. The sound guy had it the worst because he had to stand outside perfectly still for very long takes. He had about 8 ticks on him every day, and leeches!!! When we filmed The Mind’s Eye, there had been a couple horrendous blizzards in Rhode Island where we were filming. They had this boat of a car I had to drive, and I’m a tiny person at 5’1″. I had to sit on a sand bag to just barely get my eyes above the steering wheel. I could scarcely reach the pedal with my foot, and I couldn’t see over the snow banks getting onto the highway without putting the entire nose of the car halfway out. That was a terrifying day.
Most interesting person you’ve ever met?
Jeff Dowd, the real Lebowski. That was pretty epic. And actually, a good friend of mine, Arthur Shapiro. Arthur has a blog called Booze Business http://www.boozebusiness.com/ and his stories blow me away: Larry King, Lauren Bacall, Gary Cooper, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Buffet, and the company Seagram’s itself. You wouldn’t believe this shit. It’s incredible.
Have you any hidden talents?
I can do a lot of voices: South Park, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, almost every character on Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place except for Sanchez. I can’t figure it out!!! I do a decent Sean Connery and I’m pretty proud of my Walken. I think everyone should attempt to do a Walken. I also like to do my friend’s voices as well- some of them aren’t so fond of it.
Ultimate dream role?
I finally got to play a villain in Darling. That was really important to me, and so much fucking fun! I’ve always loved Ruth Gordon’s characters. To be permitted to be that free within the script. I think that there is a sense of play that has doesn’t exist as much any more in film and television. The comedy is played out so often in jokes, and what’s on the page; the dialogue itself, rather than the chemistry between actors and the moments of silence that can hold so much intention and significance. Typically, moments of silence now are used to show off pretty faces or a dead pan gaze. I won’t say that it’s extinct, but I don’t see it as often.
Person you’d like to meet?
Henry Selick! He saw me in a couple of films and told directors Joe Begos and Mickey Keating that he liked my work. That meant the world to me. I wish I could have been there. Also, Helena Bonham-Carter because, well, it’s absurd that we haven’t already.
Current project(s)? The Mind’s Eye by Joe Begos will be released this summer. Imitation Girl by Natasha Kermani will be out next year. I am directing my first feature, Loveshy, and have a finished short Introducing Parker Dowd. I also created and wrote a web series with comedian Lewis Black called The Mentors. Joe Begos and I will be collaborating again this fall. And I’m writing a movie musical called The Day You Went Dark about a singer/ songwriter with schizophrenia with music by Laura Stevenson.
Any pearls of wisdom for upcoming talent?
Do you have any for me????
Be kind to people, make friends, don’t do cocaine or smoke cigarettes as they will rob you of your good looks and hard-earned money, read whatever books you like just don’t stop reading, watch all kinds of movies, write- even if you don’t think you’re any good at it you’re probably better than most, get a general physician and keep up on your health, call your loved ones often even when they drive you crazy, then text them, I see a shrink and I love her (but I had to go through a handful to find one I liked) there are sliding scales for artists, find a skill or learn one that you can get paid for immediately: camera operating, editing, photoshop, sound mixing, colour correction, producing (line or production coordinator), photography (head shots), early childhood education, excel/powerpoint (if you don’t mind temp work with lawyers and finance people).
We have to stop accepting and teaching that being a starving artist is okay. Let’s educate the talent coming up, and educate ourselves so that we can afford to pay our rent, to have families, to travel, and to live our lives the way we want. Every day, ask yourself: “How do I want to spend my time?”.
Get to know Lauren a little further…
IMITATION GIRL: www.imitationgirlfilm.com
INTRODUCING PARKER DOWD: https://vimeo.com/136342754
INTRODUCING PARKER DOWD TEASER/CAMPAIGN: https://vimeo.com/104873782
THE BOTHERING A HORROR/COMEDY PARODY TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlE1QrGs7KY
WARWICK STREET PRODUCTIONS (LAUREN’S PRODUCTION COMPANY): http://warwickstreetproductions.com/
ILLIUM PICTURES (THEIR SISTER COMPANY): http://www.illiumpictures.com/