Robert Hall’s Lightning Bug is now available on Blu-ray, and I had a chance to talk with Hellraiser‘s Ashley Laurence earlier today about her role in the movie. Continue reading to learn about her interest in taking on the part, her love of painting, and the issue some people have with her GEICO commercial:
I just recently had a chance to watch the Blu-ray version of Lightning Bug and really enjoyed your performance in it. How did you first meet up with Robert Hall and why was Lightning Bug a movie you wanted to be involved in?
Ashley Laurence: I met Robert working on a horror film in Ireland, and we bonded creatively over some of the aspects in that film. We became friends and he told me he was writing a story that was semi-autobiographical. I was supportive of him and he wanted me to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of it too, but there were some powers that be who weren’t sure I could play a part like that. Kevin Gage is a huge reason why I booked that role, because he had met me in passing and said that I was the actress they needed. People don’t normally do that, and his willingness to step up for a stranger really made a difference.
Having spent quite a bit of time in Alabama, I can say that everything portrayed in the movie was pretty authentic. Was it a challenge to perfect your southern accent?
Ashley Laurence: That was a real point of focus for me. I didn’t want to do that bad over-the-top accent, so I got a dialect coach. Jessica Drake was Tom Hank’s coach for Forest Gump, and I worked very hard for my role to have authenticity. I felt that was my job, and spent plenty of time at Walmarts and airports, living the life of someone I was very unfamiliar with. The world has ultimately been very kind to me, and to play someone that has been ignored, by her own volition or circumstance, was a challenge.
Part of this movie deals with people who see the horror industry as evil. Have you encountered anyone who had issues with your previous work?
Ashley Laurence: I got looked at for doing the GEICO commercial where I was in love with the gecko. I had two people come up to me and tell me how perverted and obscene it was that I had a relationship with a lizard. Firstly, I asked them if they knew it was a cartoon. One woman was so vigilant, that I said “you should have seen the outtakes…,” and walked away. [laughs] You never know what is going to trigger someone because everyone has their own history.
What did you do to get in the mindset of this character when filming started?
Ashley Laurence: I paint, so I painted the bags under my eyes. I painted the purple, yellow, and green that comes from drinking, malnutrition, and all of the things this woman was going through. The more allergic I was to whatever was blooming in Alabama, and the more swollen my face got, the happier I was. [Laughs]There was very little maintenance, which was incredibly freeing. I went to the thrift stores and distressed the clothing, because I needed to have a tactile relationship with this woman. There was a level of respect I wanted to portray with this character, because no one sets out to be a victim. I didn’t want to vilify her and wanted her to have some empathy and grace.
Can you tell me about your work with Kevin Gage? There were some really intense scenes there…
Ashley Laurence: Kevin is sweet and he’d kiss me on the forehead in between takes. It’s not his first rodeo and certainly not his first time playing a character that could knock you six ways from Sunday. He’s a consummate professional. There was this one scene in the darkness, where his character was supposed to hit me. We moved at the wrong time and his fist grazed my nose. Thankfully, he pulled his punch. If he didn’t have that muscle control and awareness, he would have busted my face. I completely trusted him.
It’s been nearly 10 years since the movie was originally released. What’s something that will always stick in your head from your time on the set?
Ashley Laurence: The sense of collaboration and the sense that everyone was all-in working toward a common goal. We shot in a real trailer and the flies weren’t hired. There was an immersion that happened and it comes through when you’re watching the movie.
For our readers who are interested in keeping up with your latest work, can you tell me what you have coming up? I understand you do quite a bit of painting.
Ashley Laurence: I have painted since I was very little. I was the weird kid that stayed in during recess. That’s always been a very private outlet for me, but people are sort of gravitating towards it. At first it was a little unnerving, because it was so private, but I’ve received a wonderful response and people have been really kind.
I’m also going to be doing a French film. I have no idea how it’s going to go because I don’t speak French, but I’m down for it. Let’s do it! [laughs] I’ve been fortunate that my job has taken me to many places that I couldn’t have foreseen, so I just go with it.
Here’s a trailer and more information on this week’s Lightning Bug Blu-ray release:
“After wowing genre and mainstream audiences and fans during its initial DVD release, Image Entertainment will release Lightning Bug for the very first time on Blu-ray January 15th in an all-new, never-before-seen Extended Cut. The screenwriting and directorial debut of award-winning special makeup effects wizard Robert Hall (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Pineapple Express, Quarantine, Superbad), Lighting Bug launched a career that eventually spawned the creation of horror icon “ChromeSkull” in Hall’s Laid To Rest and ChromeSkull: Laid To Rest 2.
Lightning Bug is a nostalgic journey through the budding aspirations and sobering realities of youth, as told semi-autobiographically by writer/director Hall, with a stellar cast including Laura Prepon (“That 70’s Show”), Bret Harrison (“Grounded For Life,” “The O.C.”), Kevin Gage (Heat) and Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser and Hellraiser II).”