Last month, Jakob’s Wife celebrated its world premiere at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, and to mark the occasion, we shared the first part of our interview with the film’s star, Barbara Crampton (you can read it HERE). And now that the film is set to debut at limited theaters and on digital platforms this Friday, April 16th, we have the second part of our interview with Crampton to share with you, where the legendary actress discusses the real-world inspirations behind the onscreen relationship she shares with Jakob’s Wife co-star Larry Fessenden and how she worked out the various beats for her character Anne, who undergoes a very bloodthirsty transformation throughout the film.
Be sure to check out Jakob’s Wife this weekend, courtesy of RLJE Films.
I know you get to do some very big things with your character here, but I want to talk about finding the smaller moments, because those quiet moments really set the stage for these characters and they put everything in motion. There were times when I really felt like you and Larry totally disappeared into the Fedders here.
Barbara Crampton: Well, we had a wonderful script. Mark Steensland won best screenplay at Shriekfest Film Festival in 2015, but the script did undergo a few drafts and a few changes over time. Travis, when he came in about a year before we started filming, added some things to the script as well. He also talked to Larry and I specifically about our own marriages, and about our relationships with our own spouses, and little things that bothered us about our spouses or that we bothered them with, and Travis was able to incorporate that in the script.
So there are moments in the script where Larry talks over me and interrupts me and my own husband does that to me. He doesn't do it to overshadow me. He doesn't even know he's doing it. He's just such a strong personality that he just does it, so he cringed a little bit when he saw the movie and he went, "Oh, that's what I do, don't I?" I said, "Yeah, that's what you do (laughs)." There's a scene in the movie where Larry's on the phone and he's yelling to me from another room, and I'm cooking dinner. I don't know what he's saying to me. I can’t hear him. My husband does this to me all the time. He makes me come to him to say, "What? What did you say to me?" He doesn't come to me if I can't hear him. He makes me come to him.
So, we peppered stuff like that into the film. That's real. Larry and I also talked on a couple of Zooms together and emails. We shared a house when we were shooting the film in Canton, Mississippi. He and I talked very much about our relationships with our spouses and all the different stuff that happens, the snoring. He's a snorer, apparently, and so is my husband. I've been woken up by my husband numerous times. I wear earplugs to this day every single night because he snores a little bit and I don't get a restful night's sleep. It was fun to be able to incorporate the realistic moments that Larry and I both have at home and use them in the film.
Before we go, I wanted to talk about Anne's transformation throughout Jakob’s Wife, as there are these different levels to what she’s experiencing. How was it digging into those aspects of your character? It feels so different than anything we’ve ever seen from you before.
Barbara Crampton: Oh, yeah. I mean, I had to map it out in the script and there had to be a progression of her being with no makeup and completely raw and natural, and how after she gets bitten physically, she's going to change. She's going to stay the age that she is forever. But also, it's not an immediate thing. She still has to learn to be empowered and what that means for her and also to be stronger physically and mentally, and to own it throughout the film. She has to learn all that. There were different moments where we changed her physical appearance to look younger and more vibrant, but then internally, she also had to get stronger. I had to pepper that in before we got to the very end.
I wear a wig in this film—that's not my real hair. And I wear some undergarments to hold myself in place; it was just to make myself appear to be younger because we didn't use any VFX on that. I mean, it's just me. The scene where I’m in the red dress, is that because I'm a vampire or is that because I chose to grab on to this new life that's been offered to me? Is it me doing it or is it the vampire blood that's doing it for me? You don't really know. I mean, it's a choice. She talks about making a choice and Bonnie Aarons' character, The Master, tells Anne, "You have to make a choice. The choice has always been yours." So my character had to accept this choice and we definitely wanted to see it escalating through the film, where when the decisions are escalating, the acceptance is escalating. So, we had a little map that we all referred to during filming.