What if you were prevented from leaving your house by the one who loves you the most? Would you believe their warnings of the outside world, or would you wonder what's really on the other side of your front door? That's the question Chloe faces in Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein's new sci-fi thriller Freaks (in case you missed it, read Heather Wixson's 4-star review here), and with the film now in theaters from Well Go USA, we caught up with Kolker in our latest Q&A feature to discuss getting into her character's claustrophobic mindset, working with Bruce Dern and Emile Hirsch, and how the cast and crew surprised her on her birthday.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, Lexy, and congratulations on your new movie, Freaks! What was the audition process like for your character, Chloe, and what made you want to play her in this film?
Lexy Kolker: The audition process was like nothing I had ever experienced. The first call was pretty standard, where I went in with the amazing casting director Lisa London and read a few scenes. But once I got called into a producer session, Adam and Zach were in the room on the floor with an actor. They told me to forget my scenes I had learned and imagine being really mad at my dad. Then the actor who played my dad started yelling at me, and I yelled back and we got in this huge screaming match sitting on the floor for about 30 minutes. I remember getting tears in my eyes and really feeling the anger. But when they said, "Okay, that was good," then I just thought the actor was really good and I went back to normal. Then they came out right away and talked to my mom, so I was hoping that was a good sign.
There are many layers and surprises in the story of Freaks. What was your reaction the first time you read the script?
Lexy Kolker: I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know so bad what was happening next and what Chloe was going to do next. I couldn’t imagine never being outside because I love being outdoors so much. So I was rooting for her to have the courage to see what was outside her front door. Then at the end, my sister and I were so involved in the story, we had a big reaction, but I can’t tell you what it is without spoiling it.
In the film, you play the daughter of Emile Hirsch’s character. What was it like working with Emile to create that realistic father-daughter bond?
Lexy Kolker: Emile was really an amazing acting partner. We went to the zoo and the science center to get to know each other a little bit, so I think that helped us connect. But when we were filming, he really pushed me and gave me so many different ways to say a line and showed me how to have different levels of intensity so that they would have a lot of choices in editing. I was very lucky that he played my dad because he helped elevate my performance and didn’t just worry about his own. He was right there with me every step of the way, so I am very grateful for that.
Your character spends a lot of time locked in a house because her father doesn’t want her to go outside. What was it like working on that set? Did it add to the claustrophobic feeling your character has from being forbidden to go outside?
Lexy Kolker: Omg, yes. I remember telling my dad it was hot and uncomfortable and I didn’t like being in that dark, dirty house all day. He told me to imagine how Chloe feels. This is all she knows. I realized how tough it must be for her to be so stuck and could really relate to her being willing to risk her life to go outside.
You also worked with the legendary Bruce Dern, who plays Mr. Snowcone. What was it like working with him? Did you learn anything from Dern about the craft of acting?
Lexy Kolker: Yes, Bruce is such a legendary actor and what I learned is that you can take freedoms and deviate from the script if it feels right. Bruce would have a general idea of the scene and come in and just have a conversation, so all of my scenes were really mostly improv. It was funny, the first day I would wait for him to say his lines so I could say mine, but he would always change it up, so I learned to just answer what came to mind and have a real conversation and I think it made our scenes very authentic and genuine.
Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or memorable moment that stands out?
Lexy Kolker: Definitely my birthday. I worked on my 8th birthday and I was so spoiled with one surprise after another. When I first drove up in the van, Adam was “conducting a meeting” in front of my trailer and gestured me to be quiet. So I tiptoed to get in my trailer, opened it, and everyone yelled “happy birthday.” My trailer was decorated with balloons and streamers and tons of presents. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone sang to me. Then, at lunch, they got me a “freaks” cake and even a real ice cream truck so I was able to go in and serve ice cream to everyone. It was so fun. Definitely one of my best memories of all time.
Writers and directors Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein created a compelling story for your character in Freaks. Did you get to collaborate with them on creating your character’s personality and backstory?
Lexy Kolker: I think they had a pretty good idea of the personality and backstory of Chloe, so I embraced it and tried to make it as real as I could. But they definitely encouraged me to use my own words and express my own feelings, so I had a lot of freedom in that way throughout the whole movie.
With Freaks now in theaters, do you have any other projects coming up that you’re excited about? Where can our readers go online to follow your work?
Lexy Kolker: I am in discussions on a three-movie franchise that I am really excited about, but probably too soon to reveal... I will definitely keep everyone posted. As far as my social media, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @lexykolker