Baring its teeth tomorrow on Syfy is Night of the Wild, the new thriller from Eric Red (co-writer of Near Dark) that follows a town threatened by once-docile dogs turned rabid after a nearby meteor strike. For our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with actress Tristin Mays, who discussed working with the animals in Night of the Wild, the film's physicality, and more.
Thanks for taking the time to converse with us today, Tristin. When you first read the screenplay for Night of the Wild, what elements of the story and your character, Rosalyn, appealed to you the most?
Tristin Mays: The fact that she was a tomboy and a bit of a badass. I normally play the cute girlfriend roles, but this one was right up my alley. I've always wanted to do an action movie and especially a Syfy thriller, so it was absolutely perfect for me. It's always been on the bucket list.
Night of the Wild has a rough-and-tumble, gritty feel to it. What was the physicality like for you on set with the action scenes?
Tristin Mays: Luckily I was in pretty good shape before I started filming, so running around like crazy wasn't too hard! It was a lot of fun, however, I should've done a little more bicep work in the gym because the dog I carried was a lot heavier than expected! One of the best parts was not ever having to worry about my hair and makeup on this movie. I was sweaty and disheveled and looking crazy the entire time and I didn't care. It was great!
What was your experience working with the animals in this film?
Tristin Mays: The animals were so sweet! Wiley, (the dog who played Shep), I wasn't sure if he liked me too much on the first day because he refused to look me in the face, but after he got used to me and used to being on set, he became my best friend. All the other dogs were wonderful, even the attack dogs. I love animals, so they definitely kept me company out in those country areas of Louisiana.
Night of the Wild’s director, Eric Red, has a great history in the horror genre, having penned The Hitcher and co-written Near Dark. What was it like to work with Eric on Night of the Wild?
Tristin Mays: It was a lot of fun to work with Eric because he was so easygoing. The best part about it was the fact that he allowed me to be myself, redo a scene if I wasn't happy with it, make suggestions now and then. All of that really helped a lot with a movie this crazy. If I didn't feel comfortable with something, he was very flexible and he really listened to me. And me to him.
Fans of The Vampire Diaries know you as Sarah Nelson on that enduring series. Has anything from your time on that show impacted your performances in other horror projects like Night of the Wild?
Tristin Mays: I finished Vampire Diaries right before I left to film Night Of the Wild. Every project I do is just more experience. Every time I film something, I'm that much more comfortable on the next set. I don't really bring anything performance-wise because I like to be fresh and create new characters with every project. But, I can say all the blood I saw and had to work with on The Vampire Diaries set prepared me for the blood I had to be covered in on Night Of the Wild!
With Night of the Wild premiering October 3rd, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers, and where can they find you on social media?
Tristin Mays: I'm actually about to start on a new project this week. I don't know if I can say the name just yet, but I'm a badass computer hacker. Another role right up my alley! Hopefully I'll have a chance to step away from set and watch Night Of The Wild premiere on Syfy! Everyone can follow me on Instagram @TristinMays for really crazy videos and funny pics, and Twitter @Trizzio for my sarcastic tweets.
"NIGHT OF THE WILD, an original movie event from Syfy and ‘Sharknado’ franchise producers The Asylum, is set to air October 3 as part of Syfy’s “31 Days of Halloween.”
The sci-fi/horror thriller, in which pet dogs turn on their masters after a meteor hits a small town, stars Tristin Mays (“The Vampire Diaries”), Kelly Rutherford (“Gossip Girl”), Rob Morrow (“Northern Exposure”), and Jill Zarin (“Real Housewives of New York City”).
In NIGHT OF THE WILD, a large meteor crashes into a quiet town, and pet dogs become mysteriously aggressive – attacking and killing the residents. Teenager Roslyn (Mays) and her old but faithful dog Shep are out camping when the attacks hit. Now separated by the chaos in town and blocked roads, Roslyn and the other members of her family must find each other by fighting back against the blood-thirsty hounds before the dogs take over the whole town and escape becomes impossible.
NIGHT OF THE WILD airs on Syfy on Saturday, October 3 at 9pm ET."