For many of us, Barbara Crampton has been a horror icon for decades now, turning in legendary performances in classics like Re-Animator, Chopping Mall, From Beyond, Castle Freak and in so many other films as well. In the meager opinion of this journalist, while I absolutely love her contributions to cinema from previous decades, what Crampton has been able to create during this new phase of her career is without a doubt some of the most impressive work we’ve seen from Barbara over the course of the last few decades.
In Jakob’s Wife, Crampton’s fearless and ferociously entertaining portrayal of a small-town minister’s wife whose life changes unexpectedly, and that leaves her marriage to her devoted husband Jakob (played by Larry Fessenden) in question, proves that even after several decades in Hollywood, Crampton is still full of surprises, and is truly one of the most exciting performers working today.
To Crampton, the role of Anne in Jakob’s Wife provided her with the opportunity to not only do something different, but also explore a character that felt relatable in a variety of ways. She discussed her reaction to reading Mark Steenland’s award-winning script nearly five years ago and how she empathized with the character that she would eventually go on to inhabit.
“I've always wanted to play a classic character and who was going to give me this role if I didn't give it to myself? When I first read the script, I really just loved this story of this woman who was kind of suffering and unsatisfied in her marriage, but she doesn't really know it until this tragic event happens. It changes her and it enables her to recapture her vitality, her youth, and she gains a zest for life that she never knew she really had. And I think it changes Larry's character, too.”
“But just the physicality of presenting myself really with no makeup, and being completely raw, and very simple as this character, where I’m living under the umbrella of Larry's character's life and I’ve become this type of attachment to him was interesting. And then, being able to break out and become my own person, I think that's something everybody can relate to or everybody wants to do.”
“I think we all have that feeling, where you want to break out, and many times we are defined by the relationships that we have with others. In this movie, it was a chance for me to break out and really explore what it means to be my own person,” Crampton added.
Beyond the themes at the heart of Jakob’s Wife being universal in their nature, Barbara felt like she could relate to Anne’s journey in this story on a personal level as well. “When I read this, I recognized that there were some parallels to my own life in this story, where I had a nice career growing up, I was in a number of really wonderful films, and then I hit my middle thirties and things dried up for me. Nothing happened. There just weren't any roles for me.”
“Then, I became a mom and I had a wonderful life as a mom, but had something felt like it was left a little bit unfinished. So, when I was brought back with You're Next, the whole world opened up for me again and I saw what all these amazing creatives were doing on that film. It brought an idea back to me that, ‘Oh, I guess I've got to try to make things happen for myself like these creatives were doing, if I'm going to rededicate myself to my career.’ My life is so strong and firm with my family, with my husband and my children. But if I want to have another round of my career, then I have to make things happen for myself. So, I feel like the character runs parallel to my own life.”
“But I also felt that it was going to be a little bit of a stretch for me to play this character because playing Anne was like playing two characters in one. She does change and her character alters heavily throughout the film, but I thought that was an exciting challenge for me to take on. And also, to do that with Larry, somebody who I've loved and admired for many years and has become a friend to me, too, was great. This film also gives him an opportunity to play a larger- than-life character and we can see Larry in somewhat of a heroic, leading man role. We don't often get to see him in that type of a part, so that was really fun for all of us to experience.”
Directed by Travis Stevens, Jakob’s Wife is celebrating its world premiere at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival on Wednesday, March 17th at 8pm CT. To find out more information on its SXSW screening, click HERE.
Jakob’s Wife will also be released in theaters and via on Demand on Friday, April 16th, courtesy of RLJE Films (it will also be making its way to Shudder later in 2021 as well).