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By James Whittington, Tuesday 8th September 2015
One of the strongest and most-talked about movies to come out of FrightFest 2015 was Bait. This brutal revenge movie caused quite a stir and is gaining rave reviews wherever it’s shown. Here we speak to one of its stars, Victoria Smurfit about this and her future acting plans.
HC: You’ve been acting for some time but how did you get your first big break?
VS: When I was at drama school there was a blanket call for Irish actresses for Run Of The Country. Albert Finney’s girlfriend, Penny had met me around that time and mentioned me to Albert. Ros and John Hubbard auditioned me and I spent my 2nd Drama School summer in Ireland filming. We took it to Toronto film fest and LA and hit the red carpets. It was an eye opener… and a gift.
HC: How did you become involved with Bait?
VS: Jo Mitchell and Dom Brunt and I were at drama school together. Jo and I shared a flat for the first two years. I was the pragmatic one and she the creative. I was essentially the husband until Dom took over! Way back then, Jo decreed that we would work together and several moons later, she made it happen.
HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it?
VS: The script firstly made me laugh, as they'd said they’d steered the dialogue for Bex in my direction - towards borderline Tourette’s! When the horror part kicked it, I was glued and scared as getting in to the position the girls did, is far too easily done. Obviously we took some license with the ending but ultimately its entertainment and not a documentary and it was a challenge to piece the arcs together so that you were rooting for the girls when push came to literal shove.
HC: Did you have much time to rehearse?
VS: Rehearsals were on the hoof. Dom knew what he wanted and has a clear way of asking for it. Being directed by an actor is like being taught to fly by a pilot and not ground control. I loved it. Not to mention that we all had such a hilarious and long standing history that our dialogue was open and frank. It cut out a lot of BS.
HC: You along with Joanne Mitchell and Jonathan Slinger give outstanding performances; what was the atmosphere like on set?
VS: We laughed like pigs most days. The most intense sets you can be on are usually comedies so when doing horror it’s vital to release the tension between set ups. Having said that, there were days where Jo and I would keep our distance from Jon as the scenes we were to do required a bucket of fear. Yes it’s acting, but it helps between set ups to step away and maintain the mental place you’re in. I remember at the wrap party Jon saying to me ‘I never saw you act, you were just you’. At first I thought he was giving me sh*t but then realised that that s my process, I stay vaguely in character all day so she s easily accessed. Then I d go home to my kids, dump the character at the door and make mash….
HC: Did you question the more violent moments at all?
VS: No. For two reasons, we set out to make a thriller, a genre movie, and secondly because there s nothing worse than thinking ‘meh’ at the end of any film. If you’re not pushing a boundary artistically, then what the hell are you bothering making it for?
HC: We know that some of the plot is based on real events; do you think that’s what makes it so powerful?
VS: Absolutely. It seems all too easy, with one wrong turn to end up knee deep in trouble.
HC: What do you think people will take away from this movie?
VS: To avoid loan sharks, that HONEST friendship can conquer all, and never ever mess with Jo and I!!!
HC: So, what projects are you working on at the moment?
VS: I’ve finished on Once Upon A Time playing Cruella De Ville. I also just wrapped on a movie called Homecoming with Lauren Bowles and Max Ryan set in Portland. I associate produced it with Paul Kampf and Radar Pictures (The Last Samurai). Its Mean Girls for grown-ups, and I as usual am the meanest of all….
HC: Victoria Smurfit, thank you very much.
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