LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Barbara Crampton, star of chilling horror Sacrifice
By James Whittington, Wednesday 8th December 2021
Barbara Crampton is a Horror Channel favourite. This much loved and much admired creative is starring in the UK TV premiere of Sacrifice, which is showing December 12th at 9pm on Horror so we chatted to her about this movie and her plans for the future.
Note that there are some spoilers for Sacrifice in the interview.
HC: Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?
BC: Yes, I remember the first time I was ever on a television set, it was for the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, "Hi. I'm your cousin Trista from Colorado". It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had whole storylines that lasted for about a year. I had worked in New York City; off Broadway I had just gotten out of University and then in many plays and had extensive experience on stage but the first time I was on a television set it frightened me to death and I didn't know if I was going to be able to get through that first line out of my mouth and I thought I was going to forget it, that I was going to screw it up, I'm not going to say it correctly and I must have said that line over and over in my head hundreds and hundreds of times, thinking that it was going to be just disastrous. But it wasn't (laughs) then the spell was broken, and I was able to go on and start my career on screen.
HC: Days of Our Lives had been going for so long was it surreal to be on that set?
BC: No, because as an actor usually if you know you're going to be on a television show you usually watch the show, either a nighttime show or a daytime show you watch the show to get to know the characters. I knew about a month before that I was going to be on The Young and the Restless, so I was watching it almost every day, getting to know the characters and the actors to get the flavour of that show for about a month to get to know the characters.
HC: Can you remember the first time someone asked you for your autograph?
BC: I think I was probably on a plane; I can't remember exactly. In the very early days of my career, I worked on a number of soap operas, and they were very big 35 years ago, and I think something like 15 million people a week used to turn into soap operas. Today it's more like 5 million a week because there's so much more to choose from with movies, and so many television shows and gaming and YouTube and social media so the audiences for everything have shrunk a little bit but at that time we didn't have that many things to choose from and so if you were on a soap opera you were quite famous, everyone knew you and I do remember being on different planes going places and everybody would recognise me the Stewardesses would be very fond of soap operas for whatever reason, maybe to do with their schedules of overnights, and between flights and things I always got bumped up to First Class if there was an extra seat if I was sitting in Business or Coach they would always come up and say, "Would you like to come and sit up front? We have an extra seat for you". Perks of the job (laughs).
HC: Your career has lasted far longer than some, and apart from being such a fine actress, why do you think it has lasted so long?
BC: Well, I think careers wax and wain, as they always do in a business that is always freelance. You're always looking for your next job and I think the trick is just to stick with it and a lot of people either for monetary reasons or because they just get fed up with it with constantly having to look for new jobs, give up. Many times, in my career I've thought, "Oh well, that's it". I never said to myself that I was going to give up and going to do something else it just ebbed and flowed. When I was in my early 20s I worked a lot, well I guess up until I was 30, and then maybe the roles weren't coming as much between 30 and 40, but then after that I started to get more roles and now, in my 60s I'm getting roles more than I ever have!
HC: Let's talk about Sacrifice, how did you become attached to this movie?
BC: I got an email from Sean Knoop who was one of the producers and he and I had worked on a movie called Replace, and he said that he was putting together this film called Sacrifice and it feels a little Lovecraftian although it's not based on any particular story and that they were thinking of a role for me and would I like to read it. So, he sent it to me and I read and I thought it was great, I loved it and I knew he was going to be working on it and I was very fond of him and then he had me do a Zoom or a Skype with the directors Andy Collier and Tor Mian, and I really got along with those guys and I really liked the story, they were shooting it in Norway and they told me who else was going to be in it and I thought that it sounded like a nice adventure and I said yes. Maybe it was a year later we were finally able to put the financing together, these things take time so then they called me one day and told me they were ready to shoot the movie. It was quite exciting to be in Norway where I'd never been to before and that's one of the perks of the job too as you get to go to places you wouldn't normally get to and experience it almost like a local with a lot of local people who work there and I was just really enamoured of all the actors I worked with on set; Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes I thought they were just amazing in their roles especially Sophie, only because the weight of the picture really rests on her and she has such a wealth of humanity and heart to her performance, it was just really thrilling to work with both of them. The supporting cast is great, and we were in such a lovely place, and I was able to carry on playing another older character with sort of suspicious intentions so that was fun, it was a great experience all round.
HC: Did it take you long to prepare to play the character of Renate Nygardand and work on the accent?
BC: Yes. I hired somebody who was a Norwegian speaker, she taught Norwegian at the Scandinavian School in San Francisco so she came over to my house and I worked on my accent with her and I said I really wanted a heavy accent, really want her to feel like she's really embedded in this town, and she's really from this place and she's really more of an old world Norwegian person so a lot of my accent was probably heavier than some of the other speakers. Some of the other actors were from the neighbouring areas from Sweden, some were from England, I said if I'm the head of this cult I really need to be steeped in the history and lore of this town, and the place we're from and this island, the mythical island that we lived on. So, it probably took me about two months and the gal I was working with come over about 8 times, once a week and we worked on the dialogue all throughout that time and then just working on my characterisation for the role and who she was and what type of person she was. You just jot down notes of things that come to you and little things that you want to get across in the characterisation and then you show up on set and you work with the other actors, and you rehearse, and some things change, and they alter a little bit. I prepared for it heavily for for about two months.
HC: Did you and the cast have much time to rehearse together?
BC: You never have enough time, really. I remember on Re-Animator, one of my first movies that I worked on, we had a three-week rehearsal period, and we worked every day, 5 days a week so we had 15 days of rehearsal 3 to 4 hours at each time. In my early career I though that this was they way they do this in movies too just like stage but that's never happened to me since. So normally you show up on a set, especially on location, maybe 2 to 3 days before you start filming, a lot of that time is taken up with wardrobe fittings meeting the director and getting to know that cast a little bit and if you're lucky you'll get an hour here or an hour there to kind of run the scene a little bit with the other actors and hopefully the director but if not, and most of the time you don't, you just need to grab the other actor or actors when you can and talk about the upcoming scenes, and work with them and run the dialogue so you're really rehearsing as you're filming. That's normally the way it works.
HC: I have to ask, how cold was the water?
BC: It was really cold! We had wet suits on underneath our robes that we wore, those ceremonial robes, it was freezing. Thankfully there are only a few scenes in the movie where we have to be fully submerged, and the wet suits were really welcome. I don't think we could have done it without them because when you're filming something its many hours of a few takes of setting up the shot and making sure the light is right, making sure the actors get their dialogue right and so a lot of components go into making sure you're completing the scene, and everyone feels good about it. So, its many hours of being in the water (laughs) for three minutes of film and so we were in that water for many hours for a few days.
HC: What's it like shooting a film entirely on location?
BC: It's fantastic. I don't think I work in LA that much anymore, I don't think a lot of people do.
HC: There's a lot of folk/Pagan style horror movies at the moment, why do you think everyone seems to be looking towards nature and the environment for their horror kicks?
BC: The world has gone topsy-turvy and crazy and we all seem to be in our different camps trying to understand the nature of humanity and we all have our own feelings and thoughts on life and what it means, and ideologies are split more than they ever have before, or maybe they always have been and we've not noticed before. I don't know. I think in trying to understand life and what it means I think people sometimes look to religion and some deeper meaning and where does it come from and I think Pagan horror is at the top right now and there's been so many movies of late that have come out, and The Wicker Man is one of my favourite movies and this harks back to The Wicker Man and Midsommer and those types of films, just trying to put meaning to everything just that the world is little crazy and a little scary right now. We are all looking for our place in the world and where we fit in, and I think movies like Sacrifice ask those questions and allow you to kind of look deep in yourself and find what's important to you.
HC: Sacrifice is having it UK TV premiere on Horror Channel on the 12th December, how would you describe the film to our audience?
BC: I think it's a film about a couple that's trying to find their roots, especially for Ludovic's character and finding where he came from and understanding who he is as a person as Isaac Pickman, and then finding out that what you think about your life is not really what it was at all. It's a shocking film, it's a dangerous film and it's also a fun film and a human film.
HC: What are you up to at the moment?
BC: Well, I've moved into producing over the past couple of years, I produced Beyond the Gates with Jackson Stewart, and I produced Jakob's Wife most recently and I'm working with a film company now, Amp Films to develop some other projects and we've just finished filming a movie which hasn't been announced yet and that will be exciting news when it comes out. Also, I have two movies coming out next year, one is called King Knight where I play Matthew Gray Gubler's mother and the announcement for that is coming out really soon and the other film that I did is Alone With You where I play somebody else's mother (laughs). Those are coming out in the first quarter of next year, so you'll be hearing about those pretty soon. I'm also just in development on another couple of films I may be in, or I might just help produce.
Barbara Crampton, thank you very much.
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