Roles for women in horror movies are gradually becoming more dynamic and interesting; and it doesn’t come more interesting than the tormented, psychologically disturbed Claire in James Cullen Bressack’s supernatural creepfest, Bethany. Welsh Demoness talks to lead actress Stefanie Estes about how she prepared for such a challenging role, her on set experiences and what it’s like to star in a horror movie.
Welsh Demoness: How did you become involved in Bethany?
Stefanie Estes: I saw the casting breakdown and submitted a self-taped audition for the role since I was out of town during the initial auditions. After watching my audition tape, the producers asked me to come in to read for James Cullen-Bressack, the director. I met with James and read for him and the producers. I found out later that day that they wanted to cast me!
Welsh Demoness: What was it like to discover that you had been cast in the lead role?
Stefanie Estes: It was exciting! And nerve-wracking! I was thrilled to be a part of the film, but I was a bit nervous. I had done a handful of horror films prior to ‘Bethany’, but this was my first lead role. So that was a bit daunting, but I was excited to take on the challenge.
Welsh Demoness: Claire as a character has many layers to her, and specifically deals with psychological trauma. How did you prepare for the performance?
Stefanie Estes: I spent a lot of time with James coming up with a very visceral backstory for Claire that resonated with me. On my own, I kept a journal as Claire and did research about people who have dealt with childhood trauma and suicide. James and I also went over the script and dissected every scene, so I knew exactly where Claire’s mind was coming from and going at every moment. James also had me do a pretty interesting exercise where he had the VFX studio working on the film affix suicide scars to my wrists. He had me wear them for about a week so that I could take in how people reacted to me. It was very illuminating.
Welsh Demoness: What is the best part of working on a horror movie?
Stefanie Estes: My favourite part is working with the fake blood and special effects. We had some very cool visual effects in ‘Bethany’ which were really fun to do. Also, as an actor, working on a horror movie is great because the stakes for your character are usually really high and that’s always fun to play.
Welsh Demoness: What is the most challenging aspect of working on a horror movie?
Stefanie Estes: I think it would be authentically committing as an actor within the high stakes and heightened emotion of a horror. You don’t ever want your performance to come off as campy or over the top. So being authentic within the extreme can be challenging.
Welsh Demoness: Were there any moments where you became creeped out on set while filming?
Stefanie Estes: No, thank goodness!!!
Welsh Demoness: Finally, what’s your next project and would you like to star in more horror movies?
Stefanie Estes: I have a few other films coming out this year. I’m also starting to shoot a independent drama called ‘A Place Apart’ later this year, and I’m working on a horror-comedy web series called ‘Donna’s Inferno’. I’ve also been writing my own material. And, of course, I would love to work on more horror movies!