THE INSIDER'S STAR SPOTLIGHT: Exclusive Interview with Ashley Bell from THE DAY!
Ashley Bell is a phenomenal actress who rocked the world with her shattering performance in the intense The Last Exorcism. SFF is proud to welcome her to this year's festival for her latest film The Day. That's right, she'll be walking down our red carpet. How cool is that? Well, it gets better because The Day is amazing and she, natch, is incredible in the film as Mary, a weapons-wielding survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. Fans of The Walking Dead won't want to miss this one! (Nope, this isn't zombies... its way scarier!) The Day screens Friday, April 20 at 8:30 PM and Saturday, April 21 at 8:30 PM.
THE INSIDER: What drew you to this project?
ASHLEY BELL: It's funny, when I first sat down with (director) Doug Aarniokoski and (producer) Guy Danella they tried to talk me out of doing the film. They told me I'd have to lose weight, add muscle, learn how to shoot a shotgun, do my own stunts and survive in below freezing weather. I said, "I'm in!" It was both a dare, and a challenge. If you want me to do something, just tell me I can't.
THE INSIDER: Please tell us about Mary, your character in The Day.
ASHLEY BELL: I see Mary as a woman who refuses to be a victim. I was attracted to the character because she was both emotionally and physically challenging. I loved the fact that she had to hone all her instincts and physical abilities to survive in this grisly apocalyptic world. Even with all the horrors and degradation imposed on her as a child, she emerges as a fierce woman who fights to maintain her humanity.
THE INSIDER: Did you receive any special training for the physical aspects of the role?
ASHLEY BELL: Yes! For our first cast bonding trip, Guy Danella took us to a shooting range. I was familiar with all kinds of hand guns, having gone to a range several times with my father, but I'd never worked with a shotgun before, especially one that was as tall as me. It was absolutely exhilarating! What a kick...and I have the bruises to prove it. Also, to acquire the look they wanted for Mary, I consumed just enough healthy food to work out. Besides a lean vegetarian diet with some fish, I did a mix of cardio and weights twice a day paired with ballet training for flexibility. I worked privately with a stunt woman, since I knew I had to do most of my own stunts. All the bruises I received from working on the film (and there were many) were like medals of honor which I wore with pride.
THE INSIDER: The film has the stark and solitary feel of classics like The Road and John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13. What was the atmosphere on set?
ASHLEY BELL: The atmosphere couldn't have been more welcoming amongst the cast, crew and our director Doug Aarniokoski. He established a very creative environment. Between the sub-freezing weather and a stark environment, and summoning up the emotional, and physical demands, we all pretty much felt we were in a post- apocalyptic world.
THE INSIDER: What was it like working with Shawn Ashmore and Dominic Monaghan as not only co-stars but also as producers?
ASHLEY BELL: To watch Shawn Ashmore and Dominic Monaghan work is a lesson in acting. They are such consummate professionals. Everything they did seemed effortless. I can't say enough about them. They set a standard for the entire shoot.
THE INSIDER: What were some of your favorite moments from the shoot?
ASHLEY BELL: There's a moment, where I'm in an icy cold creek. I'm only wearing underwear and clutching a shotgun. The weather is below freezing, and I thought at that moment: In what alternate universe would I ever get the chance to do this?
THE INSIDER: Have you seen the film with an audience? If so, were you pleased with the audience reactions?
ASHLEY BELL: The first time I saw the film was when it premiered at Midnight Madness at The Toronto International Film festival. The audience was incredible. They screamed and cheered every time my character killed one of the bad guys. What more affirmation could I or Mary want?
THE INSIDER: Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience about The Day?
ASHLEY BELL: Run! See it! It is a visceral experience that is not only entertaining, but leaves you questioning the limits you would go to survive.
Wanted by motion picture executives for revealing industry secrets to a public with the Right to Know, "The Insider" has spent over 15 years working behind the scenes in almost every aspect of "The Biz" developing a secret network of contacts, spies, moles, and highly trained counter-intelligence operatives and movie ninjas whose only goal is to inform and entertain you-and help you make this the best year of the Sarasota Film Festival ever!