Genre films come and go, but legendary actors and actresses tend to stick around, and as it turns out, that’s just the case with our guest, Lin Shaye. Wes Craven, James Wan, and the Farrelly brothers are a just a few of the names that have added her to their more permanent side of the rolodex. Needless to say, she’s a repeat offender with most directors not only because of her talent but her charm plays a major role as well, I quickly found out.
Lin has been captivating audiences since her days at the University of Michigan where she would jump from production to production. While I'm not much of a slouch when it comes to interrogations, I was sure, because of her history, Lin was beyond prepared for the ramblings that were questions.
Jessie Hobson: Hey Lin, how you doing?
Lin Shaye: I’m very good, how are you this morning?
JH: Doing just fine. I watched Abattoir last night, great performances all around.
LS: Thank you.
JH: Obviously you guys are extremely talented, but what was Bousman's role in provoking the solid work from you and the cast?
LS: I thought that, first of all, such a great character. She’s mysterious and she’s poetic and she’s the truth teller. I mean, she’s a very interesting, I thought a fascinating character, and so, and I loved the story. I thought it was a really interesting story. Also, that’s kinda never been told before, a new take on the haunted house theme, but like what this haunted house is made up of is what’s so scary. And, I love Darren Bousman, we’ve been friends for a long time, and I was excited to have the opportunity to work with him, and so, all and all, it was a win, win situation. The film was actually up to shoot twice before it actually got filmed because the first time I think one of the financiers got pulled out or fell out, I’m not sure what the details were, but the second time they were literally in New Orleans, ready to shoot, and one of the producers passed away unfortunately and they pulled the plug, and they came home a day before they were supposed to start shooting. So, haven’t been made, I had longer and longer to think about Allie, which was a good thing in many respects. So, it was a very attractive project in all ways, and I’m thrilled with the way it came out. I think it is a very engaging, kind of different horror film, without it being, it’s part of the horror genre, but it’s fascinating in more deeper ways.
JH: Okay, so, you worked with Axelle Carolyn on Tales from Halloween, another film Darren worked on as well. Is that when you first became acquainted with the film? Or, is that when he pitched it to you the first time? Or, how’d that go?
LS: No, he sent me, he told me about the script a long time ago. I can’t even remember now exactly how, but several years ago, and I’m shooting another film and he sent me the script, and I remember I started learning the script. And then, as I said, it got shut down. It was some years before that, I was familiar with Darren because of the Saw franchise, and because I was working with James Wan on Insidious, and Darren is certainly a prominent member of the horror community, which is a very close and wonderful community of people. Interestingly enough, very gentle people. People think that people involved in those kinds of films, or whatever, ya know, are ghoulish in some ways. It’s totally the opposite. They’re very supportive, very much of a family. I was familiar with Darren because we had a lot of mutual friends. We stayed in touch, ya know, and after it got shut down the first time, Allie was somewhat rewritten when we finally got to the final the final draft. They took out some of the poetry in her language. She speaks a little differently than everybody else in the film. And, I was missing that, and Darren, I’m grateful, put back the original dialogue. So, low and behold, we did it! It’s out! It’s fantastic! I guess it’s worth waiting for, I guess that’s the way you look at it.
JH: Definitely. With Allie was she one of the characters, I've read that you get in character pretty… immediately once on set, was it the same case with Allie as well?
LS: Yeah, I, part of the fun for me is immersion in someone else. I mean, I’m not, I don’t go all the way where I won’t speak to somebody in any other direction than the character. I don’t do that, but the fun part too is creating the hair and makeup for the and the wardrobe, because that really creates the final versions of the characters. The kind of shoes I wear is always important to me, and… the kind of wardrobe. We had her kinda in a little 50s blouse, and skirt. Something, that little checkered blouse, it just felt right, I think it was short-sleeves and I have a little cardigan on with it, and the hair became very important. We kind of, that little curl in the front, was sort of like a sister wife kind of feel to it. So, she seems to span both the way I thought about her, and actually, not so much how I thought until I got to set where we started to develop these elements, like what kind of clothes and hair. And the lipstick, I wanted her in red lipstick, but I wanted it a little crooked. I remember talking to, when we did the makeup, the one lip, I wanted it a little bit lower than the other, which is a very subtle but subliminal thing that people don’t know they notice, but it makes something look off. And, those are the kind of things that I revel in as an actress.
JH: Yeah, you’re definitely right as far as when you’re first introduced to Allie, it is… she is… off.
LS: She is off!
JH: Myself, I knew you more of like, personally, I knew you more as a comedic actress. Ya know, lately and throughout your career, you’ve been a part of horror films throughout the entire time. Why do you think you continue to get cast in horror films? Do you think you're scary? Or, how does that evolution happen with you?
LS: I think, ya know, I mean, when I go way back the first quote horror film I was in was, actually I think, Critters was the first, years and years and years ago, which is sort of a comedy horror film that, there were two of them. Stephen Herek and Mick Garris were the two directors. And, but I think that I’m more interested in story than I am, in terms of genre, I think I see life with a comedic point of view on some level because it’s so absurd. So, I think there is an element of comedy in everything I whether it be drama, or horror, or comedy itself. And, I’ve been fortunate to be, I think in the horror community, really my introduction, the big thing has been Insidious. I mean, that sort of solidified my place, I think, in this community. Although, I was in a movie called Dead End, some years ago, with Ray Wise, which is a little horror film that was really interesting as well. So, I think if you meet a group of people, in a way, that you respond to each other’s sensibility and points of view about art and life, and hopefully those are the people you create with because that’s the fun in it. I mean, to really see eye to eye and have, ya know, doing Insidious now, I mean, I’ve worked with Leigh, we just finished the fourth one. And, I’ve worked with Leigh, we’re now, from the beginning. We’re like family. And so, I think that the horror community in general has created a family for itself that doesn’t exist much in filmmaking per se. I mean, there’s certain directors that work with some actors over and over, so there’s that kind of relationship that is established, but the community of the horror world is really tight. And, I’ve sorta been invited in, and as long as there are good stories to tell, and good people, I hope they stay my family for a long time.
JH: Speaking of the relationship in horror, and your track record of returning back to past worlds or past directors. I mean, you went back with Rifkin, Wes Craven. And, considering it took so long for this movie to get made, had Darren pitched you anything recently as far as you two working together?
LS: We haven’t actually. He got very involved in this Tension Experience that he did here, in Los Angeles, over the Halloween period, which is a emersion experience in a haunted house. So, I know he was very involved in with that for some years actually. It’s been longer than just months. So, I haven’t talked to him about any new projects, but I, in a heartbeat, would work with him, ya know, no matter what it was probably, and I hope he feels the same because again, those relationships becomes a shorthand. Ya know, working, again, working with Leigh and with James Wan. I’ve worked with them several times in a row. There’s a comfort zone, a familiarity, a freedom to be able to really express yourself creatively without having to feel like you’re an idiot. Cause sometimes you got an idea and you go, I can’t talk, I can’t say that out loud. But, the bottom line is you should say it out loud cause that’s where some of the jewels lie, ya know, that’s where some of the gold is. So, it’s a wonderful, I think we get to know each other better and feel freer to express yourself. So, Darren is on my list. I mean, I adore him, and I think he is really gifted and really, ya know, really inventive. And, has a wonderful sense of energy about him when you work with him. He’s just nonstop, ya know, he’s got a tremendous bolt of energy that goes through him when he works.
JH: Yeah, he actually called you a national treasure, so I don’t think…
LS: Wow! I’ll take it!
LS: He’s a national treasure too. So, I guess treasure finds each other, I hope!
JH: It’s, the writings on the wall, I’m pretty sure you guys will get back together sometime soon. Lin, I just wanna say I appreciate your time. One of my personal favorite role of yours, all time, was the landlady.
LS: Oh, me too! Me too!
JH: Can you say something real quick from that?
LS: No! (laughs)
LS: No, you have to go watch the movie.
JH: Oh, I watch it all the time.
JH: Alright, well, thank you very…
JH: I appreciate your time, Lin.
LS: Okay, me too. Thank you for the great interview.
JH: No problem, bye bye.
LS: (laughs) Bye.
So, while Lin wouldn’t humor me, I can still humor myself by way of Lin. Do yourself a favor, and be sure to check out one of my favorite on-screen exchanges of all time in the video above. When you get done, though, be sure to check out her latest feature, Abattoir. It’ll be in most major theaters on December 9, 2016. While the film isn’t the scariest thing I’ve seen this year, Lin, Dayton Callie, and John McConnell deliver stellar performances that are definitely worth both your time and dollar.