Sarah Habel isn't a household name just yet, but with a slew of notable films under her belt, it's obvious she knows what she's doing. Lately, Sarah has made the most of her face time on the hit CW series, Riverdale, but it wasn't until I saw her forthcoming feature, Atomica, that I was absolutely sold.
Riverdale is a modern retelling of the classic comic, Archie. It's an interesting twist on the tale, and it's also something I suggest you guys invest, at the very least, a little bit of time into. Atomica, on the other hand, is a science fiction thriller that takes place on a desolate nuclear plant.
The film is straight eerie, and Habel holds her own amongst seasoned vets, Dominic Monaghan and Tom Sizemore. Not to say that isn't enough of an ensemble ... because it is, but the fact that cast is so small has a lot to do with the intensity and the ever unraveling narrative.
Before I say too much, let's get to know Sarah Habel.
Jessie Hobson: Hey Sarah, how are you doing today?
Sarah Habel: Hey Jessie, I’m good and you?
JH: Doing just fine. So, you started your career on the stage, how did you make the transition to film?
SH: It went, well, a lucky break on my part. I lived in Michigan, which is… I went to Michigan State, first thing, I got my Theater degree. And, there was a huge film incentive that came to Michigan, I don’t remember when, about ten years ago. Since there were all these big movies and shows come to Michigan, I got to a lot there because they were casting some pretty great roles locally. So, that’s how I packed in Whip It and Butterfly Effect. So, I got my feet wet there, and it was on.
JH: Gotcha. So, dealing with Atomica, how did you prepare for that particular role?
SH: This role happened so quickly. I had just gotten off a series, and they were just about to shoot, and I just kinda jumped in. I think it was actually really beneficial for me because the character was kinda knocked back on her ideals by the environment that she’s in, and it’s nothing that she expects when she gets there. So, I think the timing of it was actually… kinda helped to dive right in, and just get there.
JH: This film itself is pretty creepy, like the tone overall is definitely a creepy tone. Does that effect you during the shoot or after the shoot? Like, how do you react to the overall tone of the film… as your working?
SH: I’ve been working… normally, it’s like, I’ve done horror movies, and I’m not scared. I know it’s not real. The location we were shooting in, I don’t know if you heard about it. It’s an abandoned underground missile silo in rural Washington State, so it’s like three stories below ground. Cold, ya know, 40 degrees, and we had to act like we were warm. And, also just like, there were animal’s nests and bats flying around, and it’s enormous and sprawling. Like, you could get lost. So, that in it of itself was such a huge creep factor for everybody… me. The character, Abby, gets to explore that place, and I get to… just the way, the audience get to experience it too. So, I think that, the location was creepy and it never stopped there.
JH: Okay, yeah. I hadn’t heard about the silo. That’s pretty interesting.
SH: Also, like, we were out so far in the country that like there was no cell service, there… really was like you were really on our own little ship there.
JH: Yeah, you had no choice.
JH: You mentioned, you’ve done like horror films before, a couple of genre films like Hostel and Butterfly Effect, are these films that you kinda prefer or is it a luck of the draw?
SH: I’m totally into horror, nerd and sci-fi. I like watching people work. I like watching people do this, this craft. Whatever… it presents itself, but I’m also open to being, having the opportunity to flex my actor muscle though, in whatever way I can.
JH: Gotcha, you have flexed that muscle recently. Obviously, you’re in Riverdale. And, I’m not really the target demographic for that, but I really like it. What do you think of the final product?
SH: Yeah! I think it is, I mean, I had a lot of confidence when we were shooting, but it’s above and beyond what I could have ever expected. I mean, everybody, each cast member is completely perfect for their role. I mean, Lee, the director, Lee Toland Krieger who directed the pilot and the second and third episode is such an amazing… an artist. He just like made, it’s such a beautiful tone. I think that’s why it resonates with people that aren’t necessarily the intended audience. I’m really proud of it, I’m really lucky I got a chance to work on that.
JH: So, in the show though, you play a music teacher. We talked about your Theater background, did you have a music background before?
SH: I do not. I just… vocal, I was in show choir. But nothing as crazy beautiful as the chello. I took chello lessons to try and scratch the surface of what it would be like to hold the bow and to have that instrument, to harness it. But it was the most challenging, it was so uncomfortable and challenging to pretend like I knew how to play the chello. (laughs) Um, but no I don’t, it was fun to learn to work that way.
JH: Yeah, it definitely came off as legit so…
SH: Oh, great! Wonderful.
JH: Yeah, it worked out. From that particular set, like is there any stories or is there anything you took away from working with that group of people?
SH: Everybody, I was surprised because those actors… they’re all so young and they were so professional and, like, just really driven and also, really kind and supportive to each other. It was just a; I was kind of blown away by the comradery. Everybody wants that, everybody wants that job, but there’s no bad spirit there. Which is odd, everybody was so in. And, I think the Americana comic of that genre, Twin Peaks-y… could have gone way off track because everybody needed… I think it just worked.
JH: Excellent. So, we’re up to episode six, and I think episode seven will be playing Thursday… sadly though, your character, Grundy, has taken a break from that world, any chance we’ll see her again?
SH: God, I hope so. But, it remains to be seen.
JH: Well, definitely a strong role, so it would be kinda odd if they didn’t bring you back I really enjoyed your character and…
SH: Yeah, people reacted really strongly to Grundy. So, hopefully.
JH: Yeah, so outside of those two projects…
SH: She needs a chance to shine once more.
JH: Definitely. Outside of those two projects what do you have next… or going for you?
SH: I am just kind of living life right now, and just kind of looking for the next great thing to do.
JH: Well, jumping back to Atomica, how was it like working with Tom and Dominic?
SH: Tom and Dom are like just the most about, specific… wonderful people. They’re so warm, they’ve been doing this thing for so long. I was super lucky to have the opportunity to rub up against that, ya know? I was, it… appropriately the way, like, the triangle of the characters are set up. And I was, kinda a fish out of water, and, I mean, I’ve worked before, but nothing like the two of them. Just being in their presence was totally gratifying and it made the film.
JH: Yeah, when the three of you were on film, it definitely elevated the intensity of the film. So, obviously, you guys worked well together. I really enjoyed that.
SH: Ah, thank you. Glad you liked it.
Atomica will be in selected theaters March 17th, and on March 21st it'll be available on both VOD and Digital HD. As for Riverdale, it is on a short hiatus due to Spring Break, but it will be coming back strong the following week. So, set your DVR's for stun, and make sure you don't miss out on one of my many recent addictions. Who knows, maybe we'll get a bit more cello action. Eitherway, get your Habel fix one way or another this week.