BMX Celebrity Interveiw #1: Emily Perkins
Welcome, friends, to the first of what should come to be many interviews with stars from all corners of the media world; interrogating them on their video game histories and habits.
Our first guest is one of my personal favorites, Emily Perkins, best known for her leading role in the Ginger Snaps werewolf trilogy, and recently seen in cameos as (fellow KU Alumnus) Mandy Patinkin’s final collected soul in the series Dead Like Me, and in Juno as the girl who’s boyfriend’s junk smells like pie. Our Canadian readers will also recognize her as a recurring character from the hit show, Da Vinci’s Inquest.
For the uninitiated (and really, shame on you) here’s the trailer for Ginger Snaps 2, my favorite in the series, which I recommend to all fans of horror and dark comedy alike.
So, with that little morsel fresh on your palets, on to our interview…
Maul: I guess we’ll start by asking what your experience is
with video games. What are your play habits?
Emily: I started when I was pretty little with some of the
first games: Space Invaders, Pong and
others along those lines. Later my parents bought us a Nintendo and we had the Super Mario Brothers games and Kid Icarus was one of my favorites. Then
I stopped playing video games for a while, I didn’t start again until my early
Maul: And what are you playing now?
Emily: I don’t really get a lot of time to sit down and
play, but what I do have is a Nintendo DS Lite. I have a ton of games for that
I play in little bits, but what I go back to a lot are the Brain Age games. I’m a stay at home mom now; I guess I play them
because I’m worried about my brain falling apart and I think those keep it
Maul: Do you think among those games you’ve played you could
pick an all time favorite?
Emily: Kid Icarus
is definitely up there, but I’d probably say the Spyro series on the Playstation. Spyro the Dragon.
Maul: Looking ahead, are there any game releases you’re
looking forward to?
Emily: There’s Blood: A Butcher’s Tale, which is an upcoming
movie I’m in that has a game tie-in.
Maul: Can you give us a run-down of that?
Emily: Well, its a vampire-zombie game that picks up where
the story of the movie leaves off. My character comes in towards the end of the
movie, but becomes a major character in the video game. I had a lot of fun
recording the voice for the character in the game, and recording the narration
for the story. It was interesting too, having to go through all of the photo
work, so the character in the game will look something like me.
Maul: So that was a good experience then? Would you consider
doing more voice acting for other video game projects in the future?
Emily: Yeah, I totally would. It was a lot of fun, and as an
actress its easier not having to worry about make-up and how you look at all
times. I really enjoy recording all of the effects like the sound you make when
you’re dying, or getting hit or falling over and all the exertions; those are
Maul: I guess we tend to forget that people have to sit and
record all of the incidental noises for video games too.
Emily: Yeah, well its similar to film when you have to go
back and do ADR and put in, as you say, incidental noises. So doing a video
game was a lot like doing a session of that… the screaming is fun; its very
cathartic, and you can let all the emotions out that you’ve had bottled up. [Laughs]
Maul: I noticed on the film’s website you were billed as
‘Goth Chick’. Can you give us more background on the character?
Emily: I don’t know how much I can reveal yet, so I better
not say too much. But she does have a name, Lydia,
which I think is a tribute to Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice.
Maul: But you say you’re a major character in the game. Are
you playable or do you appear in cinematics?
Emily: You can’t actually play my character, she’s kind of
like your guide. You play as a family, a dad, a mom, and a little girl, and my
character guides them through and gives them missions.
[For a little more information about the story behind Blood: A Butcher’s Tale, I hunted down
the synopsis from writer Mark Tuit: “The harrowing tale of Sam, a simple
butcher who discovers that the love of his life is being seduced by a vampire.
As he investigates further, he realizes that his destiny is to become the
destroyer of this bloodthirsty race. Sam begins a killing spree with the
slaughter of his beloved fiancé, then her blood addicted lover. Sam then makes
it his duty to systematically destroy the remainder of the clan, until he
hesitates on killing Lily, the last of her race. Helplessly he falls in love with Lily and
learns to respect her desires as normal. Eventually Sam must decide if he is
willing to repopulate the planet with the exact race he set out to
destroy.” How will the game and movie
intertwine? We’ll have to wait until the digital sequel Blood: Butcher’s Block is released by PowerUp Studios for the PC
later in 2008.]
Maul: Do you ever get to play games with your kids?
Emily: You know I used to, but I don’t get to anymore
because I have a baby now. I don’t think he’s old enough to be exposed to video
games yet, he’s not even two, I don’t let him watch TV yet either. I try to
keep the games during his waking hours at a minimum, but my son who’s fourteen
is really into the games.
Maul: So what systems do you have in your household?
Emily: He has an Xbox and a PS2. We don’t have a Wii or any
of the other new ones yet though. [Laughs] I feel out of the loop.
Maul: With the older children do you have any restrictions
as far as what they can or can’t play?
Emily: I don’t tend to like super violent games and I don’t
really like first person shooters. I tend to shy away from realistic depictions
of violence. I haven’t allowed Grand
Theft Auto into the house. I like more of the fantasy type games and try to
encourage them to play those instead.
Maul: Censorship is a major recurring topic at BreakmanX,
and its always interesting to gather the opinions of people who are involved in
the media. As someone who is in horror films and violent media, do you think
screen violence can have an adverse effect on children?
Emily: I think it can. I think very young children playing
games with extreme violence for long periods of time… it can mess up their
development. At the same time, I don’t believe in any form of censorship at
all. But I do think that parents, and to some degree game manufacturers, have a
responsibility to make sure that those types of games aren’t being played by
young children. Games aren’t necessarily made for kids, and I think having the
[ESRB] labeling system is very important.
Maul: But you’re not a supporter of censoring the violence?
Emily: As far as censorship goes, no, I don’t think that
should be happening at all. Unless, I suppose, a game were supporting hate
towards a minority group or something, but I’ve never heard of anything like
Maul: On The Game Show we just discussed a game [Imagination is the Only Escape] about a
child reverting into a fantasy world to escape the holocaust that might not
make it into the United States.
Emily: Its interesting to hear what games get released and
what ones don’t. It really goes to show you who has power in a society. There
are games out there where women are victimized or treated as objects and those
are deemed acceptable, but a depiction of the holocaust isn’t. To me that says
something about how our society is organized.
Maul: Its interesting to get your opinion. You are a parent,
but at the same time, you’re part of the largest, core gaming demographic of
25-30 year olds who’ve grown us with games, and now purchase for yourself and
Emily: But I do think kids, in general, spend way too much
time playing video games…I think kids need to get outside and exercise, they
need to read, they need to be interactive. I think way too many parents use
video games as a babysitter, and the same goes for TV. I think they have the
potential to have a positive impact on the quality of human life but only if
they are recognized as a form of entertainment and not as a mainstay of their
Maul: People have voiced the same concerns about your own
profession, the movies, at one point as well. And I know that you’ve pointed
out your concerns about the presence of exploitative works within that medium…
Emily: I’m a feminist, and a graduate of Women’s Studies at
[University of British
Columbia] so I’m sensitive to things that are
exploitative of women; its not that I think it should be censored, but I think
it reflects a social problem that should be addressed. If I see something that
I think is exploitative of women, or a minority, I don’t purchase it. There are
games out there too that I think maybe shouldn’t exist but I don’t think that
anyone else has the right to prevent them from being accessed or made. I guess
it just saddens me.
Maul: And has this point of view affected your career at
Emily: For me I won’t take a roll, and in horror I have been
offered rolls that I’ve turned down, if I feel they are exploitative. I would
not be in a film that was just about torture, or [victimizing] women.
Maul: So nothing by Eli Roth then?
Emily: No probably not. [Laughs]
Maul: Now, in addition to Blood, you also have a role in Another
Cinderella Story coming up?
Emily: Yeah, that’s due out in September.
Maul: And you are once again working with [Ginger Snaps co-star] Katherine Isabelle,
and once again as sisters, right? That seems like too much to be coincidence.
Was [Director] Damon Santostefano a fan of Ginger
Emily: I don’t think so, or he never mentioned it. They were
looking for girls who either were real sisters or had played sisters before, so
we got the audition together. I think it works because we know each other so
well, and when we’re together we make each other laugh, and the people around
us laugh. The chemistry is just right. I think we may be even better doing
comedy together than doing horror together.
Maul: It looks like you two keep popping up together. You’ve
been in three Ginger Snaps together,
now this film, you were both in X-Files
at different times…
Emily: Yeah, and we were both in Insomnia, she had a larger part in that one.
Maul: And you were both in [Canadian television drama] Da Vinci’s Inquest as well?
Emily: That’s correct. Yeah, we have this strange
connection; and in our personal lives too. We both went to these four different
school across different parts of the city so we knew each other when we were
young, we have the same agent, we were born in the same hospital, we just kept
running into each other while we were growing up; it seemed fated.
Maul: The role in Another
Cinderella Story seems a little outside of your normal genre. Was there an
inspiration to taking this particular part?
Emily: It’s such an iconic role, playing the ugly
stepsister. And to be honest, I’d rather be the stepsister than Cinderella.
It’s just so fun to be mean, and how often do you get to do that? I loved
reading the script and just thinking ‘How can I be the meanest person
possible?’ Its just so outside of my normal realm of experience, I try to be
very polite in real life. But this character’s so crazy; she’s really
unattractive and does all of these dances and she’s just very over the top. It
was a lot of fun.
Maul: You do tend to play a lot of horror and sci-fi roles,
though. And you were inducted into the Fangoria
Hall of Fame for your portrayal of Bridgette in Ginger Snaps. Do you think that you’re drawn to the genre, or is
the genre is drawn to you?
Emily: Well, I think its because I have an unconventional
look about me. And in my personality too, I don’t tend to have a lot of
mainstream opinions on a lot of issues. So I guess I’m just a little bit…weird
[Laughs]. I’ve always seen myself as
a bit of an outsider, so I guess that made the genres a better fit for me. But
I find horror roles harder to get lately, as there’s always the trend to get
the hot-bodied girls in the roles, which doesn’t really fit me. So I’ve been
getting more auditions for comedies lately, which is fine by me because they’re
more fun to shoot anyway.
Maul: Do you think, as a feminist, you might find more
opportunities for strong female roles in comedies than in the victim-heavy
Emily: We’ll see what comes along. I think because of my
history, casting directors have thought of me as a horror girl, but then when I
audition, I’m not physically what they have in mind for the role. I’m trying to
get more roles in funnier stuff, so now I have to convince people that I can be
funny. [Laughs] But its hard because
casting directors have people that they call in for specific types of roles,
and it can be hard to get them to think of you as something else.
Maul: Any other projects on the horizon?
Emily: There have been a few but I’ve had to turn some down,
because they are too far from home for too long, or the part just didn’t feel
right. Also, we’re still suffering from the [writer’s] strike here; there’s
been a gap in production…
Maul: Are there any types of roles or specific parts you’ve
always wanted to play, or test out your acting chops with?
Emily: I’d love to do more period pieces. I read a lot, so
there are some novel characters I would like to play, I would love to be in a
production based on Alias Grace,
which is a Margaret Atwood novel and one of my favorites. But really anything,
I like to experiment with new things and new genres.
Maul: Any other particular period pieces?
Emily: I would love to do something Shakespearian; as I’ve
grown up, I’ve learned to appreciate the richness of those texts. And I would
love to do something from Jane Austin, I love Jane Austin like, I think, every
girl who reads. [Laughs]
Maul: Along the same lines, are there any directors or
actors/actresses you’ve wanted to work with?
Emily: The Coen brothers, they’re among my favorites. Really
anyone though; I think even if you have a good director, if the script is bad
then the experience doesn’t come through anyway. If you can get together a good
director, a good story, and a good cast, that’s when the experience comes
together for an actor. It’s really about the atmosphere.
I would like to thank Ms. Perkins for taking the time from both acting and family to interview with us. Be sure to check out Blood: A Butcher’s Tale and Another Cinderella Story, both releasing in 2008.
*Photo provided by Emilyperkins.com