Last week I had the opportunity and sit down and chat with the lovely Dominique Swain in anticipation for her upcoming film that is being released this Friday, Fall Down Dead. She stars in the film opposite the great Udo Kier and the late great David Carradine. In the film she plays the role of Christie Wallace a single mother who stumbles upon The Picasso Killer (Udo Kier), a serial killer who considers his mutilated victims to be works of art in the middle of his latest masterpiece. Now the only person who can identify him, Christie becomes trapped inside a building with bumbling security guard Wade (David Carradine), two detectives (R. Keith Harris and Mehmet Gunsur), and a few Christmas Eve stragglers as The Picasso Killer hunts them down one body at a time.
What can I say I am a huge fan of Dominique Swain ever since I tracked down my Canadian DVD of Lolita back in 1997. Her first role was as the rebellious daughter of John Travolta in Face/Off, but I think in Lolita she really showed some amazing depth, and put in a very disturbing performance to say the least. I think Dominique had some great stories and some interesting insights and her video game habits. Enjoy!
I’ve noticed over the years you don’t do a lot of horror films, what was it about Fall Down Dead in particular; the character of that Christie Wallace that drew you in, and what are some of your thoughts on the slasher genre in general?
I think that slasher flims are awesome! I think the only point of them is to be scared and there have been some really good ones as of late. Hopefully when people watch this movie they will be scared, and that is what we are going for. About the character and what attracted me, I have never played a mother before, so that kind of maternal quality I think it kind of has a deeper sense of trying to protect the person that you love. That was probably what drew me into the role.
Your well known for your strong female roles in your films, but in this film because you’re a mother you also have a very vulnerable side was that difficult to keep that balance of power and helplessness as a character?
I didn’t feel that character was helpless in any way. I think she really finds her strength with the greater adversity she is faced with, and finds out how to protect what’s really important to her.
How was it working opposite such a great iconic genre actors as Udo Kier and David Carradine?
Excellent actually, every moment that we spent on screen was really nice as an actor. Because when you have someone you can just fire things off of and try new things, and interpret the media a different way it’s a great feeling as an actor and they were both really strong walls to bounce my stuff off of.
Any funny stories you can tell us about the filming of Fall Down Dead?
They called the police on us twice during the filming; in that scene when I was banging on the door trying to get David Carradine to open up the door. They called the police the first time and we basically warned them we were going to be there, and somebody went and called them again. Then we had an excellent stunt coordinator, however I couldn’t get it through my skull that I wasn’t supposed to shoot Udo with blanks. So I pretty much shot him at close range, and he had a big welt on his arm and I was like “Oh my god, I know I am not supposed to aim it at your face.” Luckily I missed, but you can hurt people with blanks. It was terrible, but Udo was really nice about it, he was ok with being shot.
You Started acting at a really early age with Lolita and over the years have amassed a huge repertory of diverse characters what have been some of your favorites to play?
There are so many things I have not tried however, I have really enjoyed every character I have portrayed; that is why I took the films. I have played a southern girl in this movie that was eventually called Plain Dirty that was a ton of fun. I like all my films for different reasons. Mainly if the actual role is not out there, then I usually write it for myself. So I have written a few projects recently that I have been trying to get produced.
Would you mind telling me a bit about those projects?
Well, one is actually called The Revenge of Elaine Jurgaz, I wrote it when I was nineteen, and I wrote it for myself; because I thought you know I could still play a child. But unfortunately those days have passed. It’s about kids in juvenile hall, and it sort of explores the underworld of that. It takes Thirteen and makes it look like candy, you know. But I think it’s intrinsically important that the actors in the film actually be that young, because it will be all the more shocking, that they be that age. You know, I could put on braces and braid my hair but that would be just silly, and it would be so much more moving to have someone who sampled the dark side at such a young age. So I gotta figure out how to get that one on its feet.
What are some of the things you look for when choosing your next role or project?
I look for it to be captivating; I actually enjoy treading on the dark side. You know the character I play in Fall Down Dead, you really understand her motivation the entire time, and it’s very simple you know she has to protect her child. Some of the other roles that I have done, I like it when I can actually find a groove that the audience doesn’t necessarily understand where the character is coming from. This is what I find the most challenging as an actor, playing not a monster, but like in your everyday life you know you do something, sometimes and your like, “why did I do that?”, to actually understand that there is no rhyme or reason to the way that people behave. I think that more than being the protagonist, I think find that complexity in a role is very important to me.
So what is you next project?
I don’t have one right now, I think I am going to try and get the projects that I am working on myself off of their feet. But I don’t know, I got offered a film recently, and it was to be a pretty girl and I am just not into that, not a pretty girl. In its proper place people have been like “The Pretty Girl”, and it’s worked out and they have gone on to do great things, you know like Legally Blonde or Election, Reese Witherspoon has done some of the best work in the world.
So you want more complexity to a character to draw you into a role?
Absolutely! I love working, so its hard for me to turn down things because well, are you going to hang out in your house, go surfing, go running with your dogs or are you going to be doing this awesome thing, and meeting new people? However one must decide sometimes that it’s not worth the trouble. There just has to be something more to offer in the form of story telling. Honestly if someone could have a blow-up doll of you and have it do the film then it’s not worth doing.
Since I do write for a geek blog I feel obligated to ask, do you play video games at all?
I play scrabble on the internet like 2 hours a day. I play on Lexulous, that’s not cool, very geeky. However, there is Lexulous Blitz it’s amazing you try and lay down all of your tiles in like four minutes and get the most points that you can. I think my score so far is like 1279, if anyone knows what that means …. it’s pretty impressive. It’s all about the triple, triple.
And my final question have you ever been to Philadelphia?
No, I have not. What would you recommend I see?
Well, when people come to the city they usually like to see the Liberty Bell….
But it’s cracked.
We both Laugh.