This isn’t terribly professional, but I had such a huge crush on Samaire Armstrong after getting off the phone with her. She has this bubbly, ebullient personality that’s completely disarming and adorable. That’s without even taking into account what she looks like – just from a phone call alone, my heart is hers.
She’s starring in Stay Alive, the video game themed horror film opening this weekend. The premise is simple – you die in the game, you die in real life. I do hope they address the pressing issue of what happens if you accidentally kick the game and freeze it up. I wouldn’t know – they haven’t screened the film for me, or for anyone else that I’m aware of, so this interview had to begin with the simplest of all possible questions for the wonderful Miss Armstrong: What the heck is this movie about and who do you play? After we cleared that up, we could move on to other things, like ghosts versus zombies, her character on Entourage and her sleeping habits…
Q: I haven’t seen the film yet, so can you explain what it’s about and who you play?
Armstrong: The film is a horror film. It’s sort of The Ring-esque in the sense that these kids get their hands on a video game and their one friend is found dead and it just so happens that his death occurred in the same manner as the character in this video game. It’s a Blue’s Clues sort of situation and they figure out that this video game maybe has some sort of interaction with the death. Then through uncovering and playing the game they find out that there is a Blood Countess, who is based in New Orleans and who years prior her soul got encapsulated in this video game. Playing the game releases her soul, and then begins the game of their life, and they have to play survive the game.
Q: And who do you play?
Armstrong: I play Abigail Thorne, who is the girl who is not familiar with the video game lifestyle, but is the acquaintance of a girl who dies. She is sort of a third party girl to the storyline, so she doesn’t know the realm of New Orleans or the videogame life or these people very well, but because she doesn’t have many friends or family in the vicinity she begins to help them uncover the mystery. She plays the video game as well and participates in surviving it.
Q: Are you a video game person?
Armstrong: I’m not! I feel bad saying this, but I’ve never been a video game person. I don’t have a video game machine. I never had a Super Nintendo. I never got past round 1 on Super Mario Bros. I don’t like to sit in front of a television. And I don’t pay attention well to game rules – and I like to cheat, a lot! I like to cheat in games, period. I’m never going to have the tolerance for getting killed and starting over. And I never learned the cheat codes; I never got into that. I would much rather just beat you at checkers. Or like really cheat at a card game.
Q: Do your friends even play games with you if you cheat so badly?
Armstrong: Ever since Candyland nobody has played games with me. They all know. But what is the fun of winning straight? Anybody can win straight; it’s just the luck of a roll of the dice. But winning because you’re sly about it? That’s fun!
Q: It’s a whole different kind of game then.
Armstrong: Yeah! You’ve got your own rules, and if you’re really sly, nobody knows your rules.
Q: You have two horror films this year. Are you a horror film person if you’re not a video game person?
Armstrong: [laughs] This is so stupid. The more I talk about – you’re about the sixth interview I’ve had this afternoon, and it gets – I hate scary movies. Sincerely. I can’t watch them. I get really frightened of them. I haven’t been able to finish Stay Alive.
Armstrong: I’ve had to walk out of the screenings. I don’t know if it’s the sound or the visuals – I mean, I was in the movie. It was scary to make, but watching it is scarier. You know when you’re sitting in the movie theater and you feel like your Achilles tendon is about to get cut? That’s what watching this movie is like! It’s like Scream, where she gets up to go to the bathroom at the movie theater and she hears something in the stall and they stab her – it’s like that. At any moment the worst thing can happen. I don’t like that feeling!
Q: So you’re not going to be able to see your own movies this year.
Armstrong: I’m going to be able to see it. Maybe Brent and Matt, the writer and director will let me watch it on video and I can fast forward it and pause it to have breathing breaks. I’m strong and I’m courageous, and if something scary happens in my life – like the other night I was in my studio, all by myself. I was there and it was really late and no one is in the house and all the doors are locked, and all of a sudden there’s a knock on the studio door. It’s one of those moments where you wonder if you heard a scary noise, and in a movie you yell, ‘Don’t go there!’ I hear this noise, and I’m thinking, this is my moment, what will I do? I say, ‘Hello,’ and I get this attitude, like I’m really annoyed. I’m like, ‘Stop being a jerk!’ and I open the door and nobody’s there. The blood rushed out of my body and you can’t be a wimp at that moment, because if there was someone there, you’d be dead. I took a breath, walked a circle around the room and got back to the place I was when I first heard the noise and I realized it was the floorboards underneath my feet that sounded exactly like a door knock.
But in that moment I was like, ‘Don’t be a jerk!’ Pretty tough, I think, but then I’m sitting pathetically watching a film like it’s an open invitation to get beaten up or taken over by a zombie.
I do like zombie films. That’s a whole different story.
Q: Why is that different for you?
Armstrong: Those are tangible. You can kill those. I don’t know how you fight with things you put your hands through.
Q: So if there’s a knock on your door you’d rather it was a zombie or a serial killer, and not a ghost.
Armstrong: Exactly! Exactly that. Wouldn’t you? A ghost can go in your mind, I think.
Q: I don’t know. I go back and forth on it. The idea that a ghost, no matter what I do, they can get me – that’s scary.
Armstrong: Yeah, the ghosts – you don’t know the laws under which they function. At least with a zombie, they have an intellectual limit, where you can be smarter, or quicker, and shoot them in the head. You can do something like that, where you use your brains against them.
Q: You’re braver than me, because if I had a scary knock I would probably do what I’ve done since I was a kid and put my head under the covers.
Armstrong: Under the blanket!
Q: I assume if I can’t see it, it can’t see me.
Armstrong: Right. I used to sleep every single night sweating, no matter what time of year it was, under a blanket. My feet couldn’t go over the sides of the bed. But then I moved out on my own, and you can’t do that anymore. You can’t run to your parent’s bedroom down the hall. You have to stand up for yourself.
Q: I know they’re shooting a new season of Entourage. Is Emily coming back?
Armstrong: I haven’t heard that Emily is coming back at all.
Q: So they haven’t talked to you at all?
Armstrong: Not at all.
Q: That’s too bad. Would you go back if they asked?
Armstrong: I can’t be an objective bystander. They had a pretty good thing going, don’t you think?
Q: I really liked that character. I liked how she was working for Cameron now, that seemed interesting.
Armstrong: Why thank you! Maybe I should step up a little more. I was under the impression that it’s a guy show, and there’s no room for Emily, she’s so set in her ways and not willing to be knocked over by the men.
Q: But that’s part of what makes her great on the show.
Armstrong: Right. So true. I need to go back on that show.
Q: I want to see what happens to her next.
Armstrong: I don’t think this season. I think this season all the scripts are written. But next season I need to come back!
Q: Let’s start a petition immediately.
Armstrong: Do that! Thank you!
Q: How about The OC? Are you coming back to The OC?
Armstrong: I am coming back to The OC. I’ll be doing three episodes in March.
Q: Are you going to cause trouble?
Armstrong: Maybe I’ll solve trouble. [laughs]
Q: What else do you have coming up? This is a busy year for you – are any of your movies in 06 something you would actually like to see?
Armstrong: I will like to see the response of the people who watch Stay Alive. It’s a Boy Girl Thing I think I will really enjoy seeing, and Just My Luck as well. That seems like a really cute movie.
Q: What’s that about?
Armstrong: It stars Lindsey Lohan and I’m her best friend. She’s a girl who has all the luck in the world, she’s having the best day in the universe. Her life happens to cross paths with a boy who is the most unlucky.
Q: Is that your favorite kind of film, romantic comedies?
Armstrong: No, my favorite kind of film is a shoot-em-up, adventure type of film.
Q: Have you done anything like that?
Armstrong: No, I haven’t. I’m looking forward to doing one.
Q: You’d want to be one of those tough heroines who just kills everybody?
Armstrong: Yeah! Kill everybody, or defend everbody.
Q: What’s your favorite shoot-em-up film?
Armstrong: I really like cowboy westerns, and my favorite is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, or Pale Rider… Clint Eastwood films are my favorite.
I like films with a lot of space involved, deserts. Kind of like that movie with Tina Turner and Mel Gibson…
Q: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Armstrong: Yeah, like that. Everything’s without hope and you have to survive, everyone on their own, and you have your band of brothers. That sort of War of the Worlds chaos, you have to stick up for what you believe in.
Q: Well, I would go see a film like that starring you.
Armstrong: Thank you! Cool!
Q: You’ve sold one ticket in advance.
Armstrong: To a film I haven’t even made! Awesome! Sounds good!