At the time of this interview I had not seen Fright Night, but the unexpectedly sharp trailers had definitely given me the hunch that I might be enjoying this horror remake quite a bit. Turns out that would be the case, but my discussion with Imogen had me curious a bit more about how a young woman such as herself makes her career decisions and plans for the future, having been a part of showbusiness from such an early age.
Renn: Just to start things off, tell me a little bit about how you became involved in the production…
Imogen: I auditioned for Fright Night back in London, made a tape. The next step was to come across to the states to meet with Craig Gillespie the director, and Anton Yelchin to do a chemistry test, which is always interesting because in that moment you have to [chuckle] create chemistry with someone you’ve never met before. But Anton’s the best and I had a really good time, and after that we started rehearsals a couple of weeks later.
What drew me to the project was the fact hat the director was somebody who was capable of understanding humanity from a very character-oriented perspective, so he was going to take on this commercial beast and you knew you were in good hands, because what was important to him was the story and the character’s journey. So that was exciting to me, because I loved Lars and the Real Girl and also, I’m part of this vampire generation I suppose and I thought I should probably get involved.
Renn: Did that inspire any trepidation about getting into the genre, now that’s its so arguably overdone, or did you want to strike while the iron was hot?
Imogen: I think I’m just excited to be a part of it because it goes back to the conventional vampire figure, in terms of the vampire being perceived as a monster rather than a character set in a melodramatic romantic environment. It was very much the classic vampire. There wasn’t much trepidation because Colin Ferrell was going to be playing Jerry, and I was a big fan of Colin’s work and also a little bit of a challenge is never a bad thing. If it’s up to you to reinvent a genre, or the production to revisit something and bring it to a new audience– especially us doing a remake, you want to bring that to a modern audience with your own interpretation. So that’s exciting and intriguing, rather than intimidating.
Renn: Looking at your career you sort of had your start in hardcore genre films, with V For Vendetta and 28 Weeks Later.
Imogen: Oh yeah, hardcore.
Renn: But this is the first one in a while, so were there any new, unique experiences that being in a genre film like this presented? I read that this was your first time firing a gun?
Imogen: You know… they lied, because I have shot a gun before. In work, not in life- I’m not a gangster. But I think it’s always interesting. With any job you get to try new things, and it’s extraordinary what you can come away with. Yeah, certainly shooting the gun was a little bit different, but that was fun. I had a good time.
Renn: Was there any particular stunt or scene or beat that was something especially new for you?
Imogen: Yeah, there is a scene where everything is on fire, and I actually found that really interesting because I’d never been around real fire like that before. To watch how choreographed that could be was fascinating, how you can control fire. Anton Yelchin actually got set on fire himself, he wanted to try it, so he had this gel put on him and there’s actually a shot of him on fire. I remember that day because I remember being on set and thinking, “Holy shit, this is happening.” It’s quite extraordinary to watch what these stunt guys do everyday,
Renn: You’ll have to find yourself a part where you can get lit up.
Imogen: I will have to get a part where I can get set on fire, this is true. I’ll work on that today.
Renn: So since this film is a remake that came out before, I think, either of us were born actually, did you feel particularly beholden to the original in terms of paying some sort of tribute. What’s your relationship with the original?
Imogen: I was aware of the original, but hadn’t seen it. So when I got the script I went back and watched it, and it’s so wonderful and of its time and era. I think often if you’re going to do a remake you shouldn’t have the trepidation, you should be intrigued by how a modern audience is going to receive your interpretation. So, I love original– you’ve got the music, you’ve got the wild hairdos, you’ve got the make-up… it’s all very indicative of that time period. So in the same way you want to make your remake super modern, because you want to maintain a premise and an original theme, so it was interesting to watch the original and gather from it what makes it so important to people.
Renn: Tell me about the dynamic on the set as you were obviously working primarily with three very distinct actors with very different backgrounds and that are all at different points in their careers…
Imogen: The dynamic on set was great, everybody got along so well. I became very close to Anton Yelchin and Chris Mintz-Plasse. We were in Albequrque together for quite a long time, so they become your real close buddies you know? Because you’re with each other day in and day out, so that company was unbeatable. And Colin’s wonderful, it was wonderful to work with him and spend time with- he’s an incredible human being. So the dynamic was a sweet one so I think that helped the director, and the director had a real ability to create a light and relaxed set. Craig Gillespie was very much behind that and he was the reason why we had such a great time, because he was so liberal.
Renn: Elaborate a bit on Craig’s approach and liberalism on set.
Imogen: He was liberal with the script, liberal in terms of being allowed to improvise and do what we wanted with the characters. Even though we were doing a remake he wasn’t married to any of the original ideas, he wanted to maintain those themes but at the same time he wanted to find the heartbeat of these characters and own them.
Renn: What kind of improv did you see develop? Was that mostly in the more comedic scenes, or all throughout, regardless of tone?
Imogen: Definitely in the majority of scenes, but I’d say that in the final cut it wasn’t even about imporovising for the sake of having the material, but improvisation that would lead to a better scene. We’d explore different ideas, and whether or not dialogue was any different, you’ve gone to that place which can only inform your performance. You’re relaxed with the script, you learn something different about the character, and you’ve got the chemistry of this person so the improvisation is really fantastic as you explore ideas that you would never have thought about, whether or not they make it into the final cut. It’s a really important aspect of film and theater.
Renn: Your carrer has escalated well. What has been your guiding thoughts or feelings for choosing roles and films? What steers you?
Imogen: You find yourself just drawn to specific roles, and often it’s because you could know the person you’re reading about, recognize them around you or in yourself. Or it’s something completely alien and that can create excitement because it’s something unfamiliar and you can’t wait to see the world through that person’s perspective. It’s kind of inexplicable, when you understand the role and the collaboration with the filmmakers informs your performance. In terms of Fright Night I owe lots to Craig because he really– you know, he cast a Brit in an American role and he really supported me throughout the process and I’m really lucky to have encountered Craig in my life at age 21, because he’s really the best.
A lot of the reviews are tearing this film apart (there’s even some pretty intense vitriol that boggles my mind), but I think you won’t do much better this weekend with the major releases. Make sure to let us know what you think when and if you see it….