Mercedes McNab holds the distinction of being the longest running player in Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse. She appeared in the unaired half hour Buffy pilot episode as well as the final season of Angel, which aired a year after Buffy went off the air. In between she created the character of Harmony, one of the fashionista girls at Sunnydale High School who ended up becoming one of the undead, eventually falling in love with bad boy vampire Spike and working as Angel’s receptionist when he took over evil law firm Wolfram & Hart.
Now she’s starring in Hatchet, the latest entry in the “return to the old days” horror craze – a craze I couldn’t be happier about. The film, which is getting serious buzz (I have not yet seen it), is going to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. The premiere has sold out, but other screenings have seats available:
Sat 4/29, 11:59pm
AMC Loews Village VII 3
Sun 4/30, 4:00pm
AMC Loews Village VII 1
Thu 5/04, 10:30pm
AMC Loews 34th Street 9
Sat 5/06, 11:45pm
AMC Loews Lincoln Sq 6
Head over to www.tribecafilmfestival.org for info on how to get tickets.
Mercedes called me from her car last night as she was hurrying home to get ready for her trip to New York City.
Q: I haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, so I was hoping you could explain the basic plot and who you play.
McNab: It’s like a 70s/80s slasher type film, like the days of Freddie Kreuger and Jason and all that stuff. It’s about a group of people that take this boat tour to the bayou of Louisiana to search for alligators. All of the characters have no business knowing each other, really; there’s this Christian, bible thumping, older couple; my friends and I are hooked up with this producer because we want to be on Girls Gone Wild; there are three frat kids on vacation for Mardi Gras. We all end up taking this tour together and all havoc ensues.
Q: Are you a fan of that slasher genre?
McNab: I love it! My dad and I used to play this game where we would go out to those kinds of movies and decide who has the best death. I think it’s funny, I think it’s entertaining and I love to be scared. I love those chase scenes when you’re sitting on the edge of your seat. That’s my favorite aspect of those films.
Q: How did you end up getting involved in this picture? How did you meet Adam?
McNab: His management company is friends of friends and yadda yadda and they introduced us and it worked out perfectly. It’s just the industry, how that stuff works.
Q: So you guys shot in Louisiana?
McNab: No, we shot it in Palmdale, but we sure made it look like Louisiana! There are parts that are shot in Louisiana, but I didn’t get to go. Which was a shame, because it was before the hurricane, and I had never been there. It would have been nice to see it.
Q: The film is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Are you coming out for that?
McNab: I leave tomorrow morning! I’m very excited!
Q: What are the plans for the Festival? Big premiere? Big party?
McNab: We have a huge premiere, which is the world premiere of the film. Red carpet and all that, and then an afterparty. Then there’s a midnight screening that actually takes place at midnight on Saturday night. It’s fun for the fans; who wouldn’t want to see that kind of film at midnight?
Q: Do you get out to New York a lot?
McNab: I do. I used to live there.
Q: Where did you live?
McNab: I used to live in Tribeca, actually.
Q: A little homecoming.
McNab: Yes, I’m excited. It’s nice to get back. I’m staying in the same apartment I used to live in, and it’s all walking distance from all the events and everything, so you get the whole experience.
Q: Speaking of homecomings, there’s all the talk that goes around about a possible return to the Buffy and Angel universe in new shows, spin off movies, etc. Has Joss talked to you about that stuff?
McNab: There was talk for a long time about a Spike movie of the week, but that went out the window. I think Joss has probably moved on with Serenity and what not. It was a chapter in his life, and everybody else’s, and it’s time that it was closed.
Q: When you have a role like you had with Harmony on a show that so many people love, it’s the kind of role that can follow you for a while. Are comfortable with that, or do you plan on doing lots of different kinds of work to shake that image?
McNab: It doesn’t bother me. I don’t know that necessarily one character, playing that character on a show or a film is going to pigeonhole you. I think you look the way you look and people are going to inherently pigeonhole you. It’s nice to try and break away from that, but I wouldn’t call it the fault of the show that you get pigeonholed as a certain character. And people love you as a certain character, and they want to see you play it again. But then again as an actor you want to grow and stretch and change it up.
Q: One of the things you did so well on Buffy and Angel was the comedy. Are you a natural comedienne? Are you looking to do more comedy?
McNab: Everybody tells me I’m better at comedy, so that makes me want to do drama! I think I’m equally as good at both, so now I better prove to people I have chops for drama.
Q: Is Hatchet straight-faced or is it a comedy?
McNab: It’s very comedic. There are obviously moments of sheer terror and us crying and being dramatic and all that stuff, but there are a lot of scenes that are so funny. Everyone is so funny in the movie. Everyone has a happy medium of both.
Q: The film features some legendary horror actors. Did you get to work with anyone like Kane Hodder or Robert Englund?
McNab: I worked with Kane. I didn’t get to work with Robert. Kane was awesome. There’s actually, probably on the outtakes of the movie, an amazing prank that he and one of the other characters in the movie played on me, which I don’t want to give away because it’s so funny. He was a good laugh.
The director was very particular about not letting us see Kane until the first moment when we see him in the movie, because he wanted it to be true and honest as to how we react to how scary he looks – and it really worked. He would trick us all the time saying he was there, but he wasn’t really there. A lot of times we would be freaking out and we wouldn’t even want to walk to set.
Kane’s a Method actor, so he would be off in the distance getting into his character, making these guttural sounds – and that would be enough to make us start crying.
Q: I heard that Kane has the word “Kill” tattooed inside his lip.
McNab: Yes… he… does. So with all those things we didn’t have to do a lot of acting, we were scared to death anyway. And then you get to see him outside of that character and he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Q: This is a low budget film – how important is it that people be very nice?
McNab: It’s one of the most important things. The conditions are going to be relatively bad, because it low budget. You’re not going to have the nice things you expect on a higher budget film.
Q: Do you have anything lined up next?
McNab: I have another horror film called Medium Raw I’ll be shooting in Canada in a month or two.
Q: What’s that about?
McNab: I play a news reporter, and it’s about a serial killer who’s in a mental institute. I go interview him, and again, havoc ensues. [laughs]
Q: You mentioned you and your dad watched these slasher films and would figure out who has the best death. Have you seen the finished version of Hatchet, and have you decided who has the best death?
McNab: I’ve seen parts of it, and I obviously saw what I was shooting. I can imagine who has the best death, but I don’t want to give it away. There are amazing, original deaths you’ve never seen before and could never imagine, and they’re really graphic and really gory!