Actress, writer and stunt fighter Jenna Kanell is so talented. She took time to talk with me about clowns, kicking ass and starring in “Terrifier” directed by Damien Leone and starring Jenna, Catherine Corcoran, and David Howard Thornton (who plays Art the Clown). I could talk to Jenna for hours. She is genuine and so enthusiastic talking about her work. Check out this Horrornews.net exclusive.
Hi Jenna- Please tell us how you got involved with the film “Terrifier?”
Jenna- I originally was connected with Damien, the filmmaker in 2015. So it was a while ago. He had me read for a different film of his and that film didn’t end up happening but then he got funding for the “Terrifier” and it looked like “Terrifier” was going to get made and so he reached out to me again to touch base and he asked if I would read for that one instead. I thought the script was a lot of fun and he and I had been talking about working together for a long time and I really like his work a lot. I love horror and I am a huge Horror nerd. So I put an audition on tape and because at the time I was in Las Angeles and he was in New York and so we decided we were finally going to work together. Which was super exciting and I’m so glad I did because I could gush about him all day.
How did you prepare to play Tara in “Terrifier” because you did suck a kick ass job?!
Jenna- In terms of preparing for the character, some of it was just staying in shape in terms of my stunt training because I do stunts as well. There are stunts in the film and I wanted to make sure I could accomplish them safely. Some of it was about that and some of it was Catherine Corcoran and I became really close, she plays Dawn in the film. Some of it was making that friendship very real so that the stakes were higher when something unfortunate happens to her I was actually watching it happen to someone that I genuinely cared about. Some of it was watching other horror films and then just making everything genuine because it was important to me not to be one of those people in horror movies that you scream at because they are being an idiot and making horrible decisions. I wanted to make sure that I was someone that I would believe in and root for!
I was rooting for you in “Terrifier!”
Jenna- (laughter) Thank you!!! That is awesome. I am so happy that came through. There are so many horror movies where you watch them and you are screaming “don’t go in there” at the TV but it is realistic that she would because she needed to be. I also understand taking care of your friends when they are super-drunk and trying to be safe, exercising caution around people that you don’t know and get bad vibes from and that you don’t trust!
I agree! Now, do you ever kind of feel like you have learned things from horror movies. Growing up my mom is an artist so she never judged us for watching horror movies so my house was the go-to house to watch horror movies. Do you feel like you learn from horror?
Jenna- I love it! I love it! I definitely think we learn a lot from horror movies. I feel as though horror is the one genre where you can make bold statements and bold commentary without being obvious about it. You can comment on things you see in society and you can study fears that we all have. Examine why we are afraid of things. I think horror is the best genre to do that too. I love that your house was the horror house. That’s fantastic. I love horror and I love that we can study the history of our culture through horror. We can watch horror films and examine exactly what we are afraid of at the time and that reflects what was going on historically.
I have to ask you because I grew up watching horror movies and there was kind of a running joke with everyone that this clown and “Terrifier” would possibly scare me (Lots of Laughter) I am one of those weirdos that I am not scared of clowns but if I would see a clown or one of those weirdo clowns I am hauling ass or I don’t know, knocked out! (Laughter) What did you think of David when you saw him as Art The Clown?
Jenna- Those are really good instincts and you should definitely never get rid of them because I think those are the only appropriate reactions. Well it’s funny because David outside of make-up is so silly and ridiculous. He is nothing like the character. It was interesting at first because when I first saw him in make-up I made a point to not watch the make-up process because I wanted to be shocked when I first saw him. I definitely shit my pants a little bit because he looked horrifying and the fact that he doesn’t talk is what makes him so scary that you have no idea why he is doing these things and what his motives are. That definitely freaked me out. I am not typically afraid of clowns but the location we were in was really scary and it kind of helped get the scenes. We were in this weird abandoned factory and there was creepy stuff everywhere. You would have to walk through this room of abandoned cars to get to the bathroom and you would hear noises and so the scene was set for everything to be pretty terrifying. But when you watch David go through the make-up process it’s not that scary because you are watching him become Art and then he opens his mouth and you hear David’s voice come out and its make it less scary.
So, you are like okay, you are okay now and less traumatizing.
Jenna- Yes, it’s been a couple years. I’ve had time to recoup.
What types of challenges did you guys face while shooting because from watching “Terrifier” some of it seemed crazy?
Jenna- The biggest challenge was we shot entirely night shoots and that is always very difficult. We essentially shot every night with a day or two off for two weeks. The challenge of that is you kind of start to lose a little bit or your sanity the more you’re only awake at night because it feels very unnatural unless you work in the ER. It feels very unnatural to only be awake at night and your sleep schedule being off and you don’t get as much sleep so your mental state very easily fluctuates between stable and very unstable and that was definitely the biggest challenge. I’ve done a couple of projects that shoot entirely at night. It’s always very difficult and you also see a whole other side of the city because you’re seeing all the sides of things that you typically never do because you are awake when nobody else is and then asleep when everybody else is awake so you are living like some sort of bat creature I think is the hardest part.
Jenna- Of course, I am working on a couple of things. I have a role in this movie called “The Front Runner” that is going to come out next year I believe about Gary Hart’s political campaign and I am in a Lifetime movie called “The Border” that will come out next year where I acted and did some stunts as well. I also just finished a short film as an actor and a stunt performer that will hopefully be on the festival circuit next year. Besides that I also do production as well and so I have a short film that I wrote and directed called, “Max & the Monster” and I am trying to think. I also just did a music video. Those are the big ones.
Oh My God, I had to tell you I loved you in “The Bye Bye Man” also! You did a great job!
Jenna- Thank you! Thanks for watching it!
What do you want to say to the fans and those who will be watching “Terrifier” and all your films?
Jenna- Man, Not to try this at home. Don’t try this at home. I appreciate anyone who is brave enough to watch horror movies because they are very near and dear to my heart! I am appreciative and grateful because that helps more of them get made.
Amen to that! When you are doing a horror film do you feel you must be in a different psychological state of mind versus as if you were in a drama or comedy?
Jenna- Yes and No. I think it’s important to take whatever circumstances you are in a horror movie and make sure that it’s believable and make sure you are reacting as realistically as you would in a drama or a comedy. I think you know it’s important for the audience not to lose the suspense or disbelief and so you can’t either.
Thank you so much Jenna. You are just amazing and so talented. Keep kicking ass.
Jenna- Thank you! Wonderful! It was wonderful to meet you virtually!
Thank you and same here. It was great talking! You rock!
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