Emilie Autumn talks about “Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival.” Emily is a musician, violinist, actress, and writer. A multi-talented, beautiful soul who is starring in “Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival” starring Terrance Zdunich, Paul Sorvino, Dayton Callie, Adam Pascal, Tech N9ne, Marc Senter and Mivek Ogre. Director Darren Bousman (“Saw II” “Saw IV” “Mother’s Day”) is praised by Autumn and working on her own musical that Darren will direct.
How did you get involved in “Alluluia! The Devil’s Carnival?”
I got involved really what seems like randomly to me. I got some emails from a gentlemen called Darren Bousman (Director) when I was on tour about four years ago and I was in Europe at the time so it took a while for him to get through to me. Finally, I got an email that was passed onto me and my manager was holding onto these and not mentioning them. I got one and it said to check out the film. I took a night on tour to sit down with girls, my band mates and just ask them to look at this with me and tell me if you think this guy is somebody that I should ever talk to? Then the credits came up and of course we saw Sarah Brightman and then just thought, okay whatever the movie is it doesn’t even matter because if Sarah Brightman said yes to working with this guy then who would I be to say no?! I talked to Darren the next day and he said great, glad you liked it and thanks for calling me back. I have this idea. We are putting together this crazy new musical music and it’s called “The Devil’s Carnival” and there’s this character called The Painted Doll that we really you to play. So, I said fine send me information about it and let’s talk. Pretty instantly we became best friends. What I learned later there was nobody else signed onto the project at the point that Darren contacted me so I was actually the first one that he had reached out for casting. Had I known there was no one else involved at the time and I was the first one to sign on, I probably would have been a little more wary about it but I am obviously glad that I said yes. He told me that years later but I am glad I said yes because that has completely changed my world and given me a family of friends and creative geniuses to work with. I am very grateful he reached out and didn’t give up.
Emilie, you play violin, you are an actress, writer, singer. What has been the most challenging aspect for you in your career?
That is a good question. I have to say at this moment, the primary challenge is finding enough hours in the day but after that the second is the film acting is the part of my career that I have the least experience in and I am very comfortable with being on stage in front of a lot of people. I understand how that works. I know the audience is over there and if you want them to see you, you look in that direction and you don’t turn your back on them for too long and you project when you speak. With film, I was extremely intimidated, I hadn’t had prior ambition to act in film. I’d always focused on theatre and I wanted to world dominate Broadway but I didn’t expect to go to film, it was only because I was asked to. I know now it will stay that way. It was actually terrifying because simple things like not knowing how loud you need to speak now that your being heard, now that you have a microphone attached to your body that is very up close.
Not knowing how small or large your motions have to be to translate to a camera because it is right up in your face. You no longer need to exaggerate anything and if you do exaggerate something you look like an absolute idiot that can’t act. I needed to shed all of that staginess that has become part of my whole being over the past decade and learn how to essentially act like a real, normal person. I got lucky in the first film because I didn’t need to do that. The Painted Doll doesn’t speak, once she’s in hell, she only sings. The singing was recorded beforehand, all I had to do was psychically act and dance around and develop her look in these kind of movements and her physicality so that people understood who she was just by the way that she moved. The second one of course having to play the dual role of June and The Painted Doll that changed everything. That was the most challenging thing I’ve done in a very long time with playing the character of June because she is not The Painted Doll. She is not somebody that can just depend upon a broken face or a way of snapping her neck that tells you who she is.
She is actually a real person. That was frightening but I was also so fortunate to have other actors on set with who were far more experienced than I at that and who were so generous in their help. Marc Senter, of course who is an incredibly well famed method actor and very serious in that art form. He plays the Scorpion and he was my acting coach on set. Linden Smith who played opposite me for much of the film was very kind in telling me things oh the camera’s over there. Please look that way. I was very grateful to everyone involved for making it easy for me to look like a great actor.
What was it like for you working with Darren and the entire cast?
That’s always just a lovely thing because we all know each other sometimes too well. We’ve spent so much time together both on set and off because we’re all just good friends now. Most of the cast and definitely Marc, Darren and I spend a great deal of time together and Terrance off set just over the past years. Really, is just like going to work with your friends. That is just a lovely thing to be able to do for your job. We spent so much time over the years talking and you know the months in between, the years in between films talking about all the things that we want to do, talking about these characters we are going to build and them saying things to me like oh you are going to love you’re new song, it’s in German and me saying Oh My God! Are you kidding me, why would you do that to me?
To when we finally get on set to do it and it is like oh goodness, I am so glad we got to do everything we were talking about. The rest of the cast was also a really wonderful experience. I got to share the screen again with a handful of people from the first film. They are great friends. Bill Mosely and Ogre and everybody else. Getting to star opposite somebody like Adam Pascal was a bit unbelieve and a massive opportunity just to learn from a legitimate Broadway star. This a two time Tony nominee, brilliant, brilliant singer who has done so much. As you know that is my goal, I’m writing “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls” musical directed by Darren. The goal with that is Broadway and the West End and basically world domination, so getting to meet people who have already essentially done that was a gift that I haven’t expected.
I thought I was going to go to school and play with all of my old friends and then they say oh this is Adam Pascal and you need to hardcore make-out with him several times during this film and you also get to listen to him sing to you. All of that was lovely and unexpected. Then getting to meet and get to know Ted Neely is incredible because is now signed on to play the role of Sir Edward in my musical and growing up listening to “Jesus Christ Superstar” remembering all of the words to that throughout my life. Then meeting Ted and I would never imagine that Ted Neely would even want to know my name let alone want to be one of the lead characters in my musical. So it has been a great experience from the beginning.
You also play the violin and make tea. When did you become involved in making tea and playing the violin?
The violin has been my instrument and my expression of choice for most of my life. I started as a classical musician when I was four years old which honestly seems to be the standard time for violinist. It is very demanding and they call it the most difficult instrument that there is. It was only in my late teens and early twenties that I even was brave enough to use my own voice. The violin had always been my own voice. Then I began to write and I needed someone to sing when I was writing and so I started to sing when I was writing just to see how it sounded and then people heard that and then I started to get more and more brave and to perform as a singer. Once I started to use my voice I couldn’t stop using my voice. I have to keep going and that is how Darren ended up finding me. It’s a good thing I opened my mouth or none of this would have ever happened.
The tea is part of my world that I created that has to do with The Asylum. That is the subject of my musical, that’s the book that I’ve written, that is the world in which all of my albums and my rock shows I have toured with for years have taken place. It all takes place within this world, these girls are locked up in this insane asylum for women in Victorian England so the tea party is a sort of stylized element of that world. The tea party, the corsets and all of that are part of bringing that world to life. It has also been a great way to build a community aspect to what I do in just my musical career.
What advice would offer to fellow entertainers?
My real advice is simply to never be afraid to do it yourself. It has gotten easier and easier with technology and the affordability of recording set ups or certain cameras and as a writer a piece of paper is very inexpensive. All that really matters, I have found in my own life whether it is Darren or actors or anyone is the greatest successes have been those that have not waited for permission from anyone. My ultimate advice is to never ask for permission and when you build something yourself no matter what it takes, no matter what you sacrifice, no matter how long it takes. That is how you build something that no one can ever take away.
That is how you build something that no one can ever take away. That was always my personal goal. I didn’t want to go the short cut. I didn’t want to get a major label deal where somebody just threw a bunch of fame at me immediately, it’s never been about how much money I could make, it’s been about building something that when I leave this earth, I left it more beautiful than I found it. Hopefully even helped people by sharing my own story and all of that would never have been allowed had I asked someone for permission. If you really want to do something important don’t ask anybody to allow you to do that. Always do it yourself and the funny thing is once you start doing it yourself everybody else is going to want to jump on board. It doesn’t mean you are going to be alone forever but it means you are going to own what you create. Do it yourself and own what you create and never give it away, never ask for permission. You simply don’t need it, all you have to do is work your ass off and be really, really good.
Do you have a favorite musical?
My favorites are definitely Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. As far as my own I have a song called “Time for Tea” which is on my last album “Fight Like A Girl” and that album is literally a third of the music from the musical. The song “Time for Tea” I’m really excited for people to get to see as part of the musical that Darren and I are building because it is the song that takes place when all the girls finally break out of their cells and they go on an absolute rampage. They massacre all of the doctors and the asylum staff with the intention to take back the Asylum and make it what it was always meant to be which is a sanctuary and a place for people to go so they are safe. They take it back and make it theirs and so “Time for Tea” we have had a lot of fun with on stage in my shows but now they are going to see what it really means which is just this incredible fight scene between all of these girls and all of these doctors. They are going to get to see the battle go down and who wins.
Over the past several years, director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, and IV) and writer-actor Terrance Zdunich have collaborated on a pair of films that meld music with the macabre: 2008’s cult movie Repo! The Genetic Opera and 2012’s The Devil’s Carnival. The duo have now re-teamed for the forthcoming Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival, in which, “Lucifer (Zdunich) incites Heaven’s wrath by dispatching train cars full of condemned souls a-crashin’ through the pearly gates. God (Paul Sorvino), in response, readies his top negotiator, The Agent (Adam Pascal), for a trip down to The Carnival to put an end to the rebellious deeds.”
Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival also stars David Hasselhoff, Ted Neeley, Barry Bostwick, Emilie Autumn, horror legend Bill Moseley, and rapper Tech N9ne, among others, and features music from composer Saar Hendelman. Bousman and Zdunich will hit the road this fall and bring ALLELUIA! across the country for dozens of Live Road Show experiences, featuring live circus performers, costume contests, Q&A’s, and intimate movie screenings.
THE DEVILS CARNIVAL
View tour dates: thedevilscarnival.com/tickets
Emilie’s official page www.emilieautumn.com/