Thandi Puren is one of the most talented people on the planet. She took some time to do an interview with me for Horrornews.net. Thandi plays Ruby in new film, “The Lullaby”, directed by Darrell Roodt. She is incredible in “The Lullaby” along with co-stars Reine Swart and Brandon Auret. “The Lullaby” will be in theaters and VOD on March 2nd.
Hi Thandi, first off thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview for Horrornews.net. “The Lullaby” was just incredible. How did you prepare to play Ruby?
Thandi- Hi Janel! Thank you to you and Horrornews.net for for reviewing The Lullaby. We are very proud of what we have managed to achieve with our film. I came onboard this project relatively late. I had very little time to prepare, but I felt a deep sense of empathy with this woman who had endured so much pain and was still trying so hard to survive and get her and her daughter’s life back on track. My preparation was mapping Ruby’s world, her daily life, discovering and exploring her motivations and fears. This is my first Horror and my only way into the genre was through absolute emotional commitment to these bizarre and terrifying events and understanding Ruby as deeply as I could. I did watch some of my favoutite Horrors – classics that even a Horror baby like me could not ignore as inspiration and brilliance. There was a definite link between Ruby and Margaret in Carrie. So I watched that properly (without closing my eyes and blocking my ears😂). I adore Piper Laurie’s work in Carrie, but for me Ruby ended up being a different kettle of fish – not as fundamentalist quite as crazy as Carrie’s Mother. I had to discover the subtleties.
There are so many intense scenes especially between you and Reine Swart who plays Chloe. Did it take a toll on you at all?
Thandi- Thank you Janel. Yes, this Horror is very much rooted in the unfolding drama between a damaged Mother and Daughter. I am s Mother to two beautiful girls and I found this role very taxing because of that. I immerse myself when I work, I am not great at drawing distinctions between the reality of the character I am playing and myself. Do finding ways tho leave Ruby on set was a real challenge for me. My family was very happy when shooting finished!
Were you familiar with the meaning of the Lullaby song?
Thandi- I lived with my Grandmother for a few years growing up and she would put me in front of the radio (not the TV!) for an hour or so while she did her chores around the house. There was a show that played Siembamba as the signature tune. I was about 5 when I realized with a fright one day what the lyrics were! From that day on I would run into the kitchen to say something very urgent to my Gran while the song finished, before returning to story time on the radio. My Grandmother’s Mother was actually born during the Anglo-Boer War in a camp in Kimberley. But the horror of those times and the possible truth behind the song is not something that was openly discussed. There have always been questions in my head – those lyrics are rather persistently haunting!
Thandi- Horror demands a remarkable amount of energy! Reine Swart had a grueling shooting schedule and I was in awe of her discipline, guided be the remarkable and ever energetic Darrell Roodt. You are required to buy in to extraordinary circumstances in this genre. It is like Drama on steroids! It is fantastic fun, but hard work!
The scenes with you and Brandon Auret who plays Dr. Timothy Reed were intense but the good doctor seemed to be a little creepy. Do you think Ruby went to him for help and do you think he knew all the secrets going on?
Thandi- I think there is more than meets the eye going on between Ruby and the good Doctor! He definitely knows a lot more than he lets on about All the secrets. But, we definitely have a long history to my mind. Brandon and I had a lot of fun working together!
Did you grow up watching scary movies and do you have favorite or someone that inspired you professionally?
Thandi- I am terrified of Horrors!!! I cry I get so afraid. 😂 Literally! My imagination takes me to a place beyond mere “suspension of disbelief”, it dumps me there and I have to fight my way back to the reality of the cinema – or EVEN WORSE – my home! That said, there are masterpieces like The Shining, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs that I consider just brilliant cinema! I cannot watch Hitchcock. His films are in my nightmares without even watching them! And one of the first films I ever saw, completely by accident, was a Short called Panic that was shown in a cinema before the main feature- which was Bambi or something ridiculous! I must have been 2 and it has never left me!
What was it like for you working with the director Darrell Roodt?
Thandi- I am sure people pay lip service to Directors all the time. But I literally rewatched Cry the Beloved Country a month before getting the call inviting me to work on The Lullaby. I was saying how badly I wanted to work with him! Darrell Roodt is a master film maker! I have the world of respect for him. If he lived in the US he would be a rich and internationally venerated film maker. I have no doubt about that. So… I guess I loved working with him! His energy is staggering and infectious. He knows more about film than anyone I have ever worked with and cares more about making movies than anyone I know.
What projects are you working on next?
Thandi- I am lucky enough to be repeating the experience of working with the Producers of The Lullaby – Andre and Samuel Frauenstein and Darrell Roodt in March. They are making The Furnace (working title), about a grueling endurance race, starring Jamie Bernadette and I will make a small appearance in it. I wish I was making another Horror to tell you the truth, the bug definitely bit me!
What would you like to say to the fans and the audiences that will be watching “The Lullaby?”
Thandi- First and foremost I hope they enjoy it! I hope we get more opportunities to showcase intimate South African stories with the world.
Also, I think post-partem depression is a very real and rife condition that many women feel they cannot speak about. I would hope that anyone watch this film who has been affected by this, realises that they are not alone. And that they can talk to somebody, seek help.
I found it interesting when Ruby told the doctor that Chloe has a baby now that he didn’t even look up at all. Do you think Ruby fully trusted the doctor or just felt she didn’t have a choice but to talk to him?
Thandi- Yes. Why doesn’t she want Chloe to come see him? I think Ruby is under his spell. I think she has something in her which is shouting at her to run away from this man’s influence, but she cannot see the wood for the trees. Like a moth (butterfly) to a flame…
You played this role so good. I kept thinking of Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” – I do not mean that in a bad way at all. It is the empowering personality Ruby has and the strength she has to be by herself and having to help her daughter raise a baby. It is a powerful performance. What was the most challenging aspect of playing Ruby? (My mom was a single mom and did everything by herself and this hit a nerve with me because all I think about is no matter what I’ve ever done in life, my mom is here and I know it sounds dumb maybe but that reminded me of how you are playing Ruby with so much dedication.
Thandi- That is an incredible compliment, thank you! I am fascinated with Joan Crawford and I also think Faye Dunaway was brilliant in that film. I love that you observe those sorts of similarities and I am so grateful that you could empathize with Ruby. I think people do terribly cruel things to each other from places of deep hurt. Mothers are fundamentally formative to our internal narratives. Ruby‘s history is my secret, but informs her path in The Lullaby until matters are taken out of her hands. It is not easy being out of control.
Thandi- You are so welcome Janel! Thank you for sharing so much of your own story with me. I think we could have many interesting conversations you and I. I am humbled by your praise.
THANDI IMDB www.imdb.com/name/nm1779580/
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