-Interview by Nic Brown, Photos courtesy of Bill Spangler's Rose Island Photos-
The fog is thick and heavy, muffling the sounds of the zombie horde as it ambles through the darkness towards a lone man. He pulls out a Desert Eagle 50 Caliber pistol and dispatches several of the creatures. From the shambling mass of rotting flesh steps a zombie in a bridal gown. The man sees her and shoots her in the head. Another zombie bride appears to take her place and is just as quickly dispatched. Then suddenly the crowd of zombies parts and a beautiful woman emerges, untouched by the undead around her. She too is dressed as a bride and she steps forward towards the man who is dumbfounded by the sight. The zombies seem almost repulsed by the presence of the woman and stand their ground as she speaks. "I’ve always loved you, Dyce."
"CUT!" Director Mark Poole steps out of the shadows, the zombies all fall back to their starting mark on the stage and actress Sebrina Siegel, "The Bride" smiles brightly as the crew sets up for the next scene. Siegel has been on the set all afternoon working with Poole and the rest of the cast and crew of Anubis Digital’s DEAD MOON RISING 2 as they film promotional material and some of the key scenes for the film at the City Block bar complex in Louisville Kentucky.
Siegel, a veteran of independent film and stage work, is a recent addition to the cast of DEAD MOON RISING 2. She plays the character of Abby, an FBI agent involved in a love triangle between Dyce (John Wells) and Scout (Katie Stanley). Although DEAD MOON RISING 2 is Siegel’s first foray into the horror genre, she’s excited about the project and eager to join the other bad-assed zombie slayers from the first film.
Speaking with Sebrina it quickly becomes apparent why writer/director Mark Poole cast this energetic actress in his film. Filled with enthusiasm for the project, Siegel has an air of confidence and poise that make her a natural for the business. I had a chance to sit down with Sebrina Siegel the day of the Anubis Digital Halloween Zombie Gathering, to talk about her work on DEAD MOON RISING 2, her passion for acting, and why Mark Poole keeps trying to get her and Katie Stanley to wear the same outfits to events!
Nic - Sebrina, what brings you out here to the Anubis Digital Halloween Zombie Gathering?
Sebrina - I’m one of the eight primary cast members in Mark Poole’s new serial/movie DEAD MOON RISING 2.
Nic - Can you tell us a little about your role in the film?
Sebrina - I play Abby. She’s an FBI agent who’s investigating the zombie outbreak and the virus, to try and find out what’s going on and who started it. I’ve seen two scenes so far I know that there is some love interest involved, as well as a lot of fighting but I can’t give you much more detail about the plot. I can tell you about my character as opposed to what I do.
Abby is somebody who is very self-assured. She is a loner who doesn’t have a lot of friends. Abby was the middle child growing up and she was disappointed by her family and had to do a lot for herself. She is someone who can take care of herself although she does get a little doubtful of herself when it comes to other women, so she has a little insecurity there. She doesn’t make friends easy so I’d say not a lot of people like her, just because she’s tough.
Nic- You know a lot about your character. Where did you get all of this back ground? Did you make it yourself to help you get into character or did Mark provide it to you?
Sebrina - When I take a role I’m usually given a basis and then I go back and create their background. With Mark I didn’t really have any information because it is going to be a series and not really a film, so he’s writing it as he goes. Also, each segment is going to be a "shard" so each episode will have three different ways it can go. Because of this I don’t really know anything about the story beyond what we’re set to film. So I went to Mark and I asked him specifically for any background information he felt I should have. He gave me a one page sheet of who Abby was, her background, where she grew up, how she grew up, things like that. For example she was sexually abused at one point in college, things like that. Then he said anything I liked I could go with and if there was something that I don’t like then we could discuss it and make changes. So we did that and I’ve created some aspects myself. I know what Abby eats for breakfast. I know what she likes to do at night, what books she likes to read, and she doesn’t like the same things I do. It was a collaboration. He gave me the background and I built the character from there.
Nic - What do you think will happen with the filming tomorrow with all the zombies?
Sebrina - I think tomorrow with all the zombies from the event [The Zombie Gathering] and trying to break the Guinness World Record for a zombie scene it’s going to be all action! I think we’ll be spending a lot of time running around chasing zombies, beating them up… or being chased by them! I do know that there will be a scene where Dyce (John Wells) has a dream and he sees me in a wedding gown walking through all the zombies.
Nic - Is it true that this is your first role in a horror film?
Sebrina - Yes it is! This is my very first horror film. Before I got involved in this project I didn’t have much interest in the genre or even know much about it. Now I’m fascinated by it.
Nic - Aside from your new role in a horror film, what other kinds of acting work have you done?
Sebrina - I’ve done a lot of theater, commercials and drama. My last role was an action/drama and it was my first starring role in an independent film. That one was finished about three or four months ago. It’s a film that’s more focused internally than externally. It’s called THE AUDIT and it’s due to come out this December. In that film I get to do some running from the bad guys, but I also get to have a lot of breakdowns and internal struggles in that one.
Nic - Of the two types of roles, the ones focused on internal struggle and the action type roles, which do you find more challenging to do?
Sebrina - Well I try to be a method actor; I try to stay in character the entire time because if I break out of it, it is difficult to get back in. So with many of the emotional scenes I’d have to do a lot to prepare for that and if I’m supposed to be crying, I’d really be crying. That kind of emotion isn’t easy to just dig up. Action scenes on the other hand are usually a lot more fun to do. I would not say that either is easy that’s for sure!
Nic - How did you get your start in acting?
Sebrina - I started out doing school plays and things like that. Then I went to the University of Louisville where I majored in theater and I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts. From there I really got into the classical theater.
Nic - When I think of classical theater I tend to think of Shakespeare. Have you done any Shakespeare?
Sebrina - (smiling broadly) Oh, yeah that was my favorite! I’ve done five of Shakespeare’s plays throughout college. I’ve played all sorts of different characters in them from the villain to the hero. That was what I always wanted to do - go to New York and do Shakespeare on Broadway… someday!
Nic - What’s your favorite piece by Shakespeare that you’ve done?
Sebrina - That would have to be Much Ado About Nothing.
Sebrina - My all time favorite film is IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I don’t think you can get a film that has more in it than that one does. There are so many good films out there though it’s hard to choose. DUMB AND DUMBER and THE WEDDING CRASHERS are probably my favorite comedies. Of course you have the classics, ROMAN HOLIDAY with Audrey Hepburn, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, TWELVE ANGRY MEN, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or any movie with Gregory Peck or Cary Grant. Then there are psychological thrillers: ROOM 1408 with John Cusack and THE SHINING. For drama I’d still have to say it’s THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. That is such a great and underappreciated Film. Horror: basically anything by Hitchcock...
Nic - One of the….
Sebrina - Oh wait! Mark might read this. I mean DEAD MOON RISING! (Laughing)
Nic - Good save! So everyone note that the original DEAD MOON RISING is Sebrina Siegel’s favorite horror film. (Both of us laugh) Speaking of horror, I wanted to ask you, as someone who is just coming into the genre… what do you think about the recent trend in Hollywood to turn out a type of horror that has been called "Torture Porn"?
Sebrina - You know Nic, with horror there is going to be some degree of gore and violence. Talking about the films with the torture in them though, I have to say that whole trend disgusts me. I don’t see the necessity for it, maybe there is one but I don’t see it. I guess some people like that kind of film, but I don’t think that sort of gratuitous torture is necessary to get their point across and it’s not something I want to watch.
Nic - Shifting gears sharply, we know what kind of films you like now, but what do you like to read?
Sebrina - Oh without a doubt the Harry Potters take the cake for my mechanism of escape choice, but honestly I read anything and everything. Historical fiction, such as the Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, is some of my favorites, and recently I've come to read Jodie Picoult and not want to put the book down when I'm done. I think that is my definition of a great book: something that holds your attention throughout, that you don't want to put down bc you might miss something, but also something that, once you do put it down, you think about it for months, or even years afterward. And I enjoy literature with a message, but I don't believe that all writing has to be didactic. Many people just want the simplicity of a really well-told story. But i truly do read it all, from Joseph Spong to the daily news each day, front to back when I have time! When I'm not reading to escape, I get off on reading books about the politics and policies of today. I'm very active in local politics and i often come across a problem that was tackled in the past, so I can use these types of books and my knowledge of them to help us to not make the same mistakes again, and instead learn from our past, not repeat it!
Nic - Back to your film work. DEAD MOON RISING 2 isn’t the only project of Mark Poole’s that your working on is it?
Sebrina - As a matter of fact Mark just invited me to be a cast member on REQUIEM FOR THE FALLEN. I won’t be playing one of the fallen angels, I’ll be playing a cop. So from an FBI agent to a cop (Laughing). He swears he’s not trying to typecast me! Maybe on his next feature I’ll be something else!
Nic - I understand that Mark has been trying to set up a certain dynamic between your character in DEAD MOON RISING and one of the other female leads, is that true?
Sebrina - (Smiling and shaking her head) Mark is attempting to, supposedly without us knowing it, get Katie [Scout] and me to dislike each other. I don’t know if he really wants us to dislike each other in real life or not, but he definitely wants some of that emotion to come out in our scenes together. Our characters have an extreme hatred of each other and are very competitive and jealous of each other. So he’s worked us to try and get us to wear the same outfits to certain events without letting us know. Things like that. I don’t know if it’s to promote the scene or to really just get some true emotion there, but I love Katie and that’s not going to change, so he’s not having much luck so far but we’ll see (winking).
Nic - What do you think about the whole Zombie Gathering event and Mark’s attempt to break the world’s record?
Sebrina - I think that I have never, ever, been involved in a project like this. I’ll also say that of all the people that I’ve worked with nobody but Mark could pull something this big and bad off. It’s just awesome!