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Interview: Angela Sarafyan Talks Orgy, Breaking Dawn

Posted by bsimon On September - 2 - 2011 0 Comment

It’s another sweltering late summer day in Los Angeles, and Angela Sarafyan, our interview having just wrapped, has had enough. Her professional obligations for the afternoon apparently complete, she strolls over to the rooftop pool at the swanky hotel at which we have gathered, and climbs in for a quick dip. In her dress.

It’s a bit nervy, sure, but actually not that thematically or behaviorally detached when one considers the occasion for our gathering: to discuss “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” a new ensemble comedy about a tight-knit group of friends who, when faced with the prospect of losing the summer getaway house that’s served as the crash-pad for years’ worth of great parties, decide to go out with a bang — literally. Shooting on location in Wilmington, North Carolina, gave Sarafyan the opportunity to re-enact many of her favorite “Dawson’s Creek” moments of yesteryear, but, alas, there was no Dawson or Pacey to sweep her off her feet. ShockYa had the opportunity to recently chat one-on-one with Sarafyan, about “Orgy,” what people might most recognize her from right now, and what people might most recognize her from in the very near future. The conversation is excerpted below:

ShockYa: So I’m not going to start this interview probably where you expect. Instead, I’m going to ask you how many people approach you and ask you about State Farm insurance?

Angela Sarafyan: Oh, a lot. (laughs)

ShockYa: A lot? Or do you just get mostly quizzical looks from people who can’t quite place you?

AS: Well, my hair used to be darker, so I would get, “Are you the State Farm girl?” The [last time it happened] was in El Paso. I was working on a movie there, and some of these girls walked in and asked me. It was interesting to see how people responded to that commercial.

ShockYa: It seemed to be one of those that hung around for a while, and really caught on. And so do you have State Farm insurance?

AS: I don’t. (mock cringes) But the agent in that is really a State Farm agent, and was a really nice man. They pulled him from Miami or Florida or somewhere.

ShockYa: Movie titles change all the time, but frequently it’s something that’s perhaps reflective of the true nature of the film that’s being changed to something tawdry or sexy in order to try to better sell it. “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” though, is actually about a good, old-fashioned orgy. Was that always the title?

AS: Yeah, it was the original title when I got the script. It changed to just “A Good Old Fashioned” when we were out on location in North Carolina, and for a while they were debating about changing the title, but both Pete (Huyck) and Alex (Gregory, the writer-directors) really wanted to keep it. I think it’s fantastic, and the actors all liked it.

ShockYa: You were born in Armenia and moved to the United States when you were four or five years old. And your biography in the press kit mentions that you were inspired by “The Terminator” to want to act — is that really true?

AS: (laughs) Yeah, it’s crazy. I was sitting with my dad one day watching “The Terminator” and I was struck by just how wild that world was. I thought, “That is nothing like this world. It’s crazy, the stuff that they get to do. I will die if I just get to be in a different world like that for a day.” So that’s what inspired me, the idea of being in [some other] story or place – if you were Donald Duck’s girlfriend or a Smurf or Mickey Mouse, or something in a complete dream world. Like, Alice in Wonderland — how awesome would it be if you ate a piece of chocolate and turned really little or really big? That’s cool. And that’s what is so cool about “Twilight,” too, that you really are on a whole other world that’s so different from reality.

ShockYa: And different from a movie like this, too, which is much more modestly budgeted.

AS: Absolutely. That’s the thing – as a four- or five-year-old, I knew that I loved to tell stories and live in a whole dreamlike world, but as I grew up getting to actually play different people and learn how they go about their lives was another element that appealed to me about acting.

ShockYa: I imagine it depends partially on the role, but are you big into research? What are the first couple building blocks that you attack when you’re trying to build a character?

AS: Everything. It depends on the part and how much information the script has and whether it takes a lot of dramaturgy, if the script requires it. With this character (Willow, in “Orgy”), I was looking for as many clues as I could, and then creating it with whatever inspired me in those moments. But if it’s in the Victorian era or a whole other lifetime then I’d like to learn about that place and time, and how people lived, spoke and behaved. You look at all of that.

ShockYa: Almost as interesting as the orgy — which sounds weird to say — was this film’s idea of these huge, themed bacchanals that Jason Sudeikis’ character throws for all his pals. In your real life, do you have any friends or family who are like that — just the big party people, who really get into planning these huge, costume-type events?

AS: I think Pete is. I’ve become friends with him, and he’s the one who does that. He throws these huge parties, these gatherings every Thursday, and he is someone who’s been everywhere, too. If you go in his house, he has incredible paintings and art, and a million different teas.

ShockYa: Like drinking teas?

AS: Yeah, different teas from different countries, and he knows so much about them and is so cultured.

ShockYa: What was the casting and audition process like, because I know the orgy stuff was shuffled to the end of the filming schedule, in order to give you actors more of a chance to build a rapport, right?

AS: I auditioned initially and was asked to go to a table read, where I met all of the actors at Pete’s house. Then we flew out to North Carolina two weeks before filming. And like Tyler (Labine) said, it had the dynamic of a family. There were competitive elements, but I think eventually you really get to know people where there is that kind of honesty, and you grow to love each other and understand everyone’s qualities naturally. That was one of the things that was so cool about working on this film – that Pete and Alex made sure that we were together on our days off, which we were happy to do. I think with our joys and even dislikes of each other, we were happy, ultimately, and certainly supportive, and we grew from it. I certainly learned a lot from that experience.

ShockYa: “Twilight” is enormously popular and “Breaking Dawn,” which you are in, is sure to be huge. You play Egyptian vampire Tia, which sounds kind of sexy and dangerous.

AS: She is, both sexy and dangerous. It’s not that much make-up, actually, but it will be extraordinary. I keep using that word! I’m sick of that word. It will be huge! The whole thing will be mind-blowing, I think. Tia comes from Egypt, and she grew up in poverty, so she’s learned to survive as a person from the streets. Her and Benjamin both lived, struggled, did things, and eventually they get this opportunity with what happens with Renesmee to fight authority. And I think that’s a really exciting thing for both of them, because if you look at it it’s incredible. The book and movie actually covers really big themes — the rich against the poor, power against the person that is oppressed. And I think in Egypt, especially with everything that is happening now, well, it’s funny that that is happening. …Most women from the Middle East are told to cover their faces, but I don’t think that (choice) exists for Tia. She’s a strong, beautiful, sexy woman. So I compare it to Cleopatra and Mark Antony in a way. She was a ruler, and so I think they’re a team, working together to maybe fight something that will save a lot of vampires ultimately.

ShockYa: I also wanted to ask you about “Lost and Found in Armenia,” which is a bilingual dramedy you shot with Jamie Kennedy. It sounds like an intriguing concept.

AS: Yes, I completed shooting that in Armenia. It was an interesting experience. Going back to Armenia — because in all these years I’d never been back — was a surprise for me, because the things that really affected me I didn’t [expect]. I didn’t know that the incredible mountains and history was going to impact me as much. Culturally, in terms of the city and modern-day life, it’s almost as foreign as going to any other foreign country. I realize I’m very American in a lot of ways, but there’s a deep-rooted part of me that is unexplainably touched and moved by the culture there. And the people, too. I mean, imagine living in a village and eating tomatoes and making your own little cucumbers and getting bread, where you are the one supporting yourself all throughout. People there, even though they have no money and are in poverty, are very generous. They will offer you what they have, and that’s a very attractive quality. That and seeing the old churches that have existed for a thousand years, there’s a certain spirit there.

Written by: Brent Simon

Angela Sarafyan Breaking Dawn Interview: Angela Sarafyan Talks Orgy, Breaking Dawn

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