Read our exclusive interview with actress Joanna Sotomura, who portrays Brooke in the upcoming horror thriller ‘Madison County.’ The film, which was directed by Eric England, follows a group of college students who travel to a small mountain town to interview the author of a tell-all book about a string of murders there. However, when the groups arrives in Madison County, everyone says the author hasn’t been there in years, the killer never existed and the murders never happened. Sotomura discusses with us, among other things, what attracted her to the role, and what it was like working with England and the rest of the cast.
ShockYa (SY): You play Brooke in the upcoming ‘Madison County.’ What was it about the script that you found intriguing, and convinced you to appear in the movie?
Joanna Sotomura (JS): Well, I love the fact that Eric did a really great job of setting up these characters. They all have dreams and ambitions. They’re all about to do things with their lives. So the fact that the movie starts off, and they don’t immediately get killed off, is appealing to me. I love that these are real people.
SY: How did you get into the mindset of Brooke? How did you prepare for the role?
JS: Well, I read the script a lot. Eric made me watch a whole slew of horror movies, which helped me get into the genre. But for Brooke, she’s fairly easy to get into. She’s a sweet, fun girl who’s ready to graduate from college and start this life for herself. She’s a lot like me, she’s ambitious. She was no problem getting into.
SY: The characters living in Madison County convince Brooke and her friends that the killer they’re researching never existed. Do you think one of the psychological effects people suffer from after their friends and family are murdered is to try to deny the deaths ever happened?
JS: Oh, absolutely, especially if you really loved someone, if they’re part of your family. The last thing you want to do is expose them and hurt them, you always want to justify their actions, because you love them. I think that’s what a lot of the town did. They saw this person as one of their own.
SY: Brooke is described as being free-spirited. As the plot unfolds, do you think her personality is affected, or changed, by the course of events?
JS: Oh, absolutely. I think she starts to catch on that things are starting to get eerier and eerier, and she’s slowly becoming more aware of her surroundings. Before, she was just a college kid, and it was just a creepy town. But then she starts to believe that things are starting to get a little too real. She definitely changes as the movie progresses.
SY: ‘Madison County’ features numerous up-and-coming actors, yourself included. Given that several of the cast members are relatively new to movies, did that help you bond while filming?
JS: Oh, yeah. The girl that actually plays my best friend in the movie, Natalie (Scheetz, who portrays Jenna), actually became my best friend while shooting. Everyone was so connected, because we’re up-and-coming. Eric is an up-and-coming director. Everyone was so passionate and excited about working on this project together. I think it helped us bond, and we put 110 percent into it.
SY: Nick Principe, who plays Damien in ‘Madison County,’ has made a name for himself in the horror genre. Did he give you and the rest of the cast any acting advice while shooting?
JS: Well, when he first came to the set, he didn’t really hang out with the rest of the actors initially, in the first couple of days. I think he wanted to get into our minds, and just really scare the crap out of us on the set, which he did. He was professional, and so much fun to work with, but he was definitely terrifying.
SY: ‘Madison County’ was the second film Eric directed. What was it like working with him, given that he was a relative newcomer, like you said?
JS: He was fantastic. This was his pet project, so he was crazy passionate about it. He has a very natural and exciting way of setting up a scene, and encouraging the actors to get the performances he wanted. He was just charming and fantastic and just a complete sweetheart to work with on set. It was funny, you see this sweet southern boy with a love for blood. (laughs) It worked well.
SY: ‘Madison County’ is set to have its world premiere at this year’s ScreamFest in L.A. What was your reaction when you found out it would be premiering there?
JS: I was so ecstatic. I was making toast, and I burnt my kitchen, because I kept e-mailing it to people, my friends and family. I’m so excited. I think it’s the perfect venue to premiere this movie. I’m so proud of everyone, and I cannot wait for next Monday (October 17). I can’t wait for the premiere.
SY: You’re also known for appearing on ‘Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior’ earlier this year. What was filming the show like, compared to filming ‘Madison County?’
JS: Film and television are night and day. I booked it (‘Criminal Minds’) probably a couple of weeks after we wrapped ‘Madison.’ But it was great. Both crews were wonderful. On ‘Criminal Minds,’ I got to meet Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo, who’ve I’ve idolized for years. It was fun, but it was definitely different. You went from an independent film in the woods of Arkansas to this nice, clean set in Burbank. It was two sides of wonderful, it was so much fun.
SY: Do you prefer television over movies? Do you like one medium over the other?
JS: No, absolutely not. I love acting, so whatever puts me out there, I will gladly do.
SY: Do you have any upcoming projects lined up?
JS: Not yet. I’ve been reading a couple of scripts, pretty good horror scripts. I’m looking for different projects, and hopefully get another horror film, or film in general, that is as good and fun as ‘Madison County.’
Written by: Karen Benardello