Read our exclusive interview with actress Pollyanna McIntosh, who’s next set to appear as the title character in the horror crime drama ‘The Woman.’ The controversial film, which was directed and co-written by Lucky McKee, is set to be released on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Downlad on January 24, 2012 by Bloody Disgusting Selects. It follows a domineering, upper-middle class father, Chris Cleek, played by Sean Bridgers, who abducts the woman while on a hunting trip. He decides to civilize the woman, a decision he and his family soon regret. McIntosh discusses with us, among other things, what her working relationships with McKee and the rest of the cast were like, and how she’s been responding to the controversy.
ShockYa (SY): In ‘The Woman,’ you play the unnamed title character. What was it about The Woman that attracted you to the role?
Pollyanna McIntosh (PM): Well, the first time I played The Woman was in 2009, in a movie called ‘Offspring,’ before we did ‘The Woman.’ ‘The Woman’ was written for me, so obviously that was enough reason to do that one, having played her before.
For ‘Offspring,’ I read the book by Jack Ketchum, and his insight into the character and the detail about her thought process, and her doctrine for living, was really appealing. I just couldn’t put the book down and I was very excited for an opportunity to take on the character.
SY: How did you prepare for your role-did you do any kind of research?
PM: Yeah, I kind of ran around like an animal for a long time, and lived in the woods a bit. (laughs) I got into researching into big cats and apes and wolves and watched documentary footage of both animals and feral children and went to the zoo. Just really getting to feel my body for what it would be if I didn’t live in this modern society.
SY: Did you have any rehearsal time with the rest of the cast before you began shooting?
PM: We didn’t, and I think that’s quite appropriate for a role like this. Lucky and I did talk and prepare about our feelings for things for about four months beforehand. He really let me role with the character. We talked about the writing and how it was going to be shot, and all that fun stuff.
I don’t think rehearsal was necessary, considering that my character didn’t have relationships with the people that she was going to be meeting in the story. So I thought it was really appropriate that we didn’t run things beforehand.
I don’t think Lucky works with a lot of rehearsal anyway. I think he kind of trusts his actors that he hired, and he trusts himself that he’s chosen the right people, and then it’s about seeing what comes out.
SY: What was the most challenging aspect of shooting the movie?
PM: When it was over, saying goodbye to everyone. (laughs) We became a real family. So I think the end of the movie was the most challenging part. That’s not as much fun.
SY: So while you were shooting ‘The Woman,’ you had a good working relationship with the rest of the cast?
PM: Yes, absolutely, we got along really well. I was actually sharing a house with Sean Bridgers and Angela Bettis, which was great fun. We have all kept in touch closely, despite distance. We had the premiere late last year, in mid-October, and we all got a chance to hang out again, and that was wonderful. Lucky and I were traveling the world this year with this movie, so it’s a good thing we got along so well.
SY: Lucky has directed several horror films before, including ‘The Woods’ and ‘May.’ Did his previous experience in the genre help guide you while you were filming ‘The Woman?’
PM: I don’t know how Lucky came to be the way Lucky is. I know his previous work influences him, but I also know he has a whole history of cinema. He’s a true film lover, and he knows about movies, so I think he’s influenced by the art form in general.
I don’t know what it would be like filming the first time with Lucky, but Angela did it (on ‘May’), and she’s still hanging around. (laughs) I think he’s always had something special.
SY: Besides serving as the director, Lucky also co-wrote ‘The Woman,’ with Jack Ketchum. Did his work on the script help him in his duties in directing you and the rest of the cast?
PM: I imagine so, yeah. Not only was it more of his baby, he really created a visual world through co-writing the book as well. Of course, you put in so much description in a book, so he already had it figured out before he even storyboarded, I imagine.
SY: You were nominated for the 2011 Fright Meter Best Actress for the movie. What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated?
PM: That was lovely. I won at Frightfest and Toronto and now this one! This award thing is new for me. It’s kind of funny and lovely. (laughs) Who wouldn’t want something like that? It’s great.
But I think she’s got a life of her own, this character. I’m looking forward to playing her again. I think she really resonates with people, and it’s been a really wonderful thing to be a part of.
SY: After ‘The Woman’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, it received criticism for being artless and being hateful towards women. How did you respond to the critics’ disapproval of the subject matter?
PM: Well, frankly, first of all, I was kind of freaked out, because we were there, showing the movie to people for the first time. I could feel the audience’s response. I could feel how much they were into it. I could feel them getting the laughs when the laughs were there. I could feel them getting the frights when the frights were there. It is supposed to be unsettling and creepy, but as far as I’m concerned, the ending of the screening went very, very well, and the audience was certainly with us.
One guy freaks out, and I was just concerned for Lucky most of all. He put his heart and soul into this movie. To have such a thing as misogynism levelled at him really hurts him. I just wanted to let Lucky speak, and have our Q&A with this audience that was so into this film, and not ruin it for everybody.
But in retrospect, he kind of did us a big favor, because it got the word out very quickly. I’m kind of grateful to him now.
SY: Have you received positive feedback from fans?
PM: Oh god yes, tons, tons, tons. At every screening, there’s lots of people wanting us to sign things. I was just speaking to a woman who was telling me that she had a terrible childhood not dissimilar to the Cleek family’s. She told me how much the movie meant to her and moved her, and how accurate she felt the vibe was.
It means a lot to me to hear things like that from people for something that you do that you enjoy so much. Helping people feel more human and less alone is a wonderful thing. I’ve had that feeling many, many times at screenings and festivals, and messages on Facebook and letters. It’s lovely.
SY: You have appeared in horror films before, including ‘Offspring’ and ‘Headspace.’ What is it about the horror genre that you find appealing?
PM: When it’s life and death, I think that’s the best genre there is. I think you can explore a lot of wonderful themes at this very high level of intensity and drama that horror films allow for. The stakes are very high, and that’s always fun for an actor to play.
SY: Do you have any upcoming horror films that you can discuss?
PM: I’m trying to think if I’ve shot anything in the horror genre since (filming ‘The Woman’) that hasn’t come out yet. I don’t think so. I’m waiting for that next great script. I have a lot of dramas and comedies coming out. I’m about to shoot a drama in Scotland. I just finished a comedy here in L.A. But no, I want to know the next good horror that I can do. Send it along!
Written by: Karen Benardello