Read our exclusive interview with actress Ashlynn Yennie, who returns to the ‘Human Centipede’ series in the sequel ‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence).’ The independent film is scheduled to be released by IFC Midnight and MPI Media Group onto Blu-ray and DVD on Valentine’s Day, 2012. In the follow-up to the 2010 cult horror film, ‘The Human Centipide (First Sequence),’ Yennie plays a fictionalized version of herself.
‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)’ follows a disturbed security guard, Martin (portrayed by Laurence R. Harvey), who is obsessed with the first film, directed by Dutch filmmaker Tom Six. Martin decides to re-create the feat of the original film’s antagonist, Dr. Heiter (played by Dieter Laser), by making a 12-person centipede of his own. Pretending to be Quentin Tarantino’s casting agent, he lures Ashlynn to his home to include her in his centipede.
Yennie discusses with us, among other things, what motivated her to return to the ‘Human Centipede’ series, which was initially banned in the UK for its revolting content. The actress also spoke about what it was like working with Six, and why she thinks the films have caused so much controversy.
ShockYa (SY): You were the only main actor from ‘The Human Centipede’ to return for the sequel. What was your motivation in returning to the series?
Ashlynn Yennie (AY): I was the only one asked to return. Tom kind of had this crazy idea about one of us coming back and playing ourselves, and he asked me to do it. I have no idea why. I love working with Tom, so of course I said yes. With the success of the first one, I said yes, I’m game, let’s do the second one. Let’s make a shocking film, so we did.
SY: Like you said, you portray yourself in the film. How was your approach to preparing for the sequel similar or different than the original film, in which you play main character Jenny?
AY: Well, it’s a version of myself, it’s not really actually me. Tom wanted me to play this typical Hollywood actress. We all know these types of girls, who think they’re amazing because they’ve done one film that’s gotten a lot of buzz around it. They think they can get whatever they want, and audition for Quintin Tarantino.
But Tom wanted this tongue-in-check, almost campy, approach to a typical Hollywood actress. They used my original name, which I gave them permission to do, but it’s not actually me. Preparing for that role, and preparing for the role of Jenny, was totally different. But at the same time, you go about it the same way you approach any character, and try to play it truthfully.
SY: Martin, who is played by Laurence R. Harvey, has no dialogue in ‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence’). Do you feel that benefited the character and the film?
AY: Well, the dialogue was taken out in post (production). We shot the film with dialogue. We shot the film in color and with lines we said to each other. Tom decided when he was editing it to take out all the dialogue, so it makes it more like the dream-like state, which it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a big dream in his head. So no one’s talking to him, and he’s not talking and interacting with anyone else. Then Tom chose to do it in black and white as well.
Preparing for that, and doing that, we did do it with lines. So it was Tom’s decision to make it almost as a silent movie.
SY: Like you said, there has been debate and speculation over whether the events in the film actually happened, or if Martin was actually dreaming. So the movie was just a dream?
AY: It was a dream that Martin had, it’s just a fantasy he had in his head. None of the things actually occur. A lot of people didn’t get that at first, but then they realized, oh yeah, no one’s talking to each other, you don’t get any character development. You don’t learn anything about these people, but you see snippets of his life, where he comes from. Then at the end, you see that moment where you kind of realize he’s dreamed all of these things in his head.
It’s crazy how fast the mind works, and how many thoughts go through our minds in a matter of minutes. What we see is all theses aspects of getting a girl here from the U.S., capturing all those people and yet no police find him. There’s all those things like that in the film. So it is a dream, a big, huge dream.
SY: ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’ was your first major film role. What attracted you to the movie, and what was your overall acting experience like in the film?
AY: When I first got asked to audition for that film, I was just really intrigued by how they were really going to make this film. I had never heard anything like it. I wasn’t really a big horror buff when it came to horror films and knowing a lot about them. So it was just about knowing the genre.
Yeah, it was my first feature film. I was just mainly a television and commercial actress before that. So it was kind of exciting for me, because I wanted to do something different and get into independent films. This seemed like a really cool way to do it.
But I’m not going to lie, it was kind of hard to swallow at times what the premise of the film was going to be about. But just knowing Tom, and what he wanted to do, and the process of working with him and the other actors, everyone was so enthusiastic about it. We were all on the same page, and we were all excited about making it.
We didn’t know what was going to happen with it, but we just trusted Tom completely that he had our best interest at heart. He ended up making a really cool movie that was stylistically beautiful, which has this really crazy cult following behind it now.
It was definitely exciting for me to audition for it and get the part. It all happened so quickly, it’s hard to remember what my thoughts were going through it. But they made it really easy on set. It was a wonderful process, both the first and second ones. There were definitely uncomfortable moments, but they take care of you.
SY: Both ‘Human Centipede’ films were shot on a low budget. Did being independent projects place any limitations on what you can shoot?
AY: No, because all of the budget pretty much went to special effects, and that’s why it looks so real. (laughs) Most people think we were really attached and like that, but it was all fake. I actually don’t know the budget for the film at all, I can’t tell you how much they spent.
But being on set, you would have thought this was a major studio film, we were well taken care of. Tom always has a really small crew that he works with; one, he doesn’t want a lot of people knowing what he’s filming, but also doesn’t need extra people on set. Tom has a very limited crew, but as far as for the actors, it was amazing. We were treated so well on set for both films.
There weren’t really any stunts in the film that I know of, but there are some explosives. We had done fire in the first one, but that’s easy to do. I’m pretty sure they got everyone they needed to do.
SY: So you had a good working relationship with Tom on both films? Would you be willing to work with him again on future projects?
AY: Oh gosh, yes, I would work with Tom any day of the week. He’s amazing, he’s wonderful.
SY: Tom wrote and directed both ‘Human Centipede’ films. Did the fact that he worked on the script help in his directorial duties while on set?
AY: Oh, of course, yes. I think it always helps when you work with the same writer-director. Not only did they write it, and have this concept of what they want it to be about, but they have the visionary aspect of it as well, how they want to shoot the film. It helps in many ways.
Tom’s a really great director. He gives these really great nuggets of information, and really lets you explore, and take it in whichever direction you want to go. Sometimes he pulls back your reins a little bit, bu he’s an amazing director. I think he’s going to go really far, and I’m really excited to see what he has next.
SY: ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’ was widely considered the top independent horror film 2010. What’s the feeling like, knowing that horror fans embraced the movie?
AY: It’s wonderful. It’s one of those things where ‘The Human Centipede’ came out, and it could have gone either way. There’s no gray area with this film; you either love it or you hate it. Some people love it, and some people hate it. So when the horror fans really did embrace it, and make it what it is today, it’s awesome. Especially being part of this secret film we made a year before, and then it finally coming out, and people liking it, or some people not liking it at the same time, generating so much buzz, it was just amazing. It’s a really cool thing to be a part of, and it’s going to be a part of me forever. (laughs)
SY: ‘The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)’ Bluy-ray and DVD are set to be released on Valentine’s Day. Why should fans buy the Blu-ray and DVD, whether or not they’ve seen the film before?
AY: I always tell people, it’s up to you if you want to buy it or see it. The second film, I have to warn people before they see it-it’s nothing like the first one. Everything you didn’t see in the first one, you’re going to see in the second one, as far as the graphic nature of it.
But there are some really good things in the second one. There’s an interview with Tom, and you get to meet him and see what he’s like. There’s also a 10 minute video of me giving you a tour on set, and seeing how we get strapped into this centipede formation. You see the light-halfheartedness on set, and the fun that we had in the film. I was joking with someone earlier today, saying it’s a love story, you should go get it for Valentine’s day. (laughs)
I mean, if you want to watch it, watch it. That’s my biggest piece of advice. I always tell people, watch films because you want to them, don’t read what critics are writing. I like people to have their own opinion on things.
SY: The British Board of Film Classification initially initially refused to classify ‘Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)’ for a direct-to-video release, and banned the film for its content. Why do you think the film has caused so much controversy?
AY: For people who have seen the film, we know why it has cause so much controversy. There are some things in the film that are graphic. Even in the U.S., they had to cut out parts of it. That’s just Tom, he likes to push the envelope. At the end of the day, people have to remember it’s just a movie, and it’s made for entertainment value. It’s not made for any other reason but to shock and horrify and scare people, which I think it did.
SY: There have been reports that Tom is interested in filming a third movie in the series, titled ‘The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence).’ Would you be interested in returning to the series if a second sequel is made?
AY: Tom is actually in the process of making the third one. He’s writing it, and I think they’re casting it. They’re planning on shooting it later this year in the U.S. I don’t know how Tom would bring me back, honestly. Of course I would work with him again, no doubt about it.
But Tom killed me as a character in the first film, and he killed me as a version of myself in the second one. So he’s kind of done me in as an actress. But of course I would come back if he asked me to.
SY: Do you have any upcoming projects lined up, in films or on television?
AY: Yes, I just finished a film, I actually just got back this week, Tuesday (February 7, 2012). I was filming a movie in New Orleans, and it’s called ‘Schism.’ It stars Vinnie Jones and Callum Blue, and I’m the lead female. It will be out later this year.
‘Schism’ isn’t a typical horror film, it’s more of a thriller. But it has horror specs to it, and it’s a really cool film. I encourage everyone to check it out on IMDB and check out what it’s about. It was with a really amazing directing and writing team, as well. It was written by Jace Anderson and her husband Adam Gierasch, and he directed it. It was a great project, and I just finished wrapping on that. You guys can see that later this year.
Written by: Karen Benardello