Ashley Bell toughs it out as Mary in “The Day,” a film about a group of survivors fighting for their lives against their fellow humans. ShockYa was able to speak with Bell about how she transformed into the gritty, hardcore character of Mary, why the post-apocalyptic genre is so popular with audiences and the fantastic reaction the film received. “The Day” is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.
How does it feel to be a part of this type of post-apocalyptic movie?
Ashley Bell: I love action and when this script came along and came into my hands, I read it and literally, the moment I read the character description of Mary, I knew it was something to fight for. It’s so few and far between that you see a character with such backbone and such mental strength and I knew I had to fight for it. And I also get a chance to work with a life-sized shotgun, yeah!
How did you get into character?
Ashley Bell: I got into character by going to a lot of Black Friday sales (laughs). It was really fun to get into character, actually. So much of a transformation was required for this role. First of all, there was the outward appearance of Mary. When I first read the script, there’s this group of survivors traveling for five to six miles a day on barely any food, and they’re kind of always in a sense of alarm. And I thought, what kind of body would that look like, that has to go through and live through those conditions? So I had to go on a super–actually the whole cast did–a strict lean diet of lean proteins and vegetables to drop weight. I also worked with a stuntwoman because I was asked to do all of my own stunts, and I also did a lot of ballet to get a very lean look and maintain flexibility so I wouldn’t injure myself.
What was it like working with the cast?
Ashley Bell: Unbelievable. It was such an incredible cast, such a tight-knit cast. Shawn [Ashmore] and I had, like 10-12 page interrogation…scene and having the opportunity to play that opposite Shawn–there’s no acting, he’s good. You just look into his eyes and–he’s such a phenomenal actor. It was such a gift to be able to play that scene with him. It was also Dominic [Monaghan]’s first time doing an American accent in the film and he was so perfect. Watching him approach that and do that dialect so flawlessly was incredible to see. And Shannyn [Sossamon] and Cory [Hardrict] were also just marvelous. It was a really tight group, and we were all going through this experience together, and it really bonded us. It was very exciting.
“The Day” is part of a bigger family of post-apocalyptic movies and television shows such as “The Walking Dead.” Why do you think people love this type of genre so much?
Ashley Bell: People are drawn to this type of drama because it really boils down what human beings are at their core. And I think that’s also a very exciting part of the horror genre. You’re put in such an altered location and emotional state that–it’s wonderful to play as an actor. What’s different about “The Day” from other apocalyptic films and apocalyptic settings is that the end of the world isn’t addressed. What caused that end of the world isn’t addressed. But you really see humans fighting against humans, and all of these facades are pulled back and it’s boiled down to what human beings are really like at their core. That’s a very vulnerable and tricky…[and] exciting place to play.
If you were in the situation Mary is in, how do you think you would act?
Ashley Bell: I would find Tom Hardy and I would have him protect me (laughs). I would pray that I would have a little bit of Mary of me. Luke [Passamore] wrote such a phenomenal, larger than life character and I thing she has it down. The kind of stuff I got to play with was incredible. I had a knife in my boot, Ihad a double-bladed hatchet. I’m only five feet, three inches and my shotgun was five feet, one inch, so I had a life-sized shotgun. I had knuckle guards and elbow guards–she knows how to do it. That’s the way I would go through the end of the world.
How do you hope audiences react when they see this film?
Ashley Bell: Oh, God! I literally had the best audience reaction ever. WWE released this film and in one of the first screenings, it was packed with WWE fans. After the film ended, they started chanting “Prequel” and “Sequel.” It was huge. People just wanted to see more, and as an actor…having people chanting for more was one of the most exciting things ever.