Robin McLeavy

Aussie horror The Loved Ones is, as I write this, currently showing at the London Film4 FrightFest (hopefully to a packed auditorium – its a brilliant film and one that should go down well at the festival). The film, which has been called “Pretty In Pink meets Wolf Creek”, stars Robin McLeavy as the psychotic Lola and I got a chance to sit down and chat with her about the film earlier today.

How did you feel when you first read the script for The Loved Ones?

I was just really excited about the character, it’s not everyday where you pick up a script and there’s a female character who’s psychologically unhinged and really gets to run the whole show – so I was really excited about that. It is kind of disturbing but it’s also bordering on comedy all the time, on a knifes edge.

Your character, the first time we see her she seems kind of sweet and innocent but but the end of the film she’s more of a feral…

Feral animal, yeah!

How did you prepare for that kind of character arc?

It was weird because we shot all the final scenes on the road – when I’m walking down the road singing THAT song (a song that’s still stuck in my head to this day), and the fight scene in the car with Victoria Thaine – all that stuff we did in the first week of shooting and so I started off completely feral and worked my way back…

Which I imagine is a little trickier to do?

It kind of is, but if you know where you’re going to end up, that makes it easier to know how much to build it up.

The film is has been advertised a lot as a high school movie meets horror film, did you have to do much research into either genre?

I’m not really a horror expert, and when I read the script the director said “So what horror films do you like?” and I [admitted] I am actually quite scared of watching horror movies, I’m a complete wimp, and he said “I really want you to watch Misery, for Kathy Bates performance,” so that was my main film reference – and she’s so fantastic in that film… But now that I’ve started on my horror ‘journey’, I’m getting more familiar with the genre and I’m getting better at watching horror films and not freaking out.

So is this your first horror film? Talk about getting thrown in at the deep end!

Yeah. The film I did before, 48 Shades, is very much a coming of age, innocent type of film.

The film is quite brutal, and you tend to hear that the more brutal the film, the more playful the set. How was the atmosphere on-set for you?

We were under a lot of pressure because we had to shoot in five weeks, so the crew were quite stressed – our first AD was very… focused… all the time. But the actors had a really good time, because it is so violent and we had so many ridiculous tools on set all the time, I mean we had this power drill and the cleaver – which was one of my favourites – so it was really good fun.

I’ll admit, even for me as someone who’s seen a lot of horror films, seeing someone get drilled in the head is pretty shocking, especially when you add the smoke!

Well you know Jeffrey Dahmer, the American serial killer, he did that to his victims, he did frontal lobotomies… You can’t believe someone would think of that: “Brilliant! I’ll make someone in to a zombie and keep them in my basement.”

Now that was unexpected. When your character flicked through her picture book of victims you expect them to be dead, but when you opened that basement and they were all in there…

It’s sick isn’t it?

Have you seen the finished film? What do you think of it?

Yeah I’ve seen it a few times now, and I didn’t realise at the time that we were making a comedy. But now when I watch it I laugh a lot because I just find it so absurd and grotesque really; and I’m so surprised that I did all that! But it’s a really great film, it’s entertaining, it’s good fun, and it’s very theatrical which i like about it.

There’s seems to be a resurgence of horror coming from Down Under. As an actress are you getting offered a lot of horror scripts?

I’ve had a few since doing The Loved Ones, and I expect to get a few more after the release in Australia, but [horror] is a big genre now in Australia just in terms of films. And there’s a big big fanbase for horror.

What else have you got coming up? Future projects etc?

I’m doing a film, when I go back home, called Hollywood Ending, it’s kind of a spoof on how stereotypical Hollywood films are. And so we start at the end, we do the Hollywood ending, and the film keeps going, past that. It’s a really clever script.

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