Fangoria April 17th 2017
From witch, to bitch, Shannen Doherty has played her fill of memorable characters. If youíre my age you probably know her as the annoying little sister in GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, the bulimic bitch in HEATHERS, or, of course, the iconic Brenda Walsh in 90210. Now, Doherty can add psychotic/abusive mother to that list in her new horror flick, BETHANY.
BETHANY, also starring Zack Ward (A CHRISTMAS STORY, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE) and Tom Green (FREDDY GOT FINGERED, CHARLIEíS ANGELS), is the latest project from indie filmmaker James Cullen Bressack and one of the first horror films for Doherty. Though this role may be a far leap from her other films, Doherty completely dissolves into her character, offering up a stellar performance worthy of a repeat watch. Now, Doherty gives Fango readers an exclusive look into what it took to get into the mind frame of her darkest character to date.
FANGORIA: So how did you find yourself working on a horror film?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Itís definitely not my M.O. Iím at a place in my life where if it doesnít resonate with me in some powerful way, either pushing me as an actor or hitting a note within me that makes sense, then I just donít want to leave my house. I just donít want to be apart of anything I donít really believe in anymore, and thatís more of a new thing to be honest. Before I always picked jobs that I really loved and did a few money jobs, which will go on named. Also, itís probably the fifth or sixth movie Iíve done with James Cullen Bressack, and I guess we just love working with each other. We always have a really good time on set and he lets me explore creatively and it was a fairly straightforward sort of work schedule. And, he likes me. [Laughing]
FANGORIA: What was it about BETHANY that drew you into the story?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: This was something very different and I hadnít really ventured into the horror movie genre before. To me, yes itís a horror movie but itís just so psychologically interesting that I felt compelled to play Susan. And it was a challenge to be that vicious, to do the things that Susan did but also to find that vulnerability within her. It was definitely one of those things where Iím challenged and itís really good and I should just do this.
FANGORIA: So, Susan is an extremely dark character. What did it take for you to get to where you had to be in order to play her?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: For me I had to go into a very weird mind space. Iíve never considered myself a method actor; Iím definitely not that because I donít carry it with me on the weekends. But I think when you go into that sort of creepy space, that emotional space, you do get a little method. I think I let every wall down and building up to that, your mind set just has to go to some very dark, dark, unhealthy place.
FANGORIA: One scene in particular, which was hauntingly well done, was the scene where youíre looking into a mirror and just basically lose your mind. Can you talk about what it took to get that scene out of you?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: You know, youíre looking in the mirror youíre berating yourself, berating how you look, and berating the fact that youíre getting old. Emotionally, that takes you on the journey that you need to go on for a scene like that and originally there was a lot of dialogue. James wrote it where I was staring at myself in the mirror and saying like a lot, a lot of stuff and that felt very uncomfortable to me. I donít know many people who actually do, do that and even for Susan, I was just like, this feels so wrong. Then, on top of it all, it was right when I found out or maybe about a month or two after I found out I had cancer. So, I just had to go in there, look in the mirror and just convey, through emotion, what he wanted me to actually say. Forget the dialogue. Hereís again why I love working with James so much; heís so flexible and he also has a lot of trust in the actors. So he was like, I believe you can say it all with emotion, so letís just go shoot it and donít worry about any dialogue. It played and made it much more powerful.
FANGORIA: The film deals with some heavy psychological fears as well as the sort of eerie, supernatural horror. For you, which one is more terrifying?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Out of those two? I was about to say, well thereís real life. [Laughing] But, probably more eerie. In real life, Iím that girl where if one thing is off or if I hear a weird noise, Iím so freaked out and usually hiding somewhere. Iím not necessarily scared of the physically intimidating. I mean Susan came off as physically intimidating to her daughter, but people donít necessarily scare me. I know people can be horrible and people can also be beautiful, but itís more that eerie, oh my God the door creaks open and Iím like, ahhh whatís happening? Itís that that scares me the most. I actually donít watch horror movies because I have nightmares for like weeks; I cannot watch them!
FANGORIA: Did anyone on set use that against you; you know, play a prank or two and have a bit of fun?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: No. [Laughing] No, youíve got James whoís just the sweetest man in the world and surrounded by such a great crew and Iíve worked with these guys a bunch of times, so they all know me; so nothing scary on set. Again, just to get into the character, itís just a mindset and everyone was very respectful of that mindset. So it was like, there has to be some peace, there has to be some quiet so that way I can connect and Anna [HARR] can connect with me and James can connect.
FANGORIA: It seems like James had a huge impact over your experience of working on this film.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: You know itís so, funny because I looked at him on the first day and I had this sort of grin on my face and I was like, yeah this is why I do what I do, I love it. James always reminds me of that and that probably is one of my biggest take-aways from the movie. He reminds me of that every single day and inspires me to get back to doing what I love to do. Itís his way of saying, go fight Shan!
FANGORIA: If thereís one thing you learned from this whole experience, what would that be?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I think that the more raw and vulnerable I allow myself to be in my own life, the more raw and vulnerable I can be on camera. I tend to guard myself a lot, Iíve been hurt and depressed and everything in between. Through all of it, I think that I had a thick guard up, a wall, but on BETHANY that wall was so taken down. And it was pretty devastating to be told I had cancer and it kind of stripped me bare and Iím really thankful that it stripped me bare. It made me raw and vulnerable onset and in my character. I was able to be Fearless.
BETHANY is in theaters and on VOD now!