From her teen-friendly Disney Channel breakthrough on “A.N.T. Farm” to the horrifying latest chapter of “Insidious” to the upcoming reimagining of “Jem and the Holograms,” Stefanie Scott is well on her way to conquering Hollywood by the time she turns 20.
The 18-year-old actress has a bright future ahead of her, and her latest role has her assuming the title of Scream Queen: In the prequel thriller “Insidious: Chapter 3,” she plays a teen who, overburdened by helping her widowed father raise herself and her brother, dreams of becoming a stage actress. However, her life is soon upended when she draws the attention of a terrifying otherworldly presence with malicious intentions that lead her to literally "break a leg" – or two.
Despite her rising star, the down-to-earth teen curled up on a sofa for an in-depth chat with Spinoff Online to discuss the off-screen terrors of shooting a horror movie, how the diehard, slightly miffed “Jem” fans may have some pleasant surprises ahead, and her own favorite Scream Queen.
Spinoff Online: What was the most fun part of this project for you, once you got deep into it?
Stefanie Scott: Oh, filming it was amazing! I mean, it was a really dark and intense film, but throughout, just having Leigh [Whannell, the writer/director], he was so important. He was amazing. I had so much fun with him. He was an incredible director, and he created such a wonderful, safe atmosphere. To have outside, you have to really kind of fight for motion.
Were you already pretty up to speed on the “Insidious” mythology?
Yeah, I had seen the first and second one, so I was really excited to be a part of this one.
Tell me about your reaction when you saw your first taste of the kind of horror movie the “Insidious” films were?
Yeah, I remember I would just go with – I mean, I'm a teenager, so I saw them on, like, a Friday night with my friends. I saw the first and second one. I was so scared. I love scary movies. Like I always get so scared at the jump scares, yet I keep going back because I want to see more. And I love paranormal things, so I would wear a hoodie and, like, cover my eyes with it.
Do you actually scream out loud when you watch?
Oh, yeah! Yeah, I'm always the person who's like this, the whole time. And you know what's coming, and I know it's coming. We all know it's coming, but then it comes, and I still freak out. And then I scream. And then it's like "Oh, my gosh" – It's embarrassing.
Was there ever a day where the creepiness of the scenario or makeup actually did get under your skin?
I think the Man Who Can't Breathe is pretty scary in general, so he's pretty frightening. When you're in the scene, and you're fighting for your life, it's pretty scary. Like all day, you're fighting for your life, you know. [Laughs]
What was the challenge as far as acting or physical that was the hardest day on set?
I would say the hardest day on set was probably the day of possession, because I was kind of in my own little world for that. Everybody's always joking around, and like it was such a wonderful place to work because everybody's just so happy all the time. No matter the circumstances or if we're on time, it was just at least a happy, positive environment.
But the one day that was the hardest was probably the possession, because we weren't talking to each other. And everybody was very quiet around me, just to kind of get me in this awkward place, so when I had to have the life sucked out of me, that I could do that.
What was the scene that you were most looking forward to shooting?
Whew! The scene that I know, for sure, I was most looking forward to shooting, I don't know if I can say because I don't think anything's been released about it yet. But it's definitely probably the scariest ... I would consider it the scariest scene, involving the wheelchair and the demon. It's really scary.
How easy was it to work in the scenes with your legs in casts
It was hard, yeah. It was hard because they would put them on in the morning, and I have them on all day until we wrapped. So I literally learned how to walk in them. Like, the first week was so hard because I would have to be wheeled everywhere, and there were bumps everywhere. And you couldn't really make it through the doorways. And I couldn't use crutches because I had two full leg casts on.
But by the second week, I was such a pro at it, like I figured out how I could walk in them. I looked ridiculous, but I could at least walk to the bathroom. But it took so long to get anywhere! It took me forever to walk around.
I really liked the auditioning scene. And I imagine you've had your share in real life.
I have. I've had many auditions.
Give me your favorites, where you knew where you just killed it, and one where it didn't go your way?
Oh, my gosh, I don't know. I've had so many, it's kind of hard to, like, on the spot … the “Insidious” audition was pretty intense because I had to do a possession scene there where I was like held against a wall while I was kicking and screaming and cussing at Leigh. So that was pretty intense. And I was really lucky to have gotten the offer after that.
I'm sure one of my first auditions ever was probably really rough, where maybe I didn't have it all memorized or something. I think probably when I was just starting off, and I was a little more naïve and didn't know what was going on around me – that's probably where I had one of the weirdest ones.
When I was talking to Dermot Mulroney, I learned that after 30 years in the business, this is his first horror movie.
Yeah, isn't that insane?
Was that a box that you definitely wanted to check off too, or did it just happen to come your way?
I think it just happened to come my way. I always wanted to do a horror film, but I didn't know that that was going to be like my first leading role. Like I didn't know it was going to be, I would have to carry a scary movie. That's so intimidating because if you're not scared enough, then it just doesn't work. So I think it kind of just happened. But I'm so grateful that it did because I'm so happy to be a part of it.
What's been fun about working with somebody with such an established career like Lin Shaye, who is this great character actress and now has this franchise of her own?
Lin is just amazing. She's such a badass. She did all of her own stunts, and she was fighting to do them too. They'd be like, "Well, you don't have to do this one. We have a double." She'd be like, "No. I want to do it!" And I found her to be such a mentor to me as well. She had me over for dinner before we started, and she like cooked for Leigh and I. And we talked for hours. She was so lovely to work with.
Did the film scare you?
It did. I think it's mostly because of the music and everything. And I think the scariest parts, for me, were like all of Lin's scare scenes that I wasn't a part of filming because I didn't know what was going to happen. But I also feel like it was almost a year later that I saw it, so I kind of forgot what was happening, myself. I didn't remember some of the scenes.
What was the most surprising part of making this movie?
I don't know if there's a surprising – the whole thing is surprising. Like, I had the best summer of my life in this movie. I was so happy with how it turned out, and I feel like I just learned so much, especially knowing places that I could go. Like, I had just come off of “Jem,” and I had never gotten to do anything this dark before. So I think, if anything, it was a learning experience of testing my limits and seeing how far I could take it. And I think it really freed me up a lot in many ways, and I've become way more fearless than I was before.
Now that you've given people a good scare, do you want to do a movie that will give someone a good cry?
Yeah. I'm so guilty of saying "I love making people cry." That's, like, so terrible. I just did this film called “Life at These Speeds,” and I'm just wrapping it this month. But it's an Indie film, and it's a drama about a boy, his first love. I play his girlfriend. She dies, and it's, like, this whole battle of him trying to survive with this – there's no closure because it was one second, she's like, “I love you,” and the next, she's gone. And it's this whole movie is flashbacks of him with her, and his battle. And I think that's really emotional as well is just the grief because there's literally nothing you can do to bring them back. So I have to say, like that. But I do want to do something else that's a little more in the same field of a love story.
Tell me about “Jem and the Holograms.”
Yeah, “Jem” – it's outrageous! I have bright orange hair, play the Key-tar, I sing in it, and I liked doing it!
You clearly didn't grow up watching it.
I didn't, no. But I have seen it because of, like, Netflix and stuff, I was able to watch the series. But yeah, I was a little too young for it. But it was so fun to be a part of and to bring it to life and have it already have a built in fan base was such an honor.
Speaking of the fan base, the trailer prompted many different kinds of reactions. What do you want to say to the doubters?
Well, I understand, because it's what they grew up on. It's their childhood, and so I understand, and I can only hope we did it justice. I think that they think there was some things missing from it, but I also think you need to see the movie to understand that they're there. And that we brought it to life in a modern day way for now, for young girls to also grow up on themselves. And I think we created really cool, authentic characters: we're not perfect; they're sweaty and messy hair and cool clothes that we put together from Wasteland – like thrift shop. And they're cool girls with good hearts that people can look up to. They're not these perfect Barbies … we're, like, normal teenage girls.
So I think, if anything, it's really great that we kind of started this woman-in-power movement because the movie's all based on young women. So I think it's great. And I'm really excited for everyone to see it. And I think it's sweet that they are so passionate about the movie. And I can't wait for them to see it.
What was the fun of that job for you?
I think the most fun part was learning the Key-tar. And the live performances where we do it in front of 500 people and just rock out for 12 hours straight, through the night.
It's been a great time in your career. Have you been able to step back for a second and just say "Wow?"
I'm so grateful, every day. Now, I see, like a bus outside, and I'm like, “Oh, my God, that's my face.” It's so weird, you know. And I would never let that get to me. I'm just completely grateful, and I love stepping back and really realizing that I'm doing what I love to do. And I'm so honored to be able to do that. So yeah, I'm completely grateful with my whole heart.
Finally, is there a classic horror scream queen that you love?
”Insidious: Chapter 3” opens today nationwide.