EMILY PERKINS: Part 4 of 5 Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
June 29, 2004
In its third and final installment, the Ginger Snaps trilogy does what few horror franchises are prepared to do: it unapologetically takes on creative risks in an effort to produce something unique. This prequel, set against the uncommon backdrop of an 18th century Canadian wilderness, finds Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle portraying early incarnations of their original Ginger Snaps characters, Brigitte and Ginger.
In part four of our exclusive five-part interview with Emily Perkins, Emily gives us a glimpse of Ginger Snaps 3 and discusses her relationship with her onscreen alter-ego Brigitte.
RadioFree.com: At this point, what can you tell us about the story for Ginger Snaps 3?
Emily: Well, I can tell a little bit. It takes place in 1815. I guess everybody knows that. It kind of parallels the first movie in that it's Ginger that is bitten, and she goes through the transformation. But it's in a different way. The transformation looks different in this movie.
Is there still the underlying metaphor of female sexuality?
Yes, definitely, but in a different context. In this one, it's more contextualized within this framework of the patriarchy. There's a lot of men in this movie, and it takes place in a fort that's dominated by men, so it draws out that part of the metaphor a little bit more clearly.
With Ginger being infected, is Brigitte in her shadow as she was in the original? What is Brigitte like this time around?
I would say that the girls are more equal in the prequel. But I think that for me, actor-wise, there's a sort of feminine quality to Brigitte in the prequel that's not there in the other two movies. It's partly to do with the hair and the makeup and the wardrobe, but also the way she carries herself--she's not hunched. She's more sort of pretty, I guess. And she's more acceptable in some ways. She's less of an outsider in just her character in the beginning of the movie. She's very strong in the third movie, but in a more feminine kind of way.
In the film's trailer, there are a few scenes where you have a wicked Angel of Death thing going on with a white dress and black eyes...
Yeah, that was fun!
Can you explain what those scenes are about?
A dream sequence?
It's kind of like a dream sequence. It's not exactly a dream sequence. I can't be too specific about that. [laughs]
Yeah, it is a little bit of mysticism, definitely. It enhances the whole mythology of the werewolf. It really does shed a lot of light on the other two movies. I think fans of the other two movies are really going to enjoy it because there are so many little hints dropped and references to the other two films in terms of explaining why this is. I think it's going to be really fun to watch.
The original Ginger Snaps was geared more toward story than action, whereas the sequel favored a bit more action. What would you say is the "action to story" ratio in the prequel?
Well, it's hard to say because the story is so tied up with the story of the other two. I don't know about the ratio to action to story, I never really even thought about that before. [laughs] There's a lot of action.
What new challenges did the prequel present?
Partly the speech. It was really hard for Katie and me to come to an agreement on how period we were going to make our speech. At first, they sort of toyed with the idea of us having accents or something like that, because you have to make your speech a little bit more proper, right? It can't be quite so colloquial or modern sounding. And Katie tends to be very sort of guyish and modern with the way she speaks, whereas I tend to articulate a little bit more. And I do that naturally, so for me, the tendency was to go too much that way, and for her, the tendency was to go too much the other way. And she adlibs, too. She'll throw in things like "Ummm" and that kind of thing that don't really fit the period. [laughs] So we had to sort of both balance it out and try to come to a happy medium. But you'll probably notice it when you watch it though.
Obviously, you can't have, [bad impression of that Finding Nemo turtle] "Dude, you've totally been bitten by a werewolf, man, it's like wild!"
Yeah. [laughs] And I think for fans that don't like the ending of Unleashed because it's so depressing, you have to understand that that's not the last movie--this is the last movie and this is the real ending even though it comes before, because it's all sort of about incarnations of the same story or the same principles. So you have to understand that this is the real ending, and it's much better. It's more satisfying, I think.
Do you have a favorite film in the Ginger Snaps trilogy, or do you look at it as one project?
Yeah, I look at it as one unit. But they each have a special element for me. Like Unleashed is really special to me because I loved working with Tatiana Maslany, who played Ghost. We had a really great relationship. I really enjoyed having that. It was a lot of fun, because we're really similar actors in terms of process.
She also surprised me at how...
...how old she was?
Yes. Ghost is supposed to be about 12, and she's really 18?
Well, she was 17 at the time. I guess she was supposed to be like 13 or something.
Have you already started to officially promote the prequel?
We'll be starting in the beginning of July. We're going to be at the Montreal Fantasia film festival.
Being tied to a horror franchise, have you ever attended any of these conventions?
No, I'd love to though. If anyone would invite me, I would so love to go. That would be awesome.
Couldn't you just call up and tell them you're coming? I would think they'd be happy to have you.
Really? [laughs] I don't know!
Especially if they're screening the film, I would think they would love to have the star of the movie there.
That would be cool. I just like to talk about the makeup and stuff like that. That kind of transformation and being alien is just so neat.
Is the transformation angle the most appealing thing about the makeup for you?
Yeah, I guess so. And also, I really like the effect that it has on your interactions with people. When you look like that, people that you talk to everyday suddenly are all tense and they kind of look at you funny and stuff. It's just really neat. It's what I'd imagine it would be like if you dressed in a huge fat suit like some actors do, and they go out as an experiment and see how people are different. It's just really fascinating.
Will you be doing any traveling to Los Angeles in support of the U.S. release?
No. Not that I know of, anyway.
Have you done that for the other two films, or has all the promotion been in Canada?
It's all been in Canada pretty much, yeah.
You're so good at playing Brigitte that many people think that she is you, as opposed to being a performance of yours. Does any part of you resent being associated with Brigitte in that way?
No. Well, obviously it's a mistake to confuse a person with their character, because that's just really a part of me. But I don't resent being associated with it because that is a very true aspect of me. That was part of who I was, especially when I was a teenager.
A few reporters who have met you in person have expressed unusual surprise that you're pretty. Do you see that as an insult, or as a compliment to your totally convincing performance as Brigitte?
Well it's a little bit of an insult in that people seem so happy. "Oh, she's actually not that ugly!" or, "She's not that dark and scary." And that sort of makes me feel sad because that is me, too, on film, right? And I like Brigitte!
Don't you think it's more of a reaction to the character's wardrobe and demeanor?
But it hurts partly because Brigitte's so not socially acceptable. That kind of person is equally deserving of being seen as a potential friend, or as an agreeable, acceptable person. It's just too bad.
People are always too fooled by the wardrobe. What about all those bad movies where the popular guy makes a bet that he turn "the ugliest girl in school" into the prom queen? They always get an attractive girl and just slap glasses on her, and all of a sudden she's an outcast, you know?
So we won't be seeing a book from you in 20 years entitled I'm Not Brigitte?
Right. [laughs] Not at all.
Having seen many of your other performances, I enjoy watching how "un-Brigitte" you are in those various roles. Do you think your other characters have all been fairly diverse?
I think that they've all been pretty different. But there's definitely a motif of the suffering, victimized, or the outsider in some way. That's definitely a running pattern.
If I had to pull out a recurring theme in your career, it's not that you ever play the same role--it's the fact that everyone around your character seems to die!
Quick recap. Small Sacrifices: sister dies. Broken Pledges: brother dies. Insomnia: friend dies. In Cold Blood: whole family gets slaughtered. It, Past Perfect, and the Ginger Snaps trilogy: all sorts of people die. Does anyone die in Anything to Survive?
Everybody almost dies. [laughs]
[laughing] Even in Christy, where I didn't think there would be a whole lot of death...
...the mother dies! [laughs]
Yes, the mother dies and you're crying at her funeral!
Yeah, that's true, I never thought of that.
This concludes part four of our interview with Emily Perkins. In part five, Emily discusses her television work, including her recurring role on the highly acclaimed television series Da Vinci's Inquest, details some of the hardships of being a Canadian actress, and touches upon future prospects.