Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
September 15, 2015

In the supernatural slasher flick Some Kind of Hate, ostracized high schooler Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubinstein) is sent to a reform camp, where another run-in with his fellow teens inadvertently summons the vengeful spirit of Moira (Sierra McCormick), a young girl who was herself bullied and beaten to death. Fueled by the rage of being tormented to an early, friendless grave, Moira embarks on a violent killing spree, even as she desperately tries to bond to Lincoln and his de facto girlfriend Kaitlin (Grace Phipps).

Armed with an assortment of razors and her own anguished psychology, Moira slays her victims by self-harming, opening gashes and wounds on her prey by cutting and abusing her own body.

Although known to many of her fans for her brightly comedic turn as Olive, a gifted but socially awkward teen that she portrayed for three seasons on the Disney Channel sitcom A.N.T. Farm, Sierra McCormick is no stranger to horror. Even as a child actor nearly a decade ago, she terrorized demon hunters Sam and Dean Winchester on TV's Supernatural as the sinister Lilith, all while acclimating herself to the genre and becoming a hardcore cinephile of scary movies.

In this exclusive interview, Sierra talks about working on Some Kind of Hate, falling in love with horror films at an early age, and tackling the subject of bullying in both comedic and dramatic fashion throughout her career. While this is only our first time speaking with Sierra, her unabashed enthusiasm for cinema, and her eagerness to talk about anything we threw at her--including the challenges of her quasi-sex scene with co-star Grace Phipps--catapulted her toward the top of our unofficial list of favorite interviewees, and she quickly set the stage for a lively discussion by launching an energetic salvo of "It's totally cool, let's do it!" to kick things off.

Some Kind of Hate is now playing in select theaters, and is available on demand. I spent the whole movie rooting for your character Moira and cheering on her murderous rampage. Does that make me an awful person? What does that say about me?

SIERRA: [laughs] No, that means I did my job, I think! As a viewer, whenever I'm watching a film and there's a villain, I think it's much more interesting, and I think it's cooler, when you're not quite sure how to feel about them. Obviously, the antagonist, you're not supposed to root for them, but then if their situation's kind of sympathetic, then you kind of do end up rooting for them--I think it creates an interesting dynamic between the audience and the antagonist. So I'm glad I did my job if you were rooting for me when I know, killing people, slitting their throats, and stuff. [laughs]

How would you characterize your own relationship with the horror genre?

Oh man, ever since I was a little kid, I've loved horror films. When I read this script and I found out that I was not only going to get to be in a horror film but also get to play the horror villain, the 10-year-old in me was just ecstatic. When I was a kid, I would always ask for horror films for Christmas and birthdays. Even today, when my relatives don't know what to get me, they always just get me a bunch of horror films. So my collection's pretty big. It takes up a lot of space! [laughs]

I think it's unfair to ask a real fan "What's your favorite horror movie?" So instead, I'll riddle you this: What types of horror movies do you like, given that there are so many sub-genres?

That's a better question than "What's your favorite horror film?" because that always gives me such anxiety--I never know what to say, because I love a bunch of different ones and I have whole lists! When it comes to surrealist horror, I really, really like David Lynch's Eraserhead. And when it comes to sort of "classic horror"...Things that are innovative and really hold up well over time, like The Shining, Halloween, Evil Dead. Stuff like that. Huge fan. More recent stuff would have to be, like, The Descent and The Orphanage. I really love Guillermo del Toro's work. I love fantasy/horror because it combines two genres that I think are really interesting, and then there's sort of a contrast--you know, fantasy and horror, they don't really sound like they go together, but then when you watch a fantasy/horror film, the visuals are always impressive to me. And also, psychological horror films are really interesting. I love those. Good old-fashioned bloody ones...The very first Saw is like one of my favorites. It's so fantastic. A lot of the Japanese horror films I really love...So like I said, it's such a wide range for me. It's like if someone asked me "What kind of music do you like?" It's like... [faux scream] But I hope that gives you an insight to what I like.

I thought Some Kind of Hate was an apt segue from your work on A.N.T. Farm, since both deal with bullying, albeit from very different perspectives...

Actually, no one else has drawn that comparison...That is so funny, wow!

I also always thought your A.N.T. Farm character Olive was on the verge of snapping and going on her own sort of rampage...

Yeah! I don't think we ever got to the point where Olive truly snapped, and I think if it had gone on a little longer, we might have gotten there. [laughs] Actually, I do remember having some fun flip out scenes on A.N.T. Farm with Olive...

How did you feel about tackling the subject of bullying from two completely different angles, one comedic and one tragic?

Actually, prior to A.N.T. Farm, my acting resume had really [been mostly] in drama. I hadn't done too much comedy prior to that. So when I did that the first couple times, I did have to learn what "comedic bullying" is, and what, like, "real bullying" is. And you know, there's the thing in comedy: when someone falls down, it's funny if they get back up; it's not funny if they [lie] down and they cry. [laughs] So when I was dealing with it in the comedic sense, it was completely different--I had to sort of take it in a light-hearted manner, almost in stride, with a grain of salt. Because Olive...She's socially awkward, and she didn't really understand social norms and social constructs of high school. So when she was being bullied, I don't think it was so hurtful for her, because she was her own person, you know? She was quirky and she was fun, and she has her interests and her beliefs that she really holds true to. And so when she was being bullied, I don't think it was such an issue for her. Whereas when I was taking on Moira, her bullying was completely different. One of the things that [writer/director Adam Egypt Mortimer] and I did when we were talking about Moira and how to portray her...I really focused on who she was when she was alive, and what she experienced and what feelings she felt when she was alive. Because I think that really influences where you see her in the movie when she's being brought back--I think that's sort of the root and the base of her actions there. And so when I was going about imagining what it would have been like for her to have been bullied, it was much more serious. Adam and I described her [as] the type that [if] someone might have complimented her outfit or laughed at her joke, she would have thought they were best friends and would have texted them a thousand times, because she really was constantly seeking validation from her peers. And when they got weirded out because she was being clingy, they would tell her to stop, and it would just completely break her heart. So approaching her bullying, it was more like she never got the validation or the friendship that she really wanted. That was heartbreaking on its own, and then when people continuously mistreated her, that really led her to be depressed and tragic.

How did you and your co-star Grace Phipps approach Moira and Kaitlin's eerily intimate cutting scene on the bed?

You know all the right questions! No one's asked me about that, and I love that scene! Grace and I really treated it, in all aspects, like a very intimate, almost sex scene--of course, without nudity and such. But we sort of treated it that way because it's these two characters connecting on a really intimate level because they're both sharing with each other something that they probably did behind closed doors--you know, cutting themselves and stuff like that. They probably did it in their bedroom with the door shut, or in the bathroom with the door shut, not outwardly. And so when they're sharing this with each other, there's a bond that's really forming, which later motivates Moira's rage and heartbreak when Kaitlin says that she doesn't need her anymore. When Lincoln says that, it completely shatters Moira, it totally rocks her. And then when Kaitlin says that, she goes on a killing spree where she's sort of letting out all of her sadness and frustration because they had this intimate scene where they share this really destructive thing with each other--something that they both have done before, but now they're sharing it with someone. So that's how we approached it. And it was just Adam, our cinematographer, Grace, and I in the room when we shot that. It was a really interesting experience. I don't think I'll ever get the opportunity [to] shoot a scene like that again, because it's so specific. But I actually like that scene a lot, the way it turned out and how it serves the plot of the film.

What might we see you in next?

I have a few projects on the horizon. I can't speak about them the way I'd like to right now because they're kind of under wraps, unfortunately. However, you'll be the first one I call when I can share information about it! [laughs]

Thanks for your time this afternoon, Sierra. And happy upcoming birthday!

Thank you so much, Michael! Bye!

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