Exclusive Interview: Barbara Crampton on Sun Choke
I met Barbara Crampton before the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of You’re Next and we became legitimate friends from our first conversation about yoga and spirituality. I was just excited to meet the star of Re-Animator, but to become real friends was what I could envision. The fact that I also went to college with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett also brought us closer, and she was curious since I’ve seen Blair Witch at Comic-Con.
So every time she has a new movie, I ask for an interview with Barbara Crampton. I could just contact her directly, but I’ve never had a problem going through the proper channels for her. Even this time, she assured me I could always get an interview with her. “You know I love you and I always love talking to you,” she said.
In Sun Choke, Crampton plays Irma, the caretaker of a young girl named Janie (Sarah Hagan). Irma seems to be putting Janie through some sort of rehab, including yoga practice, but she’s quite overprotective of Janie. As we witness Janie’s surreal visions of sex and murder and escape, we start to realize why Irma is keeping such a stranglehold over Janie. Sun Choke is on VOD and iTunes Tuesday, August 2 and in theaters Friday, August 5.
FT: I saw Blair Witch at Comic-Con. I was just going to see Adam and Simon’s new movie when it was called The Woods. I didn’t even know they were doing part of the Blair Witch franchise. Did you?
BC: I didn’t know either. I’m glad it was good. It’s funny. I texted a couple of our mutual friends and I was like, “Did you guys know that it was The Blair Witch?” Everybody was like, “Yeah, I knew, I knew. How come you didn’t know?” I had had dinner with Simon a few months before that and I didn’t hear anything, so kudos to him for being able to keep a secret from most people. I was floored by that. I thought that was a fascinating marketing thing and glad they kept it a secret so nobody could be angry at them, “You’re redoing the Blair Witch? What are you guys doing making a sequel?” Now everybody’s just excited so that’s good.
FT: Sun Choke was one of several movies you did last year. Was this a straight offer?
BC: It was. Initially, they actually did want to meet me and have me audition. I just don’t really do that so much anymore. I suppose if it was a really big movie I would do that of course. If I lived in L.A. it would be easier to do that. At one point, my manager said, “She really likes the part and she’d love to do it and she’s not gonna come down to L.A. to meet you for it unless you want to fly her there. If you’d really like to have her, you should probably just make her an offer.” So they did.
FT: Shaving your costar’s legs must be a first.
BC: [Laughs] Yes, I practiced on my daughter so I knew how to shave somebody else’s legs. Yeah, some of the things I do in the movie are a bit strange and odd and probably questionable but that’s part of what’s wrapped up in my character. She has to take care of this woman who’s mentally unstable and there’s many things this woman can’t do on her own and maybe didn’t trust her with. Who knows what somebody who is potentially suicidal or has violent thoughts, what they would do with a razor. That’s what I envisioned why I was shaving her legs. I just wouldn’t allow her to use the razor because she might hurt herself.
FT: Your scenes are all you and Sarah Hagan. Did you get really close with her?
BC: We did, we did. We hit it off really well very quickly, and thank God because we had to. I didn’t meet her and I didn’t know her before we started filming. So basically I flew down and was there for maybe two days. I think we read through some of our scenes and then we just started working together right away when we started filming. I had the opportunity to stay in the house, because I live in San Francisco, so they rented the house out for a month to shoot it. And they put me up there. So I lived in that house and I was able to feel as if that was my environment and that was my home. That really helped me in the short space of time I had to really get ready for the role. Just being with her, she is amazing in the movie. She was phenomenal to work with. There were times working with her where I took myself out of the moment and I was watching her thinking, “What she’s doing is incredible.” It’s a breathtaking performance and I’m just really happy that I worked with her. She’s mesmerizing and I’m really grateful for this part. It was a great experience all around.
FT: Have you ever played a character like this before?
BC: I’m starting to now. No, it’s just something that has happened in the past couple of years with a few movies. Beyond the Gates I kind of play a questionable character. I play a questionable character in Death House coming up. In Sun Choke I do play a character who, watching the film, I think some people will hopefully be able to see the goodness in my character and understand why she’s doing the things she’s doing, and then other people will just hate me. My sister saw it and she said, “I really hated you in this movie. I just didn’t like you at all.” And she knows me to be a pretty nice person and we get along. But she is a questionable character and she’s taking care of somebody who is mentally ill. But what would happen to a person if that was their entire world? They didn’t have any friends. They didn’t have a social life. All they did was live inside a house and their whole job, their whole eternity was just to take care of somebody who’s mentally unstable. What would that do to the person who’s taking care of that person?