Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I reviewed SCALENE about a year and a half ago when it was touring festivals and told you all that when it is available for all to see, I’d let you know. Well, that time is now as SCALENE is now available on DVD and digital download. To further celebrate the film, I had a chance to catch up with one of the lead actresses, Margo Martindale who many will remember as Mags Bennett on the TV series JUSTIFIED (and if you’re not watching that show, shame on your face) and as Dexter’s mother figure Camilla on Showtime’s DEXTER. Ms. Martindale talked about both of those shows and SCALENE in the interview below. Enjoy!
BUG: Ms. Martindale?
MM: HI, Mark. How are you this morning?
BUG: I’m very well. How are you today?
MM: Fine, thanks.
BUG: Very good. Well I wanted to talk to you about SCALENE today and this is a film that I saw I think it was about a year ago when it was touring the festivals and I really loved the film. I thought it was a really, really powerful movie. How did you become involved in the film?
MM: Zach Parker actually just sent the script to my agent and my agent sent it to me and I read it on vacation and said “This is good!” (Laughs) And I said “Okay, I’ll do it.” I think that’s really how it worked.
BUG: As simple as that.
MM: It was that simple. I mean it’s really well written and very suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I love all of those things and I though it was a very complicated character, which you know I’m drawn to. So yeah, it was a very simple. “Here you go” and “I’ll do it.”
BUG: It really is a complex role. It’s like all of a sudden you feel for the character and you feel sorry for the character and then there are other times when you really… it really is an unlikable character as well, so it seemed to be a really tough role to play. What went into the role trying to research this role for you?
MM: Well I didn’t really do much research. Mostly I come from my imagination always unless it’s a real person, but the thing that made it complicated really in playing is keeping who’s point of view you were being in, because you had to change from like if it was Page’s point of view I had to be more sinister and keeping all of that straight, I was just like “Who am I now?” (Laughs) “You tell me” and then I’d go to that one and being in my point of view being the innocent party when I was coming from Janice’s point of view, which is fascinating and fun.
BUG: Yeah, and it seemed like a very frustrating role, just being the parent of somebody who does have a disability and how that does kind of chip away at somebody. Was there anyone that you talked to regarding that aspect of the role?
MM: No. No, I didn’t, but I can empathize with how that would feel. It’s a tremendous strain and worry and fear and all of those things that stretch someone to their limits and I think that’s where she was, stretched to the limits. Years and years of standing by and taking care of and loving and loss and all of that… I can empathize. Did I talk to anyone? It would be too difficult to talk to anyone about that I think, but yeah.
BUG: Sure. Now that this film has been touring festivals and it’s been out there for a little while, what’s the reaction been like from crowds having seen the film?
MM: All I know is the reviews have been quite wonderful. THE NEW YORK TIMES gave it just a fabulous review and most of the New York papers here did and you know it’s just been little groups of people that have seen it and most people who see it are really engaged and I think really, really like it. (Laughs) But I’ve only been in an audience with people about two times and they really loved it.
BUG: There is kind of like a RASHOMON feel to this where it tells the same story a couple…
BUG: Have you seen that film?
MM: RASHOMON? Yes. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but yes I have.
BUG: Did the director approach you kind of like saying that that’s where this is kind of approaching this story from?
MM: He did mention RASHOMON, but I don’t know that he came with that in his head. I’m not sure that he… We talked about RASHOMON, but I can’t remember if somebody had brought it up and he’d go “Oh yeah…” I can’t remember how that happened, it’s been a while in the two years now since we did it. He’s got a great style of his own. I think given more and more movies and more and more money that hopefully he will get for doing movies, I think he will emerge as one of the really good ones. He’s very talented and has a very clear voice I think.
BUG: Yeah, it’s really great to see him get the attention he deserves with this film.
MM: It is, isn’t it?
BUG: Yeah. What’s that like? Making a film two years ago that’s now touring around and talking about this experience that you had quite a long time ago and there have been quite a few things that you have done since then. Is it difficult to go back to that?
MM: Well I can kind of remember everything, but I have to refresh myself on names and stuff like that. It was a really, really fun time shooting this movie and it was a great group of people, great crew, and everybody was in it a hundred and fifty percent, so it was really, really fun.
BUG: So I’m a huge fan of all of your work really and you’ve done some really huge things lately just with the season of JUSTIFIED, which I think is one of the best TV shows on right now.
MM: I do too.
BUG: And also DEXTER. Is it okay to talk to you a little bit about those two?
MM: Sure, yeah for sure.
BUG: Okay. Well as far as JUSTIFIED, when they approached you to play Mags Bennet, how did you react to that? I mean you’re not your typical mob boss type.
MM: I guess I am now. You know, how that happened is I was out in Los Angeles for the premiere of SECRETARIAT and Betty is a friend of mine, so I stayed and did her show and in the mean time my agent asked me “would [you] like to go audition for this series of JUSTIFIED?” I said, “What’s that?” I didn’t know JUSTIFIED and he said, well the part is a Kentucky woman who deals drugs and all of that and that’s basically all he said. I said “Oh please just show them my reel. I don’t have to audition for that, do I?” (Laughs) And he said, “Yeah, they want to hear you say the words.” I said “Well send it to me and let me look at it” and he sent me that first episode of season two and I instantly thought “Are you kidding? I’ll go anywhere to audition for this.” The writing was so extraordinary and a couple of hours later I did it on tape for a casting director and two hours later I was signed on to do four episodes I think and then after we shot the first episode they said “We want you for the full season.”
BUG: And even though I’ll spoil it for people who might not have seen the second season, even though your character was killed off, she’s a character that still is resonating in that series all through the last season, still the name comes up… the character still seems to be around in spirit.
MM: It is a great character and it’s the only way to go with that character. It was to go all the way up and all the way out. I think Max Bennet limping into season three would not have been a good thing.
BUG: Yeah. Were you disappointed when you got the script for that episode where you passed away?
MM: Yes, and also when I started to shoot it I broke down crying, so there you have it. You know, because it was just something that I breathed life into and then had to kill off.
BUG: What was it like as far as the script goes? Is it pretty much all written script on that show?
BUG: The scripting seems to be so tight and powerful.
MM: It’s all that group of writers. They are just extraordinary and you know of course I brought my own interpretation, but the words were all there and I have nothing to do with that.
BUG: Okay, and also DEXTER. That was a long term role for that show as well where you played basically a mother figure for Dexter.
MM: Yeah, the only friend of Dexter really. So that was another thing, I had to be gone from there as well. At least he went against his code to kill me. (Laughs)
BUG: Did you have to eat all of that pie that he kept on bringing you throughout those episodes?
MM: I did and I don’t like key lime pie, but they did bring some really delicious different variations of it, which was good.
BUG: It probably would have been better if you would have liked it I guess.
MM: I don’t dislike it; it’s just not one of my favorite pies.
BUG: Do you think by the end of the time when she did pass away on that show, do you think she knew what exactly Dexter was?
MM: Yes. I think I knew way more than they ever revealed, also there was the time when, and I can’t remember where this came from and it might have come from Jim Manos… maybe not though, but that there was a moment where we thought that I might could have really been his mother.
BUG: Yeah, I thought that too while watching it.
MM: I can’t remember who came… It might have been that I came up with that, maybe that’s where it came from, but you know it seemed to be floating about for awhile.
BUG: It seems like you’ve been all over the place. Your character gets kind of killed off many times. Is that okay with you? How do you feel about being killed off?
MM: Well like I say… for Camilla, it was okay. I wasn’t there enough for it to hurt so much, but JUSTIFIED was hard, but like I say, poetically it was the only way to go. It was the most beautifully poetic ending to the way it began. Yeah, it’s fine. It’s fine to be killed off. You’ve got to move on to the next thing. But you know, Mags Bennet is alive and well and living inside me, so that is something people need to realize.
BUG: Did you have to learn a lot about backwoods…
MM: No, I didn’t have to learn anything about backwoods. I know about backwoods.
BUG: About the drug dealing aspects and all of that stuff?
MM: Yeah, I needed… The business aspect of the smart sharp shrewd business woman that Max was, I didn’t have to learn about it, but I had to keep in mind how incredibly smart she is.
BUG: Very cool. Well speaking of what comes next, what is next for you?
MM: I can’t really say what it is until maybe today they will finish the contract, but I’m doing a really wonderful movie in September that I’m very excited about.
BUG: Well, you’re a fantastic actress and it’s fantastic to talk to you today.
MM: Thanks Mark. Thank you so very much.
BUG: You have a great morning and take care. Thanks a lot.
MM: You too honey, bye.
BUG: SCALENE is available now on DVD and digital download! And now, here’s a review of SCALENE from a previous AICN HORROR column.
SCALENE (2011)Directed by Zach Parker
Written by Brandon Owens & Zach Parker
Starring Margo Martindale, Adam Scarimbolo, Hanna Hall
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
More of a drama/thriller than straight up horror, there are some pretty horrific scenes in SCALENE, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be covered here on AICN HORROR. Writer / director Zach Parker shows incredible skill in both writing a fantastic story and making it look distinct on camera. SCALENE tells a story from three vastly different perspectives; a ROSHOMON style story structure where you don’t really understand the entire story without seeing it through these three sets of eyes.
The best part of this film is that it’s trio of stars get to shine in lead roles—roles that they normally don’t get to occupy. Margo Martindale does a fantastic job as the mother of an invalid young man. Martindale is best known for her roles in MILLION DOLLAR BABY and SECRETARIAT, but here she’s allowed to show how multi-faceted a star she really is. She embodies a wide range of emotion here in a believable and grueling portrayal of someone overcome by burden and desperation. Hanna Hall also delivers a slam dunk performance as an overeager and over curious nanny for the invalid. Again, Parker’s (and co-writer Brandon Owens’) script requires her to be both innocent and devious depending on which story you want to believe. The little girl who played Jen-NAY as a child in FORREST GUMP is all grown up in SCALENE, showing that she can act with the best of them. Adam Scarimbolo breaks Robert Downy Jr.’s rule and plays full on disabled here, so probably no best actor nod’s coming his way according to TROPIC THUNDER’s philosophy, but Scarimbolo is brave and highly effective as the invalid man who sustained irreparable brain damage from huffing fumes as a twelve year old and must be taken care of by the main actresses of the film. Seeing this trio of actors play off of each other is a thing to behold.
Though nothing I’ve said so far qualifies SCALENE to be a horror film, it does feature some of the most painfully raw scenes of emotional terror I’ve seen in a long time in a film. The way Parker tweaks and twists the perception ever so subtly as the perspective shifts from one of the three characters to another is intricately masterful. SCALENE is a film that gets under your skin in how emotionally raw it is. It definitely causes a sense of unease that people can be this destructive and one thing all good horror does is embed a sense of unease on a viewer. Sure, squeezing SCALENE into this horror column is a bit of a stretch, but if you’re looking for something gripping, real, and unforgettable, SCALENE is definitely something to seek out and it’s available now on DVD.
See ya next for our regular AICN HORROR column on Friday!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
Interested in illustrated films, fringe cinema, and other oddities?
Check out Halo-8 and challenge everything!
Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns
on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!