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Pollyanna McIntosh, the beautiful Scottish actress, is receiving critical acclaim for her lead role in the horror film The Woman, released October 14 in 30 cities including L.A. and N.Y. She also just won ‘Best Actress’ at London's Film 4 Fright Fest and is in the process of shooting two more films this month. TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Amanda Thambounaris spoke with Pollyanna McIntosh recently about her controversial role, her new love for horror and her future career plans.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You star as the “woman of the woods” in the newly released film The Woman, which is considered a controversial horror film. What made you want to take on such an emotionally challenging role?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I really admire Lucky McKee‘s work and I think Jack Ketchum is a great writer and they co-wrote this novel and also this screenplay. The role was written for me so that obviously was a compliment. They saw me in Offspring, which is the movie where I play this character the first time around. Jack Ketchum had written that novel and I had read it and agreed to do the film, which he also wrote the screenplay for. And, halfway through filming the producer and director thought that I was having too much fun with the role and they felt that the character could be taken on for another movie, that there was something going on here that was special. So he asked Lucky McKee to come and watch the film and see if he would be interested in directing a sequel and co-writing one with Jack Ketchum.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You had said that Lucky McKee wrote this part for you because of Offspring, which was essentially a prequel to The Woman. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how it made you feel to have this part written especially for you?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Well, obviously it was very flattering and also a big responsibility and I was the lucky enough that Lucky wanted to be very collaborative. We talked for four months before we started filming and he asked me to give him notes on everything in the film, not just on my character, so we were a real partnership before we even got to set.
And, toward your question ‘how did it feel to have that written for me,’ ... it was also nerve wracking when I first read the script, the intensity of what this character was going to have to go through and therefore what I was going to have to go through. But I think Lucky is a great artist and I was very excited to collaborate with him and make this the story that I saw it could be.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Was there any part of you that was hesitant to take this role and/or did you feel any pressure taking on this role as it was written for you?
Pollyanna McIntosh: No, I did not feel pressure. I was already excited to do it and I already knew Lucky’s take on the world and how sensitive a guy he is. So, even though yes reading the script I went, ‘ugh, gosh really, for 99% of the movie I am going to be restrained,’ that sounds like pure hell to me, but knowing Lucky’s intensity and the depth of intelligence of both Lucky and Jack, I didn’t have any fears that it wasn’t going to have a strong message, which I think it does. You know, when you talk with somebody like Lucky, you get to understand very quickly what is important to him and I think the first thing that was most important to him was to make sure that I was going to be comfortable. So, that’s always a plus. Make sure that the kids in the story weren’t going to be witnessing anything awful and had to kind of deal with those scenes in the right way.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: I read that it is assumed a reason the film is such a success is because of the deep performances of the female cast. What was it like for you to star in a film with such a strong female cast and a film whose goal is to illustrate the theories of female domesticity?
Pollyanna McIntosh: It was a pleasure to consider playing such a strong female character. Angela Bettis, for instance, is an incredible actress so the idea of getting to work with her was exciting to start with. And also, it was really fascinating for me to see how this was all going to work together as a family because it is so important that those women seem like a family, albeit kind of a f**ked up one. And, it is a testament to the casting of the film that I even as an audience member watching the movie after it was made, I really believed that they were a family. And coming from an actor who spent a month on the set, I just felt that I could really watch this as an audience member, somebody that could think about the kind of magic that Lucky brings together. And, it was really fun to play such a strong character who, although sexualized by those around her, feels no need to be sexual in a typical way that women are often. When you talk about strong female characters in movies they are always getting what they want in a sexual way and I don’t think that has to be the case. And, I love that this moved away from that, so that was all very exciting for me.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: This is the second horror film that you have starred in, the first being 9 Lives of Mara, even though I read that you have said that you are not a fan of horror films. What sparked this interest - possibly an attempt to conquer your fear?
Pollyanna McIntosh: You get a lot of horror films because it is such a rich genre and you make so much money and so I get sent a lot of horror movies. I turn down a lot of them because not every script that comes to you is an original script. I would say that I avoided bad story-telling and both with 9 Lives and with The Woman, they were just stories that I could not resist. For me, it is always going to be about the characters and it is going to be about the role and then the writing. So, I could do horrors the rest of my life if there were great stories to do, I just don’t know if there will be. And also I would not say that I am not a horror fan, I have just not been raised as a horror fan. It is not something that I got into before until I really started going on this sort of campaign trail for this movie and I met so many more horror filmmakers and I got to see so much more quality horror. And, I think that one of the things that is exciting to me about this now knowing that is now I am a fan of horror, of really good horror. And, I think it is a shame that most of the horror produced by the studios today is so bloody boring and stupid. So, I guess like a lot of people, I want to be exposed to the right kind of horror. I hope that this can do that for other people.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: I read that this film will hit Scotland later this year and will have a special screening in your hometown of Edinburgh. What was it like to be able to promote your film in your hometown?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah that was great, it was really exciting and a lot of my friends came along. We had a great Q&A, had a really intelligent audience asking a lot of questions and really got into it. And that was part of a wonderful organization called ‘Dead By Dawn,’ which is a Scottish Film Festival and run by a woman called Adele Hartley. And it happens every April, so because she has such an amazing network through her festival that she has been running for years. She just got these great, great audiences in for us, so it was really cool. And I took my boyfriend to Scotland for the first time so that was pretty thrilling. What a great way for him to see it, meet all my friends and see the movie for the first time. I just ran him around and made him eat every Scottish food we could find!
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You won ‘Best Actress’ at London’s Film 4 Fright Fest. Was that your first award and how did that win make you feel?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Was that my first award? Yeah that was my first award, how exciting! That was really exciting; I was kind of just taken a back really. I’m very Scottish in that way, like I don’t expect things like that, so I was quite surprised. I won a competition when I was like fifteen or sixteen years old and it was like the ‘Face of 95’’ in the UK, it was their modeling competition that I had been entered into, and I won it for Scotland and then I won it for the UK and I ended up moving down to London when I was sixteen and I started working. And I remember going along to that competition completely alone and going to work in the deli afterward, and just walking to work after having won this competition, which was completely going to change my life, and I am thinking I really didn’t think I was going to win or even get runner-up or anything so I didn’t bring anyone along. And all these girls are like hugging their moms and stuff, I just felt like an idiot. I don’t expect these things you know, so is sort of a bit surprising.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You have a few films coming out, as well as two films in the making. Are there any roles in particular that you enjoyed or valued the most?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I’m pretty excited about a movie called Love Eternal, which is directed by an Irish director called Brendan Muldowney and I just finished filming that in Ireland and in Luxemburg, so that should be out next year. And then also I have got a little indie called Carlos Spills the Beans, which Brian McGuire filmed and directed and he is just this insane indie filmmaker that will write a movie in ten days, shoot it in nine and then edit it in eight. And he just did that with a movie called The Black Bell. The next one we have got coming up we are going to be shooting in the next couple of weeks. So, I have actually got two films happening this month which is nice. And then another movie that I am shooting right now, I do not know if I can talk about it, it is an issue movie about the gay issue. I am all about it.
Somebody said something really smart about The Woman the other day to me, I was doing a radio interview and they were like, ‘I was watching this with my girlfriend and she goes to me ‘the wonderful thing about watching The Woman is I guess I needed to be reminded of this, that it is just a great reminder that there is still a need to defend feminism.’’ And I thought that was such a great quote from this journalist’s girlfriend. I thought it is so true. And doing this movie that I was talking about, this upcoming gay movie, is like you know, again in L.A. you can get into a bit of a bubble sometimes and think that everyone is as open-minded, but, actually we’ve got a long way to go with a lot of things and we shouldn’t forget that. It happens in casual little ways, you know, like the way that people use the term gay, meaning if something is messed up or something is backwards or something is wrong they are like, ‘oh that is so gay.’ Like, wow we still live in that world, okay. So, we’ve got a ways to go.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You were a Pirelli model in Scotland, so what made you decide to become an actress?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Actually, I was an actor first. When I was nine years old, my mom sent me to an acting school like one day a week after school to kind of get some of my hyperactivity worked out and I just fell completely in love with it. And I was doing theatre at a really young age in Scotland and I use to put on plays all the time. And then when I moved down to London and started modeling at sixteen, I tried to find any little independent film that I could do, you know, tiny roles and whatever. But, I started acting a long time ago and when I finished my modeling career and I really wanted to focus on my studies I went and did a dramatic studies degree with psychology when I was seventeen or eighteen. So, acting has always been something that I loved, story-telling, something that I saw myself doing from a really young age. Modeling was just a happy task that came up that got me a lot of travel when I was still young, which was fun. I actually got into the university when I was fourteen, but put it off for a couple of years while I worked. So, I could work and see where it took me and still have a place in the university, but I was really young. My parents moved me around a lot and oddly I ended up with really good schooling.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You landed your first U.S. role as the character Stacy in Headspace, what was that experience like for you?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Well, oddly enough, the director of that film was the producer of The Woman. He directed and produced Headspace, it was my first ever audition in America. I came in and I had to play this kind of born-again Christian, like really uptight kind of girlfriend to the lead’s best friend, and then there was this one scene where I kind of became like in the protagonist’s eyes, in the lead guy’s eyes, I was a monster for about five minutes in the movie and it is just basically like a freak out.
It was from that moment in that room auditioning that when years later when Offspring came up and the role of the woman was in Andrew van den Houten’s hands, he remembered that audition and what I did in the film and he went ‘She can play this character.’ Isn’t that weird? So, Headspace was, like I said, my first American audition and then my first American role and a lot of people said ‘Oh there is a lot of sex and nudity in this film you shouldn’t take this role, you know, it is your first one you will get type cast and all that,’ and I was like, ‘Man, I’m in a place where you have got to work.’ You have got to work, you have got to learn and I wanted to be on a film set, I wanted to learn. And, I wanted to be better. So, I took it on and I am very glad I did.
It was a great set, like everyone was cool. I became great friends with the director mainly because I was so fascinated with film making that I would ask to go back to the editing place and watch the footage with him and see what he was going to do for the next day, you know, not just my stuff but I wanted to see everything. And, that is how we formed a friendship and that is how he remembered me and asked me to do the part.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: So, do you have any plans for the future other than making films?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah, of course like every actor I want to direct, but I’d like to finish a script that I’ve been writing for the past couple of years. And I am ashamed to say that I absolutely love it when it is going well, and when it is not going well I can stop for months on end. So, my goal for this year is to get a script finished. And study directors so I can direct, you know, I need to have the experience and schooling first. But, in the meantime I have to get this script finished haven’t I?
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What is the script about?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I have different stories that I want to tell so far. One's a comedy about the fashion industry. One is a historical drama set in Scotland, and there is one romantic comedy and then there is one coming of age, ghetto kid out of the ghetto kind of story.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Why is it that most actors want to go from acting to directing?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Because they want to be in control. If you get into it and you like telling stories enough eventually you want to control the way in which a story is told, you want to be in charge.
Image by Steve Thornton