Though Allison Miller may be best known for TV roles such as Michelle Benjamin in Kings, Skye in Terra Nova and Carrie in Go On, the actress is starting to make some waves on the big screen as well. After starring in the thriller Devil's Due earlier this year, the actress takes on a far less frightening role as the eccentric Catherine Brown in the indie Always Woodstock, which is available in select theaters and on VOD formats starting today, November 14.
The actress portrays Catherine Brown, who has a soul-sucking job working for a major record label, but she really wants to write her own music. After she catches her boyfriend Garret (Jason Ritter), an emotionally unstable actor, cheating on her, she decides to move back to her childhood home in Woodstock, New York. "Quirky" is almost an understatement when describing Catherine, who has a bizarre habit of screaming silently, or perhaps internally, but her delightful idiosyncrasies are always fun to watch. I recently had the chance to speak with Allison Miller about Always Woodstock, and you can take a look at our conversation below.
I saw this the other night and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.
Allison Miller: Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that.
I have to imagine that this was quite a fun script to read for you, with this character. Were you just chomping at the bit to play her?
Allison Miller: I absolutely was. It's not too often where you get to play someone who has such a big journey, for me at least. It's not often that I get to see that. Yeah, I really loved the script.
Are there any friends or family members of yours that maybe have some of these neurotic tendencies, that you may have borrowed for this character?
Allison Miller: Hmm,you know, it was sort of looking inward, more than at anybody else. I have known a lot of people who have had experiences in life where, suddenly, there is a big change, and everything has shifted, and they move across the country, and found themselves in that way. I dropped out of college and moved to LA and started chasing after my passion in that way. I think the connection of this character, for me, is that it's just a very human story that everybody can relate to, at some point in their lives, a big change.
I read that you had a musical background growing up. Was playing the guitar a part of that too? Was that an instrument you had always played, or did you learn that for the film?
Allison Miller: I was playing guitar, let's see, I remember taking lessons in middle school. That was part of our school, a guitar class (Laughs). My husband bought me a guitar for Christmas one year, maybe three or four years before the movie, and I started taking it with me, traveling, working on sets. Actually, I was in Australia for six months, and I didn't know anybody there, so I spent a lot of time teaching myself how to play guitar there.
One thing I thought was interesting is how Catherine's music is changed by the 'evil studio.' I thought that was kind of hilarious, but have you heard any real-life stories like that, where someone's music was turned into something completely different?
Allison Miller: I haven't heard any real life stories in that way. I remember there was some story, think it was on This American Life, where a guy had written this script and, eventually, it was turned into Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights (Laughs). That's the only drastic change I've heard of, but I'm sure it happens all the time. I mean, I've heard EP's before, where you go into the studio with producers, and things change drastically, and not always for the best, in my opinion. I think a lot of labels like to overproduce.
I spoke with James earlier today, and he said that you shot this in different parts of California, and it was a lot colder than he thought it would be.
Allison Miller: Oh, definitely. Yeah, we had a scene where were supposed to be shooting at a lake, which had to be cut because we were dying. We would have gotten hypothermia, had we gone through with that.
Yeah, that wouldn't be good.
Allison Miller: Yeah, it was February, and we just think, 'Oh, yeah, Southern California is just warm all the time.' It's not.
Do you have perhaps a favorite moment from the set, a memory that you will always think about when you remember this project?
Allison Miller: Hmm, there are a lot of them, I'm trying to think. The last scene in the movie, where Catherine is getting to perform live in front of all these people, standing on stage with Katey Sagal and all of these other really good musicians, looking out over a crowd of extras in this beautiful place, I don't know, it was the culmination of all this excitement. It was the character's big moment and, in a way, it felt very much like moment to bask in the experience. That was a big one. There was this feeling where I was just singing in front of these people who I didn't know that well, and it felt a lot like my experience and Catherine's experience were being melded together.
I read that Katey actually wrote a lot of these songs herself. Were these songs that she had written before, or were they written specifically for the film?
Allison Miller: I'm not sure. I should be able to answer that, but I don't know if she wrote them for the movie, or if she already had them.
What was it like working with her as a fellow actress but then also as a musician as well?
Allison Miller: It was really fun. The first time was in a studio, because we were both recording the songs that we had written, and it felt like we were meeting as musicians, and not actors. Yeah, it was great.
This is Rita's first feature film. Was there any thing in particular that stood out about her demeanor on the set or her overall style?
Allison Miller: Yeah, she has a lot of theater experience, and a big theater background. I do too, so it was nice to start off with this common language that I'm not used to hearing on a TV or film set. She took a lot of time before we started filming to really rehearse the scenes. She's very smart, and even for someone who's directing for the first time, she treats the actors like the acting was very important.
Is there anything you're working on now that you can talk about?
Allison Miller: Right now... well, I've been working on a sitcom called Selfie, which has been canceled, unfortunately, but they're still airing all of the episodes. I have, I think, four more episodes to air, that are in the can, so we'll see. I know one of them is on Tuesday. I've been taking some time off, and I'm waiting until next year to really jump into some things.
Is there anything you'd like to say to someone who might be curious about Always Woodstock or on the fence, about why they should give it a chance and check it out in theaters or on VOD?
Allison Miller: I think that it's a story that everyone can relate to, and it has such a triumphant feeling. I think it's just something that's very uplifting and, also, the music is great.
That's all I have. Thanks so much, Allison. It was a real pleasure.
Allison Miller: All right, thank you.