Larisa Oleynik takes on her darkest role yet in Uncork'd Entertainment's new horror-comedy Animal Among Us. Directed by John Woodruff, the movie is set at an abandoned campground which is preparing to reopen in the midst of alleged Bigfoot sightings in the area.
Oleynik stars in the movie as Anita Bishop, the ranger in charge of reopening the campground who appears to know more about the town's local woodland creature, believed to be Bigfoot, than she's letting on.
To find out a little more about the movie and her role, we spoke with Larisa Oleynik about her work in Animal Among Us and a few of her upcoming and past projects. You can real the full interview below!
We're talking about Animal Among Us, which is obviously a horror film. I know you've done a variety of different films and TV shows in the past, and you've delved a little bit into the horror genre before as well, though not as much. Are you a fan of the genre?
Larisa Oleynik: [laughs] I am not. Not because I don't think it's great filmmaking. I just scare very, very easily. In promoting this movie, I had so many people who were like, 'I don't like scary movies.' Well, [Animal Among Us] is not like that, necessarily. It's more like, it's a little scary, and a little disturbing, but it's also a lot of fun. That's sort of why I said yes [to this project].
I wanted to ask you about that as well. It's a different kind of movie for sure - it's part Bigfoot movie, part mystery, part dark comedy, part slasher film in some ways, and I was wondering what exactly it was about this film that attracted you to it.
Larisa Oleynik: I've worked with Jonathan before, Jonathan Murphy, who wrote it. So, my interest was sort of piqued from that alone. And, I thought it was funny. That's really for me what drew me in. On the first page of the script, it says, 'This is a story about a monster,' and that made me laugh out loud. I was like, 'Okay, I get where they're going with this humor-wise.' And after we all sat down and talked about it, I realized we were on the same page with that. I knew I was going to help make it as fun as possible, because I think that the character, Anita, is really enjoying herself. So, I just had a blast!
I know you're not the biggest fan of the horror genre per se, and this is more of a dark comedy, but do you see yourself working in more horror?
Larisa Oleynik: [laughs] Listen. If I can get through the script, then yes. And that kind of just goes for movies in general. Anything that I think is - when the violence and gore is sort of unnecessary, I'm turned off. And that goes for everything. If it was the same sort of twisted dark humorous kind of project, then for sure.
This was an interesting role for you, and I know throughout your whole life, you've played so many different types of characters. Of all of the characters you've played, I'm curious to see if you have any particular favorites you remember the most fondly?
Larisa Oleynik: I think Animal Among Us was the closest I've ever sort of gotten to being a not-good guy, so that's always fun. I'm really close to my characters, always. I actually really, really love the character I played on Hawaii Five-0, even though it was short-lived. I got very close to her, and knew her very intimately and deeply, and grew to love her. I think maybe it was because the fans of that show did not like her, it made me like her even more. It made me more resolute in my understanding of her. Even if I think my characters are wrong in some day, I feel like it's part of my job to understand so thoroughly where they are coming from, that I can play it with conviction. I just like characters that I can really get in deep with, and I got in deep with Anita. That was a role I played that was very, very special to me, so that for me, right now, is the one I'm closest to.
Earlier this year, the classic teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You celebrated its 20th anniversary. It's still one of the most memorable films of its type from that era, and I feel like it's something I still hear being talked about a lot. As a big part of the movie, what are your thoughts now looking back on it and the following and the legacy that is still has to this day?
Larisa Oleynik: You know, I have to say that I"m surprised but I'm not surprised at the same time. I say I'm only surprised because when the movie came out, it didn't hit. It kind of went under the radar a little bit when we opened because there was that influx of teen movies being made. So we didn't get that much attention, but it has something that has grown in popularity as the years have gone on, and I'm not surprised by that simply because the script is so good. It really stands up. I've worked with Kirsten [Smith], who wrote it along with Karen [McCullah], I've worked with her since, and I'm such a fan of their writing in general. Also, it's that, and the chemistry that all of us had. It's really something I haven't experienced since then. I haven't experienced a group of people really getting along so, so, so well, and without ego or pretense, just really enjoying each other's company. And really enjoying the process of making a movie together, and we were all really excited to be there. And I think that translates very well. But yeah, I love the movie. I love it. I never get sick of it! I really don't.
While we're in the '90s, I also want to bring up The Secret World of Alex Mack. I was a '90s kid and I was such a huge fan of that series. We're now living in the age of nostalgia, everything's kind of coming back. Nickelodeon has already brought back All That this year, and I know you did an Alex Mack parody on that show as well. If the possibility of a reboot series or a reunion special or something like that comes along for Alex Mack, would you be interested in reprising the role?
Larisa Oleynik: [laughs] You know, I don't know that I'd want to tamper with it. I think as it is, it's pretty special, but... I would be curious to revisit the character to see where she's at in her life. Tommy and I have talked about it from time to time, Tommy [Lynch] who's the creator, but I don't know. I would just have to see. Most of me is saying let's just leave it be. Everything is rosy-colored in hindsight, let's leave it be what it is. Let's think of it fondly.
Here more recently, you appeared on the Netflix series Trinkets. I know the show was renewed, it's supposed to be coming back with a second season. Is that something you'll be coming back for when that returns?
Larisa Oleynik: We'll see, but that's what I was reunited with Kirsten Smith on. I think the show is great. I caught up on it recently, and it feels so '90s to me, so I was really enjoying that. I was really enjoying watching it. I think the friendships on that show are very genuine, and I know the actors always get along very well, and as I was saying, that always translates to better television or better teamwork.
You're always staying busy with work on television, with film, and on stage. I was wondering if you can tell me what else next for you, and where fans of yours can expect to see you next?
Larisa Oleynik: Yeah, I'll be on a Netflix show called The Healing Powers of Dude. And that is something for families, but it's not a kid's show. It's a family show, and that will be coming out in January, so that'll be soon! It's very, very sweet. Tom Everett Scott and I are parents and our son has social anxiety disorder, and he's been homeschooled for two years and really wants to go back to school. But, because of his social anxiety, he has a couple false starts, and we get him an emotional support dog named Dude. So, it's a lot about their relationship, and the relationship with the other kids at school, and it's so cute. If you have nieces or nephews, watch it with them!
As mentioned above, you can catch Larisa Oleynik on the Netflix shows The Healing Powers of Dude and Trinkets season 2, you can also catch Larisa Oleynik in Animal Among Us, which is now available on DVD and VOD. You can watch the official trailer below, courtesy of Uncork'd Entertainment.