Laura Ramsey talks about the film, her director and upcoming projects
Laura Ramsey hasn't been around for that long, but she's steadily starting to make an impression. After the Wisconsin native was discovered while waiting tables in Hollywood, she's appeared in a string of titles including Lords of Dogtown, She's the Man and The Covenant. Her new film, The Ruins will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 8. I recently had the chance to talk with this rising young actress and here's what she had to say.
We actually have similar backgrounds. I'm actually from Minnesota.
Laura Ramsey: You are? Where do you live now?
I'm in Los Angeles.
Laura Ramsey: Oh, you are? For how long?
Laura Ramsey: Really? Oh you're so new.
I know. It's crazy.
Laura Ramsey: You're fresh off the boat (Laughs).
(Laughs) So, first of all, were you familiar with the book at all before signing on to this project?
Laura Ramsey: No, I had no idea. I went and auditioned for the movie and then when I got the role they said it was based on a book. I read the book on the flight over to Australia because the flight is like 17 hours or something. I started reading the book then.
You're the most, let's say, outspoken character in the movie, the most negative in the group. What sorts of things did you do to get into that mindset when you're on the set?
Laura Ramsey: Well, in the beginning I think my character is really positive and exciting and fun and then, through what happens, she becomes kind of a mental case. I took notes from the book. I also talked to some nurses who had treated some people in psychiatric wards. Just to get an understanding of once you get so obsessed with something, you think something's overtaking your body and you feel things inside, just some of the little mannerisms they said people would have, rocking back and forth. I took some of that and also my own emotional stuff and threw it all together and went to work.
I went to high school with Seann William Scott and when he first took on Stifler, he called up a bunch of the mean kids from our high school to get into the character. Did you do anything like that?
Laura Ramsey: Really? That's so interesting. No, I never ever called anyone from high school (Laughs) for the role. I don't even know how I did it, actually. I was just not a happy person during the whole shoot, during all that stuff. I just wasn't in the mood of happiness, always a little down.
You're with a pretty talented young cast with Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone. Did you guys hit it off right away when you first got on the set?
Laura Ramsey: Oh yeah. We all flew on the plane together so we got a chance to meet each other a little there. Once we got there we started rehearsals, going through the script, improving and seeing what happens. Then we'd go to dinner that night, get to know each other, hang out and talk. We definitely hit it off, all of us. We had to, we were playing best friends. It wasn't hard or difficult at all. They were cool people and everyone was just ready to work. They were really focused and just wanted to do the best job possible.
I just talked to Jonathan (Tucker) and he said that on the set, for the vine, it was a lot more practical effects and less CGI. Was it hooked up to a rig or something like that?
Laura Ramsey: (Laughs) Yeah. They were like, 'All the vines are moving,' then they'd shake the vines. They had this thing and they would push a button and some of the vines would start to move, so we could kind of play off of that. A lot of it was, (director) Carter (Smith) would clap his hands really loud when there was supposed to be a sound, so there was a whole lot of imagination there.
But it wasn't a whole lot of CGI or blue-screen stuff, was it?
Laura Ramsey: No, not really. That's the great thing. Carter wanted a lot of the real thing, which is the more natural way to go.
Carter is a relative newcomer. This is only the second film he directed. What was he like to work with and what kind of style did he bring to the movie?
Laura Ramsey: He's amazing. He let us, which is so great, he allowed us to really develop our characters ourselves. We took a lot from the book, but would also sit and improv in character and they re-wrote a lot of the beginning of the movie off of our improv. He was really lenient with what we felt and what we wanted to do. If I felt a certain way and wanted to do something else, he was so open and really allowed us to just do our thing, which is great. He would tweak us a little bit, but he's a very calm, cool, put-together guy. He just allowed us to be free, which is great.
It looks like this is the biggest budgeted movie you've worked on so far. Is it easier working on a movie with a huge budget, rather than smaller films where you're constrained by the budget?
Laura Ramsey: The only thing that makes it easier (Laughs), is you go to work and you cry for 13 hours a day and you go home and, because it's Dreamworks, they put us up in the most beautiful place I will ever live, probably in my whole life. We got to pick our own apartment - we all lived in the same little area. I looked through 15 apartments that all overlooked the ocean. That was a big benefit, after that long of crying all day, it's something to look forward to. In those terms, it's easier, because you have a lot of nice things and independent films you do it for - it's not like I didn't do this for the art - but it's more gritty and challenging and sometimes you don't have a trailer and sometimes you get overworked. There's benefits to both though, definitely.
Did you get a chance to experience the culture down there when you were filming as well?
Laura Ramsey: Not really. A little bit because all of the crew was Australian. We'd hang out on set and learn some of the Australian sayings, but we were so there and focused. We were working six days a week so on our day off, it was time to get groceries and stuff like that, and rest. I travelled a little bit north, I forgot what it was called, for two days because I had two days off. But other than that, I know some people went to Sydney and Tasmania and they said it was so beautiful. A lot of people stayed after but I never did.
Is there anything you can tell us about Shrink or Street? They both sound like pretty interesting projects.
Laura Ramsey: Yeah. They both are. Street is a cool indie that I worked on. Statistically, Portland, Oregon has the most street kids, like kids that run away from home and live on the street. It's like a whole culture thing there. If you walk around on the streets there are kids living on the streets, begging for money, but it's almost like a cool thing. They all just sit around and play music and squat. I play a girl who runs away from home and lives on the streets and it was great because I had a whole transformation. I had fake dreadlocks in my hair, no make-up, I wasn't the pretty one. It was good, very exciting. Shrink is such an amazing script. Kevin Spacey plays the shrink and it all revolves around him. There's the crazy agent guy in L.A. that goes to him and the actor who's in and out of rehab, then there's the Jack Nicholson-type actor that Robin Williams plays. I play the girl who tries to sleep with them all to get famous (Laughs). It's such a fun, fun role to play. It's an amazing script, though. It's so good.
Do you have any idea when those will be released?
Laura Ramsey:Street, I don't know. I think they're still in the process of editing and getting it finalized. I'm just working on Shrink right now, so probably next year, I hope.
You're filming Shrink now?
Laura Ramsey: Yeah. I'm filming here in L.A.
Finally, not too long ago you were just a girl waiting tables in Hollywood and now you're in big movies like this. Do you have any advice for any struggling younger actors that might try to make their way out here?
Laura Ramsey: My only advice is just to know that you want it, and if you want it bad enough, just do your best and have faith. Be grounded and come out here for the right reasons, to try to do good work and not to try to be or do anything else. I don't know if that makes any sense...
Oh, it does. It totally does.
Laura Ramsey: If you want it bad enough, all you can do is try.
Well, thank you so much for your time, and I'm looking forward to those next projects.
Laura Ramsey: Thank you so much. Bye.
You can find Laura and the rest of the cast of The Ruins when it hits the DVD and Blu-Ray shelves on July 8.