Renee O'Connor talks about her role in the horror film, working with Tobin Bell and Xena
Renee O'Connor has been in touch with television audiences for years with her role as Gabrielle in the hit series Xena: Warrior Princess. Now she finds herself alongside current horror lumianry Tobin Bell and a fine young crop of actors in Boogeyman 2. I had the chance to speak with the actress, who portrays Dr. Jessica Ryan in the horror sequel, and here's what she had to say.
It doesn't seem like you've done a lot of work in the horror genre before. Did it involve a lot of transition to take on this character?
Renee O'Connor: Not really. For me, this movie almost felt like a psychological drama, with all these kids. Then, suddenly, you see someone walk across the parking lot with a prosthetic gashing wound and it reminds you, 'Oh yeah. You're in a slasher film.'
This is a much different film than the first Boogeyman. Did you watch the first film before taking this on?
Renee O'Connor: I did. I happened to be in New Zealand while they were filming the first one, so I was able to visit all my old friends. I liked it. (Producer) Rob Tapert and I had a discussion a couple of years afterwards, I guess right about the time of Boogeyman 2, and we were talking about the differences of having a supernatural demon versus a real person that can come in and be a threat. At the time, I really thought that having someone in the house, is a much scarier, problematic situation, but now that I've done something like that, I want to watch more movies that have to deal with the ghosts and things that you have absolutely no control over.
So how did this role come about for you then?
Renee O'Connor: I had a contract with Rob Tapert and I just emailed him and said that I really wanted to play this character. I think she would be interesting because it touches back on some of the things I've played as an actress, and that was it.
I personally thought that this was a much stronger film than the first Boogeyman. Was this ever considered for a theatrical release?
Renee O'Connor: I thought it was, at one time. I really don't know all the monetary scenarios that made it go to DVD.
There was a part in the movie where Tobin Bell's character referred to your character's program as an "experiment."
Renee O'Connor: (Laughs) Yeah.
It seemed like they never really delved into that aspect too much. Was that something that was cut for time?
Renee O'Connor: No. Granted, everything was just very tight, so what he said is basically I came in to create this new situation to help the kids that was very different from the institution's policy.
Yeah. It just seemed that there was something sinister about the "experiment" like 'Oh, what does that mean?'
Renee O'Connor: Yeah, you know, we just played, because like I said it was so tight in the dialogue, you just have to play with the relationships and find other things going on with the characters to make it seem like there's more depth to what's going on, that there's more of a history between them. So, I'm glad you picked that up. That was one of my favorite scenes to do.
Renee O'Connor: We tried it so many different ways, too. We tried it where I came it and sat down, and I was much more calm as if he was more of a fatherly figure. We changed it up until that last one when we were playing with the idea that maybe I'm the killer, and that's the one we kept.
Tobin Bell had to be quite a presence to work with. What was it like working with Jigsaw as a doctor?
Renee O'Connor: I've worked with him before, a long time ago when I first started acting in Los Angeles, I was in a movie where he played my father. I was very comfortable with him. He has an eerie presence on screen though. I watched Boogeyman 2 and I just couldn't believe how much he freaks me out!
His eyes glow! I just went, 'My God. How could I not have been freaked out by that man?' He's really lovely. He has such a funny cadence too, you know his cadence in the movie?
Oh yeah. Yeah.
Renee O'Connor: Oh, it's classic. I just want to see him again and say some of the lines he said to my character back at him.
It's just so deliberate. It's like, 'Is this supposed to be funny?' (Laughs)
Renee O'Connor: He's very well-prepared. He came in and discussed every aspect of the character, every moment of the scene. He wanted to be really clear about the intentions of his character, what his character was doing, so there were a lot of conversations with the director. Everything was well thought out.
It seems like you and Tobin were the veterans of the cast, along with a host of younger actors. Was there a lot of advice doled out on the set?
Renee O'Connor: No, are you kidding? Those kids don't need any advice (Laughs). They were having so much fun. I guess I felt like kind of one of the old matrons. It was so weird. Normally, I'm one of the youngest ones on the set, so it's funny to have the other situation happen.
I thought Danielle Savre's performance was quite strong, and that you and her had some nice contrasting chemistry between the characters. What was it like working with her?
Renee O'Connor: I was so impressed with her performance. It was so natural. She was just really natural, on and off the set. She obviously felt very comfortable with what she was doing. There was really no problem, no drama around her, no sense of insecurities. She's very confident and, for not having worked a whole lot, I thought it was really impressive.
She has that great intense expression that's just fit for the genre, like when she's just being scared or creeped out.
Renee O'Connor: Oh yeah. She's just beautiful, but you're right, there's an intensity to her, that gives her the depth to the beautiful face.
I have to ask an obligatory Xena question. Has there been any talk about a new series or a feature film?
Renee O'Connor: I don't think the feature film will be happening, at least in my lifetime. And that's really all I know for sure.
No rumors of anything else maybe starting up?
Renee O'Connor: You know, infantile ideas come and go (Laughs).
So do you have anything else on the horizon you can tell us about?
Renee O'Connor: I'm writing right now. I'm trying to possibly make my own project online. I just finished producing my first film, a romantic comedy called Diamonds and Guns. It's completely different than the horror genre. It's a romantic comedy in Las Vegas. It's a farce. It's really fun. It's just different. Everything is so different. I've had a great year exploring different genres.
A romantic comedy in Vegas.
Renee O'Connor: Yeah, somewhat like Swingers. It's very modern, like a lot of adult comedies coming out right now.
Finally, do you have any Boogeyman stories yourself from growing up?
Renee O'Connor: I just got scared by horror films. For me, it was just a way to kind of stay in touch with really deep emotions, and to always feel like I was completely safe in my environment, because what I did watch on television was SO much worse (Laughs).
Well that's about all I have for you. Thanks a lot for your time, Renee.
Renee O'Connor: Thanks.
Boogeyman 2 is on the DVD shelves now.