After falling in love with the spellbinding “Hunter Hunter”, I had the pleasure of talking to talented star Camille Sullivan about her powerful role.
The award-winning Canadian actress Camille Sullivan is a force to be reckoned with. Having only seen her in the TV Series The Man in the High Castle, I knew she was good, but she has not really been on my radar until now. The new survival horror film Hunter Hunter is the perfect showcase for her acting abilities, and I will be looking for her name in films from now on.
I got a chance to chat with Camille about her experience in the making of Hunter Hunter, what it’s about, and what makes her character tick.
INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLE SULLIVAN
Vicki Woods: I just got done watching Hunter Hunter for the second time, and OMG what a fantastic and brutal film! For those that haven’t seen it yet. what is the basic plot of the story?
Camille Sullivan: I play Anne. I live with my husband Joseph, played by Devon Sawa, and my daughter Renee, played by Summer Howell, in the remote wilderness. We make our living as fur trappers. But that is becoming increasingly difficult in the current times. The safety that we’ve created there becomes threatened when we become stalked by a rogue wolf. Joseph goes out to find him, and when he doesn’t return, things become tense and then even more so with the appearance of an injured stranger played by Nick Stahl.
VW: Your character, Anne, is a very multi-layered woman. She struggles to keep her family together, to keep them safe, all the while dealing with isolation, a wolf, paranoia, and a seriously creepy bad guy. How did you prepare to play a character like her?
CS: The way I thought about Anne was complex. I had a conversation with Shawn, the director before we started, and he had quite a clear vision, which was great because I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare. She starts out as a physically capable woman, even though she is quite meek and afraid of things. She is reliant on her husband Joseph for a lot of her strengths, security, and safety. Shawn wanted to see her go from there, and when that changes, then she finds the strength she needs based on what must be done. As her life changes, she becomes somebody that changes with it. And when something needs to happen, she just does it.
That’s how her character evolved for me, when new trying situations occur, then she changes with them. She finds the strength and brutality that is necessary to cope with the current circumstances.
VW: How do you think a person like her came to be living out in the wilderness, experiencing such an odd, old-fashioned kind of life? Did you have a backstory that you came up with for her?
CS: Yes, I did. My backstory was that she was someone who grew up in a town, similar to the one they live near, and experienced some sort of trauma, or dangerous incident that scarred her. Then she met Joseph, and found love, but also found safety. So, when he presents to her the idea of living away from the world, that appeals to her. To be kind of an escape from what she found to be a brutal world.
VW: The location you filmed at was really beautiful and secluded, but it looked like it was a truly cold place. Where was it filmed?
CS: (laughs) Yes it was cold! It was filmed just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. We went to a couple of the National parks there. One was very, very remote and the other one a little less so, but still a legitimate National park and it was very COLD! It made our job easier, though. It’s hard to rub your shoulders and pretend to be cold. It’s better if it’s real.
VW: Did you all get a chance to learn a little bit about being hunters, prior to starting the film? You all seemed pretty authentic, and I assume none of you had been trappers before?
CS: Nope, never done trapping! We had a great time. Shawn was truly knowledgeable, but I don’t know if that was just research on his part. Also, our props master was very knowledgeable, and they were great. On set, if anything ever had to be done, like if I had to be skinning an animal, they would really take me through it and explain to me how to do it right so I could make it look real. That is really to their credit.
VW: The wolf in the film was terrifying! The scene by the river where you were screaming at it was crazy. Was that a real wolf?
CS: Yes, it was! I shot my end with a green screen and then they shot the wolf separately later. I thought it came out looking very cool too!
VW: So, the ending…. I do SFX makeup and even I was blown away. That completely screwed up my head! I know you were there for the first crazy part, but did you see the final effects on set, or did you see it when you saw the finished film?
CS: I only saw the pieces that I was part of… but the final image, no I saw that when I watched the movie, (laughs) and I couldn’t believe it!
VW: Why do you think Anne went as far as she did? Was she in shock?
CS: I thought two ways about it. I kinda thought along the line of when you look into the abyss, the abyss also gazes back at you. So, something flipped in her that made her violent. The brutality of the world then made her brutal. And I also thought, given what I imagined happened in her mind, that the punishment fit the crime to a degree.
VW: As an actress, you have done a lot of television in addition to feature films. Do you like doing TV or films the same, or one more than the other?
CS: I like both for different reasons. I like in TV that you can tell a longer story, you can get into smaller details with the characters, and explore smaller moments. But I also like that in film, something can just hit you smack in the face in 2 hours and you can be overwhelmed by it. So, I like both, but in terms of working on them, it’s a different kind of experience. When I go do a film, I work for a month, six weeks, or however long, super intensely and then I’m done. But in TV, you get to know everybody more. It’s still hard work and long hours, but it’s a slower groove.
VW: What was it like to work on this film. Was it a fun set?
CS: It was cool. Everyone was really fun, including the cast, all the crew, the director, producers, etc. Everyone was just there to make the movie, have some fun, and get down to work. There was no ego or anything like that and we were just out there in the middle of the woods laughing our asses off and going nuts out there! It was hilariously fun.
VW: That is so great to hear! Was Hunter Hunter your first horror film?
CS: Not really. I have a couple of thrillers, a slasher film, and a few others, but not too many. Definitely none like this one.
VW: Do you like horror films?
CS: Yes, I do, so this was exciting for me to do and I enjoy watching them.
VW: Do you have any upcoming projects?
CS: Right now, I’ve just been working on Big Sky for ABC; that’s on right now, It’s a good show and I have a recurring role. I also have a small web series called Trigger Me coming out, but I don’t know when.
VW: Thanks so much for talking to me and being a woman in horror! I really loved what you did with your character in Hunter Hunter, and as a mom myself I truly felt and related to your terror and your reaction.
CS: Well, thank you, and it was really great talking to you too!