I sat down to talk to rising star Lauren Ashley Carter, who leads stylish horror film Darling, on how she is over being chased in movies. In Darling Carter plays a tenant who gradually becomes psychotic after taking over as the caretaker of a house with a troubled past. The actress has a history of appearing in dark fantasy and sci-fi films, such as Pod and Jug Face, so the horror genre is no stranger to her. After speaking to her, I learned that Lauren Ashley Carter proves she is determined to carve out fresh opportunities for herself.
Was it a challenge to carry a film largely on your own?
I had a great team of people and a very small crew which really helped as the set felt much more intimate. I worked with the director Mickey Keating before on Pod and Shaun Bridgers was incredibly helpful. When I worked with him on Jug Face Shaun would meet with me and we would analyse each scene beforehand, so I carried that over onto this film. It also felt like it was my territory, as I’ve been in New York nine years now.
The house belonged to a friend of mine, I ended up sleeping there the entire time. Which wasn’t me being a really creative, awesome actor, we just needed to have someone stay there with the camera gear for insurance purposes, but it actually really helped. It was one of those things where sometimes you learn on purpose and sometimes you learn by accident. I think having to do something like Darling with a big crew and a million producers around would have been much more challenging – I knew everyone from the set of Pod which was helpful, it made me feel really comfortable.
What was the main attraction that drew you to the role?
I wanted to play a more villainous character. I wanted to be the one that was going crazy and not being chased. Those opportunities don’t come that often to actresses, particularly around the 25-35 age range, luckily we are seeing it more. I just wanted to go crazy and stab people and Mickey wrote the movie for me.
Was it emotionally draining carrying such a heavy film alone?
It felt isolating. I think to put yourself in that place you have to be very open and vulnerable and just allow yourself to feel everything that’s coming in. You can’t really block any feelings that come to you. So I felt like I took a large dose of oestrogen for sure! I felt like an open wound the whole time but once the film had finished I just felt really depressed that it was over.
I read that you turned down a film you were offered in Berlin due to the nature of some of the graphic sex scenes. Do you think there is a problem with women being stereotyped as the sexy one in movies?
Yeah, you see it a lot and there’s even more that’s coming out. It’s a laziness, from sales agents and distributors, they just want to get bums in seats. They want blood, they want tits and everything and we all watch those movies. I watched them when I was a kid and I loved them but there is so much more out there and there is a better way to do it. People should work harder to find the better writers out there, scripts that aren’t just full of gratuitous rape scenes. I can’t tell you how many scripts I get from people I know and I think how have you even had the balls to show me this? It happens all the time. That’s why I’m getting into producing and writing, I’m writing a horror comedy at the moment. There’s a way we can get the blood and guts without betraying women.
What do you have coming up? You seem to be juggling a lot of different things?
I try to keep myself busy creatively, it’s for my own sanity after auditioning in the city for bad television shows and bad scripts and not being a name and having the clout to get my tapes passed on further. I wish that directors would be in the room more but they never are unless you do theatre. Writing was my first love, even just writing my blog helped me get back in the groove of it.
I want to know more about the business that I love from producing to directing, it has made me realise there is a lot of things I can’t do but that has given me a lot of respect for my crew. The next film we are putting out there is Imitation Girl directed by Natasha Kermani (who I met doing Pod). It’s a sci-fi drama that we are submitting to festivals now so hopefully people can see it next year. We are also going to be filming a demonology movie next year, which will have two strong female leads and it’s based on a Japanese film. I’m excited about that.
You seem to star in a lot of horror and fantasy films, is there another type of role that you really want to do?
I love comedy. Comedy is one of my favourite things to do. When I do theatre in New York I typically only get cast in comedy. I have some friends who do a show called The Special at the Manhattan News Network and they do some really funny stuff and I work with them from time to time. I created a web series, a dark comedy, so that my friends and I could have fun with it. So comedy is something I really want to get involved with. In real life I’m a large character and I need the space and platform to be large.
Darling is available on DVD on the 24th October