If you find yourself perusing genre films and you stumble upon a little picture named Worry Dolls, take a look. The film, though limited on a financial scale, is loaded with heart, sound technique and inspired performances. It’s not a perfect horror film, but very, very few (Halloween, The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, perhaps?) are. At the end of the day, Worry Dolls makes for fine entertainment, and you just may walk away from the viewing experience having discovered a few performers that you can really admire.
Enter Kym Jackson, who plays an important part in Worry Dolls. An attractive and magnetic woman, Jackson also has some respectable acting chops and a damn bright future. Her work and the impression she left on me won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and I’ll certainly have my eyes open to her future works.
For those reasons, it was a treat to be able to pick her brain a little bit. Dig into the unseen recesses that harbor all the qualities required to be a successful thespian. And, to be honest, I had some very real curiosities to clear up after checking out Worry Dolls. Kym, polite as can be, was more than willing to answer those questions.
Check out our one on one with Kym, who shares plenty of enlightening thoughts and inside info about Worry Dolls!
Addicted to Horror Movies: I’ve spoken with a lot of performers who aren’t too keen on the inclusion of children in horror films. What’s your position on that, and how did you respond to the involvement of a child when it came to this content in particular, given its often gruesome nature?
Kym Jackson: Ooh, good question. I believe to decide whether a child should be acting in a film depends on the parents, the content of the film, and the content of the scenes to which the child will be exposed. Every film is different – even within the horror genre – and every child is different. However, being in a horror film is definitely not the same as watching a horror film.
When actors are on set, we are surrounded by our friends (the cast and crew), in a very safe environment, the computer generated effects and soundtrack aren’t there, and the scenes we do – even the scary ones – are so much fun to perform. Kennedy, who played Chloe in the film, is an amazing actress who had a blast playing the role and her Mother was on set with her the entire time. Unless a child is in scenes that are violent, sexual, or with crass verbiage, there’s likely nothing wrong with them being in a film. It doesn’t mean they have to watch it.
I do feel children should not watch horror films, even ones they’re in, until they are in their teens. The pit of skeletons in poltergeist was etched into my brain at age nine or so and gave me nightmares for years. I feel like exposure to violence in entertainment is something children should choose for themselves when they are old enough to understand what they’re watching.
ATHM: The chemistry you share with Christopher Wiehl was excellent. It felt as though you made for the yin to his yang, often forcing the character, Matt to look at situations in an opposing light to his own position. Tell me what it was like working with Christopher, and how you felt the two of you played off one another.
KJ: Thank you! Honestly, Chris is a master at what he does. I remember showing up for our first rehearsal and having to consciously shift my performance to match how completely grounded, natural, and connected he was to the material – even just running the lines. Working opposite him quite simply made me a better actor and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity.
We got along like a house on fire from the minute we met. It was the perfect casting – like meeting a best friend for the first time and you just sync, as mates, in every way. It was zero work for us to have ‘cop partner’ chemistry in scenes because it was effortlessly there between us.
ATHM: For an independent picture, Worry Dolls was really impressive, and a big part of that seemed to be the dedication of the attached thespians. Describe the general mood behind the production, and tell me how Padraig Reynolds was able to help keep that dismal tone alive through the course of the shoot.
KJ: Padraig is obsessed with horror, so the tone of the set was definitely a reflection of that love. As a director, he always keeps his calm, and treats hurdles as challenges to be conquered, not problems to be worried about. That made the cast and crew feel safe and that there was always a solution. It helped as well that everyone was so talented in their respective jobs and that we all believed in the project so much and wanted to bring this amazing story to life as best we could.
Padraig, Greg, and Chris had absolutely no egos. They would just as likely be bringing bottles of water to pass out to the crew or help carry something heavy in the heat as a PA would be. I think that inclusion trickles down from the top, which meant a complete equilibrium and a lot of love on set. The cast and crew were so close that after almost every shoot day (many of which lasted twelve hours), we still met up for chill time by the pool, dinners, movie nights, bowling nights, or some random adventure. It was like a holiday with a bunch of close friends and one of the most open, fun film sets I’ve worked on.
ATHM: At this point I’ve heard so many stories about supernatural productions being plagued by actual supernatural occurrences it almost seems as though it’s more common than not. Did you experience anything strange, or out of the ordinary while filming Worry Dolls?
KJ: Oh, big time. Naomi Kyle (who played Trisha) and I were staying at the Eola hotel in Natchez. We both had some pretty spooky stuff happen to us the first night as we were going to sleep in our respective rooms and only found out the next day that we’d both had the same very creepy experience. The local actors found out where we were staying and said “oh you’re at the Eola? That’s a known haunted hotel. People stay there BECAUSE it’s haunted.”
The production had us in a different hotel by the next day.
We also shot in an abandoned hospital. The whole building was half demolished and you could definitely feel the unsettled souls… so much heavy energy… and that was during the day. I can only imagine what it is like at night.
ATHM: I think your character, Darcy, is one of the characters that got the short end of the stick, to an extent. And what I mean by that is, I felt your character was just a tad underutilized. You worked so well with Christopher Wiehl that it seemed the picture could have been slightly enhanced with a bit more screen time for Darcy. Do you think the dynamic shared between these characters was properly explored, or do you feel the picture could have been even more successful by further exploring that partner dynamic?
KJ: That is so lovely of you to say, thank you! I feel the film was very much about Matt saving his family and facing his demons. Darcy is his rock and definitely a life raft for him when he gets in too deep. I would love to have explored more of that friendship, yet in saying that, I worry it may have taken their relationship into a romantic dynamic.
One of the things I initially loved about the script was the role of Darcy could have easily been played by a guy and not a word would have needed to be changed. That feels strong; that Matt and Darcy are just there for each other, as humans, not as a guy and a girl. I feel it’s important for women to see those types of characters on screen, especially in typically male roles like detectives.
ATHM: When you’re working on a picture like this – a picture with some very graphic gore – what goes through your mind seeing such convincing special effects? For that matter, how much time did you spend on set (or location) when special effects practitioners were generating these horrific sequences?
KJ: Some of the kills in Worry Dolls were so graphic and realistic that even if I wasn’t there for the death scene, it was still jarring for me to walk around the bloody crime scenes we investigated. I do love getting to peek behind the curtain as they create the practical effects, though, because it demystifies it for me and it’s fascinating to watch these phenomenally talented artists create so many unique visuals. Also, I’m sure other actors have told you… fake blood tastes like candy, so that’s always a fun perk too. 😉
ATHM: Do you take any of those visuals home with you, upstairs so to speak, and if so, how does that affect you mentally?
KJ: The energetic and emotional shift that comes with imagining these scenes are real is what gets me the most. When you’re feeling emotions, your brain doesn’t know the difference between an emotional experience in real life, and one in a scene. So an actor’s subconscious mind often holds the memories of every violent moment or awful feeling they’ve had in any movie or TV show as though they are real memories.
When an actor is playing a character in trauma or someone dark, they often need to let in a lot of fear, anger, sadness, or other dark emotions and thoughts and sometimes you start mirroring the negative energy and thoughts of the character in real life. That’s the stuff that can be hard to shake. When you drop back out of character, you have to work to become ‘you’ again… and often, a little piece of that role stays with you somewhere.
ATHM: What was your reaction when you had the chance to screen the final product?
KJ: Umm… so here’s the thing: I’m petrified of watching horror films, and I’ve been told this one is extremely realistic and scary. I tried to watch it and even the opening scene was too frightening for me! I really want to watch the film. I know it’s amazing and it has had fantastic reviews from everyone who has seen it. It’s just… scary films creep me out. A lot. So, I’m not exactly sure when I will get to see it. Soooo… there’s that… awk-ward… anywho…
ATHM: Switching gears briefly, I notice you’ve got a number of genre pictures on your résumé. Are you personally drawn to the genre, or is the consistent horror appearances purely coincidental?
KJ: I’m drawn to unique characters and great scripts, in whichever form they come. I do think horror is important in society for several reasons. There is a dark side to the human mind, and I believe horror enables people to toy with that dark side of themselves without having to experience those unspeakable things first hand. It’s likely that because horror films enable those with dark tendencies to live vicariously through the violence, the genre has probably saved a few thousand lives over the last few decades.
ATHM: What’s next for you? Another trek into terror, perhaps?
KJ: I might move into slightly happier material for a little while, but I’m sure I’ll revisit horror every few years to enjoy the madness with which it comes. I’d like to do some action, adventure, and sci-fi projects. I’m working on a film with a great sci-fi director in August and my best friend is a sci-fi fan and I’ve realized the female roles in the action and sci-fi world are often strong and savvy leaders who are independent and resourceful. They’re wonderful role models for young women. I’d love to be commander of a spaceship or a scientist who rescues Earth from certain destruction!
ATHM: Kym, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share some thoughts with us. It’s greatly appreciated, and Worry Dolls was a very enjoyable film, so kudos for contributing to a very inspired picture!