The Death Rattle (Aaron): Ashley, I just want to let you know right away that I have not seen HUMAN CENTIPEDE. For now I'd like to just talk about you, your background, and how you got involved with the project. When I finally get to see the movie (which will hopefully be soon considering IFC picked it up for American distribution!) maybe we could do a follow-up interview and chat again in the future. Sound good?Ashley C. Williams: TOTALLY!
Death Rattle: So Ashley, your background is in theater and you've done a bunch of plays and musicals. Was starring in films your ultimate goal as an actress, or was theater always your passion?
Ashley: I have been on stage since I was very little. Though, funny enough my first ever acting job was in a major motion picture...my ultimate goal was that I wanted to be an actress. I have always loved the theater...I consider myself an artist, because I am pretty much involved in every art form there is! I don't want to restrict myself as an actress, so I am open to doing film as well.
Death Rattle: What inspired you to get into acting in the first place?
Ashley: My living room started to get too small for the productions I was always putting on. My mom could tell that I needed a bigger venue to channel my energy and creativity, and from the moment that I was on stage it just felt natural and I fell in love with it!
Death Rattle: HUMAN CENTIPEDE is your first starring role in a movie, correct? I mean, your IMDB page says that you were in WILLOW, but you would have only been about three or four years old if that was the case. Did IMDB get you confused with another Ashley C. Williams, or were you actually in WILLOW!?
Ashley: Yes THC is my first starring role in a big film, and YES I was in WILLOW! That was the first major motion picture that I told you about. I was 4 years old and played one of the villagers.
Death Rattle: Before we get into HUMAN CENTIPEDE, please briefly describe your character in the film, Lindsay, and the overall role that she played in the story.
Ashley: Lindsay, I would say, is the stronger-minded character of the two girls. She is aware of everything around her, and very intuitive. When something does not seem right, she immediately tries to take action. She is the protagonist, and when finally kidnapped by Dr. Heiter in the film, she tries to escape and save her best friend Jenny.
Death Rattle: HUMAN CENTIPEDE doesn't strike me as the type of movie that people would be lining up to audition for. And that has nothing to do with the quality of the film, but let's face it, playing a character whose mouth is surgically attached to another person's anus would probably intimidate most people. That being said, how did you feel about the gruesome nature of the film going into it?
Ashley: When Tom told me what the Human Centipede was to look like, I was a bit taken aback, but not completely disgusted... I was intrigued. Ashlynn and I were a bit scared that we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but Tom and Ilona were so nice and professional, and I trusted them and my own gut instinct, which usually serves me well. I thought it would be too amazing an opportunity not to pass up... and it was!
Death Rattle: What made you want to be involved with the project knowing what you'd have to go through, and how did you hear about it?
Ashley: The excitement and passion that came from Tom about the film really inspired me to move forward with it. First of all it was a story that has never been told before, and it was intelligent. I was intrigued by the job I would be thrown into. Conveying emotion with only your eyes is a challenge I wanted. I loved it. I thought, what a great opportunity as an actress! I heard about the film through Actors Access.
Death Rattle: What was the atmosphere like on the set? Did you and the other people involved try to keep it lighthearted and joke around, or did everyone try to stay in a certain frame of mind in order to have a sense of seriousness come across on screen?
Ashley: Everyone on set was super professional and took very good care of us. We had a lot of fun on the set, and there was always the seriousness from the crew, that they knew what we were going through. So they made sure that we were well taken care of. It was very grueling, hard work. Physically and mentally. But they were just amazingly appreciative that we were doing this for them. We always got everything done on time. Things moved very fast.
Death Rattle: Did you at any time think "God, what have I gotten myself into?", or were you pretty much a trooper throughout the production?
Ashley: I was a trooper! =) I loved it. The only doubt I had was when I was on the plane on my way to Amsterdam, when I was like... "What have I gotten into? I have no idea what to expect!", but then we got into filming and it was more hard work than I expected, but that's exactly what I wanted.
Death Rattle: I don't know much about director Tom Six, but I must say that I'm impressed with him if he's able to think of something as "out there" as HUMAN CENTIPEDE. I can only imagine what goes through his mind, but instead why don't you fill everyone in and tell us what working with him was like?
Ashley: Tom is an exceptionally smart, passionate man that knows what he wants. He is so nice to work with, and you can tell that he loves what he does. There is always that strange feeling you get when you wonder what really goes on in his mind. He is very mysterious. But he's like a kid! He has this crazy idea for a film, and he thrives off of people's reactions from it. He loves it. He's such a funny guy... lol.
Death Rattle: From what I've heard, the film itself isn't as disgusting as the actual idea behind it. I've also heard that the film is quite funny in a weird way. Is this true, or should I, along with the rest of the people reading this, prepare to get a little nauseous while seeing HUMAN CENTIPEDE for the first time?
Ashley: Everyone will have a different reaction from this film. I feel there is no middle ground. You will either love it or hate it!! You are right when you say that it's not as disgusting as the actual idea behind it. It's what the audience imagines it must be like. That's where it becomes emotionally, psychologically draining and intense, because you put yourself in the actor's place and it makes you ill to think what that is like. But its not a gory slasher film. The comedy, it seems, comes from Dieter Laser and his character interpretation of Dr. Heiter and how absurd he is. You will have kind of a nervous laughter, unsure if you're supposed to laugh or not... it's so great.
Death Rattle: Anything stand out as far as memorable experiences you had while making the film?
Ashley: God, everything was memorable. I remember my two day shoot of the escape scene, I had to fall into a pool and then be trapped in it for a while and the water was ICE cold. I had to get in and out of that pool sooo many times and everyone was so worried about me. They were like "we don't have to do this! We can wait a couple of days to warm the water up!" but I was like, NO! let's just get it over with. =) Also our fitting at The Prop Shop for our "Human Centipede outfit" was the strangest thing, because it was before we started filming anything and we had no idea what we were going to look like, or how it was going to work. All three of us were so confused!! haha
Death Rattle: What was it like the first time that you watched HUMAN CENTIPEDE with an audience?
Ashley: I was very nervous. It was the first time I would see myself on a big screen, and I had no idea what I was going to look like. I had literally no idea what to expect with this film either. I had heard that people loved it when it was first shown in London, which I was not there for, but hearing the audience's reaction to the film was the best part! I felt very proud and amazed at how much the audience reacted to the film, whether it was good or bad, at least there was a reaction and that was what we were all hoping for.
Death Rattle: Exactly. A bad reaction is better than no reaction. Well, personally, as a horror fan, I'm extremely excited to see HUMAN CENTIPEDE. The fact that it's actually been getting some decent reviews (from the people that matter) makes me anticipate it even more. With that being said, are you a horror fan at all?
Ashley: I am actually not a huge horror fan. I love being scared when I go see a movie, but the horror genre itself I feel is not living up to its ultimate potential and I think there are a lot of horror movies out there that do not do it justice. I am very proud that HUMAN CENTIPEDE seems to have broken through that barrier of horror storytelling. Having the courage to be unique and to go beyond the normal horror story plot really exceeds expectations, and that is something I appreciate when I go see a film.
Death Rattle: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming film, EMPTY. I've seen the trailer myself and it looks really good.
Ashley: EMPTY is a story about a couple who try to survive a global gas crisis. It is a drama/thriller and was shot in Connecticut last year. I play a young woman whose father is very rich, and she lives off of his money. Her boyfriend refuses to have anything to do with him, because he feels they shouldn't have to rely on him all the time, even in the case of a global gas crisis. They must figure it out on their own. It was very interesting to play this character right after shooting THC. It was the complete opposite of Lindsay. She is very much a daddy's girl and doesn't like the outdoors and doesn't really know how to fend for herself. She has only ever relied on her father or her boyfriend. But in the process of this adventure of survival, she seems to be finding herself more and more and battles with trying to figure out what it is she really wants. Should she accept her father's help and lose her boyfriend whom she loves, or stick with her boyfriend who doesn't exactly know what the next step is to survive this crisis but knows that they should stick together. It's a cool film!
Death Rattle: What's the status of EMPTY?
Ashley: It is still in post-production. I am hoping it makes festival rounds at some point.
Death Rattle: Before we end the interview, I'd like to just ask you a couple of random questions. First, what is your favorite movie of all time and why?
Ashley: Oh god... don't ask me this! I have so many movies that I like.. I have never been able to pick just one. I have a couple all time favorites that I watch every now and then. GONE WITH THE WIND, DANCES WITH WOLVES, BRAVEHEART, and LORD OF THE RINGS. All of these have a similar theme. They are big epic adventures, or tragic romances! I love all four of these for very different reasons. But for GONE WITH THE WIND I have always wanted to play a character in a movie like Scarlett O'Hara. She is a very strong-willed woman, very selfish, very spoiled and stubborn and you get that right off the bat, but she is thrown into a whirlwind of situations and tragedies she doesn't know how to deal with but it makes her stronger and stronger and you see her growth throughout the whole film. When she eventually realizes who she is and what she really wants, it's too late. It pulls at your heartstrings. Very tragic. lol.
Death Rattle: Who would be your dream actor, actress, or director to work with one day?
Ashley: Actors, Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins; Directors, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo Del Toro, and Sam Mendes.
Death Rattle: Any hobbies or passions outside of acting?
Ashley: Something that I do outside of acting is produce for my Arts and Entertainment company, Mind The Art Entertainment (www.mindtheartentertainment.com) that I co-founded with my boyfriend. I am the Vice President for it as well, and we produce new work in all Art forms and run 11 different divisions; from Acting to Poetry to Film to Visual Arts to Playwriting. It's something that keeps me VERY busy and I love it. I also go swing dancing, I love to paint and I am a singer as well, so I try and be involved in Musicals as much as possible.
Death Rattle: Finally, tell everyone why they should go see HUMAN CENTIPEDE.
Ashley: 'Cause the film is AWESOME!!! You should NOT miss such a unique, crazy film. It's one of a kind.
Death Rattle: Well, Ashley, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for the interview, best of luck, and hopefully I'll be speaking to you again soon!
Ashley: It was my pleasure!