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Perhaps no horror-movie heroine has gone through as grueling
an experience as Becky, the fast-food counter girl played by Dreama Walker in
the new psychological thriller COMPLIANCE. Best known for her part in this
year’s well-receive sitcom DON’T TRUST THE B---- IN APARTMENT 23, Walker gives
a brave and heart-wrenching performance in the fact-based film.
Beginning its platform release today from Magnolia Pictures
(see a list of playdates here
and our review here),
COMPLIANCE is set in an Ohio ChickWich restaurant where the supervisor, Sandra
(Ann Dowd), receives a phone call from a man (THE INNKEEPERS’ Pat Healy)
claiming to be a police officer, and that Becky has been accused of stealing
from a customer’s purse. “Officer Daniels” asks Sandra to take Becky to a back
room and search her for the allegedly pilfered money—just the first in a series
of increasingly humiliating and shocking acts performed by Sandra and others at
the behest of the authoritative-sounding voice on the phone. The result is the
year’s most disturbing film, and a breakout role for Walker, who discussed it
FANGORIA: What were your first impressions when you read the
DREAMA WALKER: I was really excited that it was addressing
an issue that happened in the news that I found to be very interesting, and I
was glad somebody was tackling the subject, because the story had struck me as
odd and fascinating and intriguing when it happened in 2004. I remember exactly
when it happened; I was a senior in high school, and at the time I had never
worked in a fast-food restaurant but I’d worked in retail, and I was
particularly struck by the fact that as an employee, you could be taken
advantage of like that in your workplace by your boss. I was also very happy
that somebody like Craig Zobel was attached to it, and would do the story
justice and not try to sensationalize it in any way.
FANG: So you were familiar with Zobel’s work before you
joined to the project?
WALKER: I hadn’t seen [Zobel's previous feature] GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, but I Googled
him and instantly fell in love with his cartoon stuff, and loved meeting him as
a person and was very excited about working with him after that.
FANG: Did part of your preparation for and playing this role
involve putting yourself in the headspace of the real people, and trying to
figure out why they went along with the caller for so long?
WALKER: Absolutely. I think if anyone can understand that,
it’s someone like me, just because of my upbringing and the way I understand
things and how eager I am to please at most times. I really understood where this
girl was coming from, and how when you’re driving in your car and see [police]
lights behind you, you can have that moment where you think your whole world is
going to collapse and you’re going to lose everything, and realistically,
that’s probably not going to happen. When she was accused of that stuff, she
really thought, at that moment, that she was going to lose everything. So
getting myself prepared for that was kind of easy, because I’m a bit of a
neurotic scaredy-cat anyway.
FANG: How was it working with Ann Dowd as your onscreen
WALKER: She’s one of the most gracious and kind human beings
I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. She’s immensely talented and just
has a beautiful heart and soul, and if I could work with her every day I would
FANG: What about your offscreen relationship with Healy? Did
you stay in character, or was it a happier relationship when you weren’t doing
WALKER: Absolutely happier. It’s so funny because for such a
serious dramatic movie, I found everyone involved to be incredibly humorous and
very funny. Craig, as you may know, is hilarious. The ideas he has and the
things he says are super-funny, and Pat Healy’s the same way. He has a
fantastic sense of humor and is a lot of fun to be around, and Ann is just
brilliant; she joined in on the jokes, too. So it was really funny to just snap
back into [the film’s] reality and just be like, “Oh, this is not where my
character is supposed to be. I really need to focus in on being abused and uncomfortable.”
[Laughs] I had fantasies at the time of doing a comedy with the exact same cast
and crew. That would’ve been great.
FANG: Healy said that you filmed all the call scenes
live—that he was on another set actually speaking to you while you were shooting.
WALKER: I can’t imagine doing that any other way, and I’m so
thankful we had the opportunity to do it. There were times when the phone would
die, and that was frustrating [laughs]. But it was great for Pat, Ann and I and
the rest of the cast to have that opportunity to play off each other as actors
do in normal circumstances.
FANG: How was your experience of seeing COMPLIANCE for the
first time at Sundance, in the sense of both reacting to it yourself and the
way others reacted to it?
WALKER: It was truly surreal. I definitely knew that the
film was going to be tough for a lot of people to watch, because it’s not
comfortable subject matter. No one really likes to watch anything where humans
ultimately betray each other and turn out not to be good people. And there are
so many instances when somebody could’ve walked in and saved the whole thing,
but people just keep failing. That’s frustrating, but I had no idea that the
reaction we got at Sundance would even be a possibility.
FANG: You also recently did a genre film that does have a
lighter side: VAMPERIFICA, in which you play the best friend of a flamboyant
young man who turns out to be the reincarnation of a vampire master. How did
you become involved in that film?
WALKER: Not a very exciting story there: I went in and
auditioned for it, and the film was really a dark comedy, and I’ve always
appreciated that genre. So I did the movie and had a lot of fun.
FANG: It’s a very different take on vampire films. Is that a
genre you’re a fan of?
WALKER: I’m definitely intrigued by vampires. I mean, I
remember growing up as a kid and being super-pale and wanting someone to
identify with [laughs]. I was always interested in vampires, and movie about a
gay vampire seemed exciting and adorable to me.
FANG: Carmen—played by Martin Yurkovic, who also wrote the
story—is certainly a different vampire protagonist than we’re used to.
WALKER: Exactly. He’s such a little turd, but he’s still so
likable! He has such anger-management problems in the movie, but he’s still so
FANG: Is he as much of a character in person as he plays in
WALKER: More so. Absolutely more so. He’s just wildly
inappropriate, he absolutely has no filter and is just crazy.
FANG: Are you a fan of horror films in general, and would
you be interested in doing more?
WALKER: I actually hate horror films, to be honest [laughs].
I really do! I get very scared very easily; I’m a very sensitive person. I
scream much louder than I should when people try to play tricks on me and scare
me. I get that there’s meaning behind some of them and that they’re deeper than
what they seem on the surface, but I’m more interested in psychological
thrillers like COMPLIANCE.
To read more from Walker and her collaborators on
COMPLIANCE, pick up Fango #316, on sale now.
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