Exclusive Q&A: Alexa Vega on “THE REMAINING”
Having been a part of the film business for over 20 years now, Alexa Vega is a name and face familiar to genre fans. From her multiple collaborations with Robert Rodriguez, the most recent being SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR and MACHETE KILLS, or her work with Darren Lynn Bousman on THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, MOTHER’S DAY and REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA, Vega has used the latter part of her career to redefine herself as an actress worth taking seriously.
And while Vega has grown up embracing the world of horror and sci-fi films, her latest fright film may be her most personal to date. Casey La Scala’s THE REMAINING, which hits theaters this Friday from Sony’s Affirm Pictures, brings to the screen a horror movie of literally biblical proportions. In an exclusive chat with FANGORIA, Vega spoke about THE REMAINING, faith-based horror and witnessing the rapture brought to life…
FANGORIA: So how did you get involved with a project like THE REMAINING?
ALEXA VEGA: Well, I had an epiphany a couple of years ago and I think a lot of people could tell by my tweets and by the things that I like that I’m a very faith-based person. I’ve always thought Bible stories were so interesting and so epic. So when I was reading the script and saw that the movie was about the Rapture, which is so dark and such a scary thing, I was worried because when you’re trying to depict something biblical and put it out there, it’s a pretty hard thing to do.
But I thought [the writers] did a great job of capturing the intensity and the scariness to show what the Rapture is really about. I was so excited for THE REMAINING, and I literally found out the day of the audition that I had gotten the role. So I’ve been involved with this movie and excited for it since the moment I read it.
FANG: Considering how intense and violent the stories in the Bible can be, it seems that they don’t get enough credit for their more adult content. Do you think that might change since these violent Bible tales are being brought to television and the big screen?
VEGA: I really think so, and I think THE REMAINING does a good job of balancing that. Usually, the films for Christian audiences try to tone down, but when you read those stories, they’re really dark and really violent. So instead of sugar-coating it, THE REMAINING made it as real as they could.
So I think they made it really scary and really fun, and it works whether you believe this stuff or not. It’s an exciting film to watch all around, and it’s not preachy or annoying. It’s very entertaining.
FANG: With THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and last year’s THE BIBLE miniseries pushing how far Biblical violence can be shown on-screen, audiences have been able to equate that violence to their specific time frame. Do you think having a contemporary apocalypse story ever made it difficult to bring that horror to life?
VEGA: I actually don’t think so. I actually think that THE REMAINING has a wider reach to audiences. By setting the RAPTURE these days, the film is much more relatable and believable, if that makes sense. If you look at all of the other Biblical pieces that take place back in time, they’re so specific that even though they’re doing a great job, it’s not as believable as looking at something that says, “Holy Crap, the Rapture is happening right now.”
THE REMAINING is something that really gets you thinking, and I’m really excited for people to see this project. I also think the film works universally, where it can effect everybody, as opposed to something that’s just for people who read the Bible or just enjoy scary horror films.
FANG: When I spoke to Casey La Scala, he told me about the found footage hybrid way of shooting THE REMAINING. Do you think having a found footage element to the story will appeal to genre fans, considering how much of it they’ve seen in the past?
VEGA: I personally like found footage and think it’s really scary, but sometimes it can be overwhelming for the viewer. If you’re stuck with a shaky camera the entire story, it can be frustrating. It does add an element of reality, which I like, but you do want to feel like you’re watching a movie, not like you’re just watching things through a camcorder.
I think THE REMAINING does a good job of finding that balance. There is a found footage element that feels real and that sucks you into the movie, but there’s traditional shooting too so that doesn’t lower the quality of the film overall.
FANG: As an actress, how were you able to emotionally simulate a character going through something such as the Rapture?
VEGA: It actually wasn’t bad because I have never enjoyed working with a cast more than in working on THE REMAINING. We all got along so well and everyone was so hilarious. But when it comes to having to go to extreme places, it really wasn’t that hard. I think we were all trying to give it 110% and you’ll see that in the quality of our performances.
But the locations and the sets helped a lot, too, especially considering what they did on a low budget. A lot of the streets in the film were actually ripped up because they put these blocks over real streets and built fake streets on top that looked like they were just obliterated. You can’t even help it because your heart just sinks because you’d look around and there would be all of these dead bodies strewn across the place. We couldn’t help but be affected by it even though we knew it wasn’t real.
There was actually one scene in particular where we were running through this rain and wind when it was 40 degrees outside. So we are running in this wet wardrobe in the cold with jet engines on us to make the wind, and we were genuinely miserable. But that added a layer of realistic texture that was needed for the film, and we knew it would translate on the screen that we were miserable. [laughs] So we had to make the best of that situation and show how dedicated we were to the project.
FANG: Do you think you had more of an advantage as an actress coming on to THE REMAINING since you’ve worked on horror and genre pictures in the past?
VEGA: Not really because when I read a script, I don’t look at it like, “Okay, here’s the genre that I’ll be doing and this is what I’ll have to go for.” Whether the film is in one genre or not, you have to look at what the script gives you and work with that. You can’t focus too much on the genre or it’ll affect the quality of the film. Besides, on every film you work with different filmmakers who each have their ideas of what the genre is supposed to be. So it’s better altogether as an actress to focus on the character and the script instead of the genre of the picture.