Q&A: Allison Miller on Her Satanic Pregnancy in “DEVIL’S DUE”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
There’s nothing on Earth like a mother’s love—even if her baby is literally the spawn of Satan. Playing expectant mom Sam in DEVIL’S DUE is Allison Miller, who last tangled with the supernatural in 2009’s live-action BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE. She’ll likely hit the horror crowd in a bigger way as she delves into her dark side on DEVIL’S DUE, and hopefully leave a lasting impression in this horror-heavy month. Miller spoke to FANGORIA about playing the malevolent mother-to-be, her working relationship with filmmaking team Radio Silence and adapting to the mechanics of found-footage filmmaking.
FANGORIA: What specifically drew you to DEVIL’S DUE?
ALLISON MILLER: I read the script, and it stuck with me for a few days. I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, so I said, “Well, that’s a good sign. If I’m thinking about it three days later, I should definitely go for it.” Once I was in the auditioning process, I realized it was different from most auditions I had done: It was an interview as if I was in character already, which was great, because that allowed me to make things up and create the character as I went. That was amazing.
FANG: Since DEVIL’S DUE is a found-footage movie, what was more important for you to convey: the realistic side of your character, or the supernatural side?
MILLER: Honestly, it was more important to get the natural aspects of [the role], because you can do so much with CGI and makeup, but in order for the audience to stay connected to your character, they have to believe you first, and then you can get as crazy as you want. Having the audience be able to feel familiar with her allows me to go as far as I want when the character gets supernatural.
FANG: Did this style of filmmaking, especially working with the found-footage aficionados from Radio Silence as directors, give you more freedom in your performance?
MILLER: Definitely. I e-mailed with the directors [before shooting], asking them questions and seeing what their answers were, and then they’d ask me questions to see what I thought. So I came into DEVIL’S DUE with a strong idea of who Sam is, what she’d do and say, how she was raised and her backstory, and when we got to her scenes, it didn’t feel like I was being thrown into the movie unprepared. I got to do what I came up with and what we agreed upon from the beginning, and we went from there. There was so much freedom in that, which was very fun.
FANG: There have been many parallels drawn between this film and ROSEMARY’S BABY. Did you watch ROSEMARY’S BABY before making DEVIL’S DUE as a reference point, or an inspiration for your performance?
MILLER: I didn’t watch it, actually. I’d seen the film years ago, but I didn’t watch it again for this role because I never wanted to feel like I was imitating anything. There’s no way to imitate Mia Farrow in ROSEMARY’S BABY anyway. I avoided it until I had gotten home after two months of shooting out of town, and then I finally sat down and watched it, and thought, “OK, good! I’m glad I didn’t watch this. I would have felt like I was doing [that role] poor justice.” I don’t think there’s any way to remake ROSEMARY’S BABY, but I’m still glad I didn’t see it ahead of time.
FANG: Did you do much research into pregnancy behavior before the film, and if so, did that help you correlate those reactions to the supernatural aspects of the character?
MILLER: Yeah. Luckily, I’ve been around enough pregnant ladies to know what’s what from the get-go. There was also a makeup artist on the film who had a baby two months before we started shooting, and she was my reference point. I’d be like, “OK, what does it feel like when you have to get out of bed every morning, and you have an enormous belly that weighs an extra 20 pounds? How do you move? What is that like?” So I had someone there who could help me.
Other than that, I worked on a project one time with an actor who was pregnant and didn’t tell anybody, and looking back on it, I was like, “Oh, so that’s why you felt like that in the car.” From that, I understood she was professionally trying to keep her cool through the whole thing, so remembering things like that really applied.
FANG: Was it liberating as an actress to play a woman who develops a villainous streak, especially in the third act of the film?
MILLER: Yeah! Oh, man. I’ve always wanted to play a bad guy, and it’s probably not going to happen for me that much. They found a way for me to be the villain without actually being the villain, and I was able to channel something else, which was so much fun. I hope I get the chance to do that again. I’ve always wanted to play the person that people don’t like. I find them to be so much more interesting.
FANG: How was it working with Radio Silence on their first feature, especially as you serve as the centerpiece of the film?
MILLER: I felt like there was a lot of weight on me, but [the Radio Silence team] never made it feel that way. They respected me so much for what I was bringing to the table, and it was always so collaborative. It’s nice working with people who have no chips on any of their shoulders. It’s great to come in and be like, “We’re in this together and have to make this excellent. What can we do for each other to facilitate that?”
FANG: Were you surprised by how humor-oriented DEVIL’S DUE turned out to be?
MILLER: Luckily, I went into my audition with them playing the character a little silly, just because I felt like doing that. I had no idea that that’s what they were looking for, and I hadn’t seen their work yet. It just so happens that I was doing a lot of comedy at the time, and thought, “What the heck? I think I can put some of that into this.” It turns out that’s what they do. So I got lucky that way, and was excited when I got to set and was still able to do that.
All of my favorite horror has humorous elements to it; that makes campy movies great and makes scary movies scarier. When you’re taken out of the fear for a minute and placed into something else where you can breathe easy, the shock is all that more shocking, and I love that.
FANG: When we spoke to Zach Gilford, he told us he had to shoot half of the movie himself due to the way the story is visually told. Having to play opposite another actor who was filming you—did that ever throw you off-guard?
MILLER: It did at the beginning. It was very strange, but after two days of shooting on a boat in the Dominican Republic, snorkeling and then taking a bus for three hours, it felt like, “Well, all of this is not normal!” That was another thing that was different, but we had a go at it. We filmed each other a lot of the time, and it did take some getting used to. After a while, it was like, “Well, this is Zach Gilford, holding a camcorder while we’re hanging out and doing this silly stuff.” Sometimes, it was easy to forget that we were making something that was going to be on the big screen, and it’s still a little weird to me that that [material] is in a movie that’s playing in theaters. From the beginning, it felt very casual.
FANG: Was there anything about Sam you specifically wanted to emphasize, or perhaps bring to her that wasn’t necessarily on the page?
MILLER: That’s a great question, and I haven’t considered that! I don’t know if I have anything to give you [laughs]!
FANG: Before the first trailer debuted, the plot of DEVIL’S DUE was kept covered up. Have you ever been a part of a project that required so much secrecy?
MILLER: I feel that with any project I’m on, they’re like, “Don’t tell anybody!” before it all gets out anyway. I believe I once ruined the storyline of a TV show by not being very subtle on Twitter. I think I’m very bad at the secrecy stuff, and will just answer any question anyone has. DEVIL’S DUE, especially, I was very careful toward, but I haven’t seen the film yet, so I don’t even know what’s in it.
FANG: Considering you go through transformations and are involved in the FX setpieces that make up DEVIL’S DUE’s third act, what was your impression of the stuntwork and physical gags involved?
MILLER: I saw a lot of crazy wire stunts that I didn’t have to be involved in myself, which I’m thankful for, because I’ve done those before and they hurt. I did have a lot of prosthetics, and there are always issues with those. We had to do some reshoots with them, and there was so much blood. When you’re dealing with that, there’s all this crazy stuff happening to you. But other than that, there was not too much I was involved in regarding the special effects.
I did have to wear contacts in my eyes that made me feel like I was going to go crazy after a while. I didn’t end up using these, but I’ve heard stories from friends who worked on movies and had to use full-eye contacts, which are like giant plastic caps that go from the top of your eye socket all the way around. I pulled a brat card and said no to those, so I’m sure they had to do some postproduction work on that.
FANG: After your experiences on DEVIL’S DUE, are you going to actively pursue any more horror projects?
MILLER: I don’t know. I’ll see! Whatever is good, I’m interested in. It doesn’t matter what genre it is. I tended to lean away from horror before DEVIL’S DUE because I know how much work it is, but I like anything that has good characters and good writing.
FANG: Do you have anything else on your slate right now?
MILLER: I worked on a movie last year called THERE’S ALWAYS WOODSTOCK, and that will hopefully be getting a theatrical release sometime this year. Otherwise, that’s about it.