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Q&A: Jaime Murray on vamping out for “FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD”

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Following the lead of the sequel to the original FRIGHT NIGHT, Fox Home Entertainment’s FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD (hitting unrated DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, and having a free Fango screening in Austin, TX tonight) flips the gender of the vampiric villain. Colin Farrell’s Jerry Dandridge of the 2011 FRIGHT NIGHT is succeeded by Jaime Murray as Gerri Dandridge, and the actress spoke to FANGORIA about her time in fangs.

FRIGHT NIGHT 2 is set in Romania, where high-schoolers Charley Brewster (Will Payne), Amy Peterson (Sacha Parkinson), “Evil” Ed (Chris Waller) and their friends travel for a class trip and run afoul of the bloodsucking professor Gerri, and turn to vampire-reality-show host Peter Vincent (Sean Power) for help. Murray is a familiar face to Syfy viewers, with roles in DEFIANCE and WAREHOUSE 13 among other genre credits including a recurring role on season two of DEXTER and the female lead in the Stan Winston-produced horror feature THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE.

FANGORIA: What would you say distinguishes Gerri among the many screen vampires?

JAIME MURRAY: Well, I think she’s sort of the archetypal role of a vampire. I feel there’s a commonality among them; by nature, they’re very narcissistic, and there’s something quite seductive about them. They charm you and fool you into letting them in, and once they’ve achieved their objective, they suck you dry.

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FANG: Were you familiar with the previous FRIGHT NIGHT films when you took on this one?

MURRAY: I actually watched both of them when I found out this role was coming my way. I’m actually not very good at watching horror movies. I get far too affected by them. The irony is that I’ve done a number of them over the years, but I have to be careful, because they can give me nightmares.

FANG: Have you seen the previous FRIGHT NIGHT PART II, which also had a female vampire in the lead?

MURRAY: Really? I didn’t see that one. I wish I had!

FANG: Did you try to relate your portrayal of Gerri in FRIGHT NIGHT 2 to Jerry in the previous film?

MURRAY: No, I tried to work within the premise of this script and its characters. When you try to base your character on another character, it doesn’t do you any favors as an actor because it gets you thinking about somebody else’s performance too much. I’m sure there are similarities, though nothing I necessarily intended. I’m a big fan of Colin’s and I think what he did was great; he was very charismatic and frightening and there was a grittiness to his portrayal. Both my character and his have that. There’s something quite revolting about them, at the same time as they appear quite attractive.

FANG: How was your experience working with FRIGHT NIGHT 2 director Eduardo Rodriguez?

MURRAY: He was great! He was really up for doing innovative things and experimenting. He very much wanted to ground FRIGHT NIGHT 2 in something disturbing, interesting and quirky. It was really nice to work with somebody who wanted to jump in and do a fresh take on the material.

FANG: How about your supporting cast? Who did you have the most interaction with?

MURRAY: Well, I had a lot of scenes with Will and Sacha, and they’re both such talented actors. While FRIGHT NIGHT 2 has humor in it, we wanted the horrific parts to be truly frightening. That mix is quite a difficult thing to get right, and they were so great and fully committed every step of the way.

FANG: Is it safe to assume there’s more humor involved with the younger characters, and Gerri is pretty much played straighter?

MURRAY: Actually, no. I’d say Will and Sacha play it pretty straight, and even though I do too as Gerri, the audience will get enjoyment out of her abuse of power and the enjoyment she takes in the little quips she makes and how she plays with [her prey]. The main humor comes from the [supporting] characters. “Evil” Ed brings a lot of it, and so does the vampire hunter, Peter Vincent. So I think they got that balance right.

FANG: Was it helpful that you shot on location in Romania?

MURRAY: That was great for me, as an actor. Anything that makes you look good and makes your job easier, we always enjoy that, and Romania certainly did. It’s full of history, and you can’t get more authentic for vampires than Romania It was pretty creepy and breathtaking.

FANG: Did that make it easier, perhaps, to get into character, as opposed to a project that’s not shot on location?

MURRAY: Well, I’m currently doing DEFIANCE, which is set in [the former] St. Louis, but we’re shooting in Toronto, so I suppose FRIGHT NIGHT 2 was more authentic. When I did DEXTER, we filmed Los Angeles and Long Beach for Miami, so yeah, it is a luxury to actually be on location in the actual country. You do a lot of make-believe when you’re acting, obviously, and the less you have to do, the better it is. So to shoot in Romania was helpful.

FANG: You’ve done a number of science-fiction and horror projects; are they genres you gravitate toward?

MURRAY: I don’t really look at it like that. It’s more a byproduct of me looking for complex and awesome female roles. The more intriguing and strong women are often found in horror and sci-fi; they’re both genres that allow for interesting and disturbing parts.

FANG: Do you have more fun playing the hero or the villain?

MURRAY: I don’t really see my characters like that. I suppose Gerri is the most black-and-white in the sense of being a villain, but I don’t really categorize my roles that way. In order for me to completely play any part, I can’t judge her. I need to understand her motivations and situation. She might be making bad choices in complicated and difficult situations, and I even had some sympathy for Gerri, really. She’s probably really disturbing when you watch the movie, but she was a pretty disturbed and broken person before she died and was resurrected. As actors, we need to be great psychoanalysts and lawyers for our characters.

FANG: One of your best previous horror films was THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE. What was that experience like?

MURRAY: Oh my God, that was such a long time ago. It was a great experience. I got to work with an amazing makeup department, because it was made by Stan Winston’s company; I ended up in full prosthetics, which was a unique experience. I got to work with the lovely Mike Vogel, who became a friend, and it was a great adventure that was very exciting, shooting on location on the Isle of Wight.

FANG: Did you work much with Stan Winston directly? Was he a presence on the set?

MURRAY: No, I worked with [FX supervisor] Shane Mahan, which was good because I was in the makeup chair for five to six hours to get the full prosthetics on, and at the end of the day, it took another two hours to get me out of it. I wear some prosthetics in FRIGHT NIGHT 2, but nothing like in THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE!

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor, the position he holds to this day while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews.
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