Rhian Rees, star of the latest Halloween instalment, talks to us about making the move from Swindon to LA, becoming part of a cinematic dynasty, her new short film projects and the best advice she's received received from one of her peers.
Photo credit: Anastasia Ivanova
Hello Rhian, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. We understand that you were born in our hometown of Basingstoke before moving to LA by way of Swindon! Can you tell us about how your acting career started?
It all started back in Swindon where I was involved with the local amateur dramatic club. I was about 13 when I began attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London every Saturday. I booked my first TV job when I was 14, it was a road safety video.
When I was 16 I got a job as an extra over the summer holidays. That lead to appearing in music videos. Then commercials. Then short films and so on. I worked my way up from the proverbial bottom.
How did you find moving to LA to carry on your work there? What have you learned since living there and what advice would you give others thinking of making the same move?
Be prepared. Be prepared to fail. Be prepared to face a heap of rejection. Be prepared to have no money and live on your best friends’ sofa for as long as it takes. Be prepared to work all the side jobs so you can eventually buy a car (LA is massive). Be prepared to be dropped, picked up and dropped again. Be prepared to return to your hometown until it nearly kills you so that you have to go back and try again until it all works out.
Then make it all work out.
You have a significant role in the latest Halloween. How did you get involved with the film and how did you prepare for the role?
I had no idea what I was auditioning for until I got a call back. I didn’t fully comprehend how big the franchise was.
I watched a lot of documentaries on serial killers, listened to a bunch of True Crime podcasts. I went out into the streets and interviewed the public about whether or not they believed in “the boogeyman”. I developed a backstory for Dana Haines. I might have gone slightly overboard but my bedroom was covered in interviews, death scenes, notes and infamous murder cases. I even made a playlist for Dana, and would walk around South Carolina listening to it. She had very different music taste from me.
You’ve mentioned elsewhere that director David Gordon Green gave the cast freedom to take control of their characters. How did you use that freedom?
Trusted my gut and fellow actors. Tried desperately not to over-analyse everything.
The film saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the role of Laurie Strode. What was your experience of working with her, and yourself becoming part of the Michael Myers cinematic dynasty?
Working with Jamie was special. I grew up with her on telly and thought she was pure electricity. I felt at ease when the cameras were rolling, though before and after those moments I felt 20% more intimidated than usual.
What would you say you learned most from your time on the film, and if you could go back, what piece of advice would you give yourself before starting?
Don’t worry about the screaming bit, it’ll come.
One result of joining the Halloween universe is taking part on conventions and meeting with fans. What’s that experience been like for you, and what’s been one of your highlights?
Meeting passionate and loyal people is overwhelmingly lovely. I met Meatloaf in a lift - that was funny, he introduced himself as ‘Meat’ and I said 'nice to meet you Mr. Loaf'.
You’re involved in two new short films Creat(e)ure and Bad Furniture. Can you tell us a bit about these projects and your role?
In Bad Furniture I play a woman who can’t see her partner emotionally. This begins to manifest physically until he dissolves into the interior aesthetic. Randall Maxwell, the director, balances the subtle and the extreme very well so I was thrilled when he asked me to join the production.
Creat(e)ure a comedy by one of my favourite up and coming directors, Zane Rubin. It's about how overused CGI has become and how it can often take you out of the moment.
Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been offered by someone else in the industry?
Don’t stay in a shit hotel if you don’t want to – Judy Greer.
You can follow Rhian on Instagram: @SquirrellThing