A horror-thriller with superhero influences, Freaks comes to theaters on September 13. The film tells the story of a young girl (Lexy Kolker), who is trapped by her father (Emile Hirsch) in their house in an attempt to protect her, all the while experiencing visions of a mysterious woman (Amanda Crew) in her closet. You can read POPAXIOM’s review from the 2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival here, and out interview with co-stars Crew and Kolker can be read below! (We also got to interview directors Adam B. Stein and Zach Lipovsky, and that can be read here.)
On Building Their Dynamic On-Screen
POPAXIOM: The two of you have a great relationship together on-screen. How did you build this?
Lexy Kolker: Well, when we met each other, we talked for a little bit and we really bonded, so it was easy to have a relationship on-screen, because it was kinda like our relationship in real life!
Amanda Crew: Yeah, I think I was a little nervous going into it because I’d never really worked with an actress so young, and so I didn’t know what it was going to be like, but I was very lucky to be working with Lexy because she’s so talented and at such a young age really gets it. And to be honest, keeping me on my toes and really challenging me because she’s so on it and present and does it differently every time, so I think creating the relationship between us was pretty natural. Yeah, it was natural.
POPAXIOM: This is a very intense film. What did you do to get “in the zone” for the more emotional moments?
Kolker: So what I did was, Zach and Adam, well everyone really, everyone created a really safe environment for me to be in so when I was on set, I just felt like I was in my own house with my family. So it was just such a good and safe environment. When they said, “Action!” I knew it was acting and I knew that it’s not real, and when they said, “Cut!” it was all hugs and laughter. That was really great. And also, Adam and Zach, they told me not to rehearse. They said, “Read the script over once or twice, and then just come to set.” Because at first, they didn’t want me to be overwhelmed or scared of the film and they just wanted me to be kind-of slow with it.
Crew: I think, you know, Zach and Adam really worked hard to build a very safe environment on set. From the minute we started filming, I came in a week after they had started filming, and was seeing the work that Emile and Lexy were doing, which was incredible. You never know stepping into an indie film what kind of quality they’re going to accomplish, and so I immediately was like, “Oh, they’re really bringing it,” which is inspiring but also intimidating. But Adam and Zach, they’re rooting for you, and I think that’s so important to feel from your directors that they’re on your team and they want to see you succeed, and once you feel that, you feel the freedom to try different things and maybe make mistakes but find something interesting. Because that’s when the best performances come out. And I think that they were really helpful in making me feel relaxed and to take control over the character and make some bold choices. So it was just a really nice set, so I didn’t feel like I needed to do all this crazy intensive prep work because I felt like I had a support system there to help me out.
On What Inspired Them
POPAXIOM: What are some performances that inspired you in your roles?
Crew: I don’t know, for some reason, when I put on the costume I thought about Demi [Moore] in G.I. Jane… She did that so good… Anyways, I was just thinking of all those kinds of badass women I’ve seen in those kinds of roles because there was this kind-of determination in her. I don’t know, there’s something when I put on this wardrobe about all this dirt put on me that I felt kind-of like a warrior. So I felt like I was channeling a little bit of that. Let’s see if Lexy had anyone she felt inspired by.
Kolker: I mean, I feel like I was kind-of inspired by Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things as Eleven, because we kind-of were similar, so when I got this script, I really thought of that. And I think that really inspired me because she’s a young girl that really all the pressure’s on her to save everyone, so that really inspired me.
POPAXIOM: If you were to have any superpower in real life, what would it be and why?
Kolker: My superpower would be to give myself or anyone else any superpower, so if I’m feeling teleportation or invisibility or to fly, I can just poof. Or if somebody wishes they could have this or that superpower, I could just be, “Here you go!” That would be my superpower because I want all the superpowers.
Crew: That’s the smartest answer ever and I don’t think anything will top that smart answer!
POPAXIOM: I don’t think so either. Ms. Crew, when did you first know you wanted to be an actress?
Crew: I really loved making people laugh when I was younger and when I was in elementary school. And then my mom saw that I liked to perform, I was a dancer, so she saw that I liked to perform and so then she found me some kind of recreational theatre practice to see if I really liked it, and I did. But she wouldn’t let me get an agent for a while because she wanted to make sure I was serious about it. So I didn’t get an agent until I was like fifteen-sixteen because that’s when I started pursuing it professionally.
POPAXIOM: And how about you, Ms. Kolker?
Kolker: Well, my sister started acting a few years before me and when I saw her acting, I really was interested in it. So when I was about four-and-a-half, I told my mom, “I want to act, but only on Sundays.” so I had to wait a little bit longer because I couldn’t do it only on Sundays, it could be on a Monday or a Wednesday, but when I was about five-and-a-half, I started acting and my sister really helped me and I kinda just loved it and now I’m here.
POPAXIOM: Ms. Kolker, is there anyone you want to star in a movie with in the future?
Kolker: Well, I would love to work with my sister, of course. But my idols are, I love Lady Gaga and Rami Malek. I love both of them. They’re my true inspirations because they’re both amazing actors. Lady Gaga, I mean she can act, sing, dance, everything.
On How The Film Spoke To Them
POPAXIOM: One of the most impressive parts of this film is that it features strong female characters. How is this particularly important in this time in which women are being represented more and more on screen?
Crew: For myself, I think it’s important because I think of girls who are Lexy’s age seeing someone like her, similar to how we’re seeing the lead of Stranger Things, it’s like “Oh whoa!” you see this powerful, young girl who isn’t the damsel in distress, she’s actually the one doing the rescuing, and that’s such a trope that we rarely see. I know when I was younger, I didn’t see that at all so that wasn’t what was modeled to me, so I think it’s kind-of showing the younger generation what is possible for them as opposed to just being the princess waiting to be rescued. So I think it’s really cool to have character’s like Lexy’s and mine, for the older generation, but I think it’s really important for girls to see another way that their story is being told.
POPAXIOM: The film discusses what it means to be “normal”. Why do you think it is important for people to be themselves and not try to be “normal”?
Crew: What do you think Lex, why is it important to be yourself and not try to be like everyone else?
Kolker: Because I feel like if you’re yourself, I don’t really know what to say, and if somebody comes into your life like a friend or something, at least you’re yourself and they like you for who you are and you’re not acting like someone else, so you have to be someone else around them. So I think it’s really important to always be yourself because yourself is who you are, you don’t need to change that. Because that’s who you are, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Crew: Life lessons from Lexy.
POPAXIOM: This film, first and foremost, is about family. How did you connect with the family aspects of the storyline?
Crew: So for me, I’m not a mom, so I couldn’t kind-of go that route, but this idea of a family that had been separated because of powers outside of themselves and that kind-of determination — I can’t even imagine what a mother would feel if she was separated from her daughter — but just kind-of tapping into that. I think the biggest thing for me was tapping into that strength that mothers have that is one a whole other level that I could only try to imagine, but that kind-of protectiveness and you’re willing to risk your life and do anything for your child. That was something I was trying to connect with. What about you, Lex?
Kolker: I mean, I was really trying to think if I thought my mom was dead and my dad was keeping me in my house and he wasn’t paying a lot of attention to me, I didn’t know how to really feel [in my own life], so I just really tried to imagine what Chloe would feel like if she had a dad that didn’t let her go outside and she’s not sure if her mom is dead, she has no idea who Mr. Snowcone is. So I just tried to imagine what would be going on in Chloe’s head.
POPAXIOM: An important message of the film is telling the truth. Why do you think that the truth is so important, both in the film and in real life?
Kolker: Because I think if you don’t tell the truth, someone’s going to find out eventually, and then it’s just going to be way worse than the original situation was.
Crew: That is very, very true. And good parenting. Yeah, I think as human beings, when people are telling the truth, you feel safe. And as human beings, that’s all we want to do is feel safe and when you find out someone’s been lying to you, you feel deceived and unsafe and betrayed, and so I think truth really connects people. Even if what you’re saying is hard to hear, most people would rather hear the hard stuff and feel safe in the truth as opposed to being lied to to make them feel better but knowing it’s not the reality.
On Their Advice For Aspiring Actresses
POPAXIOM: What advice would you have for young actresses who are want to become as great as the two of you?
Crew: Do you have any advice? If someone wanted to get into acting, what would you tell them?
Kolker: Just reach for the stars. Don’t be scared to do something.
Crew: What do you do if you don’t get the part? Like the rejection part of it.
Kolker: Yeah, you just sometimes, you get rejection because maybe you’re not the right look, or you don’t look like the mom they casted. And ninety percent of your auditions, you’re not going to get. And that’s just how it is. As my mom says, you have to let it go in a balloon after the audition. You have to blow in it and just let it go. So if you don’t get it, it’s okay because it’s in the balloon.
Crew: I love that.
Kolker: If it pops, good! But if it doesn’t, it’s okay, it’s out there.
Crew: That’s great advice!
Kolker: And another thing is, if they really like you but you’re not the right look, they’ll keep you in mind for other things. So if you ever do look like something, they’ll call you and you’ll have a better chance at that. But you just cannot always be so upset after you get a rejection because it’s gonna happen more than half of the time. You’re gonna get rejection. So you just need to keep going and you can’t quite because of the rejection. Reach for the stars.
Crew: That’s great advice! I’ll let Lexy mic drop that.
Freaks is now playing in theaters.