It's been 2 years since we happened across a darkly comedic short film by the name of 'Agorable'; a tale about an introverted shut-in who's apartment becomes haunted with the ghost of her dead neighbor. Written, directed, and starring the humorous Bethany Orr, we were introduced to a talent that proved she had the chops to not only do it all, but do it with style and substance. Smitten with her work, as new fans, we began to check up on (stalk) her twitter account and look for news on upcoming projects. That's when we caught wind of Patrick Kennelly's subversive film 'Excess Flesh' which would see Bethany Orr star in a lead role; needless to say, we were elated. Fast forward to 2016. With the pending wide-release of the film (due March 8th), and our own review of it completed, we were given the opportunity (and pleasure) to have Bethany Orr herself, indulge us with an interview!
First off, congratulations on ‘Excess Flesh’!
Tell us a little bit about how you got started in film.
I started making camcorder “movies” with my older brother Nate when I was, I don’t know, 7 or 8. They mostly starred this creepy hand puppet named Beakley who would murder people. So things haven’t changed a whole lot.
It’s your first starring role in a feature length film, right?
Yes. And I feel like I hit the lottery with this one. The director Patrick Kennelly is the darkest kind of genius. I mean, Jill is not a flattering character, that’s what I love about her. And the movie is alarming, messy, unorthodox… it’s visually weird and just generally turnt. Everything I stand for.
Were there any ways in which you identified with character, “Jill”?
More than I’d like to admit! I had actually created a short film a couple years earlier with a character very similar, a kind of endearing psychotic. I wrote ‘Agorable’ to help exorcize some personal demons in a creative way — Excess Flesh in many ways was an extension of that for me. It was a little scary, I guess. It felt like Patrick [Kennelly] and his co-writer Sigrid Gilmer had written the part specifically for me. Which was not the case at all.
The physicality of the role was something we took immediate notice of. Even when Jill wasn’t speaking, we felt her anguish just from body language and facial expressions. Was this something director Patrick Kennelly emphasized for the character, or is this more Bethany Orr’s interpretation?
He worked with me a lot in the casting process before offering me the role, I think to test my instincts and limits so he knew what he was getting. [Co-star Mary Loveless and I] went through an intensive rehearsal process before shooting, then Patrick gave us a lot of freedom to do our thing once we were on set.
Speaking of interpretation, how much leeway was there in how you played Jill? Was there room in the script for improvisation?
Yeah, which was great. In fact, the dialogue at the beginning of one scene — the one where Mary and I are licking cake off our fingers and listening to a voicemail together in the dark — was entirely improvised. We had a lot of fun.
You two have a natural on-screen chemistry. How much of that came naturally; did you and Mary Loveless work off-screen to develop that relationship?
I think that was a product of the rehearsal process.
Was it a tough shoot? It looked pretty grueling.
It was aggressive, yeah. A short shoot, I believe 18 days… we didn’t have the luxury of a lot of time or money so we never did more than a couple takes for each setup. But hard and dirty is how I prefer to work. I ate it up (pun intended).
You’re a fan of the horror genre, we know, but you’re also pretty damn funny and inject that humor into your work. Is that a result of your background in improvisational comedy?
That follows. I just think everything is hilarious. It softens the blow of being human.
How important is comedy, to horror?
Fear and laughter are really brothers, right? Because they’re the offspring of discomfort. That’s what we have, like Ricky Gervais and Donald Trump for. Comedy and horror. It’s a whisper-thin line just begging to be straddled.
You’ve directed, produced, written, and acted – what would you like to do next or focus on more?
This year I’m focused most on my writing, for multiple reasons. But I’ll always love acting the best.
That’s great; we definitely want to see more of it!
Thanks, yeah. I’m not going anywhere.
Do you have any advice for aspiring talents in the industry?
Find a way to enjoy the process of getting honest with yourself. It’ll suck, and be the best thing ever. Oh yeah, and get a pet turtle or tarantula or something to focus on keeping alive besides just your dreams of being rich and famous. I mean, I’m not rich and famous. But I suspect that the tarantula is more important.