The next installment of Paranormal Activity won’t hit theaters for a while, but a spooky period piece will keep you jolted in the meantime. It’s Season of the Witch, the film about medieval knights who transport a young – and possibly demonic – woman to her Witch Trial. And it’s scary / creepy / gross / all the things that make going to a big action movie with a pack of Gummi Worms fun.
We sat down with the movie’s two young British stars, who share screen time with Nicholas Cage and a lot of fire, blood, and dirt.
– Photoshoots: Nylon (2011)
Robbie, do you want to be Robert or Robbie? You’re listed as both on IMDB. Actually I’m Robert Michael Adam Sheehan. My confirmation name is Adam. I did pick it, but only out of the confines of the Bible. They went, “Look, it has to be from the Bible because they’re holy names.” Ezekiel doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as Adam, though. Or Barabus, that would be a good one, but he was evil in the Bible, wasn’t he? What if I was like, “I’d like to be Robert Satan Sheehan, please?” I’m from Ireland, obviously. Claire is from Merry Old England!
Claire: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales! I’m from England. The easy one.
Lots of readers are interested in Hollywood. How did you get cast in this big mega-movie?
Robbie: I did a terrible, terrible audition! It was one of those things where they tell you that you have an imaginary sword and you’ve got to fight evil with it, and then they stop you and say, “Okay, now pretend that the bad guys are here, here, and over there and do it again.” I was mortified. But somehow they called me back, and I met Dominic Sena, the director, but we didn’t really talk about the film. We talked about his life in Hollywood, like, how he directed John Travolta in Swordfish.
That must have been interesting. It was, but I don’t want to get into it. Those Scientologists are always so lawyered up! I don’t want to get on the wrong side of it. I love you, Scientology; you are the new light!”
What would your Scientology Confirmation name be? It would be like, “Glog.” Glog Tron Sheehan.
Claire: I went into the audition, and I swear it was the worst audition of my life. I had to pretend to be possessed by several objects in the room, in an American accent. I was so upset when I left the audition that I almost considered quitting.
That’s so melodramatic! But I swear, I said, “Never again!” But then they called me back! Dom came over to England, and I remember thinking, “Why do I have to go to an audition on a Saturday?!” That shows you where my head was at.
But you got the part. But I kept thinking they were kidding, that they would realize they wanted a big famous American actress. I mean, why would they want me? I think it’s amazing that they gave an unknown, at the beginning of her career, this part.
Robbie: And from then on, I started calling the movie “The Claire Witch Project.”
What was your first day on set like? Dominic said, “All actors lie when they get asked this, but can you ride a horse?” I said “Yes,” but of course I had no clue how to do it. So that was the first order of business. Now I’m really good!
Claire: That was one thing that was amazing about this project, is that even though I ride a horse for like four seconds of the movie, we all got trained in horseback riding in Hungary!
Robbie: I was good! I was cantering.
Claire: Yes Robbie, you were very good.
You spend most of the movie covered in dirt…
Robbie: Not only that, we had hair soldered onto our scalps!
Claire: You were the worst. When I saw Robbie, we had to get extensions put in, and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m gonna die.” But it didn’t hurt. I couldn’t feel a thing. Robbie’s just a wuss!
And you had much more makeup… I had four months of mud, and dirt, and white face, and hair extensions. It was like, four months of foulness. It was freezing some days, and you have really red, raw hands. I can’t believe we managed to get out there every day.
Robbie: They served us lots of really good Hungarian food, I think that’s how we survived.
When it’s so cold and you’re on a huge set, how do you keep from getting nervous or distracted when they call “Action”?
Claire: You just feel it. It’s our jobs. Sometimes you’re so hungry, or tired, or cold, or bored, or beaten up, that you go on auto pilot. But a lot of times that’s when you get the best performance. The people who end up doing this job successfully can get to a point where they’re okay with not knowing what’s going to happen when the camera comes on.
Robbie: Somtimes it’s months of work and rehearsals, and you’re really ready for the scene.
Claire: But weirdly, that doesn’t make it any better, necessarily. I’ve been on set where I don’t even know my lines, because they’ve just rewritten them, and they turn the camera on and yell “Action!” And I just go. And afterwards, I’m almost stunned, like I’ve just woken up from something. And I think, “Wow, that was really good!”
Robbie: We came onto set once, and it was a forest they’d completely covered in fog. And they go, “Okay, get on your horse! Now, on action, turn the horse, and now you see this guy being eaten by wolves! And now freak out and go fucking mad.” They do it once, they yell, “Cut, that was great,” and then you go home! And you’re like, “Wait, I worked five minutes today.” But that’s part of it, too.
What’s your favorite scene in the movie?
Claire: Oh no. I can’t even tell you if the movie is any good, because I’ve seen it so many times and I can’t separate the movie from the experience of making it.
Robbie: I made a film called Killing Bono, which hopefully comes out in America soon! Watch for it!
Claire: Upstairs / Downstairs is coming out in America really soon, and I’m so excited about that. We never know what you get over here – now even if I’m on Skins you won’t know, because you’ve got your own American Skins!
Source: Nylon Magazine