Gavin Schmitt Interviews Emma Fitzpatrick
In the world of young Hollywood, you never know who’s going to break in and who’s not. Each year (or even each day) millions of new actors try to get noticed. Some fall flat, some get a walk-on part in a background shot of something no one will ever see. And those lucky few catch the eye of some big director or producer.
Emma Fitzpatrick, though not a household name, has managed to elevate herself to the latter category. She had a smaller, but memorable role in “The Social Network”, landed a starring role in 'The Collection' (affiliate link), and even ended up on a CW television series, “Significant Mother”.
In September 2015, I sat down with Emma to briefly talk about her other work with a special focus on an offbeat horror-comedy called 'Bloodsucking Bastards' (affiliate link)… a little gem mixing vampires and “Office Space”.
GS: Let’s get the “Social Network” question out of the way… how many times did you have a beer thrown at you?
EF: That particular scene, I think, we were on take 23. I was freaking out, spinning in circles on the front lawn because I didn’t know about how serious (director) David Fincher was about getting so many takes. Jesse Eisenberg came out and asked me if I was okay. I told him, “I don’t know how it’s possible that I keep saying this one line wrong over and over and over again. I don’t know how else to say it.” And Jesse assured me, “No, that’s just how David does it.” I learned the hard way, after getting hit over and over with a break-away bottle. Overall, though, it was awesome. Being on that set was a cool experience, especially getting to see it in post-production. My scene was small, it only took two days, but when I saw it on the screen I said to myself “wow”, because it was not the scene that I had in my head. So I understand why David Fincher works the way he does.
GS: I’m a huge fan of Patrick Melton. Was he around on set for “The Collection” (affiliate link), making last minute changes or suggestions?
EF: He was! Patrick popped in every now and again. The other writer, Marcus Dunstan, was also the director, so of course Marcus was there every day. But I did get to meet Patrick then, and we’ve actually hung out quite a bit since then. We did a press tour together. I love those guys. They’re very, very cool people and I was fortunate to get to work with them so early on in my career. It was like a boot camp experience, because horror films have you getting highly emotional and make you hold it for so long.
GS: Horror fans are notoriously dedicated to the genre. Following “The Collection”, did you have any unusual fan moments?
EF: Around that time, I was doing a few other things, making a few TV appearances, so it was just an endless parade of activity. But I do remember being at the horror film festival that happens during Comic-Con. I had to use the bathroom, and I ended up getting lost afterwards. I was separated from my group, and I remember feeling genuinely terrified. Everyone was in costume, many of them with hopefully fake weapons, and I didn’t know where I was. Everyone’s covered in blood. So that was weird. It wasn’t a fan moment, but just getting caught up in the genre.
GS: Strangely enough, one of your biggest career moments so far came from an Anne Hathaway parody. Did you ever end up meeting her or hearing her reaction?
EF: I did not get to meet her. I believe her official comment was “no comment”. It was a cool whirlwind movement. The video went viral and the industry really took notice. I got to meet some awesome people because of that video and it really opened some doors for me. Which was great, because it wasn’t something I really put any thought into. I just happened to have short hair and could sing, so someone recommended me. And I was a theater nerd so I knew the song. It was just the perfect thing for me at that moment.
GS: All the reviews like to compare “Bloodsucking Bastards” to “Office Space” or “Shaun of the Dead”. Were these films used as sort of a touchstone, or are the comparisons a coincidence?
EF: I think when I read the script, those films were actually my first thought, as well. They might have used those two movies as, let’s say, a “genre marker”. Something to get the feeling, because it very much was going for the same feeling as 'Office Space' (affiliate link), being put in a dreary setting, but then some weird stuff starts happening. I remember reading it and thinking the humor was very much in the vein of “Office Space” — it’s dry, and brings you into that world before unleashing massive gore and blood. It’s such a perfect setting for that.
GS: You were surrounded on set by several experienced comedians. Was the tone behind the scenes very light-hearted?
EF: It was awesome. This was one of the first comedies I’ve had the chance to work on, which is a nice change from having to cry all day on set. It’s nice to kick vampire ass every now and then. And the comedy troupe who wrote the script, Dr. God, they’ve been out here in L.A. doing that for years and years. So they have a great rapport. Brian James O’Connell, the director, is a member of that troupe, so he knew exactly the voice that everyone was supposed to be going for. There were many times where a scene would end and he would just let the camera roll because the actors would keep improvising. It was hysterical, and it was cool that this “band of brothers” let me into their circle.
GS: “Bloodsucking Bastards” may be the messiest movie ever made.
EF: (laughs) Yeah, probably.
GS: What sort of method was used to cover the actors and sets with (fake) blood?
EF: Very, very technical things were done. No, not really. Most of the time we just had buckets and you would glop it over the top of an actor’s head. For me, by the end of the film, all I could do was brace myself and a couple people would come over and wipe blood all over me with their hands. It was icky, sticky, gross and smelly. But it helps get you in character. And then there’s that “make out” scene… head to toe, covered in blood. It’s not appetizing.
When the vampires die, I don’t know what the exact mechanism was… but it was some sort of contraption that shot the blood out of a pipe. That was always hilarious. I don’t know why. But it was hard to keep a straight face when you keep getting blasted by exploding vampires.
GS: More importantly, who had to clean all that up?
EF: Gosh, I have no idea! I was checked out for the day. I’m sure it was many, many people, but I was just worried about getting it off of me. Often, they will use food coloring in the fake blood, and that can dye your skin if you don’t wash it off soon enough. So I had a couple days where I showed up on set pink from the day before.
GS: At some point in the film, your character switches from being the passive love interest to a more active badass. As an actor, is this something you have to approach differently?
EF: I’m pretty naturally a badass, or at least I like to think so. The role was really great, because I got to serve as the “straight guy” while everybody else was goofing off. For much of the film, she’s just like, “You guys are idiots, stop playing around.” So by the time it hits her (that the office is full of vampires), there’s just no time to adjust, no time to let the idea settle in. It’s a sudden, life or death choice. So it wasn’t that hard of a shift, it was just a matter of asking myself, “How would this feel if I was suddenly running for my life?” You get a sharpened pencil and prepare to stab vampires! She might be more active in the second half, but you can see a bit of her toughness in the first half. She doesn’t take any shit from her co-workers. She can hang with the dudes. She might be passive, but she can hold her own, and that comes to the fore later on.
GS: Do you happen to know if the character Max is a “Lost Boys” reference?
EF: I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. I wouldn’t put it past them, because they’re incredible pop culture buffs. Their improv is always referencing other things. Regardless, our Max is fierce and hilarious. Pedro Pascal was an absolute joy to be on set with.
GS: Thank you very much!
EF: Thanks for your time, I appreciate it!