Rose Byrne – Returns to a Place That Is Insidious
by Jay S. Jacobs
Australian actress Rose Byrne has done just about everything in her young career – TV, movies, comedy, drama, period pieces, blockbusters, indies, horror – but Insidious: Chapter 2 is the first time she has revisited a character in a sequel.
It’s rather shocking that an actress who is so young has been working for almost 20 years and done well over 40 roles, including such diverse smashes as Bridesmaids, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Troy, The Interns, The Place Beyond the Pines, Get Him to the Greek, X-Men: First Class and the popular TV series Damages.
However, the tiny 2011 horror film Insidious has become one of her most beloved films and has now sparked a reprise. Insidious: Chapter 2 starts where the first film left off, with Byrne as Renai, a wife and mother trying to save her family from a demonic force which is haunting them and has possessed her husband (played by Patrick Wilson).
A couple of weeks before Insidious: Chapter 2 hit the multiplexes, we sat down with Byrne to discuss the film and her career.
Your character got knocked around a lot more in this sequel. How much was it stunt doubles and how much was it you?
I did have a stunt double for a few things. Like when the shelf falls over with all the tools in the basement. A couple of things I can think of. Patrick pushing her. Then a bunch of it I did myself. I’m one of those actresses who hits with the frying pan and then comes over and says, “I’m so sorry!” They are like, “I’m all right.” But this movie is like an action [movie]. Particularly for Renai [her character] and the kids it was. About half way through the shoot we started doing that whole sequence. It was a different kind of work out. It’s pretty draining by the end of the day. You are pretty tired from the physical stuff. But it’s a lot of fun, too, because you get out of your head. It’s more intuitive, because are running, which is always fun.
Do you believe in ghosts and spirits?
I’ve never had an encounter. When it happens, I am well up for it and ready. But, I’ve not seen them around me. I like horror movies. The good ones, I’m a fan of a good scare.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
Gosh. The Shining is probably the classic that terrified me when I was little. Then, I liked Nightmare on Elm Street, the original. Silent Night, Deadly Night. Old school, when I was growing up. I used to love that stuff.
Did you find yourself ever getting too scared by horror films?
I was pretty good. No. Anything too out there. It’s more of those films about serial killers. Or this Australian film called Snowtown, which is based loosely on a true story in Adelaide, Australia. That’s probably the scariest film I’ve ever seen because it’s based on a true story. It’s about these murders in Australia. It was terrifying. (laughs) I actually couldn’t watch it. I turned it off. That was the scariest film I’ve ever seen.
It’s a bit of a surprise to hear your Australian accent. I knew you were from Australia, but in the movie you don’t sound like it at all. You never get a chance to use it in a movie.
What’s it like doing this movie with an American accent? Does it come easily for you?
It does. I love doing the accent. I’m a fan of it. I did a television show for five years [Damages] and so that was really great training in terms of getting more natural with it. It helps getting into character. And to distance myself from myself. Yeah, I like it.
With such an intense shoot what are you doing off-camera and off-set to relax?
Off set? Just a lot of heroin. (laughs)
Seriously, though. Were you listening to music, watching movies…
Well, the pace is so fast, so we would just retreat into our corners and re-charge a little bit and have your space. Then you go back into it again. It was great because the pace is fast. There wasn’t too much waiting around. What leads to frustration sometimes on a set is the waiting. I did the TV series for years and that pace is fantastic. You get used to working like that. It was a quick shoot, there wasn’t a huge budget, so we kept a pretty fast clip. Yeah. I didn’t really do heroin. (laughs again)
Talk about working with the baby girl in the movie, who plays your youngest child?
There were three different babies. Man, they were tricky. One didn’t want to be there. She was screaming relentlessly. The other two; one was pretty good and the other was like 50-50. Could go either way. That was the biggest challenge. The babies. That was hard. That was pretty crazy.
Lately, you’ve been doing some lighter comic work, so how is it different doing a film like this or even a drama like The Place Beyond the Pines, compared to the lighter work? Do you find comedy easier or harder? Or drama easier?
I think comedy is harder for me. I’m still pretty new to it. That’s a different sort of energy that you have to keep up all day, of improvising. A different part of your brain that you have to access. For me it’s still new. So to me comedy is really hard. It’s like doing a drama and then on top of that you have to get a laugh. Really, comedy and horror are sort of like… when you see a horror film or you see a comedy and you are talking with friends you say, “Is it funny?” or “Is it scary?” That’s what matters.
They’re both trying to get emotional reactions…
Yeah. It’s very authentic in the reaction. You can hear it straight away if it’s working in both genres. Hard comedy and hard horror films, they have that same thing. But yeah, I think comedy is really hard. I admire actors who are so effortlessly comedic. They make it look easy, but it’s actually very hard.