Jody Quigley and Lili Bordán
Six Degrees of Apparition
by Jay S. Jacobs
Hollywood is chock full of actors who toil in obscurity, desperate to get the chance to make their dream film. However, with hundreds of thousands of actors and merely hundreds of projects, you do the math. Breaking through is like winning the lottery. For every Chris Pratt or Dylan O’Brien who finally catches the gold ring, there are thousands who make a living playing roles like Tough #2 or Man in Restaurant.
Jody Quigley played the Hollywood game for almost a decade, cobbling together a decent amount of small roles but not getting the big break that he needed. Therefore he decided to move back home to the Philadelphia suburbs and make his own breaks. For years he had been involved with an independent ghost story script called Remorse. Quigley and his father Guy (the creator of Cold-Eeze) created a production company help get the money to film the script in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Filmed in a historic farmhouse in Horsham, PA, Quigley brought Hollywood home with him. Up-and-coming actresses Lili Bordán (Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome) and Katrina Law (Spartacus) signed on to play the love interests in the psychological thriller, which filmed last year and is now being released as Apparition to theaters, On Demand, iTunes and other outlets.
Bordán, who has also starred in movies like Cherry., The Smoke and has a role in Ridley Scott’s upcoming film The Martian, has also taken a roundabout way to film stardom. Born in New York to a Hungarian actress mother, Bordán has done many films both in the US and in Hungary.
We sat down with Quigley and Bordán at the historic Doylestown Inn in Doylestown, PA after Apparition’s premiere screening to discuss their careers, their movie and whether or not they believe in ghosts.
What was it about this screenplay that intrigued you?
Jody Quigley: I met [director] Quinn [Saunders] through a fluke, pretty much. He had the script and I was just talking to him, an aspiring actor living in Hollywood. I read it and I said, “Wow, this movie is so disjointed. I don’t know what’s going on.” It’s more about the guy’s head and not about people getting slashed to death, like most movies are.
Lili Bordán: The psychological aspect of it. Plus, it raised a lot of questions about what’s real and what’s imagined.
Jody Quigley: [Saunders] actually originally said, “You’d be a really good Connor,” which was the guy’s best friend. I was like, okay, I understand, I’m an up-and-comer, maybe he needs someone else with a little more star power to play [the lead]. I think he had someone else in mind. I forget who it was, but it was definitely a name. Like a year later I was still in contact with him and he said “if you’re still out here do you want to come out and do an audition?” Funny enough, Lili actually came down and read as Jamie. We just seemed to have really good chemistry and the audition went well. He was like, “I think we can do this. I think you’re capable.” So it kind of spiraled from there, and years later, here it is.
Do you believe in ghosts or like ghost stories?
Lili Bordán: Oh, yeah. The book next to Doug’s [Quigley’s character] bed is The Turn of the Screw (by Henry James). Between takes I would read it. I had read it back in college. It’s awesome.
Jody Quigley: Yeah. A little bit. I work here [The Doylestown Inn]. This building was built in 1902. There have been times when I’m downstairs and a glass will fall off the wall, or I lock up at night and you’re down there by yourself and you get that hair on the back of the neck thing. There’s definitely an alternate reality beyond ours, I feel.
I’ve never really heard, but is the Penrose Strawbridge house really supposed to be haunted? Or did the filmmakers just choose it because it was atmospheric? Why did you choose the house?
Jody Quigley: Well, budget-wise, we didn’t have a lot to work with. Fortunately, the script is written as the house being its own character. A lot of the scenes were shot from inside the house or outside the house, so our location most of the time was pretty small, except we had to shoot like at the hardware store. That was a whole day. You could bang out a lot of stuff in the house. That was down to our production team, finding the house. A couple is living there. It’s historic. They are actually living there and renovating it. The foundation is cracking and everything, so they are getting paid to live there and fix it up. They were gracious enough to give it to us for 18 days. We made it our little home, so to speak. We were just lucky we got it.
How did the atmosphere of the place add to the feeling of nervousness or horror in the filming?
Lili Bordán: It felt like a benevolent house. It didn’t ever feel unwelcoming. There was so much work done to the house – painting the walls, repainting the walls, painting the nursery, painting it crazy, scary, knocking the latch off – there was just so much done to the house. Running up and down the stairs, we really lived the movie in that house. There are even parts of the crew who stayed in the house… slept in the house. I kind of wish I had, just so I can say I did. But it was good. I never felt scared or anything.
What do you think it was about Jamie that she has such really bad taste in men?
Lili Bordán: I think when she goes into her story about [her abusive father], she just wasn’t able to break that cycle. It started with her father and then the effed-up boyfriends. I think she thinks she’s finally found someone genuine and real. Someone she can save. She’s got probably a complex about saving people, which is why she’s a therapist. Then it ends up being her tragic flaw.
But did she ever learn how to change a tire?
Lili Bordán: (laughs) Right. Right.
How difficult was it to play somebody who was losing touch with reality?
Jody Quigley: I would say that was probably the hardest thing, strictly because the gentleman who was doing pictures down there was asking me “Was this all shot in sequence?” which sometimes can make it easier. You’re starting and going day by day – okay, now he’s crazy and now he’s nice. We actually shot the last scene of the movie the first day. That last shot of the three of us was the first scene we shot. And then it jumps all over. For 14 hours you’re kissing her, then kissing her, then making love, then I’m strangling her, and the next scene I’m crying over something… So there’s a lot of up and down, which was tough. 18 days, it was tough.
As an actress, what things do you think Jamie brought to the story?
Lili Bordán: Love. I think my character was love in the movie. She just had an abundance of it. She never stopped loving Doug, despite all of these moments where she could have turned on him and hated him. She didn’t. She just kept loving. It didn’t pay off for her, did it? But, no, in the end they are all happy, right?
In their own way, yes, they are, they have this weird little dysfunctional nuclear family…
Lili Bordán: (She laughs hard.) Right.
The film has a rather dark tone. As an actor, what things did you do to sort of get out of that mindset after the filming?
Jody Quigley: At the end of filming it was pretty easy. But definitely the day-by-day, the days that were heavy – me strangling her five times in a row, or having to emotionally break – all those scenes, having to do them back to back to back and not getting out of it until like 11:00 at night, by the time I got home I would actually well up a little bit and go, “I don’t know if I can do this. I just can’t do this again. Now I’ve got to do 14 days of it. It’s going to be rough.”
What things do you think about the character of Jamie were like you, and what things about her were most difficult to get a hold on?
Lili Bordán: That’s a phenomenal question, actually. (long pause) I think I’m tougher than Jamie. I don’t think I would have taken Doug back after probably the first transgression. Or maybe the second one. (laughs) She was obviously a moth in the light of death. She was intrigued by his insanity. She’s studying psychology, so…
She also always carried around post-its notes, which I found interesting…
Lili Bordán: (laughs) She carried around post-it notes! It’s true. I never thought of that, but she does write notes and he actually looks for them.
Now Katrina’s character is dead before Lili is even introduced, and in many of the scenes that you did with her, you’re not supposed to know that she is there. Was that tricky as an actor – having to act as if someone who is right there in the room is not there?
Jody Quigley: Fortunately the editing made it easier for me, because I always had someone at least off-screen to look at. Camera trickery really helped there, but yeah, it’s definitely hard acting against nothing. That’s the whole thing about acting: you’re acting off of someone else, so they feed you and you take it in and give it back. Almost like a volleyball game. When you have no one else there, it’s a little bit more taxing on you, for sure. Makes it harder.
Lili Bordán: That’s true. Yeah. Katrina Law is a real strong presence. She doesn’t pull back at all, so it’s just about staying in your own reality and I tried to do that. I hope it was convincing. (laughs)
You’re a local guy, right?
Jody Quigley: Yeah, I grew up here.
What was it like to come back home and then to get your first lead role?
Jody Quigley: It was nice to be home, for sure. It was nice to leave set and just drive home. Kind of leave it all there, or try to. The highlight was that it’s tough to be in a big city when you have a couple of friends, but you don’t have your family and your friends that are really close to you. So that, and the fact that I have agents here in Philly and New York, I feel stuff working for me a little bit more here than I did out there. Hopefully that’s going to pan out.
Your mother was an actress too. When did you know that was what you wanted to do with your life?
Lili Bordán: Yeah. I think I was always a performer. I was always up performing. It’s in my blood. I did some plays in elementary school. I was always in different musicals like Annie and Peter Pan. I just loved it. I loved the smell of the stage, the wood, the creaking of the wood. Being alone on stage when no one else was there. Imagining an audience.
You have done film work in both the US and Hungary. Is filmmaking different in the two places?
Lili Bordán: Not really. It’s its own country, it’s own language and culture.
Are you mostly working in the US now, or are you still splitting your time between the US and Hungary?
Lili Bordán: I’m going back and forth. Last year I spent about four months in Budapest. It’s lovely and there is a lot shooting there. They need actors, so if the project is exciting for me and shoots for enough time, if you get paid and I want to work with the people then I go.
How much time do you spend here and how much in LA?
Jody Quigley: I lived in LA for nine years. It’s rough out there. It’s expensive to live and I didn’t have any family out there. Well, I had my cousin out there, he was also trying to be an actor as well. We were out there for years together, trying to get stuff. I did tons of classes, tons of improv, just trying to get parts. It’s tough when you don’t know anybody and you haven’t really done anything and no one is willing to give you a shot. He is Canadian and unfortunately couldn’t stay in the country any longer, so he went back home.
Perhaps your best-known role here at this point was in Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. What was it like to be a part of such a beloved universe?
Lili Bordán: It was originally meant to be a TV pilot. It became an online series and then it became a TV movie. It’s still playing all around the world, so I’m still getting all kinds of people writing me and saying how much they enjoy it and that universe. It’s a great honor to be part of that Battlestar universe.
How much longer did you stay in LA after your cousin left?
Jody Quigley: I stayed out there for another two years and just reached the point where I got a couple of roles in movies like Hijacked and Wicked Blood that actually had stars in them and whatnot. Little parts here and there, but I just said, “What the hell am I doing?” I’m living there and going to Baton Rouge and all these other places for the film stuff.
Why did you decide to move home and try to put together your own film and take an active role behind the scenes of Apparition?
Jody Quigley: Hollywood isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything. A lot of these states give you tax breaks, and that’s why people go and shoot there. I know Pennsylvania gives you like 40%-50% or something like that. That’s the benefit, especially when you’re starting out like I am. If you’re lucky enough you get into a Ridley Scott [movie] with a $40 million budget.
Lili is working with him…
Jody Quigley: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool.
You’re going to be in Ridley Scott’s The Martian with Matt Damon. What was that experience like?
Lili Bordán: Yes! Right. I got a taste of [working on a big-budget project] on Battlestar. I was a lead in Battlestar. In The Martian, I play a secondary part, but it’s still exhilarating to be in the midst of someone who is at such a honored figure. It felt really wonderful. I felt like an important, if smaller, cog in the machine. I was made to feel like what I said mattered and we were allowed to improvise, so it was a very creative experience, for the small role that it was.
How much of a culture shock was it to be on such a huge set after mostly working on indies?
Lili Bordán: Well, Battlestar was a pretty big shot, with 100 extras and a giant green screen hangar. So, you adjust. You make do.
I saw the preview for the TV show you’re working to get off the ground. Is that your next thing?
Jody Quigley: I hope so. They’ve got a really good idea and they’ve finished all their scripts. Actually, I just read for it, I had the privilege of playing, once again, a crazy serial killer. A killer of some kind. But whatever, I’ll take what I can get. I originally was cast as the son and then they put a plot in there, “You should play a killer.” I was like, okay. As far as sizzler reels, they are just a teaser for what hopefully becomes a series. If I’m fortunate enough to get an audition and then I can get it, then yeah. But they might get their own actors in there. I was just lucky enough to do this.
What else do you have coming up?
Jody Quigley: There’s another gentleman here tonight, Mike… I can’t recall his last name, it’s terrible… but he has a script called Impure, it’s a psychological thriller. It’s on the same lines as that, but it jumps time between a gentleman in his 90s on his deathbed getting his last sacrament – he’s possessed – and it jumps back to the Civil War when this guy was my age. It’s about how he was shot and taken care of and that was when his possession started, inside this room where he was getting tended to, but at the same time he wanted to leave and they wouldn’t let him leave. It jumps back and forth between the guy in his deathbed and the guy when he was younger.
Lili Bordán: I’ve got a short film [called “Kiss a Robber”]. I’m crossing my fingers that it goes. It’s with Goran Kostic. He played my husband. I’m very excited about that. A lot of great people have seen it and some of them have taken notes about it. Sometimes it comes down to a short film to that you can be part of. Then I did a film called A Life Lived [with Denise Richards] that traces the life of a dollar bill and the lives that it touches. Those are probably what I’m most excited about.
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 21, 2015.
Photos ©2015 Jay S. Jacobs. All rights reserved.