Ricky Church chats with The Sublet star Krista Madison…
In the latest coverage of The Sublet Flickering Myth spoke with actress Krista Madison, who plays the role of Margaret, the apartment’s resident ghost, in the film. Though she does not physically appear very much, Margaret’s presence is strongly felt throughout The Sublet. In the following interview we talk about how she was able to accomplish making Margaret a formidable force as well as her love of Florence + The Machine, other projects and unique hobby of chalk painting furniture.
Ricky Church: Before we begin, I wanted to say congratulations on the movie!
Krista Madison: Thank you!
RC: What got you into acting? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
KM: Yea, for sure! I’ve always had an interest in film and playing in theatre and dress-up. When I was a little kid my sister and I used to put on productions in our living room and stuff like that. Little dance concerts too, all that! It’s been something I’ve always been interested in. I met a few people going through college and school who kind of inspired me to head in the acting direction. At first I didn’t really take it too seriously. I just thought “Oh yea, whatever, I’ll just try a few classes” and then I got really into it. I never actually did theatre in school, but I did classes outside for television and film stuff. It’s been good and fun!
RC: Cool! You’ve been acting for a couple of years now. I saw one of your previous movies was The Dirties.
KM: Yea, so I’ve been at it for about eight years now, coming up on nine, which is crazy. A lot of the stuff in the beginning was commercial stuff, a little bit of print stuff, the easier kind of things to get into. It kind of evolved and now I’ve done three movies. The Sublet just came out, The Dirties prior to that and the next one is Operation Avalanche. That will be premiering at Sundance so we’re so excited about that. It’s exciting.
We’ll see what else comes! I shot a series about a month ago, which was pretty cool. I’m still going out for television shows, commercials, movies and stuff like that so small roles, bigger roles, whatever they throw at me!
RC: Sounds good! So talking about The Sublet, what made you interested in starring in this movie?
KM: I’ve never done a horror or genre film like that before and particularly playing an antagonistic character seemed so new to me and so exciting. I felt it would be a really great challenge to throw at myself and see if it could turn out. Luckily it was alright! (Laughs) Have you seen the film?
RC: Yes, I saw it last week. I really enjoyed the film and thought it was great. One of the things I liked about the movie and your role in particular was, like you said, you’re the antagonist, but you don’t physically appear much in the movie, yet even still your presence is felt throughout the whole thing. What’s it like for you to have that kind of role where you don’t appear much, but have such a lingering effect during the whole runtime?
KM: That was a first for me. With The Dirties I had a little more screentime than I did with this, I had a little more dialogue and more interaction with the characters and different scenarios. This was, I mean I think I only shot for two days and then two hours of ADR, something like that, but John (Ainslie, director) was able to maintain her presence, which I found really surprising. I honestly didn’t expect to see myself, feel myself or hear my voice throughout so it was a pleasant surprise. But you shoot a ton of things all the time and hope for the best and you see what lands in the film!
You never know and sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not as much as you think. But I think John did a really good job of maintaining Margaret’s presence through the film. It helps with the diary reads too. Even though I was offscreen it was my voice for most of the diary reads. I think Tianna (Nori, lead actress) and I did half and half of them. Its interesting too because we did some stills and her presence is felt through the stills throughout the movie. Seeing her face on the wall as you’re passing through the hallway and things like that, those kind of things helped too.
RC: Yea, for sure, because they always go back to that picture of you in the room and there’s that one shot where it looks like your picture smiles. I really liked that aspect of it.
KM: Yea, it’s really cool.
RC: You’re not there, but at the same time you are there.
KM: It was different, it was definitely different.
RC: On that note, I really liked the implications that Margaret may or may not be real, that it’s all in Joanna’s head. Was that a lot of fun for you to play off of and see the audience ask “Is she real, is she not, what’s going on?”
KM: It was so funny because I had never seen the film before we premiered at Whistler. I had only seen the scenes that I shot and then the ADR stuff that we’d done. I know because I read the script, but I didn’t know what to expect visually. It’s so funny because at the end of the movie, like I’m not really into horror movies, but I was quite disturbed after the movie. One of the guys who had come to see the film said to me “That was crazy, but that was all the apartment right? That wasn’t all Joanna? It’s the apartment that was haunted, right? The apartment made her crazy!”
The contrary belief to that from other viewers was “She had postpartum, she was really struggling, it consumed her brain, her chemical imbalance led her to this insane path”. When we were shooting it, it wasn’t so much so that Margaret was or wasn’t there. She was just dead! It wasn’t even so much that she was to be seen or present in the movie, it was more of her presence that I think John was going after. He did a really great job and the editors were amazing too.
RC: Was Whistler your first festival experience?
KM: No. I did a few festival visits with The Dirties so the first one I went to was Slamdance in 2013 and then we did a few others. We did Vancouver International Film Festival, Dallas Film Festival. We also went to New York and L.A., we were kind of all over with it. It’s been fun. I love film festivals. They’re so exciting and it’s so nice to meet people with like minds.
RC: For sure. I bet it’s a lot of fun to interact with the fans and see their reactions to the movie, hear their questions.
KM: It’s always interesting to see the audience’s impressions of the film. It’s creepy because you never know if they’re going to like it! Especially if you haven’t seen it before. It’s sort of like going into it with an open heart and open mind, hoping people don’t beat it down.
RC: Yea, on that note I was expecting more of a ‘traditional’ horror movie with a lot of jump scares and everything. I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more psychological and the scares were subtle.
KM: I think I was also expecting more of the jumpy reaction and the gore and the blood. I thought there would be a lot more of that and I was surprised that it got in my head too. I knew where it was going, like I absolutely knew where it was going! So that’s the craziest part, that it scared me and I was like “Shit!” (Laughs)
RC: One thing I found out about you in my research was you like to chalk paint furniture.
KM: I do! Yeah!
RC: What is that exactly?
KM: Okay, so I lived in England for about seven months and I wasn’t working. I was kind of looking for a hobby and I found this thing. It’s sort of like refurnishing antique furniture. It’s taking something that’s wood and you sand it down or paint over it and give it a design. I like it. You can talk me into anything. It’s amazing!
RC: Cool, very neat!
KM: Yea, it’s a lot of fun! I like to do things with my hands. My mom’s a painter, she’s an artist and photographer so I kind of get that art influence from her. I’d never really done anything with furniture, but it’s a good hobby and nice pastime to find in England.
RC: Earlier you said you horror movies aren’t really your thing. With that in mind, what was it about The Sublet that made you want to do it?
KM: So I came home and shot Operation Avalanche and I hadn’t been auditioning for a long time so when I had initially decided to take the audition I honestly didn’t think I was going to get the role. It was sort of tipping my toes in and seeing how it goes, but then I met John and we had a really quick connection. He knew my agent quite well too so it was kind of a nice point of reference. Then we just got to chatting and he’s such an interesting person. He’s so smart and clever.
I think that’s the best part about him. Even just the way he speaks and dictates his language and the way that he thinks, he’s very analytical, but so well-rounded in all that. It wasn’t even so much the project or the script, it was to have the opportunity to work with John that really pulled me into it. I also auditioned for a different role in the film, but he gave me this one. It was when I decided to take the role, it was so exciting because I had never played a dark character before. It was a challenge and I didn’t know how it would go.
He was so good too. The first scene we shot was a sex scene so it was like getting the weird stuff out-of-the-way first. But I walked onto set and I had no idea who anyone was and its kind of strange for such an intimate kind of thing. But John immediately made me feel so comfortable with everything. He was so professional, pulled me aside and spoke to me, he spoke to Mark (Matechuk, actor), he talked to us together and it was a closed set too. He was just great, he was so easy to work with. It was definitely helpful for something like that.
RC: I bet. And that was your only scene with Mark, right?
KM: Yes, that was my only scene with him, but he was great. He was also very easy to work with too. He was really, really sick when we shot that scene so after we had completed our scene I obviously came home from my day of shooting and the next day I was so sick for three weeks!
RC: Ah, damn that sucks!
KM: Damn you, Mark! (Laughs) But aside from that he was great. And you know what, he was out in Whistler with us too and we actually travelled back together and we got along well. We’ve actually got a lot of mutual friends and he’s a pretty cool guy.
RC: Did you also get to hang out with Tianna much on set or in Whistler?
KM: More in Whistler than on set, definitely. She was there the whole day I was there shooting and we spent time together in the make-up room, but we had more time to hang out in Whistler. It’s also so much more relaxed when you’re not on set. Everyone’s doing their own thing, she was running her lines and trying to get into character. She was shooting some dark stuff that day so she had to get in the zone more.
RC: Speaking of getting into character, how did you get into the mindset of this creepy ghost?
KM: I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to sort of prepare on my way to set. I called one of my friends, who is also an actress, she’s done all sorts of different roles and she kind of gave me a pep talk on how to get into that mindset. She was like “Turn off your phone, turn off everything, think about your lines and your role and just get there. You have to get there whether you roll down your windows and scream or turn up your music as loud as you can, but whatever you do before you get to set you have to be in that mindset”.
I think we shot in Guelph or just outside of Guelph so I had about an hour drive to get there. I spoke to her in the first 15 minutes and then I turned off my phone and blasted Florence + The Machine, like their angriest songs, and I showed up and I was there. It was fun. But yea, Florence was the secret, she was the secret potion.
RC: Earlier you were talking about some of your upcoming projects. You’ve got Operation Avalanche at Sundance soon and then you’re starring in a series soon?
KM: I shot a series that was sort of episodic. It was for Web of Lies so I’m not sure when that airs, but it was just one episode. It was cool, its sort of murder/mystery and I played the lead character’s kind of girlfriend in a supporting role and she’s absolutely devastated at the fact that her high school boyfriend, the love of her life that she thought she was going to marry, got murdered. It was an emotional role which is nice.
Operation Avalanche was a really cool experience. It’s nice to work with my original film family, like the first people I started with. That story is crazy, I don’t know what I can say about it so I won’t say much. It was nice to be reunited with all the guys that I’ve known for years and travelled with and toured with.
RC: Was that a bit of a passion project for you?
KM: Its funny. I was living in England and they called me saying “We wrote you into this film. Not sure if you’d be interested in coming back to shoot it.” I was like “Hell yeah, of course!” and came back from England, I went straight to set with him and shot my scenes. It was a passion project, but it’s such a crazy story too, it’s so exciting. I’m pumped for that. We’ll talk when that one’s premiered too! (Laughs)
RC: (Laughs) Sounds good! Where can our readers find you on social media?
KM: I am avidly an Instagram goer. My username is kristamadison so we can always reference that one. I’m trying to be better at my Twitter, it’s @KristaMadison.
RC: Congratulations again on the movie, great job and thanks for speaking with us!
KM: Thank you!
Many thanks to Krista Madison for taking the time for this interview.