*Long before Katie Holmes became Mrs. Tom Cruise she had a flourishing career and was not afraid to take chances. After spending more than five years on the popular TV show “Dawson Creek,” she ventured out onto the big screen. It was a great day when she became the love interest of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) but a sad one when she did not return to the franchise. But even before that, she starred as Derek Luke’s love interest in “Pieces of April.” In between those two movies, Holmes starred in the all time favorite film, “First Daughter,” directed by Forest Whitaker—which was the first time the Film Strip interviewed Holmes.
This week Holmes stars in the terrifying film, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” directed by Guillermo Del Toro. The following is an interview that was conducted at the Waldorf Astoria when she was in New York to promote the film:
In many instances the horror genre does not get the same type of respect other types of movies get, so what attracted you to this?
KATIE HOLMES: I was really excited to work with Guillermo. I loved the script, even though I was scared reading it and I love these characters. My character’s journey was one of Kim really resisting a relationship with Sally (Bailee Madison) and then getting to the point where she could identify with her. I loved that emotional tension that turned into a great emotional arch.
So it was a lot of fun and challenging. Also, I really loved how strong these two females are. It’s great to see this on film and so enjoyable to portray. It’s nice to do something about something that scares you rather than just run from it and hope that someone saves you.
How was it playing against of little creature that aren’t actually there?
KH: What was great is that I wasn’t playing a character that was running from them. I was fighting them and taking control over them. So it was challenging, because there were things like squatting them and punching them, and you wanted to make sure you were doing it at the right time because it’s important.
KH: Bailee is very gifted. She’s a great actress, so it was like working with an actor of any age. She’s just very good at what she does, so it was thrilling and inspiring like it is when you work with good people.
Was it important to seek out strong female characters in horror film when doing research?
KH: Yes, absolutely. I looked at many of those films like Rosemary’s Baby, as well and we watched the Exorcist again. Not only are these strong female characters, but it was important to me because what I loved about those movies was we were so invested in these women. They were so real, they were so normal. You saw them in the kitchen, you saw them making things. Like Mia Farrow, she was moving into her apartment and was really excited about it. Kim is moving into a new house [with Guy Pearce] and suddenly all sorts of weird stuff starts happening.
So then you are immediately afraid and your heart is beating and their heart is beating very fast. So I looked at this script and wanted to find as many things that were human and normal, and every-day stuff.
What was it about the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark that you wanted to accentuate in the new one?
KH: I really depended on Guillermo, that’s one of the luxuries.
Did you watch scary movies when were younger?
KH: I did. I did. And I was affected by them, and when I was read this script I was so terrified that I started hearing noises, and I kind of held my daughter closer and looked in the corners of her bedroom a couple times. I really enjoyed being a part of this because I really think it does take the audience on that thrill ride.
Do you want to do more horror movies?
KH: Absolutely, I’d love to work with Guillermo again and again.
Guillermo Del Toro is certainly not one to mince his words so it was wonderful talking to him.
How important is story telling?
I think it is a primal function of the higher human being. What scares me the most is that we live in a reality TV world that has debased everything to the most materialistic, brutally merciless level of materialism that is really, really revolting because if that’s all we are, I wanna get out of the show frankly. I think it’s impossible to negate that we are physical beings so everything is material but at the same time what some people don’t remember is that we’re spiritual beings…There’s nothing that holds the mystery better than fantasy. In its darkest or lightest aspect, fantasy has the capability of enshrining things that exist because they remain unexplainable to us. They remain above us; angels, demons, things are superhuman or superhuman but holds the essence of what we are. So I think that storytelling is a hugely important spiritual function.
Do you agree with Katie that this genre has created some fierce females?
The genre can create some of the best most powerful female roles ever for any actor. I think in our society to reinforce the horror films that just create victims and create female characters that are waiting to be rescued is really, really—to me—[passé]. Almost all the movies I’m involved in, even the most commercial ones, I carefully try to avoid creating weak, rescue-prone female characters.
You might see the three characters under one roof in a “Father Knows Best” scenario, but in case father doesn’t know sh*t.