Dustin Hall interviews Emily Perkins
Welcome, friends, to the first of what should come to be many interviews with stars from all corners of the media world; interrogating them on their video game histories and habits.
Our first guest is one of my personal favorites, Emily Perkins, best known for her leading role in the Ginger Snaps werewolf trilogy, and recently seen in cameos as (fellow KU Alumnus) Mandy Patinkin’s final collected soul in the series Dead Like Me, and in Juno as the girl who’s boyfriend’s junk smells like pie. Our Canadian readers will also recognize her as a recurring character from the hit show, Da Vinci’s Inquest.
For the uninitiated (and really, shame on you) here’s the trailer for Ginger Snaps 2, my favorite in the series, which I recommend to all fans of horror and dark comedy alike.
So, with that little morsel fresh on your palets, on to our interview…
Dustin Hall: I guess we’ll start by asking what your experience is with video games. What are your play habits?
Emily Perkins: I started when I was pretty little with some of the first games: Space Invaders, Pong and others along those lines. Later my parents bought us a Nintendo and we had the Super Mario Brothers games and Kid Icarus was one of my favorites. Then I stopped playing video games for a while, I didn’t start again until my early twenties.
Dustin Hall: And what are you playing now?
Emily Perkins: I don’t really get a lot of time to sit down and play, but what I do have is a Nintendo DS Lite. I have a ton of games for that I play in little bits, but what I go back to a lot are the Brain Age games. I’m a stay at home mom now; I guess I play them because I’m worried about my brain falling apart and I think those keep it stimulated. [Laughs]
Dustin Hall: Do you think among those games you’ve played you could pick an all time favorite?
Emily Perkins: Kid Icarus is definitely up there, but I’d probably say the Spyro series on the Playstation. Spyro the Dragon.
Dustin Hall: Looking ahead, are there any game releases you’re looking forward to?
Emily Perkins: There’s Blood: A Butcher’s Tale, which is an upcoming movie I’m in that has a game tie-in.
Dustin Hall: Can you give us a run-down of that?
Emily Perkins: Well, its a vampire-zombie game that picks up where the story of the movie leaves off. My character comes in towards the end of the movie, but becomes a major character in the video game. I had a lot of fun recording the voice for the character in the game, and recording the narration for the story. It was interesting too, having to go through all of the photo work, so the character in the game will look something like me.
Dustin Hall: So that was a good experience then? Would you consider doing more voice acting for other video game projects in the future?
Emily Perkins: Yeah, I totally would. It was a lot of fun, and as an actress its easier not having to worry about make-up and how you look at all times. I really enjoy recording all of the effects like the sound you make when you’re dying, or getting hit or falling over and all the exertions; those are really fun.
Dustin Hall: I guess we tend to forget that people have to sit and record all of the incidental noises for video games too.
Emily Perkins: Yeah, well its similar to film when you have to go back and do ADR and put in, as you say, incidental noises. So doing a video game was a lot like doing a session of that… the screaming is fun; its very cathartic, and you can let all the emotions out that you’ve had bottled up. [Laughs]
Dustin Hall: I noticed on the film’s website you were billed as ‘Goth Chick’. Can you give us more background on the character?
Emily Perkins: I don’t know how much I can reveal yet, so I better not say too much. But she does have a name, Lydia, which I think is a tribute to Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice.
Dustin Hall: But you say you’re a major character in the game. Are you playable or do you appear in cinematics?
Emily Perkins: You can’t actually play my character, she’s kind of like your guide. You play as a family, a dad, a mom, and a little girl, and my character guides them through and gives them missions.
[For a little more information about the story behind Blood: A Butcher’s Tale, I hunted down the synopsis from writer Mark Tuit: “The harrowing tale of Sam, a simple butcher who discovers that the love of his life is being seduced by a vampire. As he investigates further, he realizes that his destiny is to become the destroyer of this bloodthirsty race. Sam begins a killing spree with the slaughter of his beloved fiancé, then her blood addicted lover. Sam then makes it his duty to systematically destroy the remainder of the clan, until he hesitates on killing Lily, the last of her race. Helplessly he falls in love with Lily and learns to respect her desires as normal. Eventually Sam must decide if he is willing to repopulate the planet with the exact race he set out to destroy.” How will the game and movie intertwine? We’ll have to wait until the digital sequel Blood: Butcher’s Block is released by PowerUp Studios for the PC later in 2008.]
Dustin Hall: Do you ever get to play games with your kids?
Emily Perkins: You know I used to, but I don’t get to anymore because I have a baby now. I don’t think he’s old enough to be exposed to video games yet, he’s not even two, I don’t let him watch TV yet either. I try to keep the games during his waking hours at a minimum, but my son who’s fourteen is really into the games.
Dustin Hall: So what systems do you have in your household?
Emily Perkins: He has an Xbox and a PS2. We don’t have a Wii or any of the other new ones yet though. [Laughs] I feel out of the loop.
Dustin Hall: With the older children do you have any restrictions as far as what they can or can’t play?
Emily Perkins: I don’t tend to like super violent games and I don’t really like first person shooters. I tend to shy away from realistic depictions of violence. I haven’t allowed Grand Theft Auto into the house. I like more of the fantasy type games and try to encourage them to play those instead.
Dustin Hall: Censorship is a major recurring topic at BreakmanX, and its always interesting to gather the opinions of people who are involved in the media. As someone who is in horror films and violent media, do you think screen violence can have an adverse effect on children?
Emily Perkins: I think it can. I think very young children playing games with extreme violence for long periods of time… it can mess up their development. At the same time, I don’t believe in any form of censorship at all. But I do think that parents, and to some degree game manufacturers, have a responsibility to make sure that those types of games aren’t being played by young children. Games aren’t necessarily made for kids, and I think having the [ESRB] labeling system is very important.
Dustin Hall: But you’re not a supporter of censoring the violence?
Emily Perkins: As far as censorship goes, no, I don’t think that should be happening at all. Unless, I suppose, a game were supporting hate towards a minority group or something, but I’ve never heard of anything like that.
Dustin Hall: On The Game Show we just discussed a game [Imagination is the Only Escape] about a child reverting into a fantasy world to escape the holocaust that might not make it into the United States.
Emily Perkins: Its interesting to hear what games get released and what ones don’t. It really goes to show you who has power in a society. There are games out there where women are victimized or treated as objects and those are deemed acceptable, but a depiction of the holocaust isn’t. To me that says something about how our society is organized.
Dustin Hall: Its interesting to get your opinion. You are a parent, but at the same time, you’re part of the largest, core gaming demographic of 25-30 year olds who’ve grown us with games, and now purchase for yourself and your children.
Emily Perkins: But I do think kids, in general, spend way too much time playing video games…I think kids need to get outside and exercise, they need to read, they need to be interactive. I think way too many parents use video games as a babysitter, and the same goes for TV. I think they have the potential to have a positive impact on the quality of human life but only if they are recognized as a form of entertainment and not as a mainstay of their existence.
Dustin Hall: People have voiced the same concerns about your own profession, the movies, at one point as well. And I know that you’ve pointed out your concerns about the presence of exploitative works within that medium…
Emily Perkins: I’m a feminist, and a graduate of Women’s Studies at [University of British Columbia] so I’m sensitive to things that are exploitative of women; its not that I think it should be censored, but I think it reflects a social problem that should be addressed. If I see something that I think is exploitative of women, or a minority, I don’t purchase it. There are games out there too that I think maybe shouldn’t exist but I don’t think that anyone else has the right to prevent them from being accessed or made. I guess it just saddens me.
Dustin Hall: And has this point of view affected your career at all?
Emily Perkins: For me I won’t take a roll, and in horror I have been offered rolls that I’ve turned down, if I feel they are exploitative. I would not be in a film that was just about torture, or [victimizing] women.
Dustin Hall: So nothing by Eli Roth then?
Emily Perkins: No probably not. [Laughs]
Dustin Hall: Now, in addition to Blood, you also have a role in Another Cinderella Story coming up?
Emily Perkins: Yeah, that’s due out in September.
Dustin Hall: And you are once again working with [Ginger Snaps co-star] Katherine Isabelle, and once again as sisters, right? That seems like too much to be coincidence. Was [Director] Damon Santostefano a fan of Ginger Snaps?
Emily Perkins: I don’t think so, or he never mentioned it. They were looking for girls who either were real sisters or had played sisters before, so we got the audition together. I think it works because we know each other so well, and when we’re together we make each other laugh, and the people around us laugh. The chemistry is just right. I think we may be even better doing comedy together than doing horror together.
Dustin Hall: It looks like you two keep popping up together. You’ve been in three Ginger Snaps together, now this film, you were both in X-Files at different times…
Emily Perkins: Yeah, and we were both in Insomnia, she had a larger part in that one.
Dustin Hall: And you were both in [Canadian television drama] Da Vinci’s Inquest as well?
Emily Perkins: That’s correct. Yeah, we have this strange connection; and in our personal lives too. We both went to these four different school across different parts of the city so we knew each other when we were young, we have the same agent, we were born in the same hospital, we just kept running into each other while we were growing up; it seemed fated.
Dustin Hall: The role in Another Cinderella Story seems a little outside of your normal genre. Was there an inspiration to taking this particular part?
Emily Perkins: It’s such an iconic role, playing the ugly stepsister. And to be honest, I’d rather be the stepsister than Cinderella. It’s just so fun to be mean, and how often do you get to do that? I loved reading the script and just thinking ‘How can I be the meanest person possible?’ Its just so outside of my normal realm of experience, I try to be very polite in real life. But this character’s so crazy; she’s really unattractive and does all of these dances and she’s just very over the top. It was a lot of fun.
Dustin Hall: You do tend to play a lot of horror and sci-fi roles, though. And you were inducted into the Fangoria Hall of Fame for your portrayal of Bridgette in Ginger Snaps. Do you think that you’re drawn to the genre, or is the genre is drawn to you?
Emily Perkins: Well, I think its because I have an unconventional look about me. And in my personality too, I don’t tend to have a lot of mainstream opinions on a lot of issues. So I guess I’m just a little bit…weird [Laughs]. I’ve always seen myself as a bit of an outsider, so I guess that made the genres a better fit for me. But I find horror roles harder to get lately, as there’s always the trend to get the hot-bodied girls in the roles, which doesn’t really fit me. So I’ve been getting more auditions for comedies lately, which is fine by me because they’re more fun to shoot anyway.
Dustin Hall: Do you think, as a feminist, you might find more opportunities for strong female roles in comedies than in the victim-heavy horror genre?
Emily Perkins: We’ll see what comes along. I think because of my history, casting directors have thought of me as a horror girl, but then when I audition, I’m not physically what they have in mind for the role. I’m trying to get more roles in funnier stuff, so now I have to convince people that I can be funny. [Laughs] But its hard because casting directors have people that they call in for specific types of roles, and it can be hard to get them to think of you as something else.
Dustin Hall: Any other projects on the horizon?
Emily Perkins: There have been a few but I’ve had to turn some down, because they are too far from home for too long, or the part just didn’t feel right. Also, we’re still suffering from the [writer’s] strike here; there’s been a gap in production…
Dustin Hall: Are there any types of roles or specific parts you’ve always wanted to play, or test out your acting chops with?
Emily Perkins: I’d love to do more period pieces. I read a lot, so there are some novel characters I would like to play, I would love to be in a production based on Alias Grace, which is a Margaret Atwood novel and one of my favorites. But really anything, I like to experiment with new things and new genres.
Dustin Hall: Any other particular period pieces?
Emily Perkins: I would love to do something Shakespearian; as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to appreciate the richness of those texts. And I would love to do something from Jane Austin, I love Jane Austin like, I think, every girl who reads. [Laughs]
Dustin Hall: Along the same lines, are there any directors or actors/actresses you’ve wanted to work with?
Emily Perkins: The Coen brothers, they’re among my favorites. Really anyone though; I think even if you have a good director, if the script is bad then the experience doesn’t come through anyway. If you can get together a good director, a good story, and a good cast, that’s when the experience comes together for an actor. It’s really about the atmosphere.
I would like to thank Ms. Perkins for taking the time from both acting and family to interview with us. Be sure to check out Blood: A Butcher’s Tale and Another Cinderella Story, both releasing in 2008.