Lovely Alison Lohman made her mark on Hollywood in 2002 with a leading role in the drama White Oleander. She has since starred in several Hollywood films, including Matchstick Men, Big Fish and Flicka. She also had roles on 7th Heaven, Crusade, Tucker and Pasadena. Alison now has the lead role in director Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. Buzzine‘s Emmanuel Itier sits down with the young starlet and gets the inside scoop.
Emmanuel Itier: It must have been really tough on you to play this part. This is really demanding.
Alison Lohman: It was pretty demanding, definitely — I’m not gonna lie…but it was great working with Sam on it. I had a lot of fun. I really did.
EI: What kind of director is Sam Raimi?
AL: He’s very collaborative but also knows exactly what he wants from the actors. I really enjoyed it because I could come to him with any of my ideas, and he would take them into consideration, and I just felt that we were working on it together and creating it together. I also think he has a really unique style, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of one of his movies. He’s a great guy; he’s fun.
EI: He has that sense of humor, which is nice.
AL: He does. Yeah, he has a really unique sense of humor — dry and a little bit rye. He’s pretty cool; I like him.
EI: We were just talking to Justin [Long], and the women said that he is the dream boyfriend. Do you think he is?
AL: Yes, he is.
EI: Would you like to have somebody like…
AL: He’s smart, good looking, supportive of her…even though he can’t quite believe it. Yeah, he’s a great guy.
EI: Did you like it that you were the stronger one in the relationship?
AL: Yeah, I think it’s a pretty balanced relationship — that’s how I saw it. I just feel that maybe I imagined that he would be pretty strong in how he feels in certain areas, and she knows what she’s talking about, so it seems like she is a lot of stronger.
EI: Do you like the fact that she goes from being a little bit mild and timid, and as the film goes on, she gets to where…
AL: That’s what I really liked about it, was the character arc and developing that. She starts out meek and quiet, and I think the audience is like, “Wait, am I supposed to like this girl? Who is she?” She doesn’t have much of an identity. She’s submissive to her boss and then just definitely knows who she is and knows what she wants, and is empowered and strong in the end…knows the mistakes that she made and wants to save her life.
EI: Lorna Raver was talking about the garage scene — that it was really difficult. How was your take on that?
AL: I think it was the first two weeks that we filmed that, and it was really hard. There wasn’t a moment for us to breathe. There was maybe one moment of laughing, but even that was heightened. It was like, she’s either pulling my hair, strangling me, I’m putting a ruler down her throat, stapling her forehead… It was definitely action-packed for me because I’ve never done that kind of stuff. But the trick was to make it spontaneous, yet it was choreographed.
EI: She didn’t tell us which scenes you were replaced by the stunt doubles, but you didn’t do the whole…
AL: No. Actually, there were a couple of scenes. I did the flying, and then when I hit the dresser after the flying, I hit the dresser at the very end, but you see her hit the dresser from the flying. So you see her flying into the dresser, and then I take over when I hit the dresser, so I didn’t do that part of it. Then there is one other part that she did, but she would show me what to do and then I would follow her.
EI: It must have been pretty tough.
AL: I wanted it to be me so it looks like the character…
EI: It looks great.
AL: Oh good. I wanted it to be believable.
EI: The movie’s great. It’s this combination of scary and funny.
AL: Yeah, that’s Sam’s magic, I think. I don’t even know how he does it. [Laughs]
EI: Have you seen the film completely?
AL: Yes, and it’s great. I love it. I’m not kidding. It is my favorite movie that I’ve done and that I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen all the movies I’ve done. It’s one of those movies I feel like I could watch again and again because it makes you laugh, and each time it’s surprising. He just has all these elements come together so well –- the sound, the visual…all of it. It’s great.
EI: The only thing not believable was the reference to you as a former fat girl.
AL: Oh, you couldn’t believe that?
EI: No, not really. You don’t look like somebody who ever could be fat.
AL: No, I’ve never been fat. How interesting. Well, she was fat. [Laughs]
EI: Do you like ice cream at all?
AL: I love ice cream. Ice cream is my absolute favorite thing, it was my choice to be eating ice cream because…you know how it is — you have to eat it for five hours anyway, so I was like, which kind of dessert do I like most? It was an easy decision.
EI: Which flavor do you like the most?
AL: Mint chocolate chip.
EI: Did he ever give you background story?
AL: Yeah, a little bit, like the fact of her being fat when she was younger. But you kind of make that up sometimes before. But Sam and I, I think we worked it out together.
EI: When you watch it now, you know the smoking mirrors, you know the magic, but does it still make you jump?
AL: It still does, it really does because it was filmed so differently, and when you film it, it’s just so technical, and the way Sam composes for film, it just looks so different when you’re watching it — very different from how you’re filming it.
EI: Even if you know something’s going to happen, do you still jump?
AL: Yes, I always forget. I’m like, “Wait, when is that one scene?” I’ve only seen it once, so that’s probably why.
EI: What is your take on that whole curse thing? Because many people really do believe in these things…
AL: They do. I’m not too superstitious. I don’t know. If I saw a ghost, I guess I would be…but that’s not superstitious. I don’t know.
EI: That’s supernatural. Justin was telling us that he does believe in ghosts.
AL: Yes, at times…like actually this morning, it’s really funny because I’ve had this question asked, and then this morning I walked into my room and I felt that someone was looking at me and I thought someone was in the room. I just had that feeling. And then I was brushing my hair and I still had that feeling, and then I thought, “Oh my gosh, it probably is spirits walking around, that you can feel different energies,” which is a strange thought to me, because you think you’re in your room by yourself… But I don’t know. I don’t really know if I believe in it. I still don’t.
EI: Do you think you would be as strong as your character if you encountered something like that?
AL: Oh yeah, definitely. If I had what happened to this girl, I would definitely believe in ghosts.
EI: Would you be as strong as she is…?
AL: In a fight for my life, yes.
EI: Like she does?
AL: Oh yes.
EI: Would you go to a spiritual advisor?
AL: Yes. I’ve gone to a couple psychics before, and it’s interesting because they said exactly what was going to happen — what did happen.
EI: What about the future? Did they tell you what would happen to you, when you talk about the past?
AL: Yeah, it was the future. It was really kind of interesting.
EI: So if you’d be that strong…I mean, the worst bit for me was when she actually dug up the grave of somebody, because I just can’t imagine doing that.
AL: Oh, I would do that, yeah. [Laughs] Rather than die, yeah.
EI: Well, yeah, that is true. [Laughs] Weirdly, at that point, she becomes really sexy because she’s taking control and she’s really fighting for her life. Suddenly she’s gone from meek to… Did you feel empowered when you were doing that scene?
AL: Not really. Actually, I know someone said that before. I didn’t think of that scene that way, to be honest. I just thought of her as being reckless and trying to save her life. It’s interesting that people connotate that with sexy. It’s interesting to me.
EI: Did you find it was sexy? [Laughs]
AL: Digging up a witch?
EI: Because she’s normally so beautiful and very well put together, and then she’s got the wet hair and it’s very sexy. Maybe I’m strange… I think it’s a great character, though. I think you play a great character.
AL: Oh great, thank you. I like this character a lot too. She’s interesting to me. She’s very human. She has a lot of compassion towards people and I really see the fight in her, the conflict.
EI: It’s like she doesn’t really belong in that job because she has too much heart, maybe.
AL: Yeah, I know. Like a lot of people, right?
EI: Yeah, but that must be difficult… There is a moment there when the old woman is begging — it must be difficult. She’s kind of going against her own will, right?
AL: Yes, her instinct would be to have compassion, honor, and she actually does go to her boss and say, “Look, is there anything we can do to help her?” Greed gets the best of my character. She just succumbs to that.
EI: I really enjoyed the scene when she has to go to her fiancée’s parent’s dinner. Have you ever gone to dinner and just done everything wrong…?
AL: Yes, I feel like I’ve done everything wrong, I have. I’ve been that nervous, definitely.
EI: What is your next project?
AL: I’m not working on anything right now, but I do have another movie coming out called Citizen Game on September 4th. Gerard Butler is in it. It’s set in a dystopian future where humans are controlling humans, and I play a character, Trace, who’s part of the resistance movement. It’s a really great cast and it’s going to be good, I think.
EI: What was it about Drag Me To Hell that made you want to be in it? Was it working with Sam, was it the script, the character…?
AL: It was working with Sam, and then he called me and that was my first introduction to him. He called me and we talked for about like three to five hours, I can’t even remember, but it was like he was telling me a story around a campfire. I was actually in a dark room at the time, so I really did feel scared when he was going into extreme detail of this movie, and that’s when I knew that we would work well together because he creates such great visions and moods that you can be inspired by.
EI: How was the whole special effect aspect?
AL: It was really interesting to do that. A lot of it wasn’t CGI… Actually, Sam was the fly. He had a fishing pole and then just attached like a little plastic fly to the end of it and just kind of dangled it around my face. Then, the scene where her fist goes in my mouth…well, it’s actually just a head piece that I am… The mouth is open, but my mouth is closed on her hand, if that makes any sense. They did a great job. I’m very proud of it.
EI: How was the goat?
AL: The goat was great. He was so sweet. He was nervous at times. He was great, though.
EI: And the cat?
AL: Yeah they had the cat. You know how that is, working with animals. It can be hard. But the cat was scary. That was actually part of the scene, and I have three cats, and this cat was particularly frightening.
EI: We actually were talking a while ago here, if we would kill pets being in that situation, and we didn’t all agree… I wouldn’t, but …
AL: I would, because…I know it’s a bit selfish, but I think I would do that. Isn’t that awful? Oh my God, it would be so hard, but to save my life, I think I would.
EI: What about the button? Who kept that at the end?
AL: The real button? Actually, they gave me a plaque that has the button on it. They gave Justin the one with the coin.
EI: So you have the button? You’re okay with that?
AL: That means I’m cursed. [Laughs] I can’t believe they gave me the button. Oh no! No wonder I broke my leg. Oh my god! It’s awful.
EI: I want to talk to you about Justin because he was saying how great it was to work with you.
AL: Oh, it was great to work with him, it really was. We knew each other before. I just found it really surprising…not really surprising because I know he’s so talented and he’s so great, but I’d only seen him in comedies before, and he is a dramatic actor. I mean, he has a lot of range. He’s just multi-talented…or multifaceted, as an actor. Really great.