Laura Allen grew up on Bainbridge Island, Washington, attended Wellesley College as a Sociology major and graduated in 1996. Coincidentally, she appeared in Mona Lisa Smile (2003) which took place at Wellesley College in the 1950’s She worked with the NYPD as a domestic violence counselor before pursuing acting. Since beginning her career, she’s appeared in many TV shows like Cold Case, House, Criminal Minds, The 4400, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. She’s appeared in films like the aforementioned Mona Lisa Smile, From Within (2008), Old Dogs (2009) and Hysteria (2009). Her latest film, Clown, opens this week and Gruesome Magazine managed to snag her for a few minutes to find out what it was like working on the film.
Gruesome Magazine: Thanks so much for taking some time to sit and speak with us about your latest film.
Laura Allen: No problem. My pleasure!
GM: I’ve seen Clown a couple of times now, and I think it’s really good. Congratulations on its upcoming release!
LA: Thank you! I really like it too.
GM: Clown had to travel down a long, long road before it finally arrived in the states. Any idea about what was responsible for the delay in its release?
LA: I really don’t know too much about that. I know that it got released overseas awhile back though. It played in the UK, it played in Italy and Greece also. It also played at a film festival in Scotland. I know that the poster was banned in Italy as well. I was kept waiting like everyone else was, I’d see Friday the 13th pass by, Halloween would come and go – you know these would be obvious days for the film to be released. To be honest, I think it had a lot to do with the content. I’ve been told that American audiences might not be prepared for the content of a film that features children that are being menaced and eaten by a demon! That’s my guess, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes this weekend.
GM: Before we continue on to speaking about the film, I’m curious as to how you got started as an actress?
LA: I got started back in 2000. I was living in New York City, and I always loved the theater growing up so I found an off Broadway theater, and I was essentially mentored there. They helped me find an agent, and after about a year I ended up booking a gig on All My Children. From there it’s been a sort of independent film/Television film career. I’ve been very fortunate, and for the last 16 years I’ve been working steadily. A lot less theater work than I had initially imagined, but I love what I do.
GM: I spoke with your co-star, Andy Powers, and he told me that the script for Clown appealed to him because it was kind of sick! The idea of a demon that just happens to look exactly like a clown and eats children was something that sounded appealing to him. When was your first reaction after reading the script?
LA: I read the script with Meg’s journey in mind, you know, she kind of has a transformation of her own. She starts out as a suburban mom/dental hygienist, with a marriage that’s a little flawed – but functioning. And by the end of the movie, she’s become a balls out, Linda Hamilton type of mom! Along the way, there was a lot about Meg that I found I could identify with, the survivalist nature of the character especially. The film tracks Meg and her reactions to what’s going on, trying to comprehend what her husband’s going through, and then trying to solve it in the most horrific way imaginable.
GM: Yes! She does get really down and dirty as the film reaches its climax. Did you have any questions about the violence in the film before accepting the role?
LA: To be honest, when you read it on the page you don’t see what happens with Andy’s character, Kent. I never had the imagination that the art department had when it came to the final image of the clown. When it comes to the children, I’ve been in films where the violence was just suggested, but never actually seen on film, and you don’t really know how far a film will go with violence just from reading a script. So I didn’t know what Clown would look like, or what it would eventually become. Actually, the violence against the dog bothered me more than anything else, although I couldn’t tell you why. There are some real horror connoisseurs out there, but I’ve never been one and I was really in it for the family drama. You basically just play to your truth as a woman, a mother or a wife. You’re just reacting to the insanity when certain circumstances spin out of control.
GM: The relationship between your character and her husband felt very unforced and natural. What was it like working with Andy Powers?
LA: We had known each other since 2004, when we both lived in New York City. So it was wonderful to show up on set and see him, not knowing that he had secured the role of my husband beforehand. So the connection we had was completely easy and natural! I had a four month old baby on set with me, and he had a brand new girlfriend so there was a lot of really nice joyfulness behind the scenes – despite the content of the movie! We were really encouraged to have a normal relationship that was relatable at the beginning of the film, so that the audience would care about the characters. When the audience cares about the characters, it makes the second half of the movie that much more horrific.
GM: I also asked Andy about working with your director, Jon Watts, who’s since gone on to directing the forthcoming Spider-Man film. What was it like working with him back then?
LA: How lucky am I? Of course none of us knew that it would take him only two films to get to where he is now. He did our film first, then he did Cop Car (2015), now he’s doing Spider-Man: Homecoming! I feel so lucky to be part of his very first project because he was literally just out of school, yet he had a great producing team around him. I felt instantly at ease, we had a great team working with us, and you could sense that immediately on the set. So in spite of him being so young and green, I think he had something about him that gave him the courage to make the fake Clown trailer, and manage to attach Eli Roth’s name to it! It’s almost like he manifested it, and to have Eli contact him after seeing it, and helping him to make it? I think Jon Watts is a very special person, and I’m sure we’re gonna see a lot more of him beyond Spider-Man.
GM: You also worked with Peter Stomare on this film, and he has a reputation for playing some very odd roles. You have a few intense scenes with him here, what was it like working with him?
LA: He’s such a veteran of the film world. He’s done so many great films like Fargo (1996). Peter is delightful, unpredictable and very funny to boot, but at the same time he can be really terrifying on set. He has a very commanding presence, and he’s a little bit left of center, so you don’t know what you’re gonna get with him! But I thought he was perfectly cast for the role.
GM: So what’s next up for you?
LA: I recently made a film in Shreveport called The Tale, and it stars Laura Dern and Ellen Burstyn. I get to play the younger version of Ellen’s character, and I feel really lucky to have done so because she’s one of my all time favorites. As a matter of fact, The Exorcist is one of my all time favorite horror films! It was in Cannes two weeks ago, and it should be coming out late this year or early next year.
Dimension Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment will be releasing Clown, starring Andy Powers, Laura Allan, Peter Stomare and Elizabeth Whitmere to select theaters and On Demand on June 17th with a Blu-ray releasing August 23, 2016.