Maura Stephens Interview
It is no secret that i have a few favourite women in Horror, you could say in the film industry itself, and Maura is one of those women.
A woman that has overcome adversity and has never shied away from talking about it. The strength she carries is inspirational. An amazing actress that makes you feel at ease when you have the pleasure of chatting to her. She, along with Andrew, have a very special place in the Lestat Horror Family
It’s a pleasure to be able to share an interview i did with her a while back now.
Q : Tell us a little more about yourself and when you first decided you wanted to act.
Maura : I’ve always been drawn to storytelling in its various forms. I was really shy growing up but I loved being able to entertain people and make them laugh, so on one hand I could be this really quiet kid who couldn’t handle big social situations like birthday parties and would much rather stay home and play DOS games or draw comic books, but then there was this other part of me that was a total clown and loved playing characters and making up silly voices to make my sisters laugh. I remember when I was little my dad printed off this mini-biography on Judy Garland for me and that’s when it really clicked that this was something people do. That Judy was Dorothy Gale and Esther Smith and Hannah Brown and so on and so forth, but at the end of the day she was Frances Ethel Gumm from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. That was a particular spark for me that all this character playing of mine could become something more.
Q- What was your first role?
Maura : I made a lot of films with two of my sisters, Sarah and Celia, growing up, but my first role in a production that wasn’t connected to my family was as a “tribesperson” in an independent miniseries many moons ago. I made a lot of lasting friendships on that one. I’ve been really lucky with my film families.
Q- You recently starred in the short ‘Placebo’ Which certainly stays in the head for days later. Tell us more about your part
Maura : I play Ms Carmichael who is battling body dysmorphia. Without giving away the entire film, I will say we get to see the extent of her struggle with it and how it has created an unhealthy pattern in her life. She’s a woman devoid of inner peace. I immediately fell in love with this concept when Andrew told me about it and I 100% had to be involved. The film centers around an issue that is very important to me and I’ve always appreciated that it’s something Andrew is so passionate about, as well. As someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, I clicked with Ms Carmichael’s warped image of herself and how it has eaten away at her psyche. I’ve had my own version of that and it’s something I publicly talk about and will continue to shed light on in any way I can to help others feel less alone. This is something I really respect about Andrew’s work, the horror he gravitates towards is often very human and real and happening around us in some way, shape, or form.
Q- You also starred in ‘A walk home alone’, though it was also a short, you seemed to be able to draw people in and feel empathy for your character. How do you prepare for these type of roles?
Maura : I really appreciate that. For this role specifically I did a lot of rehearsing with the script on my own, finding a personal connection to the words. It’s a beautifully written script, so it wasn’t hard to feel the pain that’s woven in. Sometimes I’d rehearse it and it would come out as pure anger and hurt. Other times, I’d be bawling and feel desperate. It’s a lot of fun playing around with a good script like that and seeing where your instincts with it take you. In general I use music a lot, too, in my prepping stage for characters and concoct vague memories for them through it that I can use to add a little extra meat when finding the emotions and their energy.
Q5- We know you work with Andrew Robinson’s 15 second horror project, do you work with any others?
Maura : Yeah, definitely. Most notably I did a few successful shorts for CryptTV directed by my ol’ chum Michael Horrigan. I had known him for years but we had never had the opportunity to work together, so I was happy to have multiple projects pop up with him. And Terror Teds over in the UK made a doll of one of my characters! That was pretty surreal. There are people out there possibly maybe snuggling with my creepy bloody button-eyed doll self while they slumber. That’s a tender image.
Q- Many years ago, women in horror seemed to be portrayed as helpless victims, Now women characters are more stronger. How important is that to you?
Maura: Yeah, we’re totally helpless but we haven’t forgotten to be sexy at the same time! How absurd is that? It’s so important to me that things are shifting more and more. Helpless is okay, helpless happens, but you need more balance and there’s been an imbalance for a while. In any genre, it’s important that women are portrayed with all their multitudinous layers expressed. I have four sisters who are all fascinating and strange and hilarious and intelligent as hell, and it’s always made me groan when female characters are written really one dimensional because I’ve rarely met a woman who is like that. And it’s become doubly important to me since my niece came into the picture. She’s still really young, but she’s really perceptive and smart and I want her to grow up with female characters who are real and funny and who have more fight in ‘em.
Q- How do you feel about more women being behind the camera and writing the scripts? Is it something you would like to do someday?
Maura : It makes me want to let out a lot of happy expletives. I’ve written stories and scripts since I was young, and I have some ideas swimming around my noggin that I would love to put on film when the time is right. I’ve done three shorts for the 15 Second Horror Film Challenge, and as a photographer also I really relish being behind the camera, so it’s definitely something I want to do more of.
Q- Tell us what you will be working on next, that we can look forward to.
Maura I’ve got a new horror short I’ll be working on soon by Andrew J.D. Robinson that will co-star Erin Kiniry (from Mitchell Slan’s award winning short Balloon). I play a 911 dispatcher. I can’t say anything more, but it’s one of my favourite scripts I’ve been sent.
Q- The cliché question- What is your favorite horror movie and who is your favorite scream queen?
Maura:It’s really hard picking both. But the horror film that has been most prominently in my life since I was a little kid has to be The Haunting directed by Robert Wise. It has everything in my opinion–: paranormal happenings, the unraveling psyche of Eleanor, gorgeous black and white cinematography, spooky music, an awesome script, I could go on. In terms of scream queen I don’t have a favourite, but I was just watching Rosemary’s Baby again and I have a real soft spot for Mia Farrow in that.
You can follow Maura’s work here :
Maura Stephens Facebook
A Huge THANK YOU to Maura for allowing us to share this interview with you all