Exclusive Interview: Pollyanna McIntosh Opens Up About Playing THE WOMAN, Being Shackled & Working On Two Continents
I don’t like the woods.
Why? Well let’s see, what is the clear message that movies such as Deliverance, The Strangers or Cabin Fever have unmistakably delivered over the years? Stay the hell out of those damn woods unless you don’t want to get assaulted, slashed or eaten in some way.
After seeing the trailer for THE WOMAN, I was afraid that my opinion of the woods would never come back from that.Thankfully, I had the opportunity to chat with the delightfully entertaining star of the movie Pollyanna McIntosh to get the 411 on what the movie was all about.
Check out more below on what she had to say about what viewers can expect from the movie, her experience shooting the very difficult scenes and her long term career perspective. The movie comes out tomorrow Friday October 14th in limited release (Check out this page for more details for location and tickets)
I saw the trailer for The Woman. All I have to say for now is wow. Fantastic.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah.
Talk about the movie and your character
Pollyanna McIntosh: Okay, so the movie as about a lot of things. But story wise it’s about this feral woman who has survived out in the wild for her whole life. And she is found and captured by a family lawyer. An all American guy called Chris Cleek. And he brings her home to his family. Which he has two daughters, a son, and a very subservient wife. In a very typical kind of all American happy family situation. And he decides to civilize this woman. In his grain cellar with the help of his family. And free her from her animal ways. And it doesn’t exactly go according to his neat little plan.
Just based on the trailer and some of the articles I’ve read, there’s a lot of things and moments that are intense?
Yeah. People kind of vary between describing it as the greatest horror movie of the last decade and a feminist triumph to disgusting, appalling, shocking, disturbing, snuff.
That’s quite a range.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah.
So what were thoughts when you first just heard about the movie?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Well, I had played this character in a previous movie called ‘Offspring‘. In some sense this is a sequel. Although the movies are very, very different. ‘Offspring‘ is much more of a ’70s traditional horror. ‘The Woman‘ is something I can pretty much guarantee unlike you’ve ever seen before.
Lucky McKee is known for making a movie called ‘May‘ and ‘The Woods‘ with Patricia Clarkson. And to me he’s a great artist and a great storyteller. So he’s taken this character in a different direction but also taken a level of filmmaking of this, I don’t know if you’d call a franchise yet, but this story to another level. So, I, having done ‘Offspring’ I kind of knew the character very well and I had enjoyed playing her immensely in the first film. And it was based on the Jack Ketchum novel ‘Offspring’ which I couldn’t put down.
And so what happened was we were shooting that first movie, Andrew van den Houten, the producer and also the director of the first one said to me, ‘Hey, I think you’re having way too much fun and I don’t think we should kill your character off. I think that maybe we could take her into another movie. And we could do something big with this one.’ And I was like, ‘Man, we should- in the middle of an intense horror shoot, like give me five minutes to catch my breath before thinking about the next one.’ That was kind of my feeling to be perfectly honest.
But then I heard that it was really going to happen and I heard that Lucky had watched ‘Offspring‘ and was happy with my character and me as an actor and wanted to work with me and wanted to take the character to another level. And I was like, ‘Cool. What are we going to do?’ And him and Jack Ketchum who I’d gotten to know quite well from ‘Offspring‘ went off and wrote the novel and the script together. And I was kind of excited to see what they came up with.
Now I knew the basic concept of the family trying to civilize me. But I kind of had that kind of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ kind of redneck through my head, you know. Because that’s what you think of when you think of that kind of story. And, of course, then I got the script which was just a whole other thing. I mean the family couldn’t be further from that kind of family. And it made for an even more interesting story. But also didn’t expect from myself to have to go through 90% of the film being chained up. Which is what I am.
As an actress, that must have been physically challenging.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah, I thought, ‘Oh, fucking hell. Really? This is going to be horrible. I mean it’s going to be really horrible.’
Did they have padding around the shackles that held you up?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I had a little bit of padding around the wrists. I mean I was never in any pain. I was never in any physical pain. There was discomfort at times but I was never in any pain. I had a man on each manacle. I had my two manacle men [laughs]. One stunt guy and one of the prop guys who had the one key to my manacles. He let me out when it was appropriate.
That’s a lot of trust. Is there a safe word?
Pollyanna McIntosh: No, I mean he was just very clear with me going, ‘If at any time, even if it’s in the middle of a scene, you need to get out of these things, you just let us know. And do not push yourself.’ Because, you know, sometimes actors can get into it a bit too much and they sort of start thinking that their discomfort and that they need to push themselves physically so that it’s more realistic or whatever. And they’re more into it. And you can sometimes not notice when you’re causing yourself damage.
So it was very important that he was like, ‘Let us know. Let us know.’ So I was in a very safe place with all of the physical stuff. I was with professionals and caring people and a very focused crew. And when I had scenes that could be considered even trickier to do we had a closed set. And she goes through some stuff but I, as an actor, did not go through anything unpleasant on that movie. I had a wonderful time.
How did you feel about seeing it when you actual saw the film?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I was really moved by the film. I was really affected by it as an audience member as if I had not had anything to do with it. It actually was a lot to think about. And just literally, you know, just as an aesthetic like as a sound, even the sound, you know, the music is so fantastic in this film. So the whole thing just really swept me up with it. And I was very surprised that I could be so carried away with it even though I was there for the whole thing and knew the story.
That I could still be going, ‘How is this going to pan out?’ I was so excited. My heart was pumping. My blood was going. I still had an emotional reaction to it. I don’t think there was anything that I saw in it that I thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t think that was going to work and it did work.’ Or, ‘I thought that was going to work and it didn’t.’ I just kind of came away like, ‘Wow, we all- everybody stepped up their game on this movie. And we created something cool.’ So I was just excited.
You said that you were familiar with your character a little from playing her in ‘Offspring’. So did you add anything else in this movie in terms of your process with that character?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah, I would say I did. I mean I’d say the main thing that I added was a deeper kind of understanding of my opinion of the outside world. It was pretty clear what I wanted. In ‘Offspring‘ it’s pretty clear what I want in the woman, you know, to get out and to survive. But I had a lot more civilized, in quotation marks, people to be watchful of and to have, you know, growing opinions about because they were my captures. So I just had a lot more thinking to do about how I judged people and how I viewed the world. Because I didn’t have so much activity to do. It had to all be internal. And decisions had to be made for my character about what I thought about other people a lot.
When you were getting into acting and starting who were all the specific actresses that inspired you?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I saw a movie when I was thirteen years old about a thirteen-year-old girl. And it was starred Charlotte Gainsbourg and it was the first French movie that I ever saw. And it was called “L’effrontee” It was the story of a thirteen-year-old girl’s life and from her perspective and all and the complexities of the things that we do and the things that we say. And we don’t always mean what we’re saying and, you know, sometimes we’re trying to say something else.
And it was so complex and so unlike anything I’d ever seen. I had never seen a French movie before, you know. How that affected me and how that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world was a really big deal to me. And I think it was at that point that I went, ‘Wow, if I could make stories like that, if I could make people feel the way that just made me feel, then I would be a very happy bunny.’
And right now you’ve got a lot of good movies under your belt. But what’s the long view career wise?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I would like to work with Pedro Almodovar. I’d also like to do a movie with James L. Brooks because I think he’s a genius and I think he looks on the best sides of human beings. I’d like to build my career where I have a choice of the kind of roles I can do. And where I don’t need to worry about having another job at any point? Just like most struggling actors sometimes you’re like, ‘Fuck, where’s my rent going to come from this month?’ Nobody wants that.
And so you’re working both in the UK and the US, right?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah.
And do you have any preferences? You would want to work more here or there?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I like the mix. I mean the one cool thing about being in the States is that your work can reach a lot more people. And, of course, there are incredible filmmakers here. Because so many people come here. It’s such a Mecca. But I just love working within my own culture, as well. I love working with the Europeans. I just finished a movie shot in Luxemburg called ‘Love Eternal‘ which is based on a Kei Oishi novel, though it isn’t really very horror. It’s kind of far from the novel now.
The novel’s got some necrophilia stuff going on that the film does not. Despite what the press has said. Getting a little overexcited. So, yeah. And I just worked with a mostly Irish crew on that. And it’s just the dirty sense of humor that us Scotts and Irish and English have. And the emotional piss-taking of each other that we do is, you know, teasing each other is just the kind of environment that I thrive in. so I could never just work with the Americans.
So aside from this latest project are there any upcoming projects you can talk about?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Yeah, I’ve got a film coming out called ‘Carlos Spills the Beans‘ where I play the tiniest role in it imaginable. It’s just a tiny little cameo. I’m like hot girl at the bar. They’re friends of mine, a filmmaker called Brian McGuire who becoming known for shooting a movie- writing a movie in ten days, shooting it in nine, and editing it in eight. He’s done it three times now. He’s a nut job. But he’s brilliant. I’m excited for that film.
I’ve got another film coming out called ‘The Famous Joe Project‘ which is- I play a sort of coked up party girl called Nova who is redeemed through choosing to send herself to rehab and kind of make amends for the things she did before she went in. and that was a very enjoyable ride. Very, very indie kind of guerilla style in places. And I got to be a blonde for that just for fun. And just see how my California girl comes out. So different from ‘The Woman’.