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Maria Olsen


Hello, Maria! 

Thank you for accepting our invitation to stop by and answer some questions for our readers here at Voices From The Balcony! We’re so pleased to have you with us, especially during Women in Horror Month!  

1. How long have you been acting, both in general and specifically within the horror genre? 

I’ve been acting since I was 6 years old. First it was stage – and a little bit of radio – in South Africa, and then stage, TV and film since I arrived in the US in January 2005. I was cast in my first horror feature, SAM HELL, in 2006, and I haven’t looked back since!

2. Have there been certain life events that led you to an acting career in horror, as opposed to in other genres? 

My mother was a great lover of horror, and she introduced me to the genre – books and films – at an early age. As I grew up, I started to love it as much as she did, and to this day I still have a huge collection of horror memorabilia including books, films, comics and some VERY old issues of FANGORIA.
When I hit Los Angeles and started auditioning for film projects, I soon found out that my on-screen presence was extremely intense. This, coupled with my love of horror, caused me to submit to, and audition for, a lot of horror films. I started booking…and have never stopped!

3. What is your favorite/least favorite sub-genre to work in? 

As I love working in all genres – just booking a job is a huge cause for celebration – I’m going to flip this question on its head and give you the answer to “what is my favorite sub-genre to work in”. My fave sub-genre is physical horror-comedy. There’s just something that’s so amazing about being able to express yourself in a comedic fashion, usually with little or no dialogue, that just makes performing it a total joy! Examples would include the zombie-portion of my role as Rose in Die-Ner (Get It?) and the pilot we shot for OUR ZOMBIE MOTHER. Unfortunately, the pilot isn’t available for viewing yet, but several of our teaser trailers are up on YouTube.

YouTube video

Check out more OUR ZOMBIE MOTHER promos & teasers HERE

4. Could your share some the positives and negatives about acting in the horror genre with us? 

Positives include getting to do wonderfully exciting projects with people from all over the country and the world and also getting to explore some really deep and dark emotions and motivations as you grapple with yourself to create memorable characters. Negatives include getting so much fake blood and product in your hair that, when it’s extra cold outside, your hair just starts to snap off (time for that new cut, I guess!) and all the bruises, scratches and scrapes you get when you shoot those exciting fight scenes!

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5. Which horror films, or projects have been your favorites to work on and why? 

Although I love all the projects that I work on, some of them are particular favorites for different reasons. I really loved AFRICAN GOTHIC because I got to speak in Afrikaans, a language I learnt at school in South Africa and that I’m very fond of. I also really enjoy any film that I travel out of California to shoot, as I simply LOVE traveling, and these include AGORAPHOBIA (shot in Florida), GORE ORPHANAGE  (shot in Pennsylvania) and MARRTOWN (shot in West Virginia). One of my top faves, though, must be I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DEJA VU as I got to work with the original creative team behind the 1978 cult classic: writer/director Meir Zarchi and star Camille Keaton!

6. What are some of your observations, thoughts, and/or experiences when it comes to female vs. male nudity in horror films? 

I honestly think that male and female nudity should be given equal screentime: equal opportunity nudity, you might say! During our ,I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DEJA VU shoot, our leading lady, Jamie Bernadette, actually made a point of requesting that the boys also bare their buns…and more! Production agreed with her, but who knows what will be shown in the final cut!
Also – although this very much depends on the individual – I’ve found that men usually have bigger hang-ups than ladies about appearing nude on-screen and that they are, generally, more insecure.
My personal view on nudity is that it is the ultimate truth. Sure, I’m the first one to squeal “I’m fat” when I look in the mirror, but, deep down I also know that the thing to do is accept yourself and love yourself.
As far as gratuitous female nudity is concerned: y’all should know that this is simply a money making grab. Horror movies’ audience demographic is traditionally thought to be young males, so, by showing that female T&A, all filmmakers are doing is trying to sell more movies and make more money!

7. The term “Scream Queen” is one we often hear pertaining to women who act in horror. Do you have any thoughts on this? 

Personally, I think that “Scream Queen” refers to a very specific group of female horror actors : those who play the Final Girl, of which Jamie Lee Curtis is a brilliant example. I DON’T think that it covers those actresses, myself included, who play horror villains, but, of course, this is a purely subjective understanding of the concept. I also think that an actress should earn her “Scream Queen” stripes and not be given the title after, for instance, just one horror film. Again IMHO though 🙂

8. Which titles might we see on a personal list of your favorite films? 

At the moment – and it does change a bit from time to time depending on what I’m watching – my fave films include THE LOVELY BONES, METROPOLIS, JACOB’S LADDER, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, DRACULA (the one with Frank Langella) and LAST SHIFT.

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9. Is there any advice you would offer to other women who are considering an acting career in horror? 

My advice is be prepared for long, cold nights working outdoors – for some reason, the majority of the films take place in the woods / the cemetery and are shot in the winter! – and try and stay warm (did I mention it’s COLD????). Also be prepared to go that extra mile for your art because horror is, after all, all about extremes: extremes in emotion, extremes in action, extremes in appearance (read: prosthetics, FX contact lenses and FX makeup) and extremes in wardrobe (what’s that story about Sissy Spacek living for three days in her blood-stained CARRIE prom dress??).

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10. Are you currently working on any projects? 

I’m actually currently working on a host of projects, and I’ve recently wrapped principal photography on THE NO KNOCK LIST, GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD and SEVEN DEVILS, to name a few. Over the next few months, I’m scheduled to shoot several features including WRETCH in Kansas City (I’ve never been there before so I’m very much looking forward to it) and projects in Colorado, Kentucky and Los Angeles. My soon-to-be-released horror features include THE SUNDAY NIGHT SLAUGHTER, THERE’SNO SUCH THING AS VAMPIRES, ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, DIVERTED EDEN and, of course, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DEJA VU. Recent releases include AXEMAN II: OVERKILL, 60 SECONDS TO DIE and MARRTOWN (currently on the festival circuit).

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11. Any final thoughts? 

Horror is meant to be a tool with which we try to make sense of the chaotic world around us. It’s meant to be taken seriously, but taken seriously in a situation where we know what we’re seeing is not real, which means we can process things from an arm’s length away…from where it’s safe. Above all, remember that horror, although it explores and delves into our deepest fears and wishes, is meant to be fun!

As a fan of the genre, (and of yours), I’ve seen A LOT of your films, Maria. However, your filmography is bursting at the seems and I have to wonder if I’ll ever get to see them all! I’m certainly going to do my best though! Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! I do hope you’ll keep us updated and return to talk with us again soon! Cheers, Maria and best wishes with your future projects!

Sincerely, Ellen and all of us here at Voices From The Balcony! 

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