Actress Ashley Bell took time out to talk about reprising her role as Nell in The Last Exorcism Part 2. We talk about the joy and challenges of playing Nell, working with Eli Roth, and she explains why horror films are great date movies.
Was there any apprehension playing the role of Nell in the Last Exorcism movies?
Ashley Bell: Oh no. It?s such a dream roll for an actress. I come from a theater background. I studied acting at NYU and also the Groundlings in LA. Jumping into a role that was so physically and emotionally demanding was just awesome.
Were there any subtle changes you wanted to make to Nell?s character in The Last Exorcism Part II?
AB: Very much so. With Nell?s character, when I read the script, you think about where she comes from. She?s been broken by the events that have happened in Part 1 and we see this person that?s shattered. She?s putting her life back together and picking up these pieces and there are a lot of pieces missing. There?s a lot of doubt and a lot of questions. In these questions is where the temptation comes in.
You see this arc in the first film of Nell not knowing what?s going on and then all these events start happening. I thought you played that very well. I know that?s tough to give a character layers without much dialogue.
AB: I really appreciate that. Growing up I was a huge fan of horror movies. There?s nothing more fun than going into a movie with a smile because you know you?re going to be scared to death [laughs]. There?s something thrilling about sitting there waiting for a scare to happen. When I saw Part 2 for the first time, people were jumping into each other arms. The film packs a lot of really fun scares. There?s also a real surprise ending. It?s really something only Eli Roth can pull off.
With your families acting background, was acting something you always wanted to do?
AB: Growing up I always wanted to always be something new. I thought if I was an actress, I would have a chance at doing it all. What?s incredible about this profession is every role you play; you learn a different skill set. That really appealed to me.
What was it like working with Eli Roth?
AB: Eli is such a master of the horror genre. He knows it so well, so he can break all the rules. He knows what hasn?t been seen, and how to make a twist to turn a film on its head and surprise audiences. I saw him work in the editing room and he?s like a magician. He knows how to turn a scene that?s scary into something truly horrifying.
I remember that when he did Cabin Fever and Hostile. He really pushed the envelope.
AB: What I loved about the Hostile movies was the revenge element. The characters get revenge and the 13 year old boy in me loves that. Audiences will be surprised when they see The Last Exorcism Part 2, Nell gets revenge.
In Part 2 what was your favorite scene to shoot?
AB: It?s really important to do all of my own physicality. I was important in Part 2 to one up the backbend. There?s a levitating backbend and that?s a really challenging stunt to do. It was one of the most exhilarating days on set. There was a stunt crew and they ok?d me to do it six times and we ended up doing the scene twenty times. Every take was more and more intense. We kept on adding things to it and the crew was involved. It was great. At the end of the day if somebody asked what I did today I could say, ?Well, I flew.? Who gets to say that?
As great as it is to be part of horror films, I?m jumping into a few other genres. I?m coming out in a romantic comedy called The Bounceback that?s premiering at SXSW. I?m also doing an action film called The Marine. It?s straight up action. I?m jumping through windows, cars are exploding, and I run around on an abandoned ship. I?m also stepping behind the camera. This year, I visited Cambodia to do a documentary on elephants called Love and Bananas. You can find out more information at loveandbananas.com.
Anything fans could look forward to in Part 2.
AB: I always say horror films are great date movies. In the first twenty minutes you?re going to end up in each other?s arms. [laughs]
[laughs] That?s a great tip
The Last Exorcism Part 2 opens in theaters on 3/1