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10quickquestions.jpg

“The first film to use real bodies.”

How can I or even you, as a horror movie fan, NOT just wonder what kind of depravity exists with a movie that has this kind of a tag line at the end of its trailer? It wasn’t until I really took a look at the offerings, individually, of the 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR mini-festival of sorts that are playing all over this grand land of ours that I really appreciated the chance to reach out to Corri English, star of the movie UNREST.

I know, you don’t know who she is and, more importantly, why you should read any further about some girl you don’t know but, friends, I am here on high to proclaim that Corri not only possesses the kind of spunk you need out of a woman who is more than likely going to survive the wanton horrors that no doubt are going to be inflicted on those closest to her in this film but, and some would say more importantly, she radiates a kind of sensuality tractor beam that beguiles you at first and then draws you in with her ability to be absolutely believable in the trailer even as a psychotic dead chick is trying to kill everyone in sight.

If you get the chance to see the trailer, I would highly recommend doing so. With no one you know in it, without a story written by someone without the name King or Craven attached to it and with some production values that really shine through I can honestly admit that this movie knows what it is and knows how to sell itself. The fact that you get Corri’s mammaries slung right in your face, and what a nice pink bra it is, merely adds to this film’s attraction. What’s more is that reviews of the movie itself have been quite complimentary on all levels and that says a lot in an age of disappointment after disappointment from the entries in the Masters of Horrors series.

Now, Corri has been around a very long time on the small screen with stints on Without a Trace, One Tree Hill, Joan of Arcadia, Dawson’s Creek (we’ll touch on this later), CSI: Miami and many other productions that have slowly allowed her the opportunity to ascend in her career as an actress. It’s kind of thrilling, in a sports analogy sort of way, to see what her progression has been like from rookie to seasoned pro as you look over her work. One hopes that she sees more success and I am openly grateful that she’s decided to go toe to toe with some rather absurd, yet purposely poignant, 10 Quick Questions with me. After reading her answers I am convinced that anyone who finds themselves working with Corri…better be checking their unemployment insurance. I mean, seriously, how many cancelled series can one be on before you just chalk it up to the fact that you’re the human equivalent to that Tiki idol on the Brady Bunch that damn near caused Greg to wipeout permanently on the sandy beaches of Hawaii?

This is really the first time I’ve ever consented to an email interview but, who am I kidding, after seeing the pink bra action, it was a done deal.
I also, honestly, didn’t think I see the answers to these questions come back to me.

Seriously. I didn’t. But Corri gave as much as she got and I actually learned a lot even in the span of 10 questions. UNREST is playing today, tomorrow and Sunday so do make it a point to try and see where it’s playing near you.

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CHRISTOPHER STIPP: 1) Tell me about why I need to seek out UNREST this weekend. Sell me like you want me to sign on the dotted line without first consulting with the wife and her nagging whining about why we can’t afford it.

CORRI ENGLISH: Wow, it’s that bad? Dude, you can borrow the $10.75 – I’ll even pitch in an extra five so you can smuggle in some burritos. And tell that bi-atch she’s not the boss of you.

The great thing about Unrest is it’s eerily real. The story hits close to home in terms of recognizing one’s own mortality. Our director was a surgeon before going into movie-making, and much of the story comes from his experience as a med student. We shot in a real, working morgue, so we’re talking some lungs in a plastic container over here, eyeballs in a jar over there, and a recently deceased brought in every couple of hours awaiting an autopsy…let’s just say this movie has plenty of fresh meat. This movie is NOT for vegetarians. Oh, and plus my character takes her shirt off half a dozen times or so for no good reason at all. What other movie has actors skinny-dipping in a tank of dead bodies?

STIPP: 2) The most recent subject entry on the message board for your profile on IMDB.com is entitled “Shes[sic] so hott [sic]”. Besides wondering whether this particular fan needs to pick up a Funk and Wagnalls, honestly, can good looks be a hindrance for an actress looking to broaden their range, playing parts where being “hott” would draw undue attention to itself? I mean Steve Buscemi is one ugly dude yet he has played all sorts of characters but an actress like Charlize Theron had to go to EXTREME lengths to hide her prettiness in order to play a role that wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

ENGLISH: Okay, I just had to look up what on earth Funk and Wagnalls is…is that bad? Am I like one of those people on Leno who doesn’t know who the vice president is? (Arnold Schwartsneger, duh!) What ever happened to good ole Webster? I don’t think it’s ever impossible to make a beautiful actress look appropriate for a role, with makeup and wardrobe anything is possible. I think it is more a matter of whether the actress is willing to go there. For Monster, Charlize was willing to truly make herself ugly, not just rub some dirt on her cheeks and pose as usual. She went to a dark, ugly place – her facial expressions, walk, and voice were all altered to create the character. An actor who always wants to look pretty regardless of the character will always be limited. An actor who truly wants to embody a character is virtually limitless in my opinion. And those kinds of characters - that’s the good stuff, the stuff I hope for.

As for the imdb post, I’ll forgive him for the horrible spelling since he thinks I’m hott. I’ll just assume the two t’s were meant for emphasis.

STIPP: 3) Without a Trace, Joan of Arcadia, Going to California, One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, CSI: Miami. With the exception of Joan of Arcadia where you managed to land 2 episodes are you just incapable of holding a job for more than a week or is there something else afoot? Myself, I think there’s something going on here with this résumé of yours but the real question I have is what do you like about working on television productions?

ENGLISH: Okay, I’m taking back my $10.75. Actually, contrary to popular belief, I worked on a WB series called The Bedford Diaries, and we got a whole 8 episodes on the air before being cancelled. So, ha!!

Truthfully, I just enjoy working, whether it’s television or film or whatever. If I can find an interesting character to inhabit, I’m happy. Doing a series was nice because you have a sense of contentment and stability that as an actor is hard to come by. You get to work every day without worrying about what is next for a moment. I’ll be right back - I’m being called to set, see this week I’m shooting a single episode of a show that just got cancelled…no, seriously.

STIPP: 4) Ok, I’ll share something. Last month I had my first published piece in a magazine and it was all of 75 words. I received 30 bucks for it. It was the greatest 30 dollars I’ve ever been given, Lord knows this job doesn’t pay me in anything other than free promotional items that, if I was 12, I would probably dig, but can you try and explain what it was like to get that first paycheck for acting? Any internal sense of validation that this was what you were meant to do?

ENGLISH: Oh, so are you just incapable of holding the attention of a reader for more than 75 words or is there something else afoot? Sorry, I had to. [Ed note: SNAP, Stipp!]

In the sense that being paid makes you a professional, yes, that first paycheck definitely gave me validation. On the other hand, I’ve been doing some kind of acting work since I was a kid, so I’ve gotten more validation from being able to turn acting into a real career. My goal when I came out to California was simply to be able to support myself acting without having to get another job. I’ve been lucky enough to do that (although I always thought it would be nice to get the employee discount at Starbucks), and, well, I’m happy! I like my job! A lot of people really don’t – so the combination makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

STIPP: 5) You were in “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story”. There are so many obvious jokes here that I am barely able to contain my Kentucky-mud-flap mullet from raising my commemorative plastic jug mug of Schlitz in honor of them. However, I would like to know of what stood out as the biggest difference from working on a television movie like 3 and your experience on set of a motion picture like UNREST.

ENGLISH: Do you really have a mullet? Cause if you do that’s awesome. I’m from Georgia ya know, I have a plastic jug mug of my own. It’s actually funny because when I booked the role in 3, my friends and reps out here in California were like – “Who is Dale Earnhardt?” but I definitely got lots of cool points from the folks back home.

Honestly, the biggest difference with the two projects you mentioned is simply that in 3 I had a small supporting role and had a very light work load, whereas for Unrest, I was in virtually ever scene so I worked long, hard hours. It was up to me to carry the movie, so the stakes were much higher – as an actor you really just have to lose yourself in the character and the film-making for the duration of the shoot. You get your life back once you picture wrap.

STIPP: 6) Jason Todd Ipson, the director for UNREST, seems like a guy who has an unhealthy obsession for both vampires and medically based yarns, with his films The First Vampire, The First Vampire: Don’t Fall for the Devil’s Illusions, Code and UNREST comprising a large chunk of his producing filmography. Besides the writing, what drew you into this production and, if it’s applicable, and you can feel free to be honest because we’re all friends here, was it hard for Jason to not insert a vampire somewhere into this movie?

ENGLISH: No wonder Jason kept wanting me to put those damned fangs in! It’s all becoming clear to me now…Actually, that second vampire movie you mentioned is just the feature length version of the short film he made while in film school. I don’t know much about Code, but he actually shot a comedy after Unrest, called Everybody Wants to be Italian. It’s about an Italian guy who can’t see his reflection. Wait a minute…Okay, really it was the writing that drew me to this project.

When I got the script I had just read this book called Aztec, by Gary Jennings – which is great, by the way – and here was this intelligent script dealing with these Aztec gods, it was really interesting to me. And I was also just very drawn to the character of Alison Blanchard. I love the arc of the character throughout the story. She’s this very normal, vulnerable girl who finds that she’s pretty much on her own – so she takes matters into her own hands and becomes this evil-spirit-booty-kicking woman by the end. I love a girl who can kick a little ass.

STIPP: 7) A few of your co-stars have also gone the television route before starring in UNREST. Is the life of a working actor, and I genuinely admire your dedication to this craft, made better when a bunch of actors like you talk about what episodes of this or that program you tried out for and may or may not have landed? Or is this something that you don’t talk about and keep to yourself, the trials and tribulations of being a part of this whirlwind of showbiz?

ENGLISH: It can definitely be a frustrating road – you have to have tough skin because, at least in the beginning, it is all about mostly being rejected. It is nice to have friends who can empathize, and that you can vent to. But typically I don’t like to talk much about work outside of work. In fact, that’s one of the difficulties I’ve found living in Los Angeles. Like I said – I’m from Georgia, there are very few actors there, so no one is asking who my agent is and if I have a demo reel when I go out for a glass of wine at night. Not that I am opposed to talking about what I do, I love what I do, but there is an element of competition inherent in any “industry” conversation in this town, and that can make it hard to make real connections with people. Living here, you can never really leave work behind for an evening.

STIPP: 8) Since this is, ostensibly, the literary equivalent of a blind date can you answer a few questions that I would ask any prospective interview subject? Splendid, let’s start the querying…

a)What was the last movie you saw that you would recommend?

ENGLISH: That’s easy – Borat. [Booyakasha. This is a girl after our own heart...]

b) What movie really resonated with you as you grew up?

Grease. Yes, the one with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Acting out that movie was probably my first dabbling into acting – and what a great message for young girls, how Sandy changed everything about herself so that Danny would like her. Powerful stuff, no?

c) Favorite musical band? (If I see Air Supply consider this interview over.)

Air Supply. Does that mean I don’t need to answer the rest of the questions?

d) Whose acting career would you like to emulate if you could?

I totally want to be Meryl Streep when I grow up. I know, I know, it sounds cliché, but she is cited so frequently as the “actress to be” for a reason – the woman is brilliant. She has played such a wide range of characters – but she always brings this amazing strength to the screen, even if she does not say a word in a scene, she’s making you feel something, evoking emotion – and she plays strong female characters. I wanna be just like her.

e) Most embarrassing movie you will publicly admit to liking? (Myself, I’m a huge fan of the Estevez/Sheen combo MEN AT WORK and I don’t care who knows it.)

Yeah, I have a really embarrassing one – From Justin to Kelly, ya know, the American Idol movie? Seriously, it’s a riot. I almost peed myself.

f) Favorite color?

Yellow

g) Were you one of those drama women in high school that not only knew they were going to be an actress but had to let everyone else know it by affecting some unholy hybrid of Eva Gardner while always speaking in a faux British accent?

Lord, no. Mine was always a faux southern drawl ala Vivien Leigh. But seriously, no way. Yuck.

g) Is your boyfriend/husband/life-partner (I’ve got to cover all the bases here) also an actor?

No, no. I think that’s dangerous.

h) Have you went to the store and bought any program you’ve been on in the form of said program’s DVD and, if you haven’t, why not? Wouldn’t it be cool just to be able and show your friends that you were on Dawson’s Creek before Katie Holmes got all sorts of crazy?

I’ve personally never done that – my mom takes care of that. She’s got the collection, dating all the way back to dance recitals with shiny pink unitards.

STIPP: 9) What’s next for you? There isn’t a joke here. I’m genuinely curious.

ENGLISH: My next film will be out next year - it’s called Killer Pad, a horror/comedy directed by Robert Englund. It’s a hoot – and I got to don prosthetics for the first time, horns, tail, hump, the whole get-up. Fun stuff.

STIPP: 10) Last Question: I’m still upset that Arrested Development was taken off the air. I know a lot of people are down on what network television is doing to our collective intelligence, evidenced by people’s embracing of a game show that doesn’t require anything of its contestants other than the ability to shout out random briefcase numbers, but what do you think is needed for smart television to thrive or do you think we’re doomed to accept Howie Mandel as our gold standard and savior? I ask because you’ve been on the frontlines of many critically acclaimed programs and, in my book, qualified to offer an opinion.

ENGLISH: I, too, am still mourning the loss of Arrested Development. A whole lot of people loved that show!! I really believe that if it had been left on the air, the audience would have continued to grow.

Honestly, I think most of the problem lies in this very example – shows are being yanked before they have a chance to find their audience. Look at a show like Seinfeld, which did not catch on right away – and look at the success it had! What’s happening in tv is similar to what’s happened in the music industry – labels look for instant success, then yank artists who can’t make that happen right away. So you have fans that aren’t really fans, they just liked the band with the song that was played over and over on the radio. Then they move on to the next hyped band… The same is happening in television.

I truly hope audiences will tire of reality television and cheesy brainless programming – and I hope, in the meantime, the networks give us shows that are more cerebral – and leave them on the air long enough for audiences to catch on.

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