Interview: Tracie Thoms from “Grindhouse”
Interview: Tracie Thoms from “Grindhouse”

The Massie Twins recently got to chat with six of the stars from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ new double feature film “Grindhouse” (consisting of “Death Proof” and “Planet Terror”), in which the dangerous duo pay homage to all things exploitive, gritty, and fun.

 

The Massie Twins: What was it like reuniting on a film shoot with Rosario Dawson?

Tracie Thoms: It was crazy; we actually auditioned together. I called her to ask her for advice, so we went in together just to solidify the deal. Afterwards Quentin said “I’ll bite…I’ll hire you both.”

MT: Were you familiar with grindhouse movies, and was there any that had a particularly strong influence on you?

TT: I grew up loving horror movies. Carrie and Amityville Horror scared the mess out of me, but other than that I loved them. I loved the Friday the 13th franchise. I think Halloween is my favorite horror movie of all time. But I also love Evil Dead. I always wanted to do a horror movie, and now I can say I’ve done one, and with Quentin Tarantino no less.

MT: What reactions do you hope audiences will get from Grindhouse?

TT: I hope audiences will see this as a thrill ride; we’re not trying to solve any world problems, it’s not very deep, it’s just really fun and an homage to old-school movies. It’s a gore-fest, but its over-the-top cartoony gore.

MT: Is Quentin’s personality and energy on the set infectious?

TT: It really is. His energy comes from the fact that he really loves what he does. You want to do the best job that you can for him. He inspires everyone from the grip to the lead actor to do their best every day. It’s refreshing.

MT: Are there special preparations you have to do when acting in a movie like Grindhouse versus more conventional fare?

TT: Absolutely. There’s no such thing as too much or too big on these movies. You have to give yourself permission to do it and go for it. I love it.

MT: What was the transition like for you from making films like Rent and The Devil Wears Prada to making Grindhouse?

TT: It’s all about finding the truth of every situation and telling it. There’s the question of style: how big do you want to be or how dirty do you want to be. It was a lot of fun. With each project I get more and more freedom. Devil Wears Prada was a lot of adlibbing. It didn’t feel like acting, it was hanging out on set with cool people. This had the same kind of camaraderie feel; I’ve been really lucky because all my projects have been really fun. I’ve had a great group of people to work with.

MT: What was your favorite part about working on this film and working with Quentin Tarantino?

TT: It’s hard to figure out what was my favorite part. He sent me to stunt school to learn how to drive really badass. Perhaps hanging out on set; the whole atmosphere. Quentin makes it really fun to come to work every day. We played music in between setups and nobody went back to their trailers, we’d just hang out on set and goof off, and have singing contests. The whole experience was so much fun.

MT: What measures were taken to sustain the realism and the B-movie vibe of the film?

TT: On other jobs there’s a script supervisor who keeps track of continuity to make sure everything matches; we didn’t really have that. Continuity is for pussies. This is Grindhouse…nobody cares, nobody is paying attention! That became a little catchphrase. This is Grindhouse…continuity is for pussies!

MT: Did you preserve the friendships with Rosario and Vanessa from “Descent”?

TT: Rosario produced the film, and she put me and Vanessa in cameos. Vanessa and I never actually worked together in Descent or in Grindhouse … we’re not in the same group of people, but the relationships we had with Rosario definitely carried over, and helped us get the roles. We weren’t shooting at the same time…there’s a little bit of an overlap; we rehearsed at the same time, so we all hung out at rehearsals in August, but there was no onscreen mingling because we were in completely different groups of girls.

MT: How do you think Grindhouse will compare to other horror films?

TT: I think people will see it as a great tribute to those movies, a great homage. They paid a lot of attention to details so they could create them. I think people will respect it for that.

MT: What drew you to this project?

TT: The character is so outrageous and I really loved her, and worked really hard to get into the film. I auditioned several times, and I felt really strongly about it. Every now and then there’s a role that I have to do, and it just happened to work. I’ve always wanted to play a badass like this… but with great humanity, and I always wanted to do a horror movie and an action movie and this movie is both, so I accomplished two of my goals at one time. Quentin has a certain sensibility that’s present in all his films from Kill Bill to Reservoir Dogs; he pays homage to all the great movies of the 70s in every film he does, and you’ll get all the stuff you love about Quentin in this film, including a really amazing action sequence, and he’s known for that now since Kill Bill. This movie is very visceral, it causes people to scream and cheer at the end of the movie. There’s not really a huge epiphany in this film, because they pay homage to the kind of films that don’t have huge world discoveries; it’s just a really fun movie.

MT: Did Quentin Tarantino do anything special to get into the filming of this movie?

TT: We have this huge car chase scene, and he had a monitor speaker in the car so he could cue us from the camera car. They were following us; we’re all acting and screaming and running and driving from Kurt Russell and all of a sudden Quentin would start yelling from this little box. He’s yelling out lines and cues and all kinds of stuff and by the end of the day we’re all hoarse, including Quentin, because he is acting every scene with us and he’s getting emotionally involved in the scene. It’s hilarious.

MT: What were some of the highlights of filming in Austin, Texas?

TT: Austin was a great town; it’s a party town. It was really fun. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to there; we actually shot half of our film in California, but I had a great time in Austin. I want to go back and spend more time there.

MT: What was your favorite line of dialogue from the film?

TT: There’s one line that’s going to be on the soundtrack where Zoe Bell is trying to convince me to play this game in this car. We’re going to test drive a Dodge Challenger, and she wants to play a game where she lays on the hood of the car holding on with belts attached to the doors, and I drive as fast as I can. Don’t try this at home. I say “No you didn’t say we shouldn’t, you said we ain’t ever gonna play that again.” “But…” “But my ass. You said not only are we never gonna play that again but you also said if you ever do what you’re trying to do now, not only refuse, but that I had permission to physically restrain yo ass if necessary. Now, did you or did you not say that?” I do that in all one breath.