The Movie Waffler Waffling With Scream Queen Jamie Bernadette | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With Scream Queen Jamie Bernadette

We chatted with the horror star, who can be seen in survival thriller All Girls Weekend on VOD in July.

Interview by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Hey Jamie, when did you first become interested in acting?

I was acting since I was a child. I was always interested in it. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when it started. I know in grade school anytime we got to do a skit for the class or anything performance-wise, I was thrilled. I was obsessed with A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about nine years old and I watched it probably about 40 times and would act out the scenes all the time, pretending to be Nancy. 

How did you get your start?

I moved out to Los Angeles with $600 in my pocket. I packed up my old Honda and drove across the country by myself. I knew two people in LA. Acting was calling to me and it wouldn’t stop. I remember before I decided to leave my hometown asking my sister, “Doesn’t everyone want to do this?” She laughed and responded, “No”. I was like, “Are you serious? You don’t want to act?” And she said, “No.” That really shocked me. I thought that of course this is something that everyone and their grandma would like to do. I had kept blowing it off, thinking of course the whole world wants to do this, so why listen to this noise inside my head? It must be nonsense, right?! My sister told me that my attention just keeps going back to Los Angeles and acting and that I should just do it. I can hear her voice like it was just yesterday. 

I had been interviewing for jobs in my hometown and I was the worst interviewee ever. Every job I interviewed for I just felt so empty. I was so bored, so unenthusiastic. I thought, “None of these companies are ever going to hire me! I wouldn’t even hire me!” I thought about acting after that conversation with my sister for another week or two and then made the decision one day and packed up my car and left. There wasn’t much planning involved in it at all. And the funny thing is, I was in LA for about a month, and decided to drive back home to Illinois, thinking that maybe I didn’t want to do this, and I remember waking up in a hotel room in Colorado, opening my eyes, and it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and I thought, “What did I just do?!” I then went home and stayed there for about seven days and cried the whole time. I just cried and cried and I thought, “I DO want to act,” and then I got back in my car and drove across the country again by myself for the third time. I can’t believe my old car didn’t break down. This time, when I reached LA, I stayed. And I worked and worked and worked and I feel so blessed and thankful. 

You've only been acting on screen since 2007 but you've managed to rack up 66 credits according to IMDB in that time. You must be quite a workaholic, or maybe you don't require sleep like us mortals?

Ha! I am a workaholic. That is for sure. People mistakenly think I take everything that I am offered because I work so much. People often make comments to me about this. That is so far from the truth. I turned down seven feature films last year alone and I ended up doing six. I have to like the director’s work. I have to like the cinematographer’s work. I have to like the script and the character. It has to work with my schedule and what I already have booked. I do not take acting work just to work on anything at all. When I first started out, I did everything I could get my hands on to gain experience and footage for my acting demo tape so that I could show filmmakers my work. Now that I have gained experience and have more footage than I could ever fit on a two-minute demo tape, I choose my projects carefully. I have been very blessed and I am very thankful for the work that has come my way.       

You're something of an icon in the horror scene. Is it a genre you're a fan of yourself?

Absolutely. Horror was my favourite thing to watch as a child. If Halloween was on, I was watching it. Friday the 13th, yes. Scream, yes. And of course my absolute favourite, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and many others. If it was on, I was watching it. It’s funny, because some people who are not into horror ask me about “moving out of it” or “moving up”. Moving up? Moving out? Why? Is there something “lowly” about horror? Is there a reason it is “beneath” other genres, according to these cynics?! Do they watch The Walking Dead? That is the question. Because that is horror. And it is so popular. Acting in horror is some of the toughest acting you can do. Terror, grief, paranoia, panic, it’s all there. These are some of the most challenging emotional depths to reach as an actor and maybe that’s why I love it so much - it is a challenge and exciting and fun.  I look up to all actors in horror, past and present. It is not easy. And last I checked, horror is the easiest selling genre and makes a ton of money. That’s why there is so much of it. It isn’t going anywhere. That all said, I also do comedy, sci-fi, drama, you name it. I don’t limit myself to any one genre but love to explore it all.   

Which movie scares you the most?

The Descent. Phenomenal film. It inspired me to write The 6th Friend, which should come out later this year. 

Do you have any idols in the acting profession?

I love what Jessica Biel did in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That is some of the best acting in horror that I have seen. Some of my favourite actors are Sally Field, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Winslet and Natalie Portman.  

We'll soon see you as the lead in I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu. That series has provoked much debate. Some argue it's misogynistic, while others say it's about female empowerment. What's your take?

The subject matter is about misogyny. The film itself is about female empowerment. Many do not know that the original 1978 film was inspired by true events. The writer/director Meir Zarchi found a girl naked in the park in New York after having been gang raped. He wrapped her in his coat and took her to the police station where they questioned her as if it were her fault. Remember, this is the 1970s. If a woman was raped it was like, “What were you wearing? Why were you out by yourself so late? What were you thinking?” This event in Meir’s life inspired him to write I Spit on Your Grave. One in five women are sexually assaulted in the United States. The statistics in some other countries are even more gruesome. This film actually helped some victims heal by watching it. The film is a rape victim’s fantasy that they themselves would never act out but would only dream of.   

And how about the 'Scream Queen' label? Is it one you embrace?

Absolutely! After all, I admire so many Scream Queens like Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, Heather Langenkamp and of course my “mommy” Camille Keaton, that I am so proud to be given the same title as these extraordinary women!  

All Girls Weekend hits VOD in July. What can you tell us about the film and your role?

I just saw the film a few days ago for the first time because I was filming in Michigan when they had the premiere so I couldn’t attend. It is really good! It has a slow build in the beginning and it picks up steam quickly and doesn’t let go. It’s a horror/thriller/adventure/survival film that, ironically, was inspired by The Descent, as writer/director Lou Simon said, and The Descent also inspired me to write my film The 6th Friend, which is coming out later this year. Sounds like Lou and I have the same taste in movies. She also loves Alfred Hitchcock and I do as well. I grew up watching Psycho and The Birds and that TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents with my mom. Anyway, Lou wrote a really good story that I loved and the relationship between us five girls is truly believable and real in the film. We really bonded on set and you can see it in the film. My character is cynical Nancy and she puts up this tough-girl act, but there is more to her than she lets on. It was hilarious watching myself the other night because it was as if I was watching someone else because Nancy, or at least who she appears to be, isn’t anything like who I really am. I am a positive person and Nancy is always coming back with some negative comment. She likes to pick fights with people and I like to maintain calm waters as much as possible. I absolutely loved playing her. It is fun to play the mean girl sometimes. And another thing I love about this character isn’t something I can comment on until the movie is released, so you’ll just have to watch and see. 

You have a ton of movies in the pipeline. Any you're particularly excited about?

The 6th Friend, the film I wrote with director Letia Clouston and produced with actress Chantelle Albers, who also acts in the film with me. Also acting in the film are Dominique Swain (Lolita), Jessica Morris (One Life to Live), and Tania Nolan (Step Dave). This movie came out so well and I am so proud of it. We all worked really hard on it. Everyone who has seen it has really loved it. We are in talks with some big distribution companies now. We hope to get it out for the world to see by the end of the year.
State of Desolation is a post-apocalyptic zombie drama/horror film that I star in with Craig Stark (The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained). I produced the film with the director Jim Towns (House of Bad). Also in the film are Dominique Swain, Sadie Katz (Wrong Turn 6), Jessica Morris and Maria Olsen (I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu). It’s a beautiful film actually, although we are dealing with some pretty gruesome elements. It is tragic and sad and everything in between. We are wrapping up post production. 
I have a couple of comedies coming out also. I just reunited with director Ash Avildsen (What Now) on American Satan, a dark comedy executive produced by John G. Avildsen, the writer/director of the Rocky and Karate Kid movies. The film stars Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), John Bradley (Game of Thrones), Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy) and many more. I wrapped in April and the film is now in post production. 
Also on the way in the comedy genre is Smothered by Mothers. I play a sassy assistant to a football star, played by Shannon Brown. Also in the film are Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse), Jim O’Heir (Parks and Recreation) and Burt Young (Rocky).   
In the horror/thriller genre are the films that I lead - Elder Island, Killing Joan, 13 Days and I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu, which we talked about. So keep an eye on my facebook, instagram and twitter as I make announcements when these are coming out. 

Thanks so much for speaking with us Jamie.

Thank you for having me!

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