Adrienne Kress is an author and actress. She has been in the TV show "American Gods". We interview her about the movie that she cowrote and acted in"The Devil Comes At Night".
What’s your character like in The Devil Comes at Night in terms of personality?
My character in The Devil Comes at Night, her name is Amy, and the thing I really really liked about her is that she's this really fleshed out three dimensional character. So, she's not a damsel in distress, or she's not this badass, she's sort of a regular person. In this case, she is a librarian, and she's put into this really terrifying, crazy situation, and she has to, you know, fight and solve problems and survive all while, you know, not being this great superhero, just a regular person who seems to have a great deal of faith in other people, and generally, a positive outlook, which I really like as well.
What do you think viewers will like about the storyline of the movie?
Well, I hope people like the story that we're telling in general. I hope they find it creepy and spooky. And I don't want to give any spoilers, but I hope they enjoy our ending. The movie itself, The Devil Comes at Night is a bit of an homage to other horror films. So, I hope people who really enjoy horror movies can see all the little easter eggs we have in there, from references to Night of the Living Dead to The Shining, and so forth. And mostly, I just hope people have a really good time.
Were any scenes particularly challenging to film?
I was very lucky, because I've worked with a lot of the people before. The director, Scott Leaver, is actually my husband too, so I know him pretty well. So, working with him was pretty great. But I've also worked with Ryan before, Ryan Allen, who plays Ben the lead. So, it was a pretty nice and positive experience working with everybody and going back and forth and really getting to play off of each other. But I would say, for me, maybe some of the more challenging bits were some of the more physical bits, because as much as I enjoy them, I'm not as used to doing them. So, there were some moments where I had to be dragged all over the basement and stuff, and it was really, really fun, but it was definitely a challenge for me, but I really enjoyed it.
Did you do any preparation for the role?
I would say, since I'm a cowriter on it, I wrote it with Scott and with Ryan, the act of writing the screenplay, I suppose, was the preparation, because we got to know the characters we were writing really, really well. So, going into actually shooting, we were very comfortable in the characters and comfortable with what we were doing. And in fact, even when we were on set, there'll be moments where we'd have discussion, and as we got to know the characters even while performing them, things changed and lines changed here and there. And you'd be like, “Oh, maybe she should say this instead of that.” So, I think it was a very natural preparation, because it was from the very beginning up till now.
There were two other writers for The Devil Comes at Night, do you find collaborating with several other writers easy or difficult, and why?
I think collaboration presents its own unique challenges, but it also has its own unique benefits. I think having other people to volley ideas off of and to go, “Oh, that's good, but what if we also did that?” Or “I'm not sure that works, but I had an idea that was sort of similar, maybe this.” I think you can make things stronger together. And I've worked in a few collaborations. I did a web series with a friend, Heather Dan, who actually also did costumes on this. And I've also done as an author a few tie-ins as they call for other people's universes. So, I write the Bendy and the ink Machine video game novels. So, I have to work with the developers of the game and make sure that everything I'm coming up with works with what they want and the back and forth. So, I find it a very energetic and exciting experience. I think some of the downsides, obviously, you know, different people have different ideas, and sometimes there's going to be a bit of friction. But if you're with the right people that's very small, and it usually doesn't really last, and ultimately, out of this sort of the tension, can come something pretty amazing, like this movie, which I'm really proud of.
Do you like the horror genre? And what do you like about it if you do
That's such a good question, especially, obviously, since this is a horror movie. And I also write horror books; the answer should be yes, and it is yes. But there's a caveat in that. There are certain horror films that really, really scare me to the point where I can't watch them. I'm just sort of traumatized by them. So, the kind of horror movies I really enjoy are monster movies, and I've also discovered more recently, I really enjoy a good zombie movie. So, that's the sort I really like, when people ask me what my favorite is. I do like to talk about Jaws. I just think that is just such a perfect monster movie, where you don't even see the monster until the very, very end, but it's absolutely terrifying with a ton of jump scares, which still get me. I always think, “Oh, I've seen it so many times. That won't get me,” but I always jump. So, yeah, I love monster movies. I like the tension. I like the thrill. But there are some that just take it too far, and I just can't handle it. And Scott, my husband, he can watch them all, and he can consume them all. I'm very jealous.
What is your favorite TV role that you played?
Oh, gosh. Oh, that's a good question. I'm not really good at saying favorites. I and I'm that way also with my books. I think you learn something from every role you do. And generally, you have such lovely experiences with the other people on set that they're such unique, lovely little pockets of experiences that I don't really want to choose between. I will say I had quite a small role in The Expanse recently, and it was amazing. It was just a massive set. A huge explosion had just happened in the storyline. There were all these extras. There was smoke there. It was just that wonderful feeling of being completely enveloped by the set and the props and the costumes and the actors and the ultimate make believe, which is really, really fun. But I honestly I can't say. I love all of it, and I just want to keep doing it forever.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing a book?
Oh, the challenging thing about writing a book? That's a really good question. I think writing a book, I think creating anything can be very challenging, because you're creating something out of nothing, and it can be very frustrating at times. I think, with books, it can be quite a lonely experience, especially after having worked on a screenplay with other people, or being an actor on a set or on a stage. I think when you're writing a book, you're alone, and you can really only do it on your own. And even when it's published around the world, you don't really get a good sense. You don't get that immediate reaction like you do as an actor on a stage where you can hear applause and laughter and everything. So, I think that is probably one of the most challenging things. I think the other thing about writing a book is, it feels like it should be this really artsy artistic, you know, when the inspiration strikes, and you just write and you create in this sort of frenzied state, but the lesson you learn after you've written, you know, over a dozen books, is that sometimes you just have to sit down and force it. You just sit down at nine o'clock and start writing and hope something will come of it, and often something does. And I think it's a really good lesson, because you realize you can push through the tough moments or the moments where you don't feel inspired. But it's also, honestly, it sometimes feels almost physically painful to do. So, yeah, that would be probably the most challenging thing.
To my knowledge you’ve primarily written books as opposed to screen productions. Is there any reason why you haven't focused so much on writing screen productions?
Yeah, that's a really good question. It's interesting, because I actually started writing plays. So, for theater, not screenplays. Then, while I was living in the UK, after I'd studied theater, I decided to write my first book, and then that went very well. Then, that career sort of started working. So, I went back. I started writing novels. And I only recently started writing plays again. Then, I sort of realized - this was, I don't know, maybe five or six years ago - that I love movies, and I'm really interested in creating movies. Maybe I should look into how screenplays work. So, I started looking into screenplays and started writing some, and I've written a bit. I did the web series I did with my friend Heather that I mentioned earlier. I did a thing for My Singing Monsters, a live animated YouTube show which is just a crazy sentence all put together there. And then this film. And I'm working on some other screenplays for some other projects, and I really enjoy it. And in fact, beyond that, I've actually started working on comics, graphic novels, which is also another form of script writing. I have a graphic novel coming out in a couple years, a children's graphic novel. So, I'm really getting to know all the different forms of script there is out there, and I'm really excited. I really want to keep pursuing the screenwriting as well as writing books. I just want to do everything I guess. I guess that's what I want to do.
Where do the ideas in your books come from?
Oh, that's always such a big question. I get my ideas from everywhere. I think a lot of writers, we sort of see ourselves as slight outsiders observing the world around us. So, you go to a party, and you're having fun, but you're also kind of watching conversations in the groups and sort of, you know. And even though I do enjoy people, and I love meeting people, I'm technically an introvert. So, there are times that I like to sort of be in myself and just watch, and that sounds creepy, but I hope I'm not too creepy. I just see some things. So for example, my recent recent book series I just finished, called The Explorers. I was in New York City for a book event, and I was walking down the street, and I just sort of looked to the side, and then suddenly, I saw a sign that said, The Explorers Club, and that just blew my mind. I couldn't believe that there could be such a thing. And I didn't - and what wouldn't Explorers Club look like? So, I went back to the hotel, and I Googled it, and I learned all about it. It's actually fascinating. I recommend everybody Google the Explorers Club. But that one little question of, “that's so cool. What would the inside of an Explorer's Club look like?” totally inspired where I went, with a very fantastical version with The Explorers series. Sometimes it's wonderful. Sometimes you're - you know, with the Bendy and the Ink Machine books, I'm given a world to already play in, and sometimes that's can be almost more freeing, because you have the boundaries already clearly delineated, so you can play within it. But generally, everything and everyone. I have friends who end up in my books all the time, and I do tell them ahead of time, so they're prepared. And they're never bad people. They're always good.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like so many authors. I will do my top, my absolute favorite, who I think is just the biggest inspiration on my writing is actually Douglas Adams. Not everything I write is necessarily science fiction in the way that he wrote. Although his stuff wasn't entirely - he was in fantasy science fiction. But I just loved his voice and the absurdity of his writing and sort of the light deafness that he had to it. And up until - so my dad used to read to me before bed when I was a kid, which was just our tradition. And he read to me a lot of the classics, so a lot of Dickens, and he read all of Lord of the Rings to me, would you believe? That is quite a daunting task. And then he picked up the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and it was unlike anything he'd been reading to me, and it just clicked in my brain. I just thought, “Oh, you can do that? You can just play like that?” It just expanded the possibilities of where you could go as a writer for me. So, I would say he's probably my favorite and probably my biggest inspiration.
What would you consider your biggest success?
Oh, my. I'm literally speechless with my biggest success. I think my biggest success would be that I am an author and I can do that professionally full time, that I get that. I think I've been very fortunate with the books I've had published, and I've had books optioned for film, and I've had some wonderful feedback from readers. And generally, it's been an incredibly positive experience. But when I actually sort of take a step back, I think I am so lucky that I'm able to do what I love, and that goes with the acting too, actually. I just feel very, very, very successful because I get to do the things that I love to do.
Where can people follow you?
I am all over the internet. I have a website, adriennekress.com, and then I'm on Twitter and Instagram at adriennekress. So, it's pretty straightforward.
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