Actress Stefanie Estes, star of James Cullen Bressack’s soon to be released thriller Bethany, talked with me about the film, as well as her past and present roles and I would like to share that with you.
In Bethany, after Claire’s mother dies, she and her husband move back to her childhood home only to have the abusive and traumatic memories of her mother come back and bring unrest into the house. Claire soon finds herself in a fog of past and present when her imaginary friend from childhood begins haunting her memories. What is this terrifying thing that is trying to reach out to her, and what does it want?
Zack Ward (Restoration), Keith Jardine (John Wick), Leon Russom (TV’s Prison Break) and Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) star alongside Tom Green (Road Trip, Freddy got Fingered) and Shannen Doherty (Charmed, Beverly Hills 90210) co-star.
She currently plays the lead role in the series Donna’s Inferno which centers on a young woman who finds herself trapped in an apartment with seven demons who are up from Hell on a working vacation. Robert Wagner co-stars.
Horror Fuel: “I must tell you. I saw The Chosen, in which you played Lilith, and gave it a great review.”
SE: “Thank you! Yes – I also thought it was a great film. And playing the character of Lilith was such a fun challenge. I could barely recognize myself when I saw the final film. The makeup and costume departments did a fantastic job creating the look for that character. It was terrifying!”
Horror Fuel: “Bethany will soon see release. If you will, please tell us about the film?”
SE: “Bethany is about a young woman, Claire, who inherits her childhood home from her late mother. She and her husband move into the home and Claire starts to relive the pain, violence, and trauma of her past. We learn that her mother was a terrible stage mom and was obsessed with beauty and was abusive towards her daughter. We also learn that Claire’s only source of comfort during this awful time was her imaginary friend, Bethany. As Claire starts to slip further into the fog of her memories, supernatural things begin to happen to her. ‘Bethany’ is both a psychological and supernatural horror film. Claire’s mental state is so compromised that you question if the terror she is experiencing is actually happening. The supernatural element is rooted in Claire’s past trauma, which is revealed in a great and deeply disturbing way at the end of the film.”
Horror Fuel: “I think the ending was fitting.”
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us about the character you play?”
SE: “Claire is a character who is both fragile and strong. When she first arrives at her childhood home, she is overwhelmed with the pain and violence of her past. And her sanity begins to fray. She suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of her overbearing mother. And recently, Claire has had to endure the pain of desperately wanting to become a mother herself, but loosing her baby during pregnancy. She is a wounded soul but, in the course of the film, she gains strength. In order to save her life, she must to overcome her demons and confront her past – in a rather scary and gruesome way!”
Horror Fuel: “Talk about a messed up childhood.”
Horror Fuel: “Does playing a character like Claire affect you after the cameras stop rolling?”
SE: “Yes, I would say so. When you are playing someone with so much emotional baggage and who is on the verge of loosing it, it takes a toll on you. And so many of my scenes were so heavy. Maintaining that level of heightened emotion was exhausting. I found myself staying in that fragile emotional state in between scenes even when the cameras were off, because it made transitioning into whatever we were shooting next easier. I’m sure I was a real joy to be around on those days – haha!”
Horror Fuel: “I can imagine. It has to be emotionally draining.”
Horror Fuel: “I have to ask, in the piano scene, were you actually playing?”
SE: “Haha! No. I mean, I am in the wide shot playing the piano. But I was just plunking keys – I felt bad for everyone on set who had to listen to the awful noise I was making. For the close ups on the hands, where you see the more skilled playing, we used a hand double.”
Horror Fuel: “What was it like on set, working with James Cullen Bressack, Zach Ward and Shannen Doherty? Zack looked like he was having a little too much fun with that cereal.”
SE: “Well, even though it was heavy and emotionally exhausting material and subject matter, it was a lot of fun for me. Everyone involved in the production was such a professional and was always bringing their A-game to set. It was my first time working with James, and the process was extremely collaborative and supportive. I had been a fan of ‘90210’ and ‘Charmed’ as a kid, so working with Shannen was a thrill. We didn’t have many scenes together, since she mainly appears in flashbacks, but she is such a committed actress and she exudes such a compelling presence. The majority of my scenes were with Zach and he is such a talented actor and a really giving and supportive co-star. He was always ready to read lines with me and rehearse, but equally ready to give me my space when I needed to go off into a corner and be sad and get into character. He’s a great guy. And I think he was enjoying that cereal scene. He’s the kind of actor that just goes for it – and he really went for it in that scene. The result is disgusting and terrifying – in a good way!”
Horror Fuel: “You have several upcoming roles. Which ones can we look forward to seeing in 2017 and 2018?”
SE: “I have a couple of other indies scheduled to be released this year: ‘Identity’ is a Sci-Fi thriller, and ‘Nothing Like The Sun’ is a drama set in the 1950s about a lesbian at odds with the conservative nature of the world she lives in.
I’m also shooting ‘A Place Apart’ which is a film that explores the universal themes of fear and complacency, and I’m trying my had at some horror-comedy with a web series called ‘Donna’s Inferno’. Peter Wagner plays the devil in it, so that’s pretty cool.”
Horror Fuel: “As a woman in the film industry, is there any advice you would want to give young women who want to become actresses?”
SE: “Be strong and persevere and have a thick skin. Know that you are going to face a lot of rejection before the right role or project comes along. Know that your voice and talent is worthy. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. And don’t give up!”
Beside being a talented actress, Stefanie Estes is also a producer and a screenwriter (These Are My Friends). I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from Estes in the future. To learn more and to stay up to date on her film and television roles, visit her official website. Don’t miss Bethany in theaters or On Demand on April 7th from Uncork’d Entertainment.