Alexandra Tydings, who you might recognize as Aphrodite from both Hercules and Xena, sat down with me discuss her role as the goddess of love and her most recent role as Doctor Kathleen Brady in the dark thriller What Death Leaves Behind.
In What Death Leaves Behind after a kidney transplant, a man experiences reoccurring nightmares he believes to be visions of his donor’s violent murder, sending him on a dark path of vengeance, leading to an unbearable truth.
Tydings stars along with Christopher Mann, Vincent Young, and Kelly Dowdle in the film, based on a true story, directed by Scott A. Hamilton.
Horror Fuel: “Growing up, we always watched Hercules and Xena. What was it like to play Aphrodite?”
Alexandra Tydings: “Oh, that was so fun. I started on Hercules in one episode. I found out it was shooting in New Zealand, which is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place. I was in L.A. – que the tiny violins – it’s not so bad. I got on the airplane – it was a really, really long flight. It was eighteen hours – but the flight from LA to New Zealand is one of my favorite flights. You get on eight or ten at night, you have a weird nights sleep and you wake up in the morning and you’re in this beautiful place.
We shot at the beach for a lot of that episode. Oh my gosh, it was so beautiful and the cast and crew were so wonderful. It was such a great time. I met the best friend of my life there, she was my makeup artist. I was so sad to say good-bye to her, but then I found out I was going back. They brought me on Xena.”
Horror Fuel: “I’ve heard that it’s a beautiful place.
Will you tell us about your character on Hercules and Xena?”
Alexandra Tydings: “I played the goddess of love, Aphrodite. I was a little confused at first when I auditioned because I hadn’t seen the show. I didn’t quite understand the tone. I had grown up with pretty straight-laced adventure shows. I thought with it being called Hercules it would a muscley, very serious action show with goddesses in long white gowns. Aphrodite’s first line is ‘Tubular!’ (laughter). I called my agent and asked her ‘What is this?’ She said, ‘Oh, it’s campy.’ I love campy stuff. I love John Waters. She’s definitely a campy character, she’s a lot of fun.”
Horror Fuel: “You’ve been a part of some great series and films. You were part of The Wire.”
Alexandra Tydings: “The Wire is such an incredible show. It was such a great experience. It’s so intense. I usually watch TV late at night after my kids go to bed, but I can’t watch The Wire then. It will give me nightmares. ”
Horror Fuel: “It is a great show. Speaking of nightmares, your latest film, What Death Leaves Behind sounds like it might cause some nightmares.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Yes! It’s definitely in that zone. It’s filled with dark things and scary things, you shouldn’t watch it right before you go to sleep. But yeah, it’s a good one.
This man Jake who is on the organ transplant list, he’s waiting for a kidney. It’s pretty bleak. Being on that list, and I guess waiting for someone to die. And then he gets it, it’s such a good thing. Then things start getting weird. That’s really when the story takes off.
My character is his doctor who is there to explain what might be going on. It’s really a dark psychological thriller. My character helps give one angle of what’s going on.”
Horror Fuel: “Those are terrifying thoughts, waiting for an organ and then what if the organ causes the patient to feel or be connected to the donor. I had a friend that had a cornea transplant and afterward had strange nightmares for a long time. You have to wonder what could possibly happen.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Really? Oh, wow. That’s kind of the genesis of this movie. Those things are really interesting. There are actually a lot of real stories about people who have transplants and then have weird things happen, their organ arrived with other things too, memories, or creating desires, nightmares, and other things. There was a boy who had a transplant who started wanting to play with certain kinds of toys. It’s interesting.”
Horror Fuel: “It’s like the organ isn’t the only piece of the person that’s transplanted.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Exactly. So your friend had part of her eye transplanted?”
Horror Fuel: “That’s correct.”
Alexandra Tydings: “So, she was looking out of someone else’s eye?
Horror Fuel: “Yeah. It’s a strange thing if you think about it.”
Alexandra Tydings: “It is. If you think about it, science is incredible. I wonder sometimes in a 100 years what they will look back on, like we look back on before us. Certainly for medicine, we don’t know what technology we’ll have.”
Horror Fuel: “That’s true. I mean scientists are now starting to grow organs in laboratories.”
Alexandra Tydings: “It’s incredible isn’t it? It’s so wild. I think this is an interesting part of where we are now as a society. There have been a lot of incredible discoveries, but at the same time, there have come a lot unexpected consequences. I always wonder about that, what do we not know? I wonder what my kids will look back on when they’re my age.”
Horror Fuel: “I guess only time will tell. Hopefully, we won’t look like idiots.
If our readers asked for three words to describe the film, what would you say?”
Alexandra Tydings: “I would say that it is dark, creepy, and moody.”
Horror Fuel: “Those are great words.”
Alexandra Tydings: “It’s also beautiful. Scott Hamilton directed. He has a great eye. And the actors, they’re great too.”
Horror Fuel: “The trailer looks fantastic.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Doesn’t it?!
Horror Fuel: “I love dark, intense thrillers, especially ones that make me think.”
Alexandra Tydings: “I think you’ll love this one.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m sure I will.
What was it like on the set of What Death Leaves Behind? I know that you said the movie is really dark.”
Alexandra Tydings: “It is. I have a small part in this, I play a doctor. The lead character goes on this psychological journey when after his transplant strange things start happening. He has insomnia and he’s trying to figure out what’s happening. He ends up finding my character on the internet. I’m a doctor who does research into what happens with poorly understood medical phenomena. She has her own YouTube channel and she shares things with people and tries to get interest and funding. I worked with no other actors on the set. That’s the first time that’s happened. It was me talking to the camera. I have to tell you, it was a great crew. They were so well organized and they were so well run. The producers and the director were wonderful to work with. It was fun. They had me do a lot of improvising. I have a background in drama so that was fun for me.”
Horror Fuel: “How different does it feel to do a scene with you and a camera versus you and other cast members?”
Alexandra Tydings: “It’s really different. My first thought was that it is a little bit lonely being there by yourself. I once heard a director describe actors as aliens. She was trying to explain that we are so sensitive. Regular people kind of freeze up or are so self-conscious that they can’t do anything. We have to really, really focus. To respond at the moment to do our job and it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re with another person like that. They’re really your tribe. They are really occupying that world with you. I get a lot from that. When I’m alone on camera I have to bring all that, which I can do. I’m a professional. But it’s more fun when you’re with someone else.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m sure it helps when you are able to feed off of their emotions.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Exactly! I just love it. I’ve been acting for a really long time and I’ve had the honor of working with some really great actors. I’ve heard horror stories about people that are really hard to work with, but that’s not been my experience.”
Horror Fuel: “It’s great that you’ve had a good experience.”
Alexandra Tydings: “I really have.”
Horror Fuel: “Is What Death Leaves Behind going to any festivals before its release?”
Alexandra Tydings: “It screened at Sundance last winter along with a lot of other festivals and it’s won a lot of awards. Now it’s premiering in LA on September 11th. Then it’s coming to a bunch of other theaters.”
Horror Fuel: “I look forward to hearing what my readers think. I love that it’s different and we haven’t heard the same story twenty times like some new horror movies. I like that the movie is bringing attention to organ donation. It’s something we all need to do.”
Alexandra Tydings: “It means life.”
Horror Fuel: “I signed up when I got my drivers license. I get that some people just don’t want to, but what’s the point in not doing it? It’s not like you can take it with you. What’s the point. It could say someone’s life.They may not want any of my organs by the time I’m done with them but they are there if they want them.”
Alexandra Tydings: “Exactly. I love that. How many other ways could you make such an impact on someone’s life?”
Horror Fuel: “That’s very true. It’s the gift of life.”
Alexandra is a real sweetheart. The fact that she loves What Death Leaves Behind so much tells me a lot about the integrity of the film, which makes me want to see it even more. As soon as there is a home release date announced we’ll let you know. In the meantime, go check out more of Alexandra’s projects. You will find both “Xena” and “Hercules”s streaming on NBC or watch it (free) on Tubi. Follow Mrs. Tydings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on all her projects.
To find out more about becoming an organ doner please click here.