In Oculus, Katee Sackhoff plays the matriarch of the Russell family that falls victim to the haunted mirror in their home. She makes a harrowing transformation from loving mother to a deadly threat to her children. ScreenCrave recently spoke to Katee about the physical and mental preparation she went through to bring the film’s scariest scenes to life.
What drew you to this story?
Katee Sackhoff: I read the script. It came to the house and I realized that it was Mike Flannagan–who I’d read [a] previous script of his which I had read years before that I fell in love with. So I immediately knew that I would probably want to do the project, it would be good. As soon as I got through it, it took me about 45 minutes to read it, I fell in love with it. I immediately called and said that I would do it.
What about it grabbed you and convinced you to pick up that phone?
Katee Sackhoff: If I can read a script in one sitting I know that it’s a good script. That’s kind of how I make my decisions. Especially 45 minutes–that’s quick. I love the idea of going crazy. I love the idea of trying to make somebody who ultimately could be viewed as a horrible person … vulnerable and relatable [that] is important to me … for them to feel this kind of emotional connection with this family.
Did you find inspiration from past horror films like The Shining that deal with this sort of digression into madness?
Katee Sackhoff: No I can’t watch horror movies. Life scares me enough. I can’t go to bed scared. Definitely for me it was just selling and taking the audience on a ride with this family. And really making sure that this family was relatable cause ultimately you feel really bad for these children. So that was really the only thing, the rest was just imagination.
What was it like establishing that bond with the kids?
Katee Sackhoff: Those kids are so talented and so funny and smart that it was simple. They’re just good kids so it’s pretty easy to love them immediately and they’re both great little actors. If they didn’t love you, they’d pretend.
What was it like to undergo the transformation from loving mother to possessed woman?
Katee Sackhoff: I tried to always just make her an animal. Just kind of hardwired and driven to wipe out the thing that is making her sad. And that’s you know, her children.
Many of your scenes were incredibly brutal. Were practical effects used?
Katee Sackhoff: Everything was practical except the eyes and the eyes were all put in later in CG. Everything was there. So tons and tons of special effects makeup. Lot of special effects makeup. I was in the makeup chair for at least two to three hours.
Can you elaborate on the emotional state you took? How did you get into that head-space?
Katee Sackhoff: I imagined that this was a woman who had given up a lot of her life to have her children at a very young age. I really wanted to portray her in a positive way and not a negative light you know. I’ve seen many women have children in their late teens and early twenties and go on to finish school and be phenomenal mothers and make a living. For some reason in our society, it’s always viewed as a negative thing. So I wanted her to be just a happy positive loving mother but at the same time she did give up her life for her children. She gave up her body for her children and her youth for her children. Those are things that she sees in the mirror on a daily basis. If you took away your love for your children I don’t know what you’d be left with. And that’s kind of what we see happen.
On a lighter note, what are you working on next?
Katee Sackhoff: Right now I’m on Longmire, it’s a show on A&E. We’re on our third season. I’ve got some things lined up for July I can’t talk about. There’s some other stuff. You know when you’re on a TV series you’re kind of stuck for a few months. Producing some projects, got a project over at Relativity. Another couple projects that are out and about that I might be producing too. We’ll see.
Oculus is in theaters now!