Exclusive Christa Campbell Interview

Posted by: Robert Bell

MoviesOnline recently had the pleasure of talking to Christa Campbell about her role in Day of the Dead, which will be available on DVD on April 8th, 2008. In this modern update of the George Romero classic, a group of scientists, military personnel and civilians find themselves banding together in a military bunker to battle against the relentless undead. Christa Campbell stars as Mrs. Leitner, a woman hiding from zombies at the local radio station with four other civilians. Suspicions of zombie infection cause this group to turn on each other, as they struggle to survive.

Campbell will be known to audiences as an actress and model, having garnered a rather impressive resume through her work in television and film. Christa has appeared in episodes of Summerland, Pacific Blue, Unhappily Ever After, and Sabrina the Teenaged Witch. Her ever-increasing film roster includes: 2001 Maniacs (2005), Lonely Hearts (2006), The Wicker Man (2006), and Cleaner (2007). This is in addition to the many projects she has on the horizon.

MoviesOnline: How did your role in Day of the Dead come about?

Christa Campbell: I met Jeffrey at Lions Gate. He told me he was involved with the film, and I wanted to be involved with it. So I tracked down Steve Miner since I knew I had to be in this movie. When I met Steve it was great, he loved me, so they actually rewrote the part to suit me better.

MoviesOnline: How was working with Steve Miner?

Christa Campbell: He was great. When I met him I was thinking he would have more of an edge, but he was so nice. When we got to set he knew exactly what he wanted, and knew where to put the camera, and how to set everything up.

MoviesOnline: How comfortable are you with gore?

Christa Campbell: I’m very comfortable with it.  That’s the exciting part of making a horror movie; to actually be able to do things, like turn into a zombie or fight someone. It’s boring when you just come on screen and say a couple of lines, or have to sit around and cry.

MoviesOnline: When you become a zombie you really run and jump around, rather impressively I might add, how did you gear yourself up for that? How much was stunt?

Christa Campbell: I did all of my own stunts.  I went through the window, I did all the fighting, the running, the slamming into things.  It was 3 hours in make up and the person doing my stunts wasn’t done up with as much detail makeup-wise. So Steve Miner came  to me and asked how comfortable I would be with doing some of my stunts so that he could get my face more during the action, and I was all for it. That was me slamming around, and I even pulled I hamstring. The only thing they used a stunt for was the actual falling from the window. I went through the window, but I landed on one of those mattress things, not the full fall.

MoviesOnline: You had to shoot in Bulgaria, what was that like?

Christa Campbell: It was fun. I mean, none of the extras speak English or anything. But they have a couple of beautiful studios, and they built these full sets within them. They also have some beautiful mountains. We did some external shots out there. They have a great crew over there as well, so it was good.  

I’ve been over there 3 times.  It’s becoming like a second home to me.  Everyone’s really nice there, and everything is really cheap there too, so you can shop your ass off. They also have some beautiful resorts.  A lot of the cast would go out by the pool on days off and relax, we’d have bowling tournaments, so it was a lot of fun.  When I was there before not as many people spoke English, but this time I found that more did, so it was easier to communicate.  Thankfully they’re also friendly to Americans over there. I’d tell them where I was from and they’d be so nice and helpful, where some places really tend to snub Americans.

MoviesOnline: You said they rewrote part of the script for you, did you have any input in that? Was there any preparation for the role of Mrs. Leitner?

Christa Campbell: I kind of let them do what they were going to do.  Originally my character was in her mid 40’s, so they changed it to be younger, and rewrote some of the dialogue.  I’m an actress, so I let them do their thing.

MoviesOnline: What was it like dressing up as a zombie?

Christa Campbell: Well.  We had Dean Jones doing the makeup and he was amazing. They had designed a specific look for the movie, as far as what the zombies would look like.  They had this latex layer that went beneath the eye and pull down your eyelid.  I was freaked out and worried that it would stretch my skin or leave wrinkles, or something. It wasn’t very glamourous, but the actual makeup process was really cool. They also had these contacts that were pretty intense to wear.  They’d put them in and you’d realize that you couldn’t see at all, so you had PA’s directing you to set so that you could run around and fight while blind.

MoviesOnline: As a horror icon, you must be regularly invited to the conventions. How do you find those? And the fanfare associated with the genre?

Christa Campbell: It’s awesome.  People are coming up to you, and they know all the lines in your movies, and they’ve seen everything you’ve done.  It’s so cool, and that’s what’s really inspired me to stay in the genre, is these fans who really love your work. I mean, I get letters every day from them. With 2001 Maniacs we have a comic book, and all these other fan followings, it inspires you to do more.

MoviesOnline: What would you say has been your most challenging role to date?  

Christa Campbell: Most challenging role – I don’t know.  I had to do a lot of fighting in Day of the Dead.  The make-up, and getting over the ego of not looking hot in this movie was a bit of a challenge, but it was also a big part of why I wanted to do it.  I had to realize that as a zombie I am not looking hot and I just have to embrace it now.  I wanted to reach out and show that I could play a character that isn’t hot, and someone who wasn’t afraid to show some edge.  So I’d say that the zombie part was the hardest.

MoviesOnline: Anything outside of Day of the Dead?

Christa Campbell: I just finished a movie called Finding Bliss.  It’s a comedy about the porn industry.  We all have nude scenes in the movie including Leelee (Sobieski).  It was completely necessary for the story. But sometimes we’d all sit around and be like, did we just film that? Are we going to regret this in a week?  We were joking around about it a lot. But when you trust the director and know they have a vision and have a comfort in the dynamic and why you’re doing it, then you’re willing to take that risk

MoviesOnline: Did you always want to be an actress?

Christa Campbell: When I was a kid I wanted to be a rock and roll singer.  But I can’t sing worth crap. So I had to scrap that idea. But yeah, in a roundabout way I guess I wanted to act.  I started out as a model when I moved to LA and wondered how much of that I could really do and continue to make money.  I found acting to be a new challenge that really pushed me. It was exciting to try something new, and to really do new things.

MoviesOnline: Do you have a dream role?

Christa Campbell: I recently got bitten by the action bug.  I think I want to keep that up.  I really really love it.  I just wrapped this movie where I got to shoot guns, fight, kill and kick. It was a lot of fun.

MoviesOnline: What movie was that? 

Christa Campbell: Alicia’s Book. It’s a film with Christian Slater.  My character is secretly working for the FBI in it, and I’m Christian’s lover so I’m protecting him throughout the movie secretly, but he has no idea what’s going on while we’re being chased.

MoviesOnline: What next?

Christa Campbell: I just arrived yesterday, we did the screening and the big signing, so I guess wrapping up the Day of the Dead release. But I really don’t know what’s next. Maybe some vacation.

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