Interview: Lydia Hearst Talks Horror and Screamfest 2016

Andrew Hawkins
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Lydia Hearst is the official ambassador for Screamfest 2016. She is now the face of the biggest horror film festival in the world.

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Fandom: So, tell us all about Screamfest.

Lydia Hearst: Oh gosh, where to begin. Screamfest as I’m sure you know is one of the largest and longest running horror film festivals here in the United States. A lot of people actually refer to it as the Sundance of horror.

It’s really remarkable that this festival gives filmmakers in the horror genre a venue to have their work showcased and get people interested and talking about it. It’s really a safe zone in a sense for true fans of horror.

Fandom: You’re the ambassador for Screamfest this year.

Lydia Hearst: Well that is a huge honor for me, especially as someone who loves horror as much as I do. When they asked me, of course I agreed and accepted. It’s really remarkable that I’m attending a lot the films as well as introducing and moderating the Q&As after.

Fandom: Very cool. Talk to us about the schedule. Are there any big films that you’re really excited for?

Lydia Hearst: Yes! Yes, there are some really remarkable films with some truly incredible talent. On opening night I introduced Trash Fire which has Adrien Grenier, AnnaLynne McCord, Matthew Gray Gubler and just really some incredible actors.

Sean Brosnan, son of Pierce Brosnan, has a film that he wrote and directed in the festival. Abigail Breslin who is currently on Scream Queens has a film that premiered called Fear, Inc. and The Master Cleanse directed by Bobby Miller premieres Saturday night.

Fandom: Did you get to see any of these films before the festival?

Lydia Hearst: I had not seen any of these films. The first time I see them is with the audience for the first time. One of the things that everybody at the event has said about Trash Fire is it’s one of the films that’s going to make you laugh, cry and it will scare you for the rest of your life.

I think that’s what we really want to achieve, especially in the horror genre. When you go see a film like this, it’s important for it to not just make your skin crawl but truly get under your skin and stay with you. Some of the best horror movies actually keep playing out even after you’ve shut your eyes. It’s ideas that can’t be shut away.

Fandom: The last time we spoke, you had done Condemned where you played Tess which was a really intense character. Since then you’ve done #Horror and South of Hell and more. What are your thoughts on taking up the honor of being the ambassador for Screamfest since you’ve been such a prolific horror actress?

Lydia Hearst: I love horror. It’s probably my favorite genre of film. The directors and the actors have the opportunity to explore these areas of film that otherwise we wouldn’t necessarily be able to.

With horror, anything and everything can happen. You don’t have to have that Hollywood happy ending. As an actor and fan of horror, I think part of the reason why I love it so much is it gives you the opportunity to face your fears. At the same time it’s just a movie and you don’t have to face anything in reality.

It kind of triggers that fight or flight response. That is entertaining. It’s almost cathartic in a sense. When you’re watching a movie like this you can kind of endure that terror and enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared. There can be that forward sense of relief at the end if there is that happy ending, but while you’re having that adrenaline rush of being scared you’re still safe because it is a movie.

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Fandom: Talk about some of your favorite horror genres. Are you a fan of slasher films or supernatural stories? What do you like the most out of the whole horror landscape?

Lydia Hearst: Oh, gosh. I love all of it. I remember the swarm of birds from The Birds and levitating furniture. There’s always those exorcisms that happen. There are monsters and demons and haunted houses and boogie men. Even people can be the scariest characters of them all.

I love everything. I’ve been such a huge fan. I mean, I love the original Nosferatu and Freaks. Anything from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining to John Carpenter’s Halloween. Jacob’s Ladder which is a bit more psychological and y’know Twin Peaks.

It’s even fascinating to see recently how there’s been a shift in horror where there was this whole realm of scream queens, but then with Adam Wingard’s You’re Next we’re seeing these women stepping forward and kicking butt.

Fandom: We’ve been asking a lot of actors and directors lately about horror. What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?

Lydia Hearst: Oh, that is a good question. I don’t know. There are a lot of films that scare me in different ways. I mean, The Human Centipede which was at Screamfest a few years ago was terrifying. I don’t think anybody wants to wind up with ass to mouth necessarily. (laughs)

Let the Right One In was terrifying but also beautiful. There are other films like The Shining that have stayed with me through my life along with The Exorcist, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly been shaken to the core and scared. I think there are a lot of ideas that are terrifying and scary, but at the same time that’s one of the things I love about these films.

Fandom: One thing that a lot of horror fans say is they watched a movie when they were young and one scary scene stood out. Do you have a memory from a horror movie that always stuck with you?

Lydia Hearst: Well, y’know I watched a lot of horror movies when I was young. I think I saw The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street and even Halloween. My memories from then were more along the lines of seeing it cinematically.

I saw the special effects in The Exorcist and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I think I was too young to even understand what was happening in the film, but I just remember the makeup and thinking it was so cool.

With A Nightmare on Elm Street I loved the hands coming through the walls and the knives for fingers. I just thought that was really neat. Even in The Shining it was the running through the garden at the end and the whole labyrinth.

Again, I think my translations of the films when I was little was very different from most where I looked at it cinematically. Maybe that’s because I spent a lot of time on set with my mom and I understood it was a movie, and so I always kind of had a little bit of a different take on it.

Fandom: Congratulations again for getting the honor of being the ambassador for this year’s Screamfest. Did you have any final words you’d like to share?

Lydia Hearst: I just think it’s such an incredible festival. It’s amazing that they’re giving this opportunity to so many established talents as well as the new up and comers. I think it’s really great.

Andrew Hawkins
Andrew Hawkins is a fan contributor at Fandom. He has been on the fan media scene since 2011. Arriving at Fandom by way of CHUD, GUY.com and Trouble.City; Andrew loves Sci-Fi Horror movies and supervillains. His dislikes include weak plotlines and sky lasers.
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