Radha Mitchell Talks Influences, Folklore and ‘Sacrifice’

Andrew Hawkins
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Sacrifice is the newest film to feature Radha Mitchell as a strong female protagonist. Fans of the actress are very familiar with her excellent work as Carolyn Fry in Pitch Black and Rose in the Roger Avary adapted film version of the horror themed video game Silent Hill. With the recently released dramatic thriller Sacrifice, Radha Mitchell continues to show us that she is one of the top lead actresses working today.

Fandom: What is Sacrifice about and how would you summarize it?

Radha Mitchell: Immediately I think this is a genre movie that appeals to women that are not stuck in this sort of teenage bracket. It appeals to women of all generations. That’s unusual and makes it unique. I wouldn’t want to isolate men, I just think it opens the genre to the audience by telling a story that reflects some of the issues that women experience. It also takes you to this kind of exotic place and to this kind of Celtic history. It feels very suspenseful and plays like a psychological drama. There’s this intelligence to the piece and emotional intensity. The movie’s not shy, it’s just very dark in places and the plot is compelling. It’s quite original.

Fandom: We are big fans of your work in Silent Hill and Pitch Black especially. What can we expect from Sacrifice?

Radha Mitchell: I think Sacrifice appeals to maybe an evolving audience. I think it’s sort of certainly skewed female and it has a really strong female perspective. In this case, we’re exploring a woman’s ambition to have a child. She goes to the Shetland Islands where she’s going to try and adopt because she’s unable to conceive. Then, there’s this really dark secret that she almost unconsciously starts to unravel in this whole story. She doesn’t want to see what she’s seeing, but can’t help going deeper and deeper into the mystery of it all.

Her accomplice in the story is this female cop on the island. There’s this friendship between them, and I think on some level the movie deeply explores this kind of paranoia about being left by your husband, which is kind of a female thing. In this case it’s taken to the extreme where these women are murdered and whatever. I think it certainly explores a female nightmare and takes it to an exaggerated level. So I think that’s different, I think normally you see these kinds of films appealing to a male kind of audience and in this case I think it appeals to a female audience and an older audience than you might expect.

Fandom: How did you find out about Sacrifice and were you familiar with the Scottish mythology behind it?

Radha Mitchell: Well, my name is Mitchell (laughs). And I wasn’t, so it was an interesting introduction into I guess my genetic lineage. There’s something kind of magical about that sort of history aside from the way that it was interpreted in this genre. The peat bodies was fascinating too. Learning about these bodies, and there are bodies that have been preserved for many, many years that sort of give us a looking glass into the past. So that was all pretty interesting.

The script just came to me in a fairly general way through my agency. I met with Peter A. Dowling, the director, in Beverly Hills actually to discuss the project. He was putting it together and they were going to be shooting in Ireland as a double for the Shetland Islands and invited me over. We were going to shoot in July and I think the shoot became much more gruesome and much more intense because we weren’t able to shoot until November, which is freezing. I think it gave it that sort of shadow look to the picture and that kind of brooding quality, which certainly added to the mood of the piece.

Fandom: Are you drawn to these kinds of haunting parts where there’s tragedy, scariness and spookiness in the movie?

Radha Mitchell: I kind of like the character that has to solve the complex issue or the person that’s heroic by nature, but not necessarily physically equipped. The fish out of water that has to find her own sense of courage, I like those kinds of characters and I think those are the kinds of challenges in life you’re not always the superhero but you do have to face your demons. I think these characters demonstrate that.

Fandom: Are there any other strong female characters that you personally like or are influenced by at all?

Radha Mitchell: I think with the sort of changes in culture we’re going to be seeing people demanding those sorts of characters. Audiences are going to be demanding interesting and complex female leads because finally people are beginning to acknowledge that there’s a female audience that they can make money out of. Women are saying that we want to see movies that make them feel empowered as women, and that’s important to see themselves in that light. It’s important for anyone to see themselves as empowered and cinema’s a mirror for that.

I can only imagine that in the next few years in the future we’re going to be seeing more and more interesting and complex female characters. You’re certainly seeing them in television and now you’re also seeing many interesting roles in cinema. Ones that have inspired me are certainly Ripley, a character that people have been talking about for some time who demonstrates that this can work. Linda Hamilton in The Terminator obviously did a great job there. In Asian cinema there have been a lot of action heroes for a long time that have been female. I just think you’re going to see more and more as audiences demand it.

Fandom: What are you a fan of?

Radha Mitchell: I like any kind of movie that reacquaints you with the craft and doesn’t feel like a repetition of something that you’ve already seen. If it is a repetition, then it should be an extension of the concept so you appreciate the cinema on some level. I’m also drawn to interesting and original characters and new points of view, things that inspire me because they continue the dialogue.

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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 and GUY.com; Andrew loves Sci-Fi Horror movies and supervillains. His dislikes include jargon and presumption.
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