I had the opportunity to interview horror icon Maria Olsen about one of her latest films Krampus Origins and discussing her career and other projects she’s working on, such as All Creatures Were Stirring.
Baron Craze: How did you become involved in the Krampus Origins film?
Maria Olsen: I was fortunate enough to work with Robert Conway on the horror feature The Covenant in 2015, and I loved every minute of it. When I heard that he was auditioning for Krampus Origins and that there was a role that was right for me, I immediately contacted Robert to ask whether I could audition. He said yes, I auditioned, and here we are, nine months later, celebrating the release of our film!
BC: Which do you believe is a more creative character Krampus or Santa Claus? Why?
MO: I think that Krampus is the more creative of the two because Santa Claus’s Christmas story is pretty well set in stone : on Christmas Eve, he travels the world and delivers gifts to the good kids and coal to the bad kids. Krampus, on the other hand, has an almost completely blank slate – although there IS the basic premise that he is evil – and authors, filmmakers, painters, and other artists, can really let their imaginations run wild in their treatment of him.
BC: What was the most difficult scene to complete in the movie? Was it due to the complex scene or just a funny moment causing giggles?
MO: My most difficult scene was the short scene I had with Jimmy (played by Miloh England) on the steps near the end of the film. Time constraints dictated that my coverage in the scene was shot on a different day from his coverage, so we did not actually get to act opposite each other in the scene. Jimmy’s “stand-in” in the scene works perfectly well, but I would really have liked the opportunity to work directly with Miloh!
BC: Your role is Sister Rafus how did you prepare for that role? Any fun with your character off-set?
MO: I loved playing Sister Rafus because she was very different from my usual “Big Bad” roles, and I wanted to make sure that she was seen as a real person and not just a caricature of the proverbial “strict nun”. Joseph Mbah, our director, and I discussed our view of Sister Rafus shortly before we started shooting, and it turned out that we were on exactly the same page about how she should be treated: we both believed that everything she did was to come from a place of love and care for the children. I really, really enjoyed playing her, and I do hope I get more roles like that in future.
And, yes!!! We had a TON of fun with the good Sister off-set because, and “dirty habit” and “penguin” jokes were the order of the day!
BC: Lately horror films have been producing stronger women roles, rather than just ‘scream queens’ or ‘final girl’ why the sudden change? Is because of ‘#MeToo’ or just more respect for women taking a stand in the roles? Something else?
MO: I honestly don’t think it’s because of the #MeToo movement because I think a lot of the films you’re referring to were already in production and / or post-production by the time the movement became really noticeable. I definitely think, however, that the movement HAS spawned several features and other film projects, but that we’re only going to see them out on the various circuits during the course of 2019.
I think that women are just stepping up to take their rightful place in the horror industry, that more female directors – like Roxanne Benjamin and Rebekah McKendry, for example – are taking control and that more male horror filmmakers are now becoming mindful of how imperative it is to give women, and especially STRONG women, equal screen time alongside men.
BC: You have many fans in cinema especially in Horror, and for a while you stepped away from the industry, for personal reasons, how did you handle that transition? What did you do to stay prepared to return? I ask as many working or struggling actors sometimes need leave the craft?
MO: I didn’t handle the transition well at all, and I spent every minute of 2016 being incredibly depressed because I couldn’t act and be creative in my own special way. At the time, I refused to believe that I would ever get back into the industry, and I tried very hard to make myself believe that it didn’t even exist. I even went so far as choosing not to go on an all expenses paid trip to an East Coast film festival to accept a Best Actress award for I film I have the leading role in. I did NOT stay prepared to return, because my mindset was such that it was better for me to not anticipate a return that might never happen.
I’m afraid my response won’t really help a lot of struggling actors, but my reality is that 2016 was such an emotionally devastating time for me that even hoping for it to end was something I couldn’t do.
But now I’m 100% back, and it’s all onwards and upwards!
BC: Anyone following your career knows it’s an extensive one so far, with so many upcoming projects. Which ones have been the biggest thrill? Exotic locations, working Film Icons?
MO: Although I love all of my film projects equally, there are indeed some that stand out including working under Rob Zombie on The Lords of Salem, with Jessica Lange on American Horror Story and with Logan Lerman, Chris Columbus and Pierce Brosnan on Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I’ve also shot out-of-state many times, including in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Utah, and I’m well on my way to reaching my goal of shooting a feature film in every state in the US!
As I’m writing this, I’m on location in Johannesburg, South Africa, having preproduction meetings for Hear No Evil, a film that we’ll be shooting next year. To be produced by Phoenix Films, and directed by the Oscar-nominated Darrell Roodt, I simply cannot wait to come back to SA next year for our shoot.
BC: You star in the anticipated Christmas horror film All the Creatures Were Stirring, can you tell the readers about the film?
MO: At the time of writing, I haven’t yet seen the film – I’m attending the Los Angeles cast and crew screening next week – and I am SO looking forward to this film. I had an absolutely wonderful time on set with Rebekah and everyone, and, together, we created a very memorable character for me!
I know that the film has received glowing reviews so far, and I simply can’t wait to see it and to work with Rebekah again!
BC: With two Xmas horror films in the same year what is your opinion of the subgenre of these flicks?
MO: I love subgenre horror films of all kinds, and Christmas horror films are definitely no exception. I mean – come on lol! – I love ALL horror films! There is, however, something deliciously dark in pairing horror with what should be the happiest time of the year, and, whether it be an anthology horror feature, like Creatures, or a full-length feature, like Krampus Origins, Christmas horror films are special!
BC: I once had the pleasure of interviewing you on the Baron’s Crypt podcast show long ago for a film called Happy Ending, curious to know where does that film stand on the scope of completion?
MO: Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from all of my producing projects during the dreaded 2016 withdrawal from the industry. As far as I know, however, Phil Condit is currently working with a producer on developing the script with an eye towards getting it cast and funded in the near future. Hopefully 2019 will be the year that sees Happy Ending move into production!
Thanks, Maria Olsen for taking to answer questions from The Horror Times.