By DAKOTA DAHL
The end of summer (if you can call what just happened a summer) means back to school, which can be a difficult time for kids and mothers. Not as difficult as having a crazed, murderous imaginary friend running amok in your house, but difficult nonetheless. We got to talk to Z star Keegan Connor Tracy about being an actor, being a mother, battling formless monsters and the odd overlap between the subjects.
School isn’t the only thing happening in September, either, since RLJE Films is making Z available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray on September 1, 2020.
What attracted you to the script of Z?
Right off the bat, in the script, I saw her psychological journey. I saw a place where I could play a woman who really loses her shit and that was appealing to me. Especially because I was just coming off some quite light fair, you know, playing Descendants and being on Once Upon a Time as the Blue Fairy whichever else, and so this was something where I thought I could go into some dark, difficult places. I wanted to challenge myself as an actor and it gave me all of those things.
You have some impressive horror titles in your filmography, like the new Twilight Zone, Final Destination 2 and White Noise. What’s different about working in horror, as opposed to other genres?
Oh my gosh. There would be times while working with Brandon where he would be like “I need you to hold that look” and I would feel stupid. I would be like “That feels weird to me” and he would be like “Genre” and then it’s like “Oh, right, right.” That was an interesting adjustment, just remembering why you need that lingering look, why you need that look over your shoulder-and-be-scared-and-heavy-breathing kind of thing. It’s part of the genre and that was something that I learned in that moment that I will not forget. That’s one of the things that I would say is different. It’s just a different way of working. This is something that I keep saying, that I think the work that people do in genre films is so underrated, it’s a lot of very difficult work. These are people who tend to be under tremendous psychological duress and strain and fear. It’s the way that people never win awards for comedy, because people think comedy is just funny, but comedy is really hard. The timing is hard, the pain underneath comedy is hard, and it’s the same in horror, and I think it’s a really underrated, under-served genre.
So, you have two daughters, and you’ve even written two children’s books. How did this help you prepare for your role as Elizabeth?
I just think that being a mother helps prepare me for that, both in the ways that having kids can make you feel crazy and I think that she felt like a strained mother to begin with at the beginning of the film, for whatever reason and I’m always am sort of Freudian in my backstory work, so I don’t know, I guess those are the two ways that I approached it. It had a lot to do with her family, her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her father, and then of course, the relationship she was trying to forge with her kid. Being a mother is something I know, inherently, so that part made it easier to connect with my son in the movie, I suppose.
How does your experience as a parent affect your interactions with your child co-star, Jett Klyne?
I just think it made it easy to build a relationship with him, I knew how to talk to kids, I know how to be around them. Granted, he’s a boy and I have girls, so that part was a little bit different, but also, he’s a young pro, so he knows exactly what the lay of the land is on set, so it was easy regardless.
Did any of your previous acting roles help your prepare for the role of Elizabeth? How so?
I don’t think so, necessarily. Right off the bat, I think it was a new challenge for me as an actor, and that’s one of the reasons why I took it. I think, particularly over the last decade of film and TV, its become this medium that uses the highest echelon, the stars get used over and over and over again, they sort of gobble up all the good roles, and I haven’t gotten to stretch into things the way that I think I deserve to as an actor. I think this film proves the kind of chops I have, so it was really great to get to do that and prove that I could do that, it was a big part of why I wanted to take this film.
Did you have an invisible friend growing up?
Not that I recall, although I do have stories; my mom told me I had a brother who died when I was really young, and she said that she would catch me talking to him all the time, which would have been weird since he died when I was very, very small. So, I do think that children in general are more tuned into, if there’s another plane, they’re more tuned into it until we sort of drum it out of them. So, I suppose that’s the closest I came to an imaginary friend.
At what age would you let your children watch Z?
My older daughter did watch it, she’s 13, I knew she was ready for it. My younger one I don’t think is, I don’t think she’s seen any of it.
What’s your favorite scene in the film?
I think the bathtub scene is pretty impactful. And obviously the big jump scare one, we both know what that is, it was pretty impactful.
Yeah, I spoke with Brandon last week, and that was his favorite.
Yeah, it works really well, I remember the first time I saw it I was like “WHAT?!” I like a lot of the stuff, like the wedding dress stuff from the end of the movie, in the house, when she’s really cracking up, that was fun to play, somebody so disjointed and somebody really falling apart. You spend most of your life as an actress trying to be as pretty and like “Please, do I have the right face for you, is it good enough, am I thin enough, blablablah,” whatever it is, and then to just dive into “I’m going to look like crap on purpose and I’m just going to jump into that with both feet.” There’s something really wonderful and liberating about that.
As always, what future projects of yours can we look forward to?
Well, I’m signed on to direct a horror film myself called The Evil Eye which we are hoping to go to camera in October for. We’ll see if that comes to fruition. I have a film that I’m working on right now that I’ve shot a little bit of, it’s hard to do a film all on my own but I’m trying to make a film on my own, doing every piece of it, we’ll see whether or not that makes its way into the world. I have a pilot I’m out shopping, just generally trying to keep myself busy.