Serena Lorien

Serena Lorien

Serena Lorien is an actress we are going to be seeing a lot of over the next twelve months as she has a whole host of exciting film projects on the horizon.

We caught up with her to chat about those films, including Purgatory and House of Manson.

- Welcome to Purgatory is one of the movies that you have on the horizon, so can you tell me a bit about it?

Welcome to Purgatory is a fantasy/action trilogy, which is being executive produced by Scott Spiegel (Hostel Trilogy) and British production company, Cupsogue Pictures. It will be shot early next year with a late 2015 release.

It follows three new arrivals, Willis, Taylor, and Danni, as they navigate a fresh vision of the afterlife, helped along the way by trusty Guardian Paul and long-standing survivor, Nina.

The gates of heaven and hell have been broken and the Afterlife is in ruins. Together, they have to find a way to put things right to prevent an eternal battle between Good and Evil.

- You take on the role of Nina in the film, so what was it about the character and script that drew you to the project?

I loved the concept of the general story-line, I haven’t seen another film which has had quite this spin on the afterlife and that definitely drew me in, I’m always looking for something different in a script.

I also loved that it had good British humour throughout which can be a little bit more sarcastic or biting.

I am always drawn to strong, female roles and Nina is definitely that, but with a venerability beneath her strength, she is independent and can take care of herself, but caring and willing to sacrifice herself for the good of all if needs be and that’s a great role and I think person to be in general.

- Can you talk a bit more about Nina and the journey we are going to see her go on throughout the film?

She has had the most experience with the situations and characters the group may meet on their journey, she tries to advise as best she can, so they have the best chance of survival in their new world.

I can only say so much at this time, but I can tell you that you learn something about her that answers some questions, but leaves even more unanswered for the next film in the trilogy.

- Gene Fallaize is in the director's chair and a great cast has been assembled, so how excited are you to get working on the film?

I’m really looking forward to shooting. I have already started working on it in regards to the character/ script preparation and to see everything coming together nicely is all the more exciting.

- One film that you have finished work on is House of Manson, so can you tell me about that?

House of Manson is a film based on Charles Manson and his former ‘family members’ and tells the story of Charlie from his childhood through the infamous events we all know about.

It’s a different take than some of the previous films and TV movies that have been put out in regards to who these people were. I play Patricia Krenwinkel, who was one of the earliest ‘family’ members and who played a major role in the killings.

She is the longest-serving female prisoner in the American penal system and has been denied parole thirteen times.

- Charles Manson is such a famous and controversial character, so what made you want to get on board this project.

I read biographies when I was younger about the famous and infamous serial killers, Dahmer, Bundy, Fred and Rose West etc and so I’d come across Charles Manson’s story back then.

I think he’s a very interesting case because of the fact that it hasn’t been proven to this day that he ever killed anyone and yet he will never be released, which if I’m honest about I don’t think would happen in today’s society.

Obviously the acts these people committed were horrendous, but the truth is society has degraded so much that these crimes wouldn’t be as shocking today and so I don’t think their sentences would have been as harsh either.

I’m not saying I agree or disagree with that, but I think many of my interest stems from that point on the question about Charles Manson being controversial. and also in general what it was about him that made him apparently able to manipulate people into committing such terrible acts.

It is definitely a controversial subject and there are people who are complete fans of Charles Manson to this day and those on the completely opposite side who say we’re bad for even giving them publicity by making this film.

For me, no matter how evil someone may or may not be it’s the contradictions within them that make up humanity and make for an interesting story.

- The movie sees Brandon Slagle in the director's chair, how did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?

Brandon is definitely an actor’s director, he used to be an actor himself and still occasionally takes on very selective roles, so he allows actors the freedom to try things and bring what they feel is right to the character which is always fun.

He’s intelligent and was clear, concise, and fast-paced, he knew what he wanted, and when he got it he moved on.

- I was wondering what sort of research you did as you prepared for the film? Was there anything the director suggested you should read or do?

It was my first time on film playing someone who is still alive which was an exciting challenge, so the research for the character was deepened because of that, it adds a little more pressure, but in other ways helps.

I read, watched and listened to as much as I could find on Charlie, Patricia/ Katie (her nickname), the trial, the board of parole hearings, the victims and their families etc. Patricia overly moves her jaw when she says certain words, so that was something I emulated.

It’s interesting because as bad as any normal human being would feel about what happened to the victims you grow close to these characters and your portrayal of them.

The family dynamic that I think those people felt at the time was absolutely felt by most of the actors and I think some of us could have imagined forever living together at the shooting locations we were at.

We discovered many of the girls had independently learnt the lyrics for one of the songs the Manson girls sang and there were several strange coincidences that happened throughout filming, especially between the actor portraying Charles, Ryan Kiser and I, which was strange, but resulted in an amazing filming experience.

- You have also been working on Less Than A Whisper, so how was that experience?

I am actually still shooting Less Than A Whisper. I worked with the director, Francis Xavier a couple of years ago on another project he did called ‘Poe’ and when this film came up he asked me to be a part of it.

Francis and his producing partner, Jo Ann are lovely and so easy to work with. Francis is definitely one of the most enthusiastic directors I’ve worked with which makes for a really nice environment on set.

- Less Than A Whisper will also see you on board as associate producer for the first time. What made you want to get involved in this side of things?

I’m a published writer and have always worked on the creative side of things, but I’ve always had an interest in producing my own projects, so when this opportunity came up I was happy about it.

- Is behind the camera something you want to explore more? Could writing and directing be something that you want to tackle?

I am currently in pre-production on a comedic short and a comedic web series I’ve co-written. I actually partnered up with one of the girls I met on the set of House of Manson for the web series who is someone I should have met a long time ago, so I’m definitely open to experiencing new things.

Acting is and always will be my first love, but I’m having a great time and enjoying the journey.

- Throughout your acting career, we have seen you move between TV and film projects, so how do the two mediums compare?

TV is usually a really fast turnaround, so unless you’re a series regular for years on a show I don’t think you often get the chance to feel how close a cast and crew can become, whereas with film, you usually have a little more time and the duration of the shoots is longer.

It’s funny, I’m one of the most antsy people I know, I hate when I’m not busy or there’s not enough going on, yet I am perfectly content to be on a film shooting the same scene all day if it needs that. I enjoy both, but film is definitely what I would like to spend my life doing.

- Finally, what's next for you going through the rest of this year and into 2015? It does look like you are going to be very busy.

As I mentioned above it is when I’m at my happiest, so I’m very happy to be keeping busy. I have some additional scenes to shoot for a feature I shot in New Mexico, called The X Species this week, next week I finish shooting Less Than A Whisper, I then have a web series to shoot out of State.

I also have another 12 episodes of a mini cartoon that originated in France that I have to finish voicing; I’ve done 14 characters for 14 episodes of that so far.

I will then be heading to England for Comic Con in London to do a panel and signing for Welcome to Purgatory, I then have the second series of a paranormal mini-series I recently came back from signing at San Diego Comic Con for called Necrolectric starting to shoot and various press events for the release of House of Manson.

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