Halloween II's Scout Taylor-Compton: 'We Still Have Halloween Fans Second-Guessing What We're Doing'
When director Rob Zombie debuted his rebooted Halloween in 2007, one of its most daring gambits was to delay the introduction of series heroine Laurie Strode until deep into the movie, instead focusing on the development of villain Michael Myers. However, in Halloween II (opening this Friday), the troubled, victimized Laurie finally comes to the fore, which is welcome news for her portrayer, actress Scout Taylor-Compton.
Movieline talked to Taylor-Compton about the controversy surrounding Zombie's take on the franchise, her daring new spin on Laurie, and her upcoming role as Lita Ford in the upcoming music biopic The Runaways (starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning).
Were you already committed to a sequel before Rob signed back on to direct it?
No, I wasn't. I know Tyler [Mane] and Malcolm [McDowell] were, but I hadn't signed on because I honestly didn't think there was going to be another one. I probably should have known. When they first approached me [for the sequel], they had these two French writer-directors attached -- I dot remember their names -- and they sent me what it was about, and I didn't want to do it. It was just going in a totally different direction and it wasn't making any sense. Then Rob emailed me and he was like, "Hey, I'm doing this. I wrote a script -- I'll send it to you, so let me know what you think." So I was thinking, "OK, it'll be cool, it'll be all about Michael and we'll see what he's done," and then I read it, and it's all about me. Like, thanks, Rob, for the heads up! [Laughs] But it was great that it was Laurie's story.
What's changed for her?
To be honest, her story is better than I expected. I thought it was just going to continue being, like, "The second Halloween!" and have all these matchups and not be realistic at all. Then I read the script, and I loved what Rob tapped into with the character -- it's something that I thought she'd become. A lot of people are really uneasy about it, especially fans of the franchise, because they picture Laurie as this shy, bookworm-ish, put-together girl. In reality, though, if someone were to go through what Laurie Strode went through in the first one and wake up and realize that everyone she knows is gone and dead, killed by a maniac...I mean, I know I wouldn't be able to handle it! I'd go completely crazy, and I think that's what's shown with the new Laurie. She's just not able to handle it at all, and she's angry and sad and having these episodes. She's this bipolar, depressed girl, and it's amazing that Rob wasn't afraid to take it to that level.
Which is a change for most horror films, where characters see their friends killed yet are still weirdly game to have sex in the third act.
Exactly! That's what I love about Rob's work: He's a director who loves character development. If there's nothing meaningful for the characters, it's just a boring movie. Rob loves characters, though, which is great for an actor. Especially when you're doing a horror movie, you don't expect that at all -- you're usually just the girl who's screaming.
You've done quite a few horror films and psychological thrillers. Is it hard to stay in that heightened state of anxiety all day to play your characters?
Sometimes it can be a little tough, especially if you're supposed to be really emotional. If you're working with a great crew who understands why you're in a pissy mood [laughs] and if you're working with a great director, I guess it can run smoothly, but sometimes it's pretty difficult.
So how do you do it in a film like Halloween II? Do you have to stay in a certain headspace all day?
It's really weird. Since I did the first one, Rob kind of knows what I have to do before giving in to something like that. I go off into a little corner or something and get in my mindset before rolling and sometimes he yells at everybody to be quiet -- which, honestly, it helps me when there's a lot of noise and nobody's paying attention to me crying in the corner, you know? And I don't usually think about anything, I just kind of "get there." It's really interesting -- I know a lot of people think about sad things, but I don't. I think if I was to think about something sad, I'd be in that mindset all day, and I don't want that at all.
Did you feel like you had less to prove with this one than the first film?
It was much more relaxed based on the fact that the crew, director, and cast were the same, but to be honest, we still have Halloween fans second-guessing what we're doing, which is kind of a bummer. I still feel like we have to prove our creation to all the Halloween fans because I know they're so set on the original franchise. I want to make them proud and make them like what we're doing.
What about Rob? Did you see a change in his method now that he's already got one Halloween film tucked into his belt?
I think the only reason why Rob wanted to do this is because he didn't want anyone to mess up what he'd already created. He kind of wanted to do the second one as he saw it, and develop the character [of Laurie] a little bit more realistically than the original franchise did. It was definitely different with Rob, especially the way I act with him. When we were filming the first Halloween, I was very nervous and didn't know him very well, and we had just an actor-director relationship. Now, though, Rob's one of my good friends, so we understand each other and we have a trust with each other.
Tell me about The Runaways, where you play Lita Ford. Do you do your own singing in the movie?
We do our own singing and we do our own playing, and it was crazy! I was originally supposed to be the bass player and I learned the bass and worked really hard, and then they came up to me and said, "You look like Lita. You resemble Lita, you act like Lita...what about playing Lita Ford?" And I was like, "Uh, yeah! Hello, of course I'll play Lita Ford!" But it was really challenging because I had to learn a lot of songs and watch a lot of her videos to portray her really well. When I was on set, though, I would get a lot of compliments from the crew and extras, telling me that I looked like Lita and asking me whether I could teach them guitar. It was crazy -- like, "Oh my God, I'm pulling it off!"
Did you talk to Lita at all before shooting?
I heard that Lita didn't want anything to do with the movie, which kind of sucks. To be honest, I think she thought it would be something different than what it is, and I think when she sees it, she'll be proud. It's a great story and it's not showing negativity, it's showing the reality of what these girls had to go through at a young age. They were put in this adult world and they were so into their work -- especially Lita, she was so into what she was doing. It wasn't about partying or anything -- she was a focused, dedicated person. Joan [Jett] and Cherie [Currie] were always on set, of course, and it was good to be able to go up and ask them questions. If there were a couple moves of [Lita's] that I needed to learn, I'd ask them, and Cherie would always come up to me and say, "Oh my God, you really look like Lita up there. It's tripping me out."
The level of paparazzi scrutiny on this project was unbelievable. What was that attention like for the cast?
Oh my God. It was so crazy, so insane. I felt so bad for Kristen and Dakota. When we were filming a scene, we wouldn't even be able to do anything and they'd be standing there on the grass taking photos. Like, we're trying to do our work, and they don't even care. It just baffles me, it really does -- like, me and Kristen hung out and went to a Joan Jett concert and I tried to cover her [to protect her from flashbulbs], but she can't get a breather anywhere. It sucks, you know? We always have to hang out at friends' houses because she can't go anywhere. I can only imagine what she's going through, and I don't think people understand it. I know people kind of look at it like, "Well, you guys are lucky." Yeah, we are, but this [attention] is really overwhelming.