Interview w/ Megan Franich

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Steeped in monochrome flurries, the immensely talented Megan Franich, decorated in squid-inked irises and a jagged cage of teeth, flares out her fingers, as she searches for warm prey. The stills of Franich’s character, so synonymous with artist Ben Templesmith’s icy illustrations of darkness in 30 Days of Night, the graphic novel from which the movie is based, is one of horror’s most ubiquitous images – just ask Fangoria Magazine, who slathered the picture of the howling New Zealander on their cover before the film’s release. The unsettling scenes from 30 Days of Night are due in large part to the fluttering images of Franich’s inspired performance. No one, I think, can forget the fresh ribbons of blood on her character’s jaw and the murky, ash-washed hair flowing next to it – just ask one of her many devoted fans.

Robert Patrick: Youʼre active in music as well as movies. Out of the two, do you have a specific medium that you’re more interested in right now? 

Megan Franich: No, the two go hand in hand for me. Acting and playing music are my heart food; I feel a longing that’s like a hunger if I am ever without either for long. I am very blessed in that I get to indulge creatively every day, but when my husband and I recently traveled around Europe for 4 months I had my guitar but didn’t do any acting and missed it like crazy.

 

What drew you to the script of 30 Days of Night?

I loved the different take on vampires. To be honest I’m sick of the majority of vampire movies looking like they’ve glued a pair of fangs onto the cast of 90210.  Vampires are scary and bestial and I loved the rawness of 30 Days.

 

 

David Slade, the director of 30 Days of Night, is also the director of Hard Candy, which was quoted as being one of your favorite movies. Because you were already a fan of Davidʼs work, were you even more enthusiastic about making 30 Days?

Actually I hadn’t seen Hard Candy before I got the part.  I knew David had worked with some of my favorite musicians so I was looking forward to working with him, then I saw Hard Candy and realized what an incredible talent I was going to be working with and that’s when I got really excited about the project.  During the film I got to experience even more facets of his creativity and must say he is one person who really moves and inspires me.

 

 

You have done a lot of signings for fans. What is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever had to autograph?

A car and a soccer ball!  For the same person!  That was at a comic convention in Munster, Germany.

 

 

You were at the San Diego Comic-Con this year; did you get a chance to hang out with 30 Days of Night author Steve Niles or artist Ben Templesmith?

Steve and Ben are both good friends of mine.  I have huge respect for their creativity and a love for them as very sensitive, funny, wonderful people.  We all did a group signing (with David) at the Gentle Giant stand at comic con – Gentle Giant created the figurines.  It was a blast, even though people kept getting us to sign posters for the TV series, which none of us have anything to do with!

 

 

Were you familiar with either oneʼs work prior to signing on for the movie adaptation of the comic?

No but am now a fan for life!

 

 

There was a lot of physical work that went into this movie. Was it ever exhausting for you, personally, to get into a character that seemingly took so much energy?

Yes but being exhausted from putting your heart and soul into a character for a film you believe in is the best kind of feeling there is.  In a way it’s also quite energizing because it’s exciting to be a part of the unfolding of a story that’s as cool and creepy as 30 Days.

 

 

Obviously, both the movie and the original story revolve heavily around tone and atmosphere. Between takes, did the mood break very often?

Yes, we had to or we would have collapsed. That kind of energy needs to happen in controlled bursts.  In between takes Weta would take out the contacts and teeth as they could only be in for short periods, and putting them back in before a scene puts you back in character immediately.  Also there’s nothing like seeing a vampire outside eating a doughnut or smoking a cigarette to let you know you’re not really rampaging through Barrow!!!  The sets were so amazing though, as soon as you set foot inside a hanger or cross the barrier of one of the outdoor sets, you were immediately transported back to Alaska.

 

 

Which scenes in the movie were most rewarding and most difficult for you?

I loved the feeding frenzy where I walk past a burning car and jump on a human to feed, that was fun! Also after my very first scene I walked off set practically into Melissa George’s arms, she had been watching and was bursting with warmth, praise and encouragement, that was the first time I’d met her and was such a beautiful way to start the movie.

 

 

You share quite a few scenes with Danny Huston. How was it working with him?

Danny’s amazing, I could never rave enough about him.  He taught me a lot on set about having faith in my interpretation of the character and believing in myself, more than he knows actually. He is a very generous actor, which is such a gift in this industry. Off camera he is a warm, fun, complex individual I am honored to have as a friend.

 

 

The makeup, which was a focal element of the film, gave, quite literally, the movie much of its face. What was the process that you went through each day to complete your characterʼs appearance?

You would need to ask Weta for their secrets!  I will say though that having Sarah Rubano (Weta/KNB) as my make up artist made the process a lot of fun.  She is a talented woman and an incredible person.

 

 

At this point, you’re the face of the 30 Days of Night movie; the image that most coincides with people’s memory of the film, and what people see on merchandise. Did you ever anticipate this when you were first making the movie?

No not at all, the whole journey has been a very exciting and humbling experience.

 

 

Off the top of your head, tell me, if you can, the most candid moment that you had with Josh Hartnett during the making of the film

I can’t think of any specific candid moments but he was a very sweet, gentle, genuine person to work with. 

 

 

Growing up, people generally never anticipate having their likeness, in one form or another, become immortalized as an action figurine. What was that like for you?

Fun!  When the figurine first arrived in the mail from Ashly at Gentle Giant I was so excited.  I showed the first person I saw who was my upstairs neighbor.  The first thing he did was lift up the skirt and that was the second the figurine went from being “me” to “it”! 

 

 

When you first saw the finished film, were you at all surprised at how well director David Slade captured the style of the comic?

Not surprised but definitely impressed.  I knew he wanted to stay true to the style of the comic book and I’m so glad he did.  The writing and artwork in the comic are so unique and interesting I’m glad the film was able to do it justice.

 

 

When the issue of Fangoria came out, with you on the cover, what was your first reaction?

I had a mixed reaction, firstly honored of course, then I wondered how my Mum would like it, then I secretly hoped my next cover would be a little more attractive, well they didn’t really get my best side did they!

 

 

What upcoming film projects do you have planned?

I’m working on a Barefoot Brothers production called “Intake”.   It’s a beautiful little film written by Max Currie and is being directed by Mike Dwyer.  I’m playing the lead, Catherine, and I’m very excited by the project, the character is very strong and complex and the story is touching.  I’m also developing my own short film called “The Honeytrap Agency” which I’ve written and will be directing.  I’m hoping to have that in the can by the time my husband and I move to LA in June 09. 

 

 

How long have you been playing music?

Since I was a schoolgirl sitting on Faraday Street porch steps with my best friend pushing my fingers into chord positions.  The first song I ever learned was “My Ghost” by Kristin Hersh.

 

 

What bands and solo artists have been inspirations to you?

Giardini Di Miro, Lou Barlow, Radiohead, Kim Deal, Joanna Newsom, Bonnie Prince Billie, Straightjacket Fits, Lili De La Mora, PJ Harvey, Dresden Dolls, Mum, Amina… the list could go on forever. More of my influences are listed on www.myspace.com/meganfranich

 

 

If given the chance, would you ever consider creating a score for one of your own movies in the future?

Definitely!  I don’t know about a whole score but I would love to have one of my songs in a film!  It would have to be a project I resonated with though, something dark and beautiful.

 

What can fans of Megan Franich look forward to in the coming months?

I will be focusing on the material for my debut album, the film projects I’ve mentioned already, and also working on an art piece for an art exhibition I’ve been asked to contribute to in London. The exhibition brings together scientists, artists and anthropologists. My husband, who’s a neuro-scientist, and I have been asked to collaborate on a piece, which is exciting. 

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Author: Rob Patrick

A member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, Rob created Cinema Spartan after he stepped down as the editor of a weekly. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. He has also introduced films with the Pacific Arts Movement. He co-owns two dire wolves, Buckley and Ruffin. At any given time, he can tell you superfluous hockey statistics. He is the chancellor of Tapatio, an advocate of iced tea, and an owner of at least 70 pairs of Vans.

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