Elissa Dowling has a whole lot of different talents wrapped up in her 5’3 frame. She studied sculpture at University of the Arts in Philadelphia and almost became a forensic sculptor. Instead, she decided to follow her true artistic calling and act. In the past two years she’s been in over twenty films (IMDB can’t even keep up with her). This is not surprising when you consider how much determination and love for the movie business Elissa has. She was raised on Lugosi and Fulci films, so it is natural that she would find her niche in the horror genre. While working on three film projects at once might be enough to scare some actors, Elissa still finds the time to talk with us about some of her roles, what it’s like to work with some of the legends of the industry, and why you might catch her using an oxyacetylene torch!
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Nic- Elissa can you tell us about your upcoming film Psychosomatika and your role in it?
Elissa- My character, Persephone provides some additional color and comic relief. She’s a wisecracking New Yorker with a bit of a chip on her shoulder probably due to her very inconvenient job as a dominatrix. There is however, much more to her than meets the eye.
Let’s just say, she’s multi-dimensional.
Nic- What was it like working with scream queens Debbie Rochon and Brinke Stevens?
Elissa- This is hard to admit but I started off a bit star struck working with legendary scream queens Debbie Rochon and Brinke Stevens. Fortunately for me they turned out to be two very sincere and approachable actors. I enjoyed getting to know them better when
we traveled to Austin for Fangoria. I got to know them not only as actors but as people. I did not work with Brinke directly (we shot on separate days) but she has a very soothing, and peaceful presence about her. Debbie is so hysterically funny, sometimes it’s hard
Nic- It sounds like you had a great experience working with Brinke and Debbie! I understand that one of your newest projects has you working with another legend in the horror industry, David Carradine. Can you tell us about that project and what it’s like working with him?
Elissa- I worked with David Carradine on a drama called Forgiven. He’s one of those people those wonderful actors that make it all look effortless and his face can tell a thousand stories all at the same time. An interesting bit of info that you may not know about him is that he can walk into a room and pick up any instrument, I’m talking flute, piano, and guitar you name it, and play it perfectly. He truly is an artist and after meeting him I have is no doubt why he’s considered a legend.
Nic- How did you get your start in the film industry?
Elissa- I have been acting most of my life starting in theatre as a kid, then commercially. In college I dreamed of how cool it would be to star in a Lionsgate movie and in six months I had. It was weird, the way it all happened, it just kind of fell in to place. I had thought about it but it wasn’t really a plan. Anyway, that’s how it started and now it’s been twenty-something films over the past two years so I’m feeling fairly accomplished. Basically I’m a girl of little extravagance. My priorities are to be working creatively and doing what I love most, acting.
Nic- It’s easy to tell that you love acting and working in film. Do you have any desire to try something different in your filmmaking such as directing a feature?
Elissa- HELL NO! Just kidding, I mean realistically who knows what the future will bring. Actually, this past Thursday I assistant directed on a horror feature I was recently cast in. Guess people just can’t get enough of me (laughing). For now though directing is not a priority. Considering that I have a background in sculpture there’s a good chance that there will be some FX in my future.
Nic- So when you’re not acting, what does Elissa Dowling do for fun?
Elissa- I go out fairly often, I’m no Lindsay Lohan but I’m a pretty festive lady. Mostly though when I’m not acting I’m either prepping for my next role, making art, music or helping out a friend.
Nic- You mentioned that you have a background in sculpture. When you
say you like to make art, is that what you’re referring to?
Elissa- At the University of the Arts in Philadelphia I studied, among other things, sculpture. For a while I even considered forensic sculpture as a career. I’m schooled in everything from printmaking to metalwork. It’s funny, maybe because I’m only 5′ 3" but my friends back home thought that the vision of me in huge goggles carrying an oxyacetylene torch was hilarious and very Homer Simpsonish (laughing). Overall I’ve been lucky; I’ve always been able to follow my instincts when it comes to creativity. Pretty much whatever I feel inspired to do I do. I even tried my hand at wearable art and made entire dresses out of found objects like band aids and old converse shoes.
Nic- You also say you like to make music? Do you play an instrument, sing or both?
Elissa- I mostly sing and occasionally write. I studied voice for a while and I’m thinking about doing more with it. I’m also okay on guitar. I took some lessons as a kid but it’s not really my thing. Actually I wish I could play better, so I might take that on too.
Nic- Most all of your work has been in the horror/thriller genre. Do you plan to continue focusing your energy there or do you plan to try something new?
Elissa- I will always love horror films, I was raised on Logusi. His movies were always on at our house. Probably because of my father’s vanity, he looks a lot like him. But yes I’ve got a couple projects in the works that are not strictly horror. I’m attracted to dark comedy so I’d like to branch out into that, maybe even some musical features, dramas and porn, that was a joke by the way so please don’t fragment quote me. I do think that being a character actor lends itself to diversifying role choices. Look at actors like Gary Oldman for example. I guess I’m interested in anything that lends itself to my method of characterization. I’m sort of all over the place but I don’t think you need to stick to just one thing. I also believe that to survive as an artist you need to be that way.
Nic- So what would be your favorite movie to watch for fun?
Elissa- I like to switch it up, I’ve got Brain Dead in right now but yesterday it was Hatchet.
Nic- You’ve been to a few horror conventions. As an actress in the genre, what is you overall opinion of them?
Elissa- Truth is whenever you put a bunch of obsessed horror nerds in one room, myself included, the result is usually sheer madness. Actually the ones I’ve done have been really fun, corporate, but fun. And the after parties are a blast. I will be supporting a new Seattle based horror magazine called City Slab at this year’s LA Fango so stop by our table and show some love.
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