An Interview with Jennifer Rouse – By Nic Brown

It’s hard to pin just one label on Jennifer Rouse. Although her main focus is acting, this Maryland native’s talents cover a much broader range. Jennifer has been a musician since she was a child and is an accomplished model. You may have seen some of her work on NBC’s hit show The West Wingor HBO’s The Wire.Of course this being Rogue we know her for her work in such films as Chainsaw Sally and The Death of Poe. Now Jennifer is kind enough to talk to us about some of the films she’s made, and a number of her new projects including The Tell-Tale Heart with Debbie Rochon!

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 Nic—Jennifer, I you’ve been involved in a number of films recently can you tell us a bit about some of your projects?

Jennifer—Sure! I was in Chainsaw Sallywhich came out earlier this year. It’s a black comedy/horror film that is kind of like mixing the styles of John Waters and Rob Zombie into one film. It’s about a girl that witnesses her parents’ murder as a child and ends up raising herself and her brother. So they grow up just watching horror films and they develop a warped since of reality and think they have to deal with anyone who does wrong in their own horrific ways. I play “the ice cream girl” and my character comes across as obnoxious to her [Sally] so of course Sally has her revenge on her.

Nic—So you don’t meet a very good end in this film?

Jennifer—(Smiles wickedly) You’ll just have to watch it and find out won’t you?

Nic—I guess I will! I understand that you just recently completed another film. This one about the life, or at least the end of the life of Edger Allen Poe, is that correct?

Jennifer—Yes I did, it’s called The Death of Poeand as you mentioned, it is about the last week of Poe’s life. Of course not much was really known about the last week of Poe’s life except that he was traveling from Richmond, Virginia to New York and he stopped in Baltimore on the way. No one really knows for sure why he stopped in Baltimore but he did and he stayed there for a few days and was then found dead in a gutter. So what we did was a story about what may have happened to him during that last week based on some theories that a number of historians have put forth about those events. The film is very David Lynch like with a lot of flashbacks that give the audience a sense of Poe as a person and help them understand how he came to this point.

 Nic—The Death of Poe isn’t the only work you’ve done related to the author [Poe] is it?

Jennifer—You’re right, we’re starting work on a version of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart Robert Quarry, Ingrid Pitt and Debbie Rochon. It’s set during the civil war and is about a man who takes over a boarding house run by an old couple and their daughter who’s just lost her husband in the war. This man moves in and turns their boarding house into a real den of horrors!

Nic—It seems like a lot of your recent work has been set in the 19th century, so I have to ask if you’re working on any westerns now too?

Jennifer—I am! Right now I’m working on a film called One-Eyed Horse. It’s a revenge story about a man who has to face the man he put in prison years before. It’s been a new experience for me working on a western too. I’ve had to learn how to do so many new things like ride horses and shoot guns. (Laughs) It’s been a blast!

Nic—Is it true that your role in a lot of these films isn’t just limited to acting?

Jennifer—You’re correct. I did the music for The Death of Poe I’ll be doing the original music for The Tell-Tale Heart well. I’m also doing the music for a children’s film called The Sorcerer of Stonehenge School will be out next year. In addition to music I’ve been an associate producer on some of my films and I’ve done costume design as well.

Nic—So you have been involved in many different aspects of filmmaking besides acting. What do you find to be the most challenging role for you to fill in making a film?
Jennifer– I think the most challenging role in the filmmaking process for me has been the music composition. I’ve been playing and performing music since I was a kid, but scoring films is relatively new to me. The Death of Poe the first feature film I scored. I had done a few short scores for some industrial films before that, but scoring an entire feature film was definitely a challenge.

Nic—So do you have any plans to try your hand at directing a feature?

Jennifer– Maybe in the future, but right now I’m really focusing on acting. The director has to see the film, and each scene as a whole, and be able to see it cut together in his or her head before the scenes are even filmed so they can make decisions on what to shoot. Plus they have to be able to get the best performance out of the actors, cinematographer, and crew. I think I could do it, but I also think I have a lot to learn before attempting it.