An Interview with Sarah Butler – By Nic Brown

A beautiful, but angry young woman menacingly circles a man who is bound, gagged and dangling from the ceiling by thick ropes. He struggles but to no avail. The woman reaches for a table of tools, pulls out a large, rusty pair of hedge shears and smiles evilly…. “It’s date night!” she announces and moves towards him snapping the sharp blades together. He screams into his gag and struggles wildly, desperate to escape as she draws closer….

The woman is actress Sarah Butler. The scene is from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s remake of the 1978 cult classic I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. A controversial film in its day due to the graphic depiction of the main character’s brutal rape at the hands of four men, it was equally noted for the brutality of the revenge which she enacted upon her attackers later in the film.

Now more than thirty years after the release of the original, Butler steps in to fill the shoes of actress Camille Keaton. A tough act to follow, but Butler is up to the challenge. She and the rest of the cast spent long weeks on location in Shreveport, Louisiana, working on the project. Now she, director Steven R. Monroe and the rest of the principal cast have come to the Texas Frightmare Weekend horror convention to promote the film, while trying to address some of the controversy that has already begun to surface over the new film.

Now Sarah is taking a break from signing movie posters and meeting horror fans to talk with B-Movie Man Nic Brown about her role in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, some of the challenges she faced making the movie and why she might be worried because her friends say she “has a good scared face”!

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Nic – Sarah, what brings you to the 2010 Texas Frightmare Weekend?

Sarah – I’m here to promote my new movie: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE that’s coming out this fall.

Nic – Can you tell us a little about I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE?

Sarah – It’s a remake of the 1978 film and I play the lead character, Jennifer Hills.

Nic – The original film was very controversial for its time and very graphic. What about the new version?

Sarah – (Laughing a little nervously) Oh yeah, it’s definitely graphic and I also think it will be controversial in its own way, maybe a little bit differently from the original, but I won’t say in which ways. I think it will hold up that part of the tradition for this film for sure.

Nic – Making a film like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE must have been very taxing for you as an actress. Can you tell us about some of the challenges you faced?

Sarah – Well there are the ones you expect like long hours. I mean when you’re on a production, the shooting schedule usually calls for at least 12 hour days. Besides that, there was barely a moment in the film where I wasn’t in either some kind of life threatening situation, (chuckling) or where I was threatening someone else’s life! It was very exhausting at the end of the day.

Nic – Thinking about the violent aspects of the film, there have been a number of films over the last few years such as HOSTEL and the SAW series that have pushed the envelope for the levels of violence in cinema. What are your thoughts about the increasing amounts of violence in movies these days?

Sarah – I think that those films were made for entertainment and if there is an audience that wants to see that, then I can understand why those movies would be made. Really, as long as there is an audience for it and it’s entertainment then I personally don’t have any objections to it.

Nic – What do think about the way technology has been changing the film industry?

Sarah – Technology? Well I can tell you one thing for certain, actors have to be much more conscious of make-up and appearances with all the high definition cameras that are being used! Really though, I’m pretty new to the industry, the first thing I ever shot was only three years ago, so this is all I know. But I think that all the opportunities and advantages new technology offer to filmmakers are great.

Nic – In addition to your work in film and television, you’ve also done quite a bit of work in theater. Which do you prefer acting in: theater or films?

Sarah – At this point I’m definitely enjoying my work in film. When I was younger, theater was pretty much the only way I could act. I grew up in a small town and that was the only venue available to me at the time. For a long time I actually thought I was going to pursue a career in theater, but then the course of my life brought me to L.A. instead of New York and for me the logical next step was to get involved in television and film. Now that is really what I love working on.

Nic – What do you look for when considering a role?

Sarah – A good script, a nice character arc, and just a project that overall I’ll have fun with.
Nic – Are you working on any other projects right now?

Sarah – At the moment I’m working on promoting I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and helping to spread the word on that film. Aside from that there are a number of projects I’m looking at, but I don’t want to talk about them until they are a bit more firm.

Nic – Do you worry about being typecast because of your role in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE?

Sarah – Yes! I was just thinking about that the other day. One of my friends watched the trailer and told me I had a good "scared face." I took it as a compliment, but then it got me wondering about my future career and the typecasting that could very realistically be a part of it. I mean, I want to play comedic roles, dramatic roles, quirky roles, princess roles….  etc, etc! I stopped worrying though, because that won’t help anything and regardless of what roles I play in the future, I have my dream job. No complaints here!

Nic – Now I have to ask this since we’re at a horror convention. Do you like scary movies?

Sarah – I like some of them. I remember back when I was in Junior High was when SCREAM came out and I was obsessed with that movie! It’s funny though because it seems the older I get the more of a wuss I become! (Laughing) I say that because I have a hard time watching some of these movies. I started watching LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and it really got to me. I had already filmed I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE when I started watching it and I was thinking “Oh my gosh, what’s ours going to be like if this one is hard for me to watch!” But, there are many classic ones that I’ve grown up with that I enjoy.

Nic – So what kind of films to you like to watch?

Sarah – Like I said, ironically enough, I have never been huge on horror films. Not that I’m against them at all, there are quite a few that like SCREAM that I love, but I think it just has to do with the fact that I can be a bit of a scaredy cat! (Laughing) When I finish watching scary movies, I have a really hard time letting them go. So because of that, I tend to watch a lot of comedy. Life can be tough and most of the time I don’t want to watch something that’s too intense because I’ve already been dealing with stressful situations all day in real life. But that’s just in general. I also LOVE adventure and fantasy films, like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, HARRY POTTER, even STARDUST! Getting a role in a fantasy franchise like those would be a dream come true for me!
Nic – Is the Texas Frightmare Weekend your first horror convention?

Sarah – Yes it is! It’s only the first day, but so far it’s been great! Everyone seems really cool and there are some great out there. I enjoy meeting all these people who are taking an interest in what we’re doing and I really appreciate all the support we’ve been getting from them.

Nic – What do you like to do for fun when you’re not making movies?

Sarah – Ohhh… All sorts of stuff. I love to travel! One of my dearest goals is to see as much of the world as possible in my lifetime. I love being active. I belong to a great group called “Training Adventure” in Santa Monica that organizes group workouts in fun environments, so we go hiking in the mountains, working out on the beach, or kayaking on the ocean. It’s so much fun! Cooking and a bit of shopping here and there round out the list.

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