Actress Lake Bell boasts an 11-year television and film career with small-screen appearances on “Boston Legal” and “Childrens Hospital,” and big-screen roles in “It’s Complicated” and “No Strings Attached.”
This weekend in select theaters, the 34-year-old stunner fights for survival alongside “The League” star Katie Aselton and “Blue Crush” babe Kate Bosworth in the horror-thriller “Black Rock.”
Directed by Aselton and written by her husband Mark Duplass (“Safety Not Guaranteed”), the film follows three childhood friends (Lake, Kate and Katie) to a remote island off the coast of Maine for a girls’ weekend. Festivities are soon interrupted, however, when the ladies encounter three hunters – “dishonorably discharged” soldiers who become jilted when their advances are rejected. As tensions heighten, the men turn their rifles away from the island’s wild game and on to the comely castaways.
I caught up with Bell earlier this week to discuss “Black Rock,” her sleep-away camp survival skills and the movie stunt that nearly sent her to the briny deep.
David Onda: Were you surprised to hear that Katie and Mark had collaborated on a bloody thriller given their previous work in comedy?
Lake Bell: I was really surprised and kind of intrigued. I think that’s partially the reason why it was an exhilarating offer, ’cause seeing people challenge themselves and artistically push themselves out of what is expected is inherently interesting and compelling to watch and be a part of. I thought it was such an interesting marriage of the genres.
Onda: Does the Black Rock island shown in this film really exist?
Bell: Yeah, it’s not coined “Black Rock.” We actually shot the movie in Milbridge, Maine, which is where Katie was born and raised. It’s a tiny, tiny town. It’s stunning and beautiful, as you see in the film. We shot a lot of it on the mainland, some even in front of her parents’ house, because they’re right on the coast, for some of water stuff. And then the forest is all in her stomping grounds, her childhood stomping grounds. The actual island, I believe, is called Flint Island, and it is filled with the rocks that are flint, of course.
Onda: Your character gets to inject a little humor in between the terror. Was that part of what initially drew you to the movie?
Bell: Katie and Mark wanted moments in the film to feel somewhat awkward and comedic, ’cause when the [expletive] hits the fan and something really extraordinary and horrific happens, there are moments of silence or these hiatuses in action and there are moments of levity and things that are funny and strange and the fighting isn’t perfect. It’s messy. Survival is messy. And they really wanted to capture that. I think my character Lou is definitely not far from – just tonally – who am I. She has done things in her life that I judged and don’t respect. The movie is deeply laced in its characters and the interpersonal relationships between those people, which makes it all the more interesting when the tropes of the thriller or horror come in.
Onda: How would you fare if you were tossed out into the forest “Man vs. Wild”-style?
Bell: Look, I’m from New York, so I’m pretty resilient, but I’d probably use a lot of the go-to, obvious camping tricks that I might need in order to survive. I did go to camp when I was a kid – sleep-away camp, by the way, so it was big kid camp. I get credit for that. I feel like my tenacity to live and my mediocre camping skills would get me a couple of weeks.
Onda: You and Katie spend a portion of the film huddled completely naked together in the dark woods. Can I assume that you grow pretty close to someone that way?
Bell: That is a fair assumption. Katie and I both had this bizarre sort of unbreakable animalistic bond after that movie. We felt like we had physical allowance with each other… some sort of weird animalistic physical allowance to batter each other a bit, and put our heads close together, and head-butt each other. So we would go out to dinner and people would kind of be like, “Are they lesbians, or are they barbarians – but they’re dressed in stilettos?”
Onda: Is that the only scene reporters want to talk about?
Bell: We definitely get asked about it a lot. But it makes sense. We are naked, being chased by people, and huddling together and then beating the [expletive] out of each other while we’re crying. In general, it’s a successful scene, in my opinion. Katie directed it beautifully and I think it was written really well and shot beautifully. I mean, I get it. Everybody wants to talk about nudie stuff.
Onda: This is the most physical you’ve ever been in a movie.
Bell: This is definitely a new type of film for me. Certainly it’s a new genre. I think a lot of ladies have an inner beast and darkness that they want to express and often don’t get to, so I felt lucky to kind of get weird.
Onda: Your “fierce face” as you charge up the beach to kick some butt is pretty awesome.
Bell: Oh, yeah. [laughs] I think we all meant it. We shot it chronologically, so we were psyching ourselves up to get real dark and aggressive. By that point, we had loosened up enough and allowed ourselves to take the circumstances seriously, because we were really living together and existing together and the boys were separated from us and felt strange.
Onda: Did you incur any injuries while shooting?
Bell: I almost died on the film.
Bell: Yeah. We had to do the swimming scene where we’re getting chased and – long story short – we had wetsuits on under our costumes, but we didn’t have the luxury of time, so we couldn’t do a test and get the wetsuit wet first so that the layer of water would then warm you, ’cause that’s how a wetsuit works. We just got dropped into the 42-degree water at night in the ocean in Maine with currents and were sort of left there. We hit that water and it was such a shock to the system – and in that scene we’re supposed to be out of breath, and I totally got an asthma attack in the middle of it. I don’t even have asthma very often. It was something like shock, where you can’t find your breath. You just can’t find it. And you’re restricted because you’re wearing these massive wetsuits and then full clothing on top it, so you can’t even rely on your dexterity as a swimmer. It was a perfect storm, and the only thing that kept me afloat was the fact that the actual suit is quite buoyant. So I didn’t sink.
“Black Rock” is open in select theaters now. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.