Rumer Willis is playing a sorority girl again, but in a vastly different context than she did in The House Bunny, where she played Joanne, a lovable nerd in a back brace who learns to express herself. Ellie in Sorority Row may be nerdy, but that’s where the similarities end. She’s a jittery, easily dominated and even more easily frightened girl who is basically kept around to keep the Theta Pi sorority’s grade point average up. The only member who truly cares about her is Cassidy (Briana Evigan), and even that bond is tested when a prank gone wrong results in the death of one of their sisters. Cue a lot of screaming.
Willis herself, as you may well know, is the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, but she certainly doesn’t act like it. “Honestly, I feel like it would be so exhausting to do that and just not be kind to people,” she says when asked how she avoided getting that obnoxious sense of entitlement that many celebrity children have. “I watched by example. I didn’t grow up in LA, I grew up in Idaho, so I wasn’t really around that kind of thing.”
That refreshing attitude also extends toward acting in general. “When you’re on the set, just because you’re in front of the screen doesn’t make you the most important. It doesn’t mean that you should be treated any differently, because everybody else there is doing something just as important, and without them, what you’re doing is impossible. That’s just always how I’ve looked at it.”
Even still, there are plenty of preconceived notions people have about her. Sorority Row director Stewart Hendler even copped to them. “I went into meeting Rumer with all the preconceptions that anybody would have meeting the daughter of Hollywood royalty,” he said, “but she very quickly made it clear that she was in it to work. She really wanted to be an actor for the sake of being an actor. We talked about what she’d been working on. She’s interned for her management company for two years, she’s sorted mail, she’s worked retail. This is not a girl that has a sense of entitlement. She’s going to kick butt and work her ass off until she gets to where she wants to be. She did that. She came to set and she was super invested in the character and the movie. She was carrying her chair around set, and I said ‘sweetie, there are people for that.’”
Hendler was also surprised about their initial discussions of Ellie. “Rumer was awesome. I said ‘this is kind of an intorvert’ And she’s like ‘it’s me. That’s exactly me.’ She had a lot to draw on for that, which I was surprised about.”
If she’s so introverted, how did she handle doing all that screaming? “If you scream loud enough, you definitely get a little shaken up, but for me, it really helped me to get into that kind of mindset,” she says, although she admits that what drew her to this film was “girls kicking ass. You rarely see the horror film where the girls are taking charge and it’s not just the men going ‘all right, you stay here! I’ll be back and we’ll take care of it!’ you know what I mean?”
Then, when asked about how intimidating her parents can be to boys trying to date her, she again contradicts that notion of being shy. “Honestly for a while, I was more intimidating than my parents ever were. I’ve always been very forward. If there was a guy, I’d just go “hey, do you want to hang out with me?” I don’t think I ever really learned how to do the girlie [high voice] ‘oh, I like you’ thing.”
And as far as those preconceptions that most folks have of her go, she shrugs them off. “There are clichés for a reason. It’s just kinda human nature to assume that if you’re a young girl in Hollywood, then you’re out partying every night even if you don’t. But in the end, when you meet somebody and talk to them, I would hope that would change. I really don’t have that much control over it.”
The Sorority Row cast seems to have gotten along famously, and the on-screen closeness between Ellie and Cassidy seems to have carried over into reality, perhaps because both Willis and Evigan are children of Hollywood (Briana’s father is TV star Greg Evigan). They now have matching tattoos – three black dots on their forearms that they got while in London together – and when asked about ideal leading men, Willis says “Briana and I are the Josh Hartnett fans.” Which, of course, leaves one to wonder whether or not her father’s work with Hartnett on Lucky Number Slevin has anything to do with that.
Speaking of family, does Willis think they’ll like this little slice of horror? “I hope my parents like it. That’s what any kid hopes for. But honestly, the biggest opinion I’m going to be looking for is my little sister’s, because that’s the demographic. My littlest sister Tallulah is 15, and she’s the most opinionated of the bunch. She’ll be honest, she’ll be like ‘Ru, it was terrible.’”
If that’s the case, let’s be glad that it’s not all she’s working on, then. “I’m working on 90210 right now, doing a recurring guest star thing,” Willis notes. “I’m not very picky when it comes to picking whether it’s TV or whatever it may be. The important thing is just to find a character that you really connect to. I’m playing a journalist. As of right now, she’s a pretty good journalist. She’s been finding a couple stories. I never saw the original, but I watched a little bit of the last season. There’s a new show runner this year, and the writing is going to be a lot different, and I think the whole vibe of the show will change. It’s definitely a different pace. I love shooting on location and I love being able to do a movie because you get to go away and focus on that, but TV shows are great, too. It’s really at way to widen your fan base, too. It plays to different audiences.”
She seems to have a great attitude about the business she’s in, and it’s quite clear that acting is truly in her blood. “It’s something I always wanted to do. There wasn’t really one defining moment that I had. I grew up around it and I just kinda always knew I wanted to be a part of it, too. It’s a fun group to get to hang out with.”