Justine Warrington is the type of eclectic actresses that holds the audience every time she’s on screen. She’s made waves on the small screen and is currently gaining steam on the big screen with her newest role in DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE. The film follows police partners played by Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, who descend into the criminal underworld after they are suspended for assaulting a suspect on video. Justine plays Cheryl, a bank employee who is taken hostage and forced to perform violent acts. The film has gained popularity during its film festival circuit at top film festivals such as Venice International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. The film has also gained attention from the media. Birth.Movies.Death praised director S. Craig Zahler as “the current king of outlaw cinema”. Take a look below to read our chat with Justine.
DFAT: First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Just looking through your IMDB page and we’re astounded at your background, it’s so varied! You’ve been acting for some time and we know from interviews that from a young age you knew that you were destined for acting; was there a particular film that inspired you to go down that path?
Justine: Good question. My Mother always had eclectic and savvy taste in films, so I was exposed to a wide variety from a young age. Though I’m not sure anyone should see Gandhi or Sophie’s Choice quite as young as I did, those films were formative and the power of storytelling was embedded. My heart belonged to the original Star Wars trilogy, however. My big bro and I were obsessed. I was Princess Leia, thank you very much; Empire Strikes Back edition, if we’re nitpicking.
DFAT: The fact that you are nitpicking only makes it more awesome. Great version of Leia and we’re always going to give up some geekly love to anyone loving the Star Wars OT. Now, you’ve got some roles with some pretty heavy hitters coming up including Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, and Johnny Depp. Does that make you more or less intimidated to be working with Hollywood Elite?
Justine: Intimidating is right! It took all my hutzpah to show up and do my best work for these projects. I’ll be honest though that it’s always been part of my game plan – insofar as anyone can plan such a thing – haha. All the training over the years, all the jobs that you’re sure must be leading somewhere but you can’t see a clear path of any kind but you just keep working and auditioning and moving forward, and then BAM! It’s game time! And these two recent movies are definitely game-changers. I am deeply grateful that I got to work on these particular films with these legends of cinema. The opportunity to play opposite these artists is not something I took lightly. I have enormous respect for their cinematic legacy and it is not lost on me how fortunate I am. I will say however that the idea of working with them was much more intimidating than the reality of working with them. Mel and Vince were really cool and supportive on Dragged Across Concrete. Johnny was beyond kind and really fun to work with on The Professor. Each one of them wonderful teachers in their own way.
DFAT: That is fantastic to hear. Sometimes you have these versions of actors built up in your heard and then when you meet them, you’re disappointed. Good to hear that they were all upstanding gentlemen and mentors. What was it like, given that you dressed up as the Ed Wood character ‘Glen or Glenda’, meeting Johnny Depp who portrayed the eccentric director? Was it a dream come true?
Justine: Hahaha I love that you pulled that detail out: fave Halloween costume! The short answer is yes: the dream of dreams. The longer answer is that Johnny has been my favourite actor since I was a teenager. It gets cuter: the only specific goal I made when I went to acting school was that I would one day work with him. The way in which this day finally showed up is beautiful, insanely funny, and quite simply magic. Shout out to our director Wayne Roberts for being such a great catalyst. I know I’m not the only actor to dream of working with Johnny, so for anyone reading this who shares this dream I will tell you that yes: he is ALL THAT, and yes: he’s even cooler in person than you already think he is in your imagination. Heads up: pretty sure he might be an actual wizard. Ed Wood is one of my all-time favourite movies. I watch it often, to this day.
DFAT: A Wizard you say? We’ll put that down as one of the many talents of Mr. Depp. Switching gears to your other big project: In Dragged Across Concrete, your character Cheryl is taken hostage and made to perform acts of violence. How do you get into the mindset to take on a role like that?
Justine: Good question. I had a real-life experience being held up at gunpoint once, while traveling in Belize, so perhaps cellular memory kicked in to some extent. It was interesting exploring fear, desperation and violence on such a heavy level, and I found it was something I discovered during the process. The circumstances alone were enough to drop me into the mindset. The physical reality of being tied up, unable to move and lying on the metal floor of the cargo van; of being threatened, of having my bare skin on the concrete, of wanting to survive…no special preparation needed. I did however find that listening to death metal at high volumes was helpful for both the call-back audition and general theme music while I was in my trailer getting ready for certain scenes.
DFAT: Oh my jeez that’s horrifying! I guess it wasn’t too much a jump then to get into that mode. We’re sorry to hear that. It’s funny that you mention death metal though because while it’s perceived to get you all amped up, it can also be a good mediator and take you to an almost calming place. Glad to hear that you used that as a way to get int your character. Given that you’ve played a far range of characters in comedies, science fiction films, and everything in between: Is there a preference to the types of roles you’d rather take?
Justine: I love contributing to stories in all genres, but yes, as long as we’re being choosy: comedies – the darker the better. Absurd comedy has a special place in my heart – but dark, irreverent comedy (which is arguably tragedy in recovery) is my vibrational match.
DFAT: Love to hear that! Been binging Dead to Me on Netflix and it’s exactly what you described, ‘Tragedy in Recovery’. You’d do fantastic on a project like that! Let’s switch gears to one of our favorite sections on DFAT. While normally we ask what sort of super powers you’d have if given the opportunity. I’d like to switch it up a bit with you. If you had superpowers, would you use them for good or evil?
Justine: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Ten points if you can guess the author. I often contemplate that idea when putting “good” or “bad” connotations on things…so much is perspective. But I have seen some truly evil things in this world and therefore believe the only decent use of a superpower is in service of humanity, in service of light. My superpowers are love, laughter, and naughtiness, and I find them useful in even the most mundane of situations.
DFAT: Those are a mixed bag of awesome superpowers! And don’t try to trip us up on the Hamlet quote haha. I hope you dropped that piece of knowledge on Mel Gibson to see if you picked up on it. We’re really intrigued by one of your old projects, what can you tell me about the Earthlickers?
Justine: Thank you! Speaking of superpowers! Earthlickers is a passion project of which I am co-creator, writer and producer. It started off as a short film and is in development as a feature (and comic book and animated series). It’s an absurd science-fiction comedy about alien love goddesses who must use their superpowers (Healing Orgasmo Love Energy System) to save planet Earth and her inhabitants from the greatest of evil: terrible pop music. Our feature screenplay has placed in quarter and semi-finalist categories in a few sci-fi competitions including Screencraft, Stage 32, and Other Worlds Austin. It’s on the Canadian Filmfest/Harold Greenberg Fund screenplay competition’s Top 10 It-list of the best unproduced screenplays in Canada. It’s been called “Barbarella meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “the potential to be a cult classic”. It’s an homage to (and satirical celebration of ) old-school Sci-Fi and B-movies, summed up in our tagline: “Lick long and prosper”. We are currently seeking the right producing partner to bring Earthlickers to the silver screen. Know anyone? 😉
DFAT: I think we’ll have to pitch this to some of our followers and hopefully one of them reading this will contact you. That is an EPIC idea if we’ve ever read one. Love the tagline! You’ve said that ‘Silliness is next to Godliness’ and we think that’s an awesome way to look at life. What other advice would you give to someone who would wants to get into acting like you did?
Justine: I’m delighted you appreciate my point of view. That mantra can save lives! And yet I mean it when I say: don’t go into acting. Don’t do it! Run fast and hard in the opposite direction. UNLESS…you love it more than anything. Unless you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else. Unless your spirit calls you to it again and again and you are happiest when you are doing it, no matter what level you are at, no matter how small the audience. An acting career is not for the faint of heart. The sacrifice is great: emotional, spiritual, financial…in every imaginable way you will sacrifice. Yet you may also experience the deepest joy and satisfaction, immeasurable growth, and some of the most outrageous and unexpected opportunities that transform and uplift and remind you why you signed up for this insanity in the first place – and truly, truly make it all worthwhile. It’s a crazy business. Hold dear the parts of it that bring you joy, and don’t take it too seriously.
Thanks again to Justine for taking the time to chat with us at DFAT. She is a spitfire of hilarity and sincerity and we’re honored to have her on the site. Be sure to check her out in the television series, Project Blue Book and her other projects Dragged Across Concrete and Earthlickers.