If her latest two films are anything to go by, Stefanie Estes might just the De Niro to James Cullen Bressack’s De Niro. The star of Bressack’s latest two films, Bethany and If Looks Could Kill, tells us how that relationship kicked off, waxes on her love of horror and talks about upcoming projects – several of which she’s writing herself!
Bethany is quite a ride. What appealed to you initially about it?
I loved the fact that there was a complex female protagonist at the center of the story. The psychological nature of the horror in this story was also very appealing. I love horror films like ‘The Babadook’ or ‘Repulsion’ where the character’s mental state makes you question the reality of what she is experiencing. I think psychological horror is deeply disturbing. There are also some pretty dark themes in ‘Bethany’ that I think are really emotionally powerful.
Its funny, James and I shot ‘Bethany’ together before we shot ‘If Looks Could Kill.’ It just happened that ‘If Looks Could Kill’ was released earlier. With ‘Bethany,’ I taped an initial audition and then came in for a callback with James and some of the film’s producers. With ‘If Looks Could Kill,’ James spoke to me directly about potentially doing the film. Initially I had a scheduling conflict, but then the shoot dates changed and I was available for them. I still had to film audition tapes for ‘If Looks Could Kill’ since it was a new set of producers. But James was really my champion and pulled to cast me.
Is it hard to come down after a day of working on such emotionally-demanding movies like this and If Looks Could Kill?
Oh my gosh! Yes! It’s a weird mixture of emotional exhaustion and adrenaline from the excitement of shooting and being on set. At the end of the day, you are physically and emotionally exhausted, but you are so wound up that it is hard to sleep. On both ‘Bethany’ and ‘If Looks Could Kill’ we shot a bunch of overnights – so that added to the exhaustion.
And this is a genre you obviously enjoy?
Yes – I am a big fan of horror. I’d done some supporting roles in other horror films. But this was the first time I got to play the lead, so it was a huge treat for me.
Do you have a favorite horror movie?
Recently, I loved ‘It Follows’. I’m also a big fan of ‘The Shining’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street.’
What others irons do you have in the fire?
I have a couple of other independent films coming out later this year. The first, ‘Identity,’ is a sci-fi thriller which I think is going to be awesomely mind-bending and visually stunning! I’m also starring in a drama set in the 1950s called ‘Nothing Like the Sun’ – it’s a female-driven story with a timely and important theme that is very relevant today.
I’m also scheduled to film a feature called ‘A Place Apart.’ I play a woman who, while caring for her ailing father, uncovers a mystery in his past. In facing his secret life, she faces her own fear of failing her dreams and settling for less.
I’m also writing a few of my own projects – so that is very exciting!