ClingerWhen her possessive high school boyfriend dies in a gruesome accident, Fern Petersen's life is thrown into turmoil. Things go from bad to worse when he returns as a love-sick ghost to kill her so they can be together for eternity. That's the ferociously fun story-line of Clinger, which is released in select theatres and On-Demand on the 6th of October. We caught up with Julia Aks, who plays Kelsey Peterson in the movie, to speak horror movies, film festivals, and opera singing!

1) Having done so many diverse roles, you're clearly an actor that hasn't pigeonholed themselves. Is it important to you to do a variety of work across many different genres?   I think it’s important to not limit yourself. I don't necessarily seek out roles in each genre for the sake of diversity, but when I find a character that I have a connection with, I pursue it. I’m generally attracted to roles and scripts that take risks and do things a little differently, and this has led me to a broad range of characters. But even though the roles are vastly different -- a homeless transgender teen, a young Victorian businesswoman, a tatted up painter, Cinderella, etc. -- they all feed my creative appetite and ultimately make me a better actress on the whole. I guess I wouldn't mind being pigeonholed as a chameleon :)

Julia Aks
2) How does theatre differ from film? Noticeable differences?   On a film set, there's no audience! This is a big difference for me, especially with comedy. In theatre, you can sense if the audience is tuned in with you or if you’ve lost them. If they laugh, you know it's funny. If they don't, “Julia's Mental Log #74: don't do that again”.  On set, most of the people in the room are the crew: a group of people not paying attention to your performance, and specifically instructed not to laugh at anything. Years on stage have given me confidence in my comedy on set.

In terms of dramatic work, I actually prefer film. If your character is sharing an intimate moment with a loved one, you're not worrying about “Am I projecting enough to be heard by the last row?”.  You can just be real and subtle and nuanced, and the camera catches it all.

3) Were you a fan of horror movies before signing onto Clinger?   Actually, no! Up until recently, I hadn’t even seen “The Exorcist” because I scare so easily! I usually watch them on the couch with the blanket over my eyes, but with the top corner of the screen visible so I feel like I’m still watching. Since Clinger, though, I’ve developed an appreciation for indie horror flicks. I loved It Follows and The Babadook, although I still had my blanket handy.

Clinger4) What was the appeal for you (of Clinger)?   I really liked the script, and I had wanted to work with Michael [Steves] for a while at that point. Since the first time I auditioned for him his writing just clicked with me. I remember reading the audition sides and thinking, “I have to work with this guy!”.  When I read the script for Clinger, I got the same *click!* feeling with Kelsey’s character. Michael, Gabi, and Bubba have a wonderfully silly sense of humor. Combine that with their ability to bring something new to being young and in love -- how could I not sign up for that team?

5) Was it a long shoot for you?   I shot in Houston for a total of four weeks. There were some long nights, but it wasn't bad at all. And growing up in Los Angeles, I didn't mind the Houston heat.

6) Have you seen the film with an audience? How was the feedback?   I went to the premiere at Slamdance back in January, and the film was well-received. Someone with Slamdance remarked to me after the showing, “That’s the most laughs I've heard in a Slamdance theatre”.  So that's cool! I think people and reviewers (not that reviewers aren't people) really responded to the film's earnestness. Clinger doesn’t come with any pretension, and audiences felt that and loved it. 

7) Has Clinger opened doors for you?   I made a lot of great connections at Slamdance with filmmakers and producers who liked my performance. I’m excited for it to come to theatres and VOD so more people can see it! None of my family or friends have even seen it because it's been on the festival circuit. It played at a horror festival in Estonia, so more than anything I’m waiting for my Estonian film career to take off. 

8) Julia, you’re also an opera singer. How did you get into that, initially? Do you continue to sing?   I started taking voice lessons when I was 14, and my teacher had me work on classical Italian songs, even though I just wanted to sing pop and musical theatre. There was a very clear moment when I was 16, when a switch just flipped on and I realized that opera is actually the coolest thing ever. Singing opera feels like having a superpower! There have been moments when I hit a high note and I just burst into tears because it can be so overwhelming. Your body literally vibrates with sound waves. There’s all this anatomical stuff I could geek out about, but we would be here for hours. I sing a lot around Los Angeles with companies like LA Opera and The Industry, and I’m flying to Oregon in March to do an opera. Film and opera are my two loves.

And on that high pitched note I'd like to thank Julia for telling us about her new movie, Clinger, before directing you to click on the links provided.