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Loren Horsley, the Shark Part of 'Eagle vs Shark', Discusses the Indie Film

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Loren Horsley Jemaine Clement Photo Eagle vs Shark Movie

Loren Horsley as 'Lily' and Jemaine Clement as 'Jarrod' in Eagle vs Shark.

© Miramax Films

Loren Horsley stars as Lily, a shy young woman who falls for a customer of the fast food restaurant where she works in the quirky romantic comedy, Eagle vs Shark. Unlucky at love and seriously introverted, Lily takes the major step of going to a 'Dress as Your Favorite Animal' party that Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), a video store clerk and the subject of Lily's infatuation, is hosting. The two make sort of a love connection at the party but while Lily's ready for a relationship, Jarrod's consumed with the idea of exacting revenge on a guy who bullied him in high school.

Lily is your creation. How did you come up with her?
“I’ve been typecast for playing happy, bubbly, confident people. I was getting a bit of bored and felt like being stretched a bit. My favorite performances by women that have moved me were in that film La Strada there’s a character called Gelsomina who’s sort of a clown. She’s kind of a marvelous clown, kind of a vulnerable clown character. And Emily Watson’s performance in Breaking the Waves. It’s an extraordinary performance, I thought. She kind of had a childlike kind of luminous, kind of vulnerable quality and I was just kind of interested in having a look at playing a character with a similar sort of qualities. So that’s how that sort of turned up, and she kind of materialized very quickly - unconsciously and quickly.”

Are you typecast for playing happy, bubbly people because you are a happy and bubbly person?
“I don’t know (laughing). I’ve got really curly hair. I think that people generally think I’m happy all the time.”

Is it true you actually tested ‘Lily’ out by walking around in character?
“Yeah, yeah.”

What was that experience like?
“It was really interesting. I was in Salt Lake City for four days on my own before I met up with Taika at Sundance. I didn’t know anybody there and I didn’t have anything to do, and I thought I’d give it a try. It was absolutely fascinating. It kind of put into concrete any thoughts that I might have had how people treat people who lack confidence. It was like she was invisible. I went into shops and asked questions and things, and they were incredibly kind of rude and dismissive of her. It was very interesting.”

That’s very sad.
“Yeah, I think it is. I think if you don’t have a huge amount of confidence and if you don’t kind of put that energy out into the world, a lot of the times people don’t give it to you. It’s very interesting.”

Did you expect that severe of a reaction?
“No, I didn’t. No, not at all. I was a little bit like that as kind of a youngish child, and a teenager. I kind of remembered how it felt to not feel like you fit in. I didn’t quite realize it would be that extreme. It was very interesting.”

You were shy like that as a teenager? How did you become an actor?
“More as a child. I slowly came out of my shell a bit.”

Did acting help?
“It did very much. It did. That was the trick.”

How much of Lily is actually drawn from your experiences dating?
“Well the break-up scene is practically a word for word experience of my first heartbreak. That was horrible. It was very cathartic for me to let that go and have it out there now. (Laughing) I’ve released it – it’s out of my body.”

Isn’t it kind of sad to go through that again just for a film?
“Just once, and I don’t watch the film anymore so I’ve kind of done it and now I can let it go. It’s quite funny because lots of people come up to me and say that they’ve had a similar experience. I get to have these lovely kind of talks with people and say, ‘Oh yes,’ and we can empathize with each other. Empathy is kind of a lovely word for this film. That’s what I’ve found the most about discussing the movie is talking to people who kind of have an empathetic reaction to Lily and to lots of characters in the film. It’s very nice.”

Lily’s just so sweet that I wanted her to just leave Jarrod.
“I know, I know.”

Did you worry as an actress that this guy you’re playing opposite might be alienating the audience?
“Well, sort of, but no actually, to be honest. I mean I felt like when we talked about it we wanted to make a film that was sort of truthful as opposed to worrying about formulas of what works and what characters can say and do. I’ve seen within my family and friends… I mean, I know of people who do stick with people who don’t necessarily treat them well. I kind of wanted to be exploring that.

I think Lily’s essential nature is one of kindness and I do believe that that’s a transformative quality. I think that as long as at some point Lily gets a chance to stand up to him and find her own strength and walk away, and if he moves towards her that’s enough. It doesn’t need to be a big huge move. He doesn’t need to transform and turn into a great guy. She doesn’t need to him completely. As long as he makes essential moves towards changing, that’s enough for now.”

I’d love to see your character in another film to see how she’s progressed.
… “Yeah, I totally agree.”

Would you want to play her again?
“Who knows? I mean she was a beautiful character to play. I loved playing her, so yeah.”

You had a really short shooting schedule. Did that help or hinder you in getting into character?
“I think momentum is an enemy and a friend in that way. You kind of get moving so quickly your brain can’t get involved so you’re constantly coming from instinct, I think, which a good thing. Occasionally you think, ‘If I could have a few more goes at that I could perhaps try something different.’ Once we got something that worked we had to move on. It made for an instinctual performance.”

How collaborative is the process when you’re working with writer/director Taika Waititi?
“We’ve been together for eight years, we’re also in a relationship, so it’s collaborative. We’ve had a great relationship for many years so we know each other incredibly well. We know when to push each other and when to kind of support each other. It’s fantastic, so I got to be involved the whole way through. Through the editing and through the sound I got to be there. It was marvelous.”

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