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Hayley Williams: More Than Just a Scream Queen

It’s the stuff of guerilla rooftop viewing parties and fun-grungy theaters on the other side of town where lovable weirdos, film geeks, and sci-fi loyalists gather to revel in the joys of low-budget masterpieces. We’ve been calling them B-movies since the early 1900s, and way back then the term used to refer to smaller movies with modest budgets, meant to play as the second half of a double feature. But nowadays, B-movies have their own audience altogether, a cult following of dedicated viewers intent on finding the next great low-budget melodrama, fantasy adventure, extra-terrestrial thriller, or just a great rip-off of a recent Hollywood release. There’s already a long list of B-movies that have found an afterlife, post-DVD release, and have gone on to influence entire generations, movies like, The Blob, The Room, Death Race 2000, and Troll 2.

Hayley Williams has been a star of the B-movie world for more than 10 years now, not only as an actress but also as a genuine fan of the genre.

“I’m a huge horror and sci-fan fan and most of the movies that I love are B-movies,” says Williams. “I like to seek out stuff that’s not necessarily mainstream, and often these types of films become cult [films]. I also love supporting other filmmakers who may not have the luxury of a huge budget.”  first broke onto the scene as Marie Dumont in The Shadow Within, a horror film released in 2007. It was her first major role, and her acting chops were immediately recognized by fans and critics alike, culminating in Williams winning Best Supporting Actress at the B-Movie Film Festival for that year.

She still has fond memories of Marie and explained her process for inhabiting the character.

“There were so many layers to her and I created a whole backstory to help with each one. I remember that I really wanted to do her justice and make sure that people could see that there was so much more to her than just being a cold mother to her son, that it came from a place of love and also tragedy. The fact that she was so isolated also plays tricks with the mind so the audience never really know if what she is seeing is real or not.”

One of Hayley’s most recent roles is as Dr. Marisa Martinelli in Triassic World, a ‘mockbuster’ version of … well, you can probably guess which movie. After all, the similarities go well beyond the title.

“Her ambition to revolutionize medical science has led her to violate regulatory compliance and turn the dinosaurs into highly intelligent predators,” explains Williams. “Marisa grows more desperate to prevent everything she’s worked towards from falling apart, even as she realizes that she only has herself to blame for this catastrophe.”

Triassic World comes to us from The Asylum, the famous/infamous production company behind a huge number of now-classic spinoff movies, including Android Cop, Independents’ Day, and Sharknado, along with its five sequels (so far). These B-movie juggernauts have gained their own impressive following and have undoubtedly been one of the major forces in the wave of renewed interest in spinoff movies. For an industry veteran like Williams, getting the chance to work with the Asylum was an incredible experience, especially given her fandom of all things creepy.

“We had a lot of laughs and were given a lot of freedom to improvise in certain scenes — I loved that! And I would say that spending 10 days covered in blood is always a winner given my inner horror geek. I’m never happier than when I’m made up to look like I’ve just survived a zombie apocalypse,” she recalls.

She also gave a glimpse into some of the differences between the production of a low-budget movie like Triassic World versus big Hollywood sets where the enormous financial risk makes the filming process far more serious and stressful.

“When you’re making a movie this fast you spend a lot of time with both the cast and crew and become really close very quickly. I love the family feel that that creates and it gives you the confidence to go all out with your character. I was so lucky to work with this particular group of people.”

I was curious to hear her thoughts on why B-movies have seen a spike in popularity among more general audiences, especially within the last 15 years.

“I think when an iconic genre movie comes out, people want to lap up anything and everything related to it. It can be an addiction for fans. I’ve seen Jurassic Park more times than I can remember, and yet I still watch it every time it comes on TV. And when I first discovered horror films when I was 13, I was obsessed and wanted to watch as many as I could get my hands on to fulfill that thrill. It’s the same with these movies: total escapism!”

And while many Hollywood actors have difficulty sustaining lengthy careers, Hayley continues to add to her sizeable filmography. She is attached to an upcoming TV series titled ‘Emergency LA,’ which is currently in pre-production and is slated for release next year. “I’ll be playing Dr. Catherine Naylor, Chief of Surgery, which should be a lot of fun. I am also writing and producing a project with my husband, who is an actor as well.”

It’s refreshing to see such enthusiasm in an artist who’s been able to stay at the top of her game for years. As B-movies continue to amass larger viewing numbers, Williams is likely to show up in many new films in the near future. And with acting of her caliber, maybe it’s about time we think of new name for the entire genre.

by Giorgio Chang

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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