Exclusive Interview with Leela Savasta for ‘Joy Ride 3’

– by Gig Patta

Hello, Candy Cane.

Rusty Nail is back in the horror bloody version of “Joy Ride 3.”

In this sequel, the murderous truck driver stalks a group of young racers on a long stretch of highway after one of them played a cruel prank on him.

The film stars Kirsten Prout, Ben Hollingsworth, Ken Kirzinger, Jesse Hutch and Leela Savasta.

Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with Savasta earlier this week on her role as Alisa Rosado, one of the young drivers being stalked by Rusty Nail. We discussed many things, including the “Joy Ride” series, horror movies, “Black Christmas” and even the location shoot at Winnipeg, Canada.

“Joy Ride 3” will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on June 17.

Read the interview below.

Latino-Review: How does it feel to be part of the franchise of “Joy Ride?”

Leela Savasta: It’s actually pretty cool. I really enjoyed the first “Joy Ride.” I liked the tone of the movie. I really liked Rusty Nail as the iconic character. It’s pretty exciting actually.

Latino-Review: So what attracted you to this script or storyline in particularly?

Leela Savasta: I would have to say it was being a part of that franchise, because I liked the suspenseful quality of the first film. It’s the playing on the fear from this voice. I felt like it was a horror film with some real acting elements to the characters. You get to know those characters.

The current film takes a little more of a horror twist. It still has the Rusty Nail character, but it takes a much more of a turn from the original character.

Latino-Review: What makes Rusty Nail such a scary villain in your opinion?

Leela Savasta: Partially, you never know when he is going to show up. And you can’t really figure out what his motives are. In some ways, he’s kind of a nice guy. It’s weird to say that, but he has his own moral positioning. You can tell from the stuff he says and the things he does. He becomes an interesting character in that way. It makes you wonder on what his position is and what’s going on his mind.

Latino-Review: Did you make any special preparations for the role? Such as practicing your screams for the movie?

Leela Savasta: I had a pretty good scream. [Laughter] I didn’t really have to practice that one. We tried to work together as a cast to develop some kind of relationship. When we have time with each other, we try to develop a relationship between our characters.

Latino-Review: Since this is such a serious horror film, did you guys at least have fun on the set?

Leela Savasta: For sure we did. In filming, it can be kind of funny sometimes. On screen, it becomes very scary. When we were on location to shoot this film, we got to know each other as cast and crew to develop some good relationships. We had quite a bit of fun even if we were being killed sometimes. [Laughter]

Latino-Review: Your director, Declan O’Brien, has now developed himself into a nice horror director. Did you have a chance to watch any of his special effect techniques on the set?

Leela Savasta: I wasn’t on set that much when I wasn’t working. So I didn’t really see too much of the special effects in action. Although I heard about some of them, I am interested to see on how they come out on screen.

Latino-Review: Did you at least get to test drive or drive that race car at maximum speed?

Leela Savasta: [Laughter] I don’t know if I went pedal to the metal on that one. I did get to drive it. It was pretty fun. We were on a country road and my character does get to drive the car. I get to rip around in it for a bit.

Latino-Review: Where was the film production took place? Was it in the United States?

Leela Savasta: No, we were in Winnipeg in Canada actually.

Latino-Review: I could never figure out on where they could find a long stretch of highway with nothing around.

Leela Savasta: [Laughter] Yes, they went to the depths of Canada for that. We did film on a lot of bare roads. A lot of the production were done in Winnipeg, but I think some of it were done in Vancouver for the “Joy Ride” series.

Latino-Review: So how were you approached to this project?

Leela Savasta: I auditioned for this project. It was actually taped so I didn’t meet with Declan or any other production people until my arrival in Winnipeg. We were there for about a month shooting the film. It was a taping I did with the audition material. So they made the decision based on that.

Latino-Review: What was the most difficult thing you had to do on the project then?

Leela Savasta: Hmmm, there were quite a few characters in this one. There were times when we were all together, but my character didn’t say a lot. It was interesting to pick something as a challenge, but for me that was the most difficult thing for me. It’s just to be present, alert and engaged.

And also, we had shoots on a lot of nights. That was a challenge, because switching back and forth from days and nights put some wear on you. That was definitely a challenge for me as well.

Latino-Review: How was it working with Declan O’Brien as a director?

Leela Savasta: Declan definitely runs the show. He knows what he wants to do and has everything planned out. He’s very effective on this type of movie and he’s also the writer. He did a lot in terms of planning on how we were going to shoot things in order to be efficient. That’s not always easy to do so I’m easily impressed with the pre-planning has done to get everything done as fast as possible.

Latino-Review: Just out of curiosity, how did you get started in this business?

Leela Savasta: It’s funny actually. I wasn’t a childhood actor. I didn’t know a lot of people who were actors to start. I was actually dating an actor when I was pretty young. I saw how much fun he had [with his job] so I decided to give it a try.

It took off pretty quickly for me. In my first month of acting classes, I had an agent and being sent out for stuff. It all happened from there. By chance, it was how I came in contact with the film industry.

Latino-Review: You have a few horror films under your belt, do you like the horror genre yourself?

Leela Savasta: I don’t really watch that much horror. I used to love horror when I was younger. I used to sleepovers and have all my girlfriends over to watch horror. Something happened one time and I got really, really scared. Then I stopped liking horror. [Horror films] scare me too much. I don’t like watching them anymore.

Ironically, the film that gave me that initial scare was called “Black Christmas.” It was filmed in the 80s and a classic Canadian horror movie. I was actually in the remake of it when it was filmed in Vancouver a few years later.

It’s kind of funny. [Laughter] You think that would cure me of my fear. I know I’m too much of a scaredy cat to watch too much horror.

Latino-Review: Wait…..you were in the movie “Black Christmas,” but you were freaked out by it? Was it watching the movie or being in the movie?

Leela Savasta: I used to watch horror movies all the time and then I watched this movie, “Black Christmas” with a bunch of girlfriends. Maybe it was the timing on what was happening personally, but it really scared me a lot. I don’t know if you know that movie, but it’s about personal space and with somebody watching. There’s a bunch of sorority girls in a house where this guy is watching and he picks them off one-by-one to kill them.

They did a remake of that movie and I actually was in that movie.

Latino-Review: That sounds really scary by itself.

Leela Savasta: [Laughter]

Latino-Review: You did a lot of television along with movies. Do you prefer television or movie productions?

Leela Savasta: I prefer movies, because of the pace. There’s more time to get the scene perfect. Television can be great if you’re working with a good team of people that work efficiently together. It can be a lot of fun, because you’re on set for a long time to build relationships with those people. So it’s really cool.

Latino-Review: Do you have any future projects for yourself?

Leela Savasta: I do have a few things coming out not only with “Joy Ride 3.” I did a small part in Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” that will be coming out. I actually finished doing an indie feature which is currently being submitted to the festivals.

Latino-Review: Do you have the name of that indie feature?

Leela Savasta: It’s called, “Hastings Street.”

Latino-Review: Who are you playing in Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes?” Is that an animation or a live-action film?

Leela Savasta: It’s a live film. And it’s a small part. I’m a hippy chick. It takes place in the 50s or 60s. It has Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in it.

Latino-Review: I’m going to wrap this up with one more question. So SPOILER ALERT. How does it feel to be one of the survivors from Rusty Nail? And do you feel bad for not being part of those creative death scenes in the movie?

Leela Savasta: [Laugher] I’m pretty stoked to be the survivor. I make it through and that’s kind of special. So she’ll have to special to get her through these tricky times.

As for the creative deaths, I didn’t die and I didn’t see any of those deaths. [Laughter] I didn’t get to see on how they were done. I think they were pretty cool and can’t wait to watch the movie myself. So yeah, I’m pretty stoked to be the survivor.

Latino-Review: It’s a pleasure speaking with you, Leela.

Leela Savasta: It’s very nice to meet you and thank you so much.

“Joy Ride 3” will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on June 17.

Interviews, Film, LRM Exclusives Joy Ride 3, Leela Savasta