Black Christmas Interview: Lily Donoghue On Appreciating The Horror Genre

Lily Donoghue might be familiar to viewers of such shows as The Goldbergs, Halt and Catch Fire or Dirty John. This weekend though, she makes her big screen debut in the new remake of the holiday horror classic Black Christmas.

LRM Online spoke to Donoghue about her character Marty, bonding with her fellow castmates and working with actor-director Sophia Takal.

Black Christmas is in theaters this Friday…the 13th!

LRM Online: I saw the film last night and greatly enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of the original film. I was wondering before you came onto the project, were you familiar at all with the original or the remake, or was it all just new to you?

Donoghue: I wasn’t familiar with it when I first read the script, but then when we were shooting it, I watched the original. I really, really loved it. I’m not the biggest horror fan, but I think after doing a horror movie and spending a lot of time around it, I felt more of an appreciation for the genre.

LRM Online: Yeah, I could see that after having worked on it. I will tell you that my specific favorite subgenre of horror is Christmas horror, so it’s always cool to see more of it. If you haven’t delved too deeply into that, you should do it, especially given the season.

Donoghue: Yeah. I think it’s an interesting time to see scary films, because usually it’s a time of cheer and safety and joy, so I do kind of like how it feels opposite in a way. You know what I mean?

LRM Online: Yeah. It’s the whole dichotomy of the cheer of the season and then people getting knocked off, especially if it’s by somebody in a Santa suit. I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about your character and what audiences can expect to see in the movie.

Donoghue: I think, she’s super close to Riley and all of the girls in the sorority. I think she’s a little extra protective of Riley after what she’s been through, and I think she would do anything for her friends. She tries to be kind of more of a peacekeeper, and is pretty mellow, but then she ends up really standing up and doing anything she can to help her friends.

LRM Online: All of the sorority sisters have differing admirable qualities, but then they all come together. It’s great how they’re there to fight alongside each other when it comes down to it.

Donoghue: Definitely. I liked how we were all very different, and we’re all very different women. Yeah, we’re all different as people, filming and as actors, so it was really cool to work with all of the others actors on set. That was really good.

LRM Online: That’s cool. Can you talk a little bit about working with Sophia as a director and how your experience was with her?

Donoghue: Yeah. Sophia is one of the biggest reasons why I really wanted to do the movie. When I first met her, it was a director’s session. I was auditioning for the film, and she just was so safe. I’ve never been in a scenario where she was doing a lot of exercises in the audition room, and she was an actor herself, so I think I just felt an immediate bond and trust to her. There was no barrier when we were filming. The scene in the movie where we’re all dancing at the frat house, I was pretty scared to do that, because I don’t normally wear those kinds of outfits. I think she really could sense that. It might be a little more intimidating to go up to a man and say, “Look, this is how I feel in this,” but she’s experienced things firsthand as a woman in the industry. So, I didn’t really feel like I had to go the extra mile in explaining anything else to her. She was really protective and super smart and really, really cool to watch direct.

LRM Online: I had seen Always Shine a couple years ago and really enjoyed it and her work with the actors in that, so it was cool to see her graduating to a bigger scale with this. I was talking to April Wolfe, the screenwriter, and I hadn’t really thought about it, but she was saying it’s possibly only the second big studio horror film written and directed by a woman, so that’s a pretty big thing.

Donoghue: Hell yes, it’s kind of a trailblazer, so it’s cool to be a part of that and just learn from her. She’s so smart and so perceptive, and she picks up on things that probably not everybody knows, She’s a really cool person to pick her brain.

LRM Online: It’s cool, like you were saying before, not just having a woman director but an actor as well. She’s somebody who really would understand where you’re coming from in having been the person in front of the camera as well. That must’ve been really great.

Donoghue: It makes such a difference, honestly. It really does. There’s a certain level of empathy that she really had or deeper understanding of vulnerability, because it is kind of vulnerable filming horror movies.

LRM Online: Can you tell me how the production went? When I was speaking to Aleyse earlier, I was a little mind blown to find out you guys shot in New Zealand. How was it shooting down there?

Donoghue: What did she say? Why were you mind blown?

LRM Online: I was just assuming that a wintery movie, like, “Oh, they shot it in Canada”, but I had forgotten that it was kind of a quick production to release, I guess. Was it this summer to releasing now? That’s kind of the only place where you could go, is the other side of the equator, where the seasons are opposite.

Donoghue: It was a whirlwind. You audition for things, and you just try to forget about them. I got a call and they were like, “So, are you ready to go to New Zealand?” I was like, “Oh, my God, are you serious?” I never had been that far away, and I never could have dreamt in my life that I would ever go that far. The culture is so different there, too. We shot in such remote places. You could go outside and see the Milky Way. That in itself was just such a special thing, and to experience it with strangers? It bonds you. I mean, I love Aleyse. I think we’ll know each other, and a lot of the other actors, for a while. That was something really special and I don’t take it for granted.

LRM Online: Another thing you have in common with her, from having looked at your filmography, is you had done a decent amount of television, but this is your first big studio movie. I was asking her as well, how does it feel that your performance is going to be out there on 3,000 screens across the country and then later around the world? Does that trip you out at all?

Donoghue: I think it is really trippy. It’s hard for me to conceptualize that, but I watched the film and it’s kind of cool to see something and know what you want to improve on for the next time. But I think it’s weirder going home, in your hometown, and you see your poster. I think that is weirder for me. That my mom can drive by and go take a picture. I think, because it hits closer to home. Do you know what I mean? That’s kind of weird.

LRM Online: Yeah. Definitely. Here in LA, you guys are all over billboards everywhere. They’re really out there promoting it, so I can’t imagine what it would be like to just drive past and see yourself 10 feet, 15 feet tall on a billboard.

Donoghue: It is weird. When I first moved here, I was like, “Whoa, there’s so many billboards. I wonder if I’ll ever be up there.” This is the first time I saw that, so that was pretty special. But, yeah, it is weird. Anybody who’s like, “Oh, it’s fine,” I’m like, “No, it’s weird. It’s bizarre.”

LRM Online: It’s cool, though, and I don’t doubt for a second that it’s your last time up there, so I’m sure we’ll see you more, driving down Sunset Boulevard for your next movie, your next show, what have you.

Donoghue: We’ll see. I mean, who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen?

LRM Online: Well, thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I wish you all great luck with the release of the film. Thanks so much.

Donoghue: Thank you.

Black Christmas hits theaters this coming weekend!

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