HAUNTING OF THE MARY CELESTE
In the Haunting of the Mary Celeste, Emily Swallow stars as Rachel, a concerned researcher whose team who has set out to sea to prove that the disappearance of a family and crew from a merchant ship was for reasons having to do with the supernatural. Her theory that those on the Mary Celeste vanished into a “rift” between dimensions proves true as the boat breaks down and her crew begins to vanish one by one.”
I had the opportunity to talk with Emily Swallow about her experience making the film and more.
Nancy Tapia: Well, it’s going to be good to talk about Haunting of the Mary Celeste. Were you familiar about this whole questionable story behind it?
Emily Swallow: No, I had never heard of it. That was one of the things that definitely intrigued me right off the bat, because I grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries. I was always fascinated by that show. So that was a really cool element of it, as I was learning about it and deciding whether or not to do it.
Nancy Tapia: Well, I agree because I started Googling too, haha…
Emily Swallow: Haha…So what’s your theory? Which of the possible explanations do you buy?
Nancy Tapia: I don’t know, but I do believe there are some supernatural stuff that go on. Only because of my experience growing up. There is definitely something but it’s going to be hard to ever have proof.
Emily Swallow: Yeah. Well, from what I know, I don’t think that there’s any way they could prove without a doubt, any of the theories, but that’s sort of cool. I feel like kind of the only place that could happen anymore is out in the ocean because there’s still so much that we don’t understand.
Nancy Tapia: Right, thank you for sharing why you decided to get involved in this film. The film looked pretty rocky.
Emily Swallow: It was, haha..We were never on a soundstage. We shot everything on that tiny little boat. You couldn’t take out a wall to try to get the camera in. We did do some of it docked with the boat covered with a tent thing and then a bunch of smoke being blown in. But we also did plenty of it out. We were shooting up in Sausalito and the San Francisco Bay, and we were out in the water a lot. That boat looks like it could sink any moment and it felt it could sink any moment, haha…Which looking back, since we didn’t die, I can say, “Oh, it was really useful that it felt that.” Haha…
I remember one night in particular, we were out in this shipping channel and this big cargo ship rocked our tiny little minnow so profoundly. It was incredible. It definitely put us in the mood.
Nancy Tapia: Did that happen in the middle of filming or was it while waiting?
Emily Swallow: We were sort of waiting. I remember that night, we were trying to get certain shots and so much of it was contingent on the wind and the water conditions. So we were out there for a long period of time, trying to shoot when we could. I don’t think we wound up shooting during that actual little period when we were dealing with that. It was an intense shoot because we did so much of it in the water, we did so much in the middle of the night.
Nancy Tapia: Besides the fact that Supernatural just seems to follow you in your career, do you believe in this kind of stuff? Have you had an experience yourself?
Emily Swallow: I have not. But I feel like there’s so much that I know I don’t know. I figure there’s a whole lot more that I don’t know, I don’t know. I’ve heard from enough people who have had their own experiences and who am I to say they’re wrong, because I wasn’t there. Another angle of it that fascinated me about the film and that I could sort of connect to, is this way into the paranormal through sort of quantum physics. I have always been drawn to that.
I was not majoring in anything remotely related to that in college. But I was still taking some classes, some astronomy classes and stuff, and learning about quantum physics because that fascinates me. That what we think we know, about how time and space exist and how we relate to it. There are other ways of relating to it that we just can’t comprehend. I think from that angle, that’s the way that I can comprehend it. But I also, I know that people have had experiences. That there’s certain things that have happened and I believe them. I think that there’s so much that’s possible.
Nancy Tapia: Let’s talk a little bit about the scenes where you’re underwater. How was the filming? Because you looked so calm, you looked great!
Emily Swallow: Haha…that was also something totally new for me and it was tricky. We were in this big pool that is used specifically for shooting and we had scuba tanks down there. You had to go take a big breath out of the scuba tank and then hold your breath, but not look like you’re holding your breath. We didn’t want to have bubbles from exhaling, so couldn’t do that. But at that point, we’d already shot everything else and my confidence in Shana (Director, Shana Betz) grew and grew throughout the shoot. There were so many issues that came up that she found creative solutions to. Just visually, I already loved a lot of what she was doing. I knew that even though it felt totally bizarre that it was probably going to look awesome. It was a fun, new experience. I definitely never shot anything underwater like that, so it was cool. It was exciting to see how that part of it came out.
Nancy Tapia: One thing is acting on the rocky boat and another to when you’re thrown into these unfamiliar environments like underwater. How do you mentally prepare for stuff like that?
Emily Swallow: For me, I have to connect to what I know and trust. At that point in the shooting, because we had already shot everything else, I already had this sort of sense of memory. Of this emotional journey that Rachel had gone on. It helped so much to have Ava, the actress who played my daughter, to have her there. So I can just focus on her and think about so many of the thoughts that have been going through my head, as we were shooting the rest of the movie. You kind of have to choose not to let other facts come in. I felt safe. I trusted the crew, so I wasn’t worried that something was going to happen. But yeah, it is bizarre because you know that you probably look so weird and it feels so weird. You really just have to trust that the things that you’re feeling and thinking are going to come through, even though you’re underwater.
Nancy Tapia: Yeah, for sure. You looked so calm and really pretty, and it’s like, “How do you do that?”
Emily Swallow: Haha…Well, thanks.
Nancy Tapia: You also have Supernatural. Like I said, that just seems to follow you. How do you feel? It must be a big emotion now that it’s concluding.
Emily Swallow: Yeah, it’s crazy. I was so excited when they called me up for that first episode in season 15. Then I didn’t know, doing that episode, that they were going to use me again at all. So every time they called it was just so exciting to me because I love that show. I love everyone that I’ve gotten to work with on that show. I guess I’ve sort of inherited the legacy of it because I didn’t come on until the 11th season. I was aware of the show, but I definitely have not seen all of it. But in the time that I’ve spent since season 11 at conventions, I’ve gotten to talk to so many fans who are just so passionate about it. So invested in it, and they were so emotionally connected. I’m so aware of that as we are now seeing it come to a close.
I know that there’s no way to please everybody, but I think that people are going to appreciate a lot of the things that we find out in the ending. I just feel honored too, that Amara gets to be a part of it because they’ve introduced so many fascinating characters along the way. So I didn’t have really any reason to believe that I should be included in the end. So I feel honored that she gets to be part of the end of the story.
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Nancy Tapia: Right now, that you mentioned conventions, then I take it you felt that void of no Comic-Con San Diego this year?
Emily Swallow: Yeah, I had so many conventions this year. Even more so than usual because of the Mandalorian. It’s just so sad not to get to go meet people. I’ve done some online, but that’s just not the same. Definitely miss that.
Nancy Tapia: It’s not the same. Hopefully, soon enough we’ll get back to it.
Emily Swallow: Well, think about how overly excited we’ll be, since we’ve been deprived of it for so long.
Nancy Tapia: I know, and it’s no hugs.
Emily Swallow: Ugh, it’s so weird. Well, that’s been the weird part about shooting during this time too, because I’m back on. I was on a show called SEAL Team last season, and I’m back for this season. We’re currently shooting and there’s all these safety protocols in place and you definitely cannot hug people. So it’s weird. I know and I adore these people from last season and I haven’t seen them since January. I see them and you have that impulse to hug, and then you just have to be like, “Oh, hi! How’s it going?” Yeah, I miss hugs.
Nancy Tapia: And now you have to pretty much remember their eyes.
Emily Swallow: Yeah. There’s some people that I see and I’m like, “I think I know who that is, but I’m not sure.”
Nancy Tapia: I know, well, thank you so much for sharing. You pretty much took one of my questions and ask you what you’re working on. But is there’s anything else that you want to share.
Emily Swallow: No, that’s it for now. Season four of SEAL Team and there’s more Supernatural to come. Then the other thing I’m not allowed to ever say anything about, so I don’t even know that it’s happening.
Nancy Tapia: I know, but you continue leading us with, “this is the way”.
Emily Swallow: “This is the way.” Holy cow, never in my life did I think that I would get to say such a popular catchphrase.
Nancy Tapia: That’s your quote now!
Emily Swallow: It’s awesome, I’m not going to lie.
Nancy Tapia: Well, thank you so much, congratulations. Wish we could have talked about the other thing that isn’t, but it’s okay. Another time, haha…
Emily Swallow: Haha…another time, yeah.
Nancy Tapia: All right. Thank you so much, and you take care.
Emily Swallow: You too! Bye, bye!
Haunting of the Mary Celeste is available in VOD as of today!