She’s Missing: Lucy Fry and Director Alexandra McGuinness on Dreamlike State and Culture of Rural America [Exclusive]

A lot of people go missing in remote towns in deserts.

From the director and writer Alexandra McGuinness, She’s Missing tells a dreamlike complex story about a woman’s journey in a small rural town while seeking her best friend.

The cast includes Lucy Fry, Eiza Gonzalez, Blake Berris, Sheila Vand, Christian Camargo, and Josh Hartnett.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Heidi and Jane are best friends living in a small town in the desert. When Jane, a rodeo queen contestant, and military wife, goes missing, Heidi, now alone in the world, must begin a search across the desert for her friend. She digs up secrets and encounters the violence of life on the road, crossing paths with a series of unusual men and women in her search for honest connection in a dishonest world.

LRM Online spoke on the phone with actress Lucy Fry and director Alexandra McGuinness on the project.

Lucy Fry has starred in Vampire Academy as Lissa Dragonmir and Tikka in Netflix’s Bright. She also starred in the television series Godfather of Harlem and Wolf Creek.

Director Alexandra McGuinness has directed 2011’s Lotus Eaters and a few episodes of Riders.

She’s Missing is playing on all VOD platforms currently.

Read the exclusive interview below.

LRM Online: I’ve checked out the film She’s Missing. I’m going to go ahead and start with the obligatory question on where did the idea came from for you, Alex?

Alex McGuinness: I wanted to make a film about this friendship between these two girls. It was a codependent, slightly obsessive relationship or at least an uneven relationship between these two. I had friendships like that when I was younger. I had like a best friend when I was younger, and our fathers banned us from hanging because we’re a bad influence on each other. [Laughs].

Then I had just moved to America. I was driving around the California desert. I was in this town that had all these missing posters. There was one story in particular that I did some research on, and it doesn’t correspond to the story in the movie. But, it was the scene for the script.

LRM Online: For you, Lucy, what brought you on to this project? And for Alex, why was Lucy perfect for the role?

Lucy Fry: I was excited about the world that Alex created in the script. It was exploring that kind of history in the desert, which is present-day but so dry and desperate. I liked the two lead female characters, which is surprisingly rare to find a script with two leading females. I was excited to work with Alex to tell a story from a female perspective.

I loved Heidi, the character that I played because there were parts of the side of me that I wanted to explore in Heidi. It let me go to a grim place in the process of exploration. I was looking forward to all of that stuff.

LRM Online: And Alex, why was Lucy perfect?

Alex McGuinness: We had a conversation kind of early on when Lucy came up as a suggestion for Heidi. When we spoke on the phone, I had seen her work, but I knew she was the one who could play Heidi. I feel fortunate that both Eiza Gonzalez and Lucy played the parts. I can’t imagine anyone else having done that.

Lucy Fry: Yeah, it was perfect casting. [Laughs] I felt like we found the rhythm of it. Alex was good at guiding us into this intense dynamic. We just got it straight away.

LRM Online: This is a story about rural America. As foreigners for both of you, how much research or how much familiarity did you have about this type of lifestyle?

Alex McGuinness: It’s a movie about America from an outsider’s point of view. There’s a history Paris, Texas, that became the inspiration for the film. There is this thing that happens when like Australians or Europeans come to America. It’s just so vast since there’s so much of it. There are beautiful things, but there are also lots of things that don’t make sense.

When you have creative people who come, and they want to tell a story that America, it is intoxicating since there are so many questions. There is reality revisions we experienced that the characters have, but it is set in a fictional town.

Lucy Fry: I feel like in Australia, there are towns that are similar in terms like America. I’ve been in places that are on the side of the highway. Sometimes you have to wonder about who is here. Who’s my character, Heidi? How did she got stuck in this town on the side of the highway? That is the question of how she can move on with her life from this really strange place.

One of the themes of the film that I loved is with gender. It’s what Heidi was against as a female lost in this space. She was trying to find her agency, her power, and her action in this desperate landscape that is dominated by men.

Alex McGuinness: Both of the girls are playing these women who are working in the service industry. Men misuse them. There is a scene in the movie that they’re like seeking their power, and they go about it in different ways.

Lucy Fry: It’s the whole structure around them that makes it so difficult. It’s not a place where it’s safe for them to do that.

LRM Online: Quite understandable. The two female characters seem to take different paths through their problems. Could you both talk about Eiza Gonzalez’s character and how you interacted with her in this film?

Alex McGuinness: Eiza does a great job paying Jane. Heidi is in pursuit of Jane when Jane goes missing. Jane is this sparkly, fiery, and passionate creature in this town. Heidi is drawn to her.

Lucy Fry: She’s the most exciting thing in this town. Heidi wants to find some meaning and progress in this lost place. She was shaping herself around Jane and Jane’s ambition. It was making her life around whatever Jane is doing. As Alex said, I feel like Eiza did a great job of playing this incredible creature in the middle of the desert. It was so much fun to play with her with that dynamic.

LRM Online: Tell me about being in New Mexico in the middle of the desert for this production. Did you get that lost feeling as you proceed through your production similar to the movie?

Lucy Fry: I did. [Laughs] I can relate. We were shooting long days. We went to towns that were abandoned. They could be some grim places. You can’t help but be affected by that. Heidi’s state of mind is pretty desperate. I started to take it on because we were in New Mexico.

I thought I could jump straight into the character. Sometimes if I’m in LA or New York, I’m better at going in and out of character. In this case, I pretty much decided to be Heidi this time. I slept for maybe two hours a night. Somehow I stopped sleeping. It wasn’t the healthiest. I felt that feeling of being locked in. It was quite an experience.

Alex McGuinness: We were staying in this hotel that housed a lot of kinds of truckers and kids being deployed the next day. It was quite an intense atmosphere, but also it was so hot. It was 110 degrees during the day. There were these lightning storms, which would happen as a couple of times a day. It was amazing. We had to shut down the shoot if you are outside if the lightning came within eight miles. Everyone had these apps on their phone with the New Mexico crews that tell us if lightning came within a certain distance. We had to drop everything and then lose half the day. It was a nightmare since we have these big massive poles in the middle of the desert. It was dangerous,

LRM Online: That’s a lot of excitement for you two. That’s, that’s amazing. The last third act was, it was a left turn with the commune and with Josh Hartnett. Could you talk about developing that scene and how great of an experience that was?

Alex McGuinness: It was a different part of the movie. It’s where Heidi ended up at a certain point. She feels like she has found her power, but you can decide whether or not she’s been hypnotized by this Josh Hartnett character. It was fun because we shot it over a three-night period. There were a lot of people in this wild spaceship house in the hills of New Mexico. It was a hypnotic experience shooting it over these few nights. It brings you out of this real isolation that you’ve been at for most of the movie into this darker social place. This cult is making this cactus drug that able to make dreams come true.

LRM Online: Lucy, your performance was mesmerizing. You were coming in and out of these dreamlike state. Could you talk more about that? And how many times you had to dance on production for Alex?

Lucy Fry: [Laughs] I love that scene as well. I liked what Alex said about it. It was feeling hypnotic. We were at this weird and pleasant house in the desert and then shooting in the middle of the night. Everyone was dressed in these clothing. I felt strange, and we had gone through the whole journey up to that point. It came in a chronological order. Josh Hartnett was good at playing how unsettling it was. Throughout the production of the filming, I had been writing down a lot of my dreams and incorporating it into my character. Once we got there, I kind of let myself use all of that dream imagery and play with coming in and out of realities and dreams. It’s letting the unsettling feeling that has been building through the course of this journey come off in that psychedelic moment.

Alex McGuinness: For the dance thing, it was great that Lucy was so physical and able to do that. It spoke to Heidi’s character. At one point, she says that to us to dance, but it makes her feel free.

There are so many layers of brainwashing that are imposed upon Jane and Heidi. From where they were throwing rocks, what women are supposed to do, and what is expected as a girl in that world. Then they get to the cult, and it’s advertised as freedom, but it’s just another kind of brainwashing. That’s the point where Heidi can finally see what’s happening to her, and her dance is her way of trying to claim her body for her.

LRM Online: Thank you for speaking with me. I’ve read other critics’ reviews giving you both high praises for this movie. So congratulations.

Alex McGuinness: Thank you very much.

She’s Missing is playing on all VOD platforms currently.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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