Riot Girls: Madison Iseman on Playing Something Different With the Look and Character [Exclusive Interview]

After Goosebumps 2, Annabelle Comes Home and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Madison Iseman is ready for something entirely different.

She easily found it with the action film Riot Girls, in which she plays a tough punk-like teen trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

The film is set in an alternative universe of 1995 after a mysterious diseased wiped out all of the adults on the planet. In a small town, two gangs are pitted against each other in a brutal war for territory, resources and survival.

The film stars Madison Iseman, Paloma Kwiatkowski (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Bates Motel), Munro Chambers (Turbo Kid, Degrassi: The Next Generation), Jenny Raven (Designated Survivor, Flatliners), Jake Sim (It Chapter 2), Atticus Mitchell (The Colony, Killjoys), Carson MacCormac (Shazam!), Evan Marsh (Shazam!, Northern Rescue) and Jordana Blake (The Handmaid’s Tale). The film is directed by Jovanka Vuckovic (XX) from a script written by Katherine Collins (Lost in Space, Blindspot).

LRM Online spoke over the exclusively with Madison Iseman on the role she took playing Nat, a tough teen trying to save her brother from a rival gang. We talked about her preparation, transformation and working with the rest of the cast and crew.

Riot Girls is playing in theaters and On Demand tomorrow.

Read the exclusive interview below.

LRM Online: I’ve checked out the film Riot Girls. It’s very, very different, I would have to say. I wasn’t actually expecting Riot Girls for what it is since I didn’t see anything on beforehand.

Madison Iseman: You kind of went in blind eye. That’s a fun way to go see the movie for yourself though.

LRM Online: Absolutely. Let me start with the easy question. Why were you attracted to something like Riot Girls?

Madison Iseman: I really wanted to do something completely different. Something challenging.When I first read the script, it felt like a book from start to finish. I was really wanting to play a character that I had to just tap into new things and do something completely different than I’ve ever done before.

LRM Online: When you say something completely different, because I’ve seen you in a few movies before, what are you actually referring to that this film was different from what you did before?

Madison Iseman: As a character, through Jumanji, I played Bethany who is this princess phone obsessed young woman. Some of these other characters, probably due to the blonde hair, I sometimes have to play these be softer characters. [Laughs] I really wanted to dive into something differently that was a little more gritty and a little more darker in terms of as a character in a role.

LRM Online: Now I completely understand and I caught that. So let’s talk about your character, Nat. What did you like about her? She does tend to be a lot tougher than a lot of the previous roles you did play.

Madison Iseman: My favorite thing about Nat was she is sort of the level head person of this group of people. She started off as the voice of reason for Scratch. Throughout all this, she’s still trying to grasp on what’s going on in the world while trying to maintain a leveled head. Behind her tough exterior, she’s still pretty much normal human and she still is pretty fragile. There is a softer side to her.

LRM Online: You didn’t have to make any special preparations? Or was difficult to portray something entirely different?

Madison Iseman: It was definitely took more work. I went over the scripts just a ton with Jovanka [Vuckovic], who did a great job just honing in on these characters. Even getting to work with Poloma [Kwiatkowski], she was amazing and we’ve worked together a lot [on this project]. There were some physical things. I got the dye my hair bleached blonde. She had to get a mohawk. There were a lot of things that contributed to try to make this feel as easy and as smooth as possible.

So transforming to these characters. it definitely was not easy. It was one of the hardest roles I think I’ve ever had to put on. Aside the physical work, we were biking a lot and running a lot. [Laughs] It was freezing cold and Parry Sound in Canada. It was a lot of fun. It was very rewarding.

LRM Online: Could you talk about your look a little bit more? You’re still blonde in this movie, but you have this sort of like this punkish nineties look. Can you talk about a little bit about that?

Madison Iseman: They basically wanted my hair to look like I did it myself. In which it was interesting to go into a salon and say, “Hey, can you give me something that looked like I did it myself?” They pretty much bleached once. It turned into like this orangey-blonde. Originally, they were thinking about doing a solid color or white platinum. Once they bleached it once, they ended up liking that more. They left my roots out and dyed my roots darker as well. There were contrast between my roots and my actual hair. Actually, it was really fun. It was fun to go walk down the street with that. Especially me and Poloma together with her mohawk?

LRM Online: I’ve noticed the chemistry between you and Poloma for this film. Can you talk more about the relationship between Nat and Scratch? There is a very nice romantic relationship between the two.

Madison Iseman: Nat and Scratch has been friends forever. They’ve really been each other’s rock throughout this entire thing that’s happening in this world. They’ve loved each other for a really long time, just with the circumstances and everything happening around them. They’ve never really been able to come to terms with their actual feelings. Nor has that really been something on the table to even discuss because of the state the world is in.

Through Nat, losing her brother and Scratch being there by going on this journey together to get her brother back, she’s really able to understand her true feelings and understand they might not make it out of it. I think all of those things combined, there’s no more perfect time to tell someone how much you love them when you never might get the chance to ever say it again.

Poloma was great. She made everything so easy. We’re really great friends off set as well. I was really easy to tap into that chemistry with her.

LRM Online: How about the setting of the film? I know you mentioned that it was filmed it in Canada. The film seems such a isolated place where there’s really no people due to this disease that actually went around. How eerie was that production?

Madison Iseman: It was awesome. We found in this small town called Parry Sound. We were there for three or four weeks. There were two hotels. There was a little small resort, and then there was a Super Eight. That was it. There was like one McDonald’s and there’s nowhere else to eat the entire time we were there. It was a beautiful. Oh, my gosh. It was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been to. We were right on the water. The sunsets were insane.

It was really cool to film it in such an isolated area. You wouldn’t really get that feeling of isolation while you were there. The location scouting and how they found some of these places, I’m not sure how they found them. The location and setting couldn’t have been more perfect I think, in my opinion.

LRM Online: Was that actually a real high school that was filmed towards the end?

Madison Iseman: I’m not sure. I know it’s the high school that they used in De Grassi: The Next Generation. I do know that. I think it was a high school built to be a set, but I don’t think it’s a functional high school. It wasn’t on stage either.

LRM Online: I’m not going to spoil too many things, but you had some very physical stuff in the film. In one of the scenes it was funny was that you grabbed a very big wrench. What were you thinking that you were going do with that? [Laughs]

Madison Iseman: That one’s definitely Jovanka. She had such a clear image of what she wanted. She has a tough exterior. She grew up in the horror world a very impressive person. But, she had every little detail down on what she wanted. She loved that huge, massive wrench. She always loved that it was in the hands of Scratch as well. Put it with probably the weakest person of the group gets the biggest wrench. The imagery of that, she loved that from the very beginning.

LRM Online: She also puts you through a tough blood splattered scene. How was it doing that scene?

Madison Iseman: That was a tough one. We filmed it over two days. I was really lucky, because I got to film all of that stuff with Atticus Mitchell. He’s amazing. Not only extremely talented, but he’s one of the funniest people on this planet. You would never guess from watching this, but he made me feel extremely comfortable. He was always trying to crack a joke or two in between takes. He made it really, really easy, because it was tough emotionally and physically. It was exhausting. We did the blood splatter last. That actually fun. I was excited to do some more work with prosthetics and blood. We actually had a giant fake head mold of Atticus that they actually blew up. It was really cool.

LRM Online: Could you talk about some of your upcoming projects, particularly with Jumanji?

Madison Iseman: I’m really excited that Jumanji comes out this Christmas. There’s really not too much I could tell. [Laughs] They really take what we did in the first film and do it again on a much bigger scale. There’s some really new cool surprises that are going to come into play. I think everyone’s going to be really excited and happy with it. I really do. I know we worked really hard on it, so I’m excited for everyone else to see it.

LRM Online: Hey, thank you very much, Madison. I really appreciate this conversation.

Madison Iseman: Yeah. Thank you. Have a good day.

Riot Girls is playing in theaters and On Demand tomorrow.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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