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Sara Paxton – No Static At All

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Sara Paxton stars in “Static.”

Sara Paxton

No Static At All

by Jay S. Jacobs

Young actress Sara Paxton is always a favorite interview of ours, in fact we've spoken with her three times in just over four years and she is never less than charming, personable and sweet. 

That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has followed her career as she has made the impressive trip from child star to intriguing indie film star.  From her early appearances in kids' series Darcy's Wild Life (as well as doing many voices on Spongebob Squarepants), Paxton became a teen star in light films like Aquamarine and Sydney White.  In 2009, she changed course and spent a while in horror films like Last House on the Left and Shark Night.  In recent years, her roles have been getting even more experimental, starting with last year's critically lauded performance in the acclaimed ghost story The Innkeepers.

Now Paxton has three very diverse films hitting in the next few months.  First out is Static, in which she stars with Milo Ventimiglia and Sarah Shahi in a very dark ghost mystery.  As Static is being released, her pitch-dark black comedy Cheap Thrills (which reunites her with Innkeepers co-star Pat Healy) is starting to make the festival circuit.  Also right around the bend is the raunchy comedy The Bounceback, in which Paxton gooses her good girl reputation.

Paxton took a little time to chat with us from the set of her latest film to catch us up on Static, Cheap Thrills, The Bounceback and her career.

Your character in Static is very ambiguous.  The audience does not know if she is good or bad until the very end.  As an actress, was it fun to play a character who keeps the audience guessing?

Yeah, it was.  It was fun.  The way we filmed the movie also helped, because I was scheduled to work on another movie in the middle of production, so I just came in for three weeks and did my stuff and then left.  (laughs)  I just flew in and flew out.  And I was like the mystery woman on the set, so that kind of worked.  Yeah.  It was really fun. 

Well, speaking of keeping the audience guessing, the film starts out seeming to be one kind of horror film and turns out to have an entirely different thrust than the audience originally thinks.  What was it about the script that grabbed you?

I think just that.  As I was reading the script, that's exactly how I felt.  I was reading it and I was like: Okay, what is this about?  I think I know what this is about.  When it came to my character, I didn't know who she was or why she was really there.  Why does she show up into these people's lives?  I'd like to make a comparison without giving away the end of the movie, but it sort of reminded me in a way of The Sixth Sense.  There's this big reveal at the end.  My character goes through an arc.  You don't know why this young woman is there.  Then you're like, oh, gosh, she's bad.  There's something not right.  Then at the end, you see that she is actually good.  She's actually there to help these people. 

This is the second ghost story you've done in a year.  Why do you think ghost stories resonate with people so much?

Well, for me, it's the unknown.  People have loved ghost stories for years and years.  I think that's what it is, we really just don't know.  People I met talking about Innkeepers, a lot of the questions I was asked about that film were, "Do you believe in ghosts?"  "What is your whole take on that?"  I was like, well, I don't not believe in ghosts.  (laughs)  A ghost has never popped out and been like, "Hello, how are you?"  But I think that's what it is.  We don't know, so it's so fascinating to us.  

What were Milo and Sarah like to work with?

They were great.  I mean, I filmed this movie a really long time ago (laughs), so I'm trying to think back.  But Sarah was really great.  We shot the whole movie, it was all night shoots.  So even though it was really hard to be nocturnal for six weeks, on top of what I filmed, it got everybody in the mood.  There was always this weird, loopy, eerie feeling happening on set.  Sarah was really fun.  We bonded.  She was a really cool, cool girl.  Milo was really great, too.  He really knew what he was doing.  He was a producer on the movie.  I'd never really seen that, where someone is acting in a scene and then takes up and actor hat from their producer hat and starts working in that way on set.  That was really cool.

In certain weird ways, Static reminded me in parts of both of the films I have interviewed you about before.  Obviously, it has the ghost story like Innkeepers and also the running from dangerous people in the woods was like Last House on the Left.  Did you feel any déjà vu in some of those parts?

Oh yeah, totally.  For me, when I was reading the script, it could go either way.  I was like: Is this going to go Last House(laughs)  Is it going to go all Last House on the Left on me?  Then I'm like: Oh, no, it's going all Innkeepers on me.  But yeah, it was very reminiscent of two of the movies I'd done before. 

When you were young, who were some of the actors who inspired you to go into show business?

Goldie Hawn is my number one idol.  I'm obsessed with her.  I read her autobiography.  I've read her biographies.  I've seen all of her movies.  Definitely my first idol was Lucille Ball, though.

What was the first film that you remember seeing really wowed you?

First movie that ever wowed me?  My favorite movie of all time is Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.  I love comedy.  I love doing comedy.

As we've discussed before, suddenly it seems you are specializing in horror films.  Have you sort of settled into the genre now, or are you still looking to branch into other styles?

Well I shot Static in 2011.  I haven't done a horror movie since then.  Yeah, I mean I love the genre, I would absolutely [do more horror], it's just the way being an actor works.  Now, in the past year, I did a really raunchy comedy called The Bounceback, that comes out I believe sometime in the spring.  February or March.  Right now I'm working on a drama comedy, in the vein of a Little Miss Sunshine.

Is that Cheap Thrills?

No, Cheap Thrills is kind of a comedy/thriller.

Yeah, I heard you are working with Pat Healy from The Innkeepers again in Cheap Thrills, which is just debuting at the Chicago Film Festival.  I know it's a black comedy, but what is it about and what is it like?

I filmed the movie last year in September, and I saw the movie for the first time at South by Southwest [Music and Film Festival].  We are not the same two characters that we were in The Innkeepers.  Pat is a guy that is down and out on his luck.  He finds out that he is being evicted from his home.  He gets fired from his job.  Before he has to go home and tell his wife, he decides to pop into a bar and drown his sorrows.  He runs into an old friend of his, played by Ethan Embree, and they start talking.  This couple starts talking to them.  David Koechner plays my husband.  We're this rich couple.  We start playing little games to win money.  You know, David Koechner will say, "Go slap that girl's ass.  I'll give you 50 bucks."  It's at first funny, but then it really escalates to like "Chop off your finger for $3,500."  It's sort of a commentary on how our culture is so obsessed with reality TV and so desensitized.  We're playing this fucked-up game show.  My character is this total dead-eyed rich bitch psycho.  (laughs)  So we do not have the same dynamic that we had in Innkeepers, but I'm really proud of it.  That also comes out in the spring, I believe.  

You've played so many diverse characters over the years.  As an actress, which of your characters do you feel was the most like you, and which was most of a stretch for you?

I definitely feel that Innkeepers is the most like me.  (chuckles)  I'm goofy and silly and kind of dorky in real life.  (laughs)  Definitely, if you see Cheap Thrills, that is so not me.  My character is on her cell phone all the time.  She's dead eyed and heartless and cold.  That was really hard, especially watching Pat going through these really horrible things because he needs the money.  My character is enjoying it so much.  She gets off on it.  That was really hard.  (laughs again)

Copyright ©2013  All rights reserved. Posted: October 31, 2013. 

Photo Credit: © 2013. Courtesy of Cinedigm Entertainment Group. All rights reserved.

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