Eminence Hill, Dominique Swain

In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, actress Anna Harr talks about her brooding role in the unconventionally gritty western, Eminence Hill. Find out what it takes to be in a colorful cast full of interesting characters in director Robert Conway’s sturdy western. 

A notorious outlaw and his gang come upon a small homestead, killing both husband and wife and kidnapping their teenage daughter, Ruth (Harr). With the law closing in on them, and after losing their way, the bandits find themselves in the town of Eminence Hill, a community run by a group of deeply pious and fanatical homesteaders.

With Eminence Hill arriving on DVD and VOD, Anna Harr talks about Ruth’s coming-of-age tale, working with co-stars Clint James and Dominique Swain, and shares anecdotes from behind-the-scenes. Check out our review of Eminence Hill as we head to the actor’s studio to discuss the craft of building character.  

Villain Media: How did you become involved in the project?

Anna Harr: I have known Robert [Conway] for some time now, for like three years. I heard he was working on a western. About a year and a half ago, he actually approached me about it and asked me to play the role of Ruth. I said, “Yes, of course!” Working with Robert is great; he’s a great director! I had never done a western before. I thought, why not try something new? I wanted to be part of the project.

VM: Eminence Hill is about Ruth’s coming-of-age tale. She starts out naive enough before building a toughness to about her. What interested you about the role?

AH: When I was reading the script, I just liked how she became this strong, independent woman. She learned how to defend herself. I think that’s what struck out to me in this role. This is great! 

VM: Clint James dominates the opening scene as Royce with such menacing charm. Ruth is always in a constant state of tension as she’s being threatened by Royce and his gang. Tell me about filming this scene.

AH: When we were filming it, it was a lot honestly. I wasn’t expecting it to be that much. Reading the script, it’s all on paper. You don’t really see it play out in front of you. Honestly, it was very tense. Everyday I was either screaming, crying, or being tackled. God knows what! It was a little tense sometimes. The cast and crew were so great! They were really funny on set! That helped me a lot, especially on the first day! The opening scene was filmed on the first day on set. I was extremely nervous and intimidated by everyone on set! Once I got to know everybody, realizing how great these people are, I tried to calm down. Okay, it’s going to be fine!

Eminence Hill

VM: I loved your scenes with Dominique Swain, who plays the tough and no-nonsense Gretchen. I think it’s interesting how Gretchen (Swain) is trying to protect Ruth, while being a menace towards her at the same time. Tell me about creating the chemistry between Gretchen and Ruth with Dominique Swain.

AH: Oh, she’s great! Honestly, she is so good at snapping into character. Off-camera, she is so nice; very friendly. Off-set, we were goofing around a lot. Once the camera was rolling, she just snapped into character and was awful towards me. Of course, she was supposed to be!  

Gretchen is really interesting because she is over-protective of her, but that’s only because she wants to sell her. She wants to get things out of her. Working with her, she’s great! I love her! Yeah, she’s fun!

VM: The ending presents Ruth showing off her new gun skills. Did you prepare for that scene at a gun range?

AH: No, actually I didn’t! I never had any gun training! My dad was actually on set that day. He helped me. My Dad had some. Basically they told me, “Okay, shoot right there!” And I didn’t! That was pretty much awful! No, I had no gun training at all! [Laughs]

VM:  How did Eminence Hill change you as an artist?

AH: I fell like I learned how to do more emotional roles. Before, I had never done intense and crazy scenes. Eminence Hill helped me a lot to cope better. When I went home from set, I relaxed a little bit more. Whenever I went home from set, I was always stressed about the next scene or the next day. 

I’ve learned how to calm down. When you’re looking at a script, you take these scenes one day at a time. Scripts only offer a peek. When I was reading it, there was a lot of intense stuff. I took it one day a time, one scene at a time. Working with Robert, he made sure I was comfortable being around castmates. Eminence Hill helped me with that. 

VM: How can the readers of Villain Media find your movie?

AH: You can stay updated. I have an Instagram; Anna_Harr_actor. I post upcoming projects on there. Mainly IMDB, I would say.

VM: What are you working on now?

AH: I have been working on this feature, Patsy Lee & The Keepers of The Five Kingdoms. It’s directed by Zack Ward. I love Zack! He’s great! I’ve worked with him a few times. It’s like a teen/fantasy movie! It’s the complete opposite of Eminence Hill; it’s family friendly. I’ve been working on that for about a year now. We’re doing some pick-ups for that shortly. That should be out sometime in 2020. There’s a lot of special effects on that one! 

I have a few upcoming projects, but I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say! They’re still like in the early days. I don’t want to say what I’m not supposed to! [Laughs] But I do have upcoming projects.

[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]

Eminence Hill  arrives on VOD and DVD November 5th, 2019.

By Jorge Solis