Villain Media has an exclusive interview with actress Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton as she talks about playing the demon-slaying Beth in Book of Monsters. Stanton reveals what goes on behind-the-scenes when monsters come crashing at an 18-year-old’s party in the must-see horror/comedy (from Epic Pictures and DREAD)!
Sophie’s 18th birthday becomes a bloodbath when monsters descend upon her house, devouring the guests and killing anyone who tries to leave. To survive the night, Sophie must face her destiny; monsters are real. She and her friends, including Beth (Stanton), are the only ones who can stop them.
Available now on Blu-Ray and VOD, Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton discusses how Book of Monsters came about, creating the goth look of Beth, and how her action scene against The Slasher was filmed. Check out our review of Book of Monsters as we take part in the actor’s studio and dive into the craft.
Villain Media: Tell me how you became involved in the project?
Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton: It’s a petty cool story actually! I was literally out of drama school. I received a request from a website called, Cast And Call Pro, for a feature film. I sent a self-tape with my brother in the kitchen. It was for Stewart [Sparke] and Paul [Butler]’s first movie, The Creature Below. I made it to the callback rounds. It was between me and another girl. I didn’t get it! But I stayed in touch with them!
Eight or ten months later, I sent them a little message. This is what I’m up to. Can’t wait to see The Creature Below when it comes out. Three years later, they reached out to me! We’ve written the lead part for you for our next film! I came and met with everybody! And it was great!
Michaela Longden, who plays Mona, was the girl who got the part I was going for in The Creature Below! It’s a really funny coincidence! It’s a nice story! It’s a testament that a “no” at one time, doesn’t necessarily mean “no” forever.
VM: Beth is awkward, just like everybody else in high school. But she’s also fierce when it comes to slaying monsters. What interested you about Beth?
LAS: Because of the nature of crowd-funding, we didn’t actually know the story until two weeks before filming. The people who were funding the project could also vote on what they wanted for the story. So a lot of the work on Beth, just like the other characters, was discussing who the person is without having the lines of the script. I knew she was going to be quiet and introverted; reserved. It would be action/horror and female led. I knew there would be barriers or hurdles. But when you know what your character is fighting for, it’s literally for their life or for the person they love. A person will do that even if they are quiet or normally the shy one!
VM: I love the look of Beth!
LAS: It’s great!
VM: Especially the purple socks! Tell me how the look came about.
LAS: I knew from the very first Kickstarter video that they wanted black. It was my idea to go darker; with the hair. The costume was all Natalie [Roe] and India [Stone] was makeup, hair. The challenge of an actress is to know who you are, then you get to put on somebody else’s clothes. In some cases, it helps. It really did with Beth. Sometimes it counters what you were expecting with the character. It happened on some other projects, like this film I’ve just done recently. I was not expecting the way to be dressed at all! Then you have to figure out why this person would choose these things! It worked really well with Beth and I loved her look!
VM: One of my favorite scenes is when you, Michaela Longden, and Lyndsey Craine are fighting The Slasher. Tell me about filming that action/horror sequence.
LAS: We were pretty much doing a night shoot for that. That was the last one we had to film. We had filmed through the night. We actually shot in the daytime! That scene looks like it’s night! It’s the genius of the lighting and Stewart’s editing and all of of that! The weapons we were holding, they were so fake! Obviously they have to be! It’s a styrofoam axe painted by the amazing special effects team. You can’t have a real axe hacking people to bits!
The challenge I had was to make it look really heavy. I had to figure out the movements. I watched a lot of videos of people chopping wood. That scene was so rushed; we didn’t have time for it. They said go at him! There was trickery with distance. The fact it was shot in the daytime astounds me! I’m glad you liked that scene!
VM: The monsters like The Slasher and The Beast are so different and detailed. What was that like seeing them on set?
LAS: It’s funny! They were kept in this warehouse, in this big side room. You get used to them. We were stepping over mangled body parts to get to the makeup chair. The only thing that was slightly weird, whenever somebody was in costume, you never knew who was underneath it. The special effects guys are pretty funny characters! They would like to scare us! Mark [Wilkins] or Paul [Butler] would put the costume on. You know it’s one of them, but you don’t know which one it was. I took a photo with one of these skeletons. I’m like, “This is what happens when you send too much time on a film set!” It becomes second-nature having all this blood around; blood cannons in the morning.
VM: The Blu-Ray artwork looks impressive! You’re in the forefront of the cover holding the axe. What’s that like seeing yourself in such an iconic image?
LAS: Oh it was so weird the first time! There was like a holding for the DVD purchase, which was photoshopped. It was for the Kickstarter. Then I saw the real artwork. I was like, “Wow!” It was so weird! You act because you want to do the craft. You forget that you become a brand. Sometimes I see myself on other posters, from other projects. It’s never me. It’s me in character. It’s always quite jarring! I was listening to this podcast, writer/actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve) said she was at bus stop, she looked to the left, and saw her face on a poster. No matter how successful you are, and I’m definitely not like that [Laughs], it’s never completely natural.
VM: How did Book of Monsters change you as an artist?
LAS: I liked to consider myself a very dramatic actress chasing profound works, that will touch people on a spiritual level. I realized I loved doing that; don’t get me wrong. They’re also emotionally taxing as an actor. I have never experienced such a good, fun time in film and some stage stuff as with Book of Monsters. It just doesn’t top it! Maybe it’s working with a good group! Maybe it’s the difference working in a comedy and working on drama. I want to do more comedy! It’s so much fun! You get a sense of community! I think the horror has such a strong support from fans, unlike any other genre! I found a new home in that! I hope more works like that come my way!
VM: What are you working on now?
LAS: I just finished two films. One is called Faith. It’s directed by Ashley Chin, also known Muslim Belal. The logline of the film is, from the streets to Islam; escape from gang crime. I play the antagonist in the story, but not in a malicious way. I’m a deeply broken character named Jo, who lost her partner to gang crime. She has become addicted to cocaine. She’s struggling in every sense of the word to keep going, especially with a nine-year-old daughter.
The other is a sci-fi drama; that’s called The Good Neighbor. That is by director Jonathan Reid-Edwards. It’s just finishing up now. It’s going to go to some festivals. He’s a wonderfully talented director. Fingers are crossed for that!
And some stage stuff around London! It’s coming up in the next few months.
Book of Monsters is now available on Blu-Ray and VOD.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]