There is nothing Big Gay Horror Fan adores more than a beautiful eclectic actress and when it comes to those qualities, Chicago stage actress Lia Mortensen is top of the line! Mortensen has even dipped her elegant feet into the razored bloodshed via her passionate performance of Nora Fowles in 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Yes, this gorgeous goddess of the boards actually got to chase down Jackie Earle Haley’s Freddy and send him to his fiery destruction! Currently, participating in the incisive stage revival of the mystical, gothic tinged Faith Healer at the Den Theatre in Chicago, Mortensen took a few moments to chat about her time on the Nightmare set and her current role. So, grab your singed sweaters and cherished playbills– and let’s go!
Lia: It was a huge learning curve for me; I was on set for 3+ weeks, filming 7 scenes. This was my largest role to date, and getting comfortable, really feeling like I belonged there was challenging. I also LOVED watching the process from behind the monitor. Watching how the director and the lead photographer set up shots and then seeing that come to fruition. And it was awesome watching/being a part of the special effects! The stuntmen and women really earn their pay.
BGHF: It sounds fascinating! So, what was it like working with (genre remake queen) Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas, When A Stranger Calls) who played your daughter, on Nightmare? Were you able to spend any time together or was it more ‘hello – and go’?
Lia: “Hello – and go”, definitely. Let’s just say there is a distinction between Hollywood and Chicago.
BGHF: Well, all I can say is Ms. Cassidy lost out on some awesomeness! You’ve recently returned to a stage role you first visited many years ago. What has been the most interesting difference in how you approach the role of Grace in Faith Healer now as opposed to the original production?
Lia: Life experience! There is no substitute. The lines on my face have been earned. 17 years ago, there was alot I had to manufacture emotionally. Now, it’s just in me.
BGHF: What has been the most enjoyable aspect of revisiting the piece for you?
Lia: (laughing) I’m not sure the word “enjoyable” applies. Grace’s story is an intense, painful, one on so many levels. I suppose what has been gratifying about revisiting this piece is that we all three have wanted to return to these characters for years. We were too young for the roles the first time around. It’s as if we played a concerto and never resolved the piece with the final note. We are getting to do that now, if that makes any sense. And, I have found more humor in her all these years later. That’s good!
BGHF: Definitely! Grace does go to some dark places throughout Faith Healer. How do you prepare yourself to enter her journey for each performance?
Lia: Some days I think, God, I don’t want to go where she needs to go. But once I put on her sweater (which in my mind belonged to Frank) and sit in her chair backstage, I’m there. I listen to Frank’s monologue as if remembering the words he’s saying and I am transported – the sign of a brilliant play, if you ask me!
BGHF: True! You have forged a successful career as an actress and director in Chicago – which I know has involved hard work and (probably) plenty of emotional horrors. What has sustained you along the way?
Lia: Hmmm, the knowledge that I have no choice! This is what I love and I don’t have any other marketable skills! (More laughter)
Lia: I will be (as well as Brad Armacost – my costar in Faith Healer) in a new adaptation of Spoon River Anthology at Provision Theatre – www.provisiontheater.org – (where I’m also an ensemble member) this Spring.
BGHF: Great! We’ll definitely have to check that out! And thanks, Lia. This has been better than chasing down a demented child killer any day of the week!
For more information on Faith Healer, which runs until January 20th, 2013, check out www.dentheatre.com.
Big Gay Horror, meanwhile, is always welcoming lovers of the bloody arts at http://www.facebook.com/#!/BigGayHorrorFan, as well!
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!