Pretty, petite actress Alison Lohman first impressed us as a baby-faced con woman in Matchstick Men opposite Nicolas Cage. She’s played a sweet teen who loves her horse Flicka, was Michelle Pfeiffer’s emotional daughter in the drama White Oleander and was animated by computer as Beowulf’s young mistress.
Despite Lohman’s wide variety of roles, the 29-year-old had never been on the run from a “Freddie” or a “Jason.” In fact, horror films scare her silly. It wasn’t until Spider-Man director Sam Raimi convinced her to give the goosebump genre a try that Alison Lohman signed on for his gallows humor scarefest Drag Me to Hell. And then she learned how very physical horror films are: The brave actress was covered in mud, suffered cuts and bruises, and was yanked on wires all over the set. But, hey — she had a blast!
In Hell, Alison Lohman’s character, Christine Brown, is a young, ambitious bank loan officer vying with the new guy for a promotion. When, to please the boss, she denies a home loan extension to a strange-looking old woman, she must suffer a terrible gypsy curse. Her supportive boyfriend, played by Justin Long of He’s Just Not That Into You, isn’t quite sure the curse is real and worries that Christine hasn’t just gone bonkers. Will this bright, young careerwoman impress the boyfriend’s snooty parents, beat the curse and live happily ever after? In a horror film called Drag Me to Hell… not likely.
We were happy to speak with Ms. Lohman recently and found her looking very young and fresh in a cute one-piece jumper outfit consisting of black shorts topped with a sleeveless, blue-striped, low-cut ruffled blouse, all accessorized with big hoop earrings and some very high black heels that she immediately removed. She tucked her legs under her in her chair, and we were off and chatting… until a spooky noise on the hotel patio interrupted…
SheKnows: So, Alison Lohman, why did you not give that old lady a break?
Alison Lohman: I should have, but no.
SheKnows: Well, then, you wouldn’t have a movie. In real life, would you give this old woman, who has already had two loan extensions, another one?
Alison Lohman: Knowing now what my character had to go through, I’d probably give her the extension!
Raimi’s riveting vision
SheKnows: This isn’t the type of film that you’ve done in the past — was it wanting to work with Sam Raimi?
Alison Lohman: Yeah, it was Sam. I thought working with Sam would be fun and, when he told me the story, it sounded like it was good and that he would inspire me. I wasn’t a big fan of horror before.
SheKnows: Did you have to screen test for the role?
Alison Lohman: No. It was a phone call that (Sam) made and he introduced the film to me. He told the story for three hours in depth, in detail and I was by myself at home, at night and I really felt that I was there with him. There are certain people who can [inspire me] and he’s one of them.
SheKnows: You are practically in every scene in this film. Did you feel the stress of that?
Alison Lohman: Not at all. Just stress in terms of what I was having to go through every day, and the lack of sleep.
SheKnows: There are some very physical scenes in the film. How was shooting that scene in the parking garage?
Alison Lohman: It was scary. It lasted a while, that scene. It was very intense. I’d show up for work and Mrs. Ganush (scary gypsy lady played by character actress Lorna Raver) is strangling me at six in the morning. It was difficult, but we got through it. We both got bruises and cuts but nothing too intense.
SheKnows: You also look like you are swallowing some pretty gross gook — also new for you? How did you handle that?
Alison Lohman: The maggots gook? There are lots of different kinds of stuff. The maggots were pasta, and the blood was just a sugary something.
SheKnows: And the gooky, muddy stuff in the grave?
Alison Lohman: Actually that was Calistoga Spa mud. I asked them for it, not because I’m a diva but because they were doing tests for mud on me to see if I was allergic because I’m allergic to a million things. With the chemical mud, my skin would actually break out and get really red. But with Calistoga Spa mud, it actually worked.
SheKnows: And you get a spa treatment!
Alison Lohman: Yeah. But… not really.
An action heroine is born
SheKnows: So you enjoyed being a real action girl for the first time?
Alison Lohman: It was great! I loved it. I really liked that aspect of the character. My character starts out submissive and kind of meek — this quiet girl from Missouri who grew up on a farm and comes to LA to reinvent herself. She has a new job, new boyfriend, and then meets this woman. I really liked her transition, becoming strong and empowered, taking charge to survive. I just really liked that. The change in her is interesting to me.
SheKnows: Are there any scenes you remember shooting that didn’t end up in the theatrical cut?
Alison Lohman: Some scenes with my roommate — actually, all the scenes with my roommate because I don’t have a roommate now.
SheKnows: What was the hardest scene for you to shoot?
Alison Lohman: I think the last two weeks of filming because, by then, I was really tired, and I would have to be wet from morning to night in mud. It got to be pretty cold sometimes.
Up nextâ€¦more on Sam Raimi and working with Justin Long.