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Taylor Russell, a Rising Star at this year's Whistler Film Festival, discusses her career influences and aspirations.

Whistler Film Festival: Interview with Rising Star Taylor Russell

Taylor Russell
Photo of Taylor Russell courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival

Canadian actress Taylor Russell was at the Whistler Film Festival as part of the 2015 Rising Star cohort. The selective program enables young actors to engage in networking with established filmmakers during the week. Miss Russell starred recently in Jeffrey Lando’s thriller, Suspension, along with fellow Rising Star Rustin Gresiuk. The film was screened at the Whistler Film Festival.

Have you been to the Whistler Film Festival before?

Yeah, I’ve been [here] before. I wasn’t part of a film but I came up with my agency to check and see what it was like. This year is much different and amazing!

A lot busier?

A lot busier, but it’s a good busy. [laughs]

Congratulations on being selected as a Rising Star for the 2015 Whistler Film Festival. What’s that been like?

It’s been insane. It’s been spectacular. It’s been go, go, go! It was kind of a surprise to get nominated because we filmed [Suspension] a year ago. You see it go to festivals but you don’t really know what’s going to come of it. This is just a pleasant surprise. It is such an honor to be nominated for this.

Is there a special level to that since you’re also from Vancouver?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, we have such a small community of actors in Vancouver and I feel like we all really know each other. We’re a tight knit group of people. Being nominated out of all of the amazingly talented actors I know is a huge honor.

Has anyone particularly been an inspiration to you? I understand acting was something you really wanted to do from a young age.

I have a lot of inspiration. I feel like my mom would be my biggest one. She’s not in the industry but she has always told me to follow my dreams and not listen to other people if they said I shouldn’t. I mean, I have actresses that I love like Marion Cotillard, Meryl Streep, and the big head honchos. [laughs] Those are probably my top people.

Let’s talk a little bit about Suspension and your character, Carrie. What was it like to work on the film?

Carrie is best friends with the main character, Emily. She is a girl who really just wants to fit in with her peers. Emily is her best friend but she isn’t very well received by the other kids at school. Carrie is very loyal to her friendship with Emily but inside she wants to be accepted by the popular group, be invited to the parties, and be involved without cheating Emily along the way. She has a lot of inner turmoil with that.

Taylor Russell
Taylor Russell at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival Red Carpet. (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Were there any particular scenes that where something unexpected happened during the filming?

We were filming this scene where something is attacking me, basically. I’m not going to give all the details. I have a really, really high scream. It shocks people! I was screaming in this farm in Langley in the middle of the night and one of the neighbors came to set. He didn’t know we were filming.  He was like, “I need to come out and see if everything is okay.” One of the assistant directors said everything was fine. He said, “No, I don’t trust you. I need to see.” I guess he thought we were lying and something bad was happening. I guess I did my job if my scream is that crazy. That was hilarious.

What was it like working with Jeffrey Lando?

It was so cool. It was the first time I’ve worked with him. He gave me a lot of … permission, I guess, to work the way that I wanted to work emotionally. There were a lot of high, intense scenes that involved a lot of crying and a lot of craziness. He really gave me and Ellen, who plays Emily, a lot of space to do our thing and work the way we wanted to work. I think it’s very rare. He has this whole vision and watching him work – he’s always picking out things. It was always go, go, go.

How do you want to stretch yourself in future roles as you move forward from the Rising Star program?

I think what I look for in any role really is a good story and a good character. I feel if I can get any characters who are strong women or who have stories that need to be told, then anything like that I would love to be involved in. It’s about finding the right fit for me now, moving forward.

I’m so excited about having you on for a Blogcritics interview. I wish you all the best.

Thank you so much.

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About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is a young professional aspiring toward a career in media. In addition to film and television reviews, she focuses primarily on events in Washington, D.C. Highlights in Pat's blogging adventures include meeting Peter Capaldi and Stan Lee, as well as interviews with Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle. In 2017, she made her debut as an Awesome Con moderator, managing a Q&A for voice actors Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat. Pat earned a B.A. in Art History on a full scholarship at the University of Virginia.

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