The Insider: Lauren Ashley Carter and the Role That Went Too Far
I’ve been through a lot as a horror actress...
I’ve been pregnant with both my father and my brother’s babies (The Woman, Jug Face), been bear clawed by Sean Young and burned on the thigh with her cigarette while she checked to see if my hymen was intact (Jug Face). I’ve been strung up and whipped and shot in the head by Larry Fessenden (Jug Face, Pod), had my throat slit (Jug Face), my knee blown out and ran up hills in pussy-deep snow with nothing on but a turtleneck and a pair of stretchy jeans (The Mind’s Eye). I have dragged a 200 lb man across hard wood floors and into a porcelain bathtub where I squatted over him for hours as the fake blood fused our bodies together and tore our skin as we slowly separated after we wrapped (Darling). All of this being considered, you’d guess that I would be game for everything. But you would be wrong.
I have been in five horror films that I am incredibly proud of over the last 8 years living in New York City. These films have been to prominent film festivals, graced the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and various other magazines, newspapers, and blogs. I have participated in countless interviews answering questions ranging from the moronic to the brilliant. But one question I am never asked is, “What movies have you turned down?”
In the world of independent film, nothing is about the fortune and fame. At the SAG ultra-low budget rate of $125/day (12 hour days, 6 days a week, before taxes), The “offer” is for the chance to elevate yourself as a performer, work with a talented cast and crew, and hopefully make new friends in the process. So you can bet your ass I don’t take every role that comes my way just so I can claim, “Ughh, yah I’m a working actor!” when goober #5,603 at my local dive bar asks me. While I have met a couple of actors that accept every offer, a handful of them are moderately happy with this lifestyle, while a lot more are considering( or already indulging in) heavy klonopin and lexapro cocktails while they try to make the shit shine.
Without naming names (because, after all, I do need to keep some things for my memoir), I will entertain you with one of my favorite tales of refusal.
This particular horror film was going to be shot in Germany, and most happily: in Berlin! I was going to nail this audition. Whatever the hell they wanted, I’d do it. Wear raw, bloody chicken on my body screaming down the streets in freezing temperatures? DONE. Put leeches in my panties with arms outstretched crying for my mommy? DONE. I got the call from my agent as I was out job hunting for sideline work. They needed me to get there in an hour, so they would send me the sides (the audition material) and the script. I didn’t have time to read the full script, but I memorized my sides and began reading what I could on the train ride to the casting office. It was about a sadistic and masochistic priest that ran a program for troubled kids. The children were promiscuous, disobedient, confused, and trouble makers. It was a horror version of Girl, Interrupted. It was fine.
I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, and Berlin was going to make it all worth it.
I went in and slaughtered that audition. Was the director creepy as fuck? Absolutely. But I was going to go to mother-fucking Berlin, and I knew it! I planned a trip home to Ohio in all of my confident glory. It’s almost impossible for me to ever leave the city because of auditions that pop up last minute, and my sideline work (dog sitting). No sooner had I put down my bags, greeted our boxers, and raided my mom’s deli drawer in the fridge when my agent called.
I was right: I got the part!
“So, we got an offer for the Berlin film.”
LAC -”THAT’S AWESOME!”
“Yeah…did you get a chance to read the end of the script?”
LAC- ”Uhh…no.” I can’t believe it! What a fucking imbecile! Why didn’t I read the rest of the script?! I was too excited about the prospect of getting the hell out of New York, making a bit of money, and traveling, I didn’t even do my JOB.
“We hadn’t either until they made the offer. And when they were talking about signing a nudity rider, we decided to read it.”
Up to this point, I had never done nudity in a film. I wasn’t against it, but it had to make sense to me. Not a deal-breaker, for sure, but certainly something I needed to investigate further.
“We decided it was best to turn down the offer. There’s a very graphic anal sex scene at the end of the film. And we don’t know this production company or this director. We feel that it’s not safe to send you to a foreign country with no one you know and have a scene like this come up.”
I should also explain that the casting directors had been involved in the controversial film Shortbus that gained some notoriety for it’s mostly real sex scenes (i.e. “real bonin’”). You can read a hilarious and honest blog post about it here written by an actor in the film. My agents obviously had a feeling that there was a deliberate reason the director sought out this casting agency, and it involved my butt hole. I’ll never know if my Marmite motorway would have been exploited for a trashy interpretation of The Magdalene Sisters. And to this day, I never did hear about the film being made.
Someday I’ll get to Berlin. I’ll visit the Reichstag, Brandengurg Gate, and the Potsdamer Platz. I’ll do it all, but with my back fanny intact.