The Greasy Strangler (review) left our jaws on the floor at SXSW Film Festival earlier this year, where we also caught up with writer/director Jim Hosking and lead actors Sky Elobar and Michael St. Michaels to chat about the cult classic in the making (interview).  But a notable component of the film was missing; actress Elizabeth De Razzo, who played fierce and fearless Janet.

Just after The Greasy Strangler screening at Fantastic Fest, and just ahead of tomorrow’s VOD and theatrical release, we sat down with the actress to discuss her initial hesitation in taking the role, the ballsy nature of the film, her dance moves, and more. Read on:

(Laughing) My agent was approached about the script, because I believe Elijah (Wood) had seen me on Eastbound & Down, and he really liked me so they wanted to see how I would do as Janet. They sent me the script and I was like, Uh. No. They kind of fought it for a few days, and they convinced me to go in for an audition with Brandon Rodriguez, who is the assistant casting director, and I read with him. I knew he liked what I did, and sure enough they pulled me in for the chemistry read. And I was like, “No, I’m not going!” They told me, just go in, just go in! I knew it when they were rotating all of the different men for Big Ronnie and Brayden in and out and I was just kind of in there. And the other girl that was there went in probably once, I was like, “Ohhhh. It’s me.” So yeah! That’s how it happened.
No, I don’t think they’d actually cast them yet because I’d chemistry read with both Sky and with Michael. But I’d chemistry read with I want to say at least 4 Ronnies and at least 5 Braydens.
Yeah, I thought that I might be there choice. I was very hesitant about it, because I had done nudity before. At least I had done a topless scene in Eastbound & Down, but I had never done that much. I was really concerned so I spoke with Jim Hosking a bit that day after the chemistry read and just him trying to ease my hesitation. I think it was just because it’s the day of the Internet, and people sit behind their computers and they can be very, very mean. I hadn’t had a negative reaction yet; people have been great about it, but this was a lot more of me. Although I want a clarify, that ass clap? That close up? That is not my ass. Because if you look at me, I have a tiny ass. My fiancé likes to call my butt a troll butt, because it’s super tiny, and when you see it on that walk away with the red heels, you can tell that’s not my ass. Because that girl had a butt. I wish I had a butt. But no, that’s not my ass.
What was really interesting is that up until this point, I hadn’t really done anything with a lot of dialogue. Because on Eastbound & Down I had dialogue, but it was mostly a lot of Maria’s facial expressions and just kind of being present in the moment. She was kind of the straight character to everyone’s craziness, and I feel that was Janet here, too. I mean, as much as she could be the straight man to everyone else. So when I approached her I just kept thinking that she’s confident, she’s sexy; she enjoys having fun and being sexual. She embraces being coy and playing with them. I almost feel like she was kind of running that ship and making things happen.
Some of those sex scenes are a bit much, but I think other than that it was just finding a way to actually creating this woman. Because on Eastbound & Down, as much as Maria was a character, I was able to pluck her from different people that I knew. Plus, there was a little bit of me, because I’m very expressive in general. I just have that face that I can do a lot with. But I had never had to create, just this woman, I don’t even know how to explain it! Just trying to find her and figure her out, I guess it was the first time I was able to do a lot of character work. I found that intimidated and questioned if I could do something other than what I already do. I have this niche, and I was wondering if I can bring something else to life. If what I did there was a fluke.
Oh absolutely! I think on this movie I learned as an actor where my limits are as well. You know, what I’m willing to do for a character, but I think it also stretched me to go beyond what I would normally fall into right away. Into my comfort zone. It stretched me in that sense. Also, learning to develop character tics. I re-watched at the screening and was surprised by some of the tics I’d given my character. Part of being an actress is that you always want to learn. I don’t have any training. I was in high school here, I’m from Laredo, TX, and the reason I pursued acting is that I wanted to be on The X-files. (laughing) So I was like, “I’m going to move to L.A. so I can work with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny!” And I just showed up to L.A., like, Ok! I’m going to do this! And randomly I got my SAG card; I didn’t even know what that was, and I hadn’t taken an acting class. I finally went to L.A. Valley colleges and I’d taken a bunch of classes and I just got my first role in 2005. First audition, I had no headshot and no resume, and I got it.
Oh my gosh, can we just talk about Michael St. Michaels? It was so funny because when you’re working in it, you don’t realize the genius until you see it. As I was watching, and I think last night was my fifth time watching, Michael St. Michaels brilliance, just the little things he would do. I was just like, holy shit. This man has been working forever; he’s had a really long career, and just to sort of see that, yeah. We did but it’s an independent film and you don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of takes; 3 or 4 takes if we were lucky. Because we shot this in 3 weeks in L.A. You just kind of had to get it done. I mean, there were times, I think my third day I was like, “Oh my god what am I doing?”
Well I’m always cringing. I’m always sitting next to my sister, and my cousin yesterday, and just panicking. Because every new audience you just never know. You never know how people are going to react, because at Sundance, our first midnight showing we had a bunch of people walk out. But we weren’t the only movie where people walked out at Sundance; people walked out of Swiss Army Man. But people really loved it at Sundance, too! It’s crazy. I mean some people did walk out because it’s not their cup of tea; I get it. I like to describe this movie as if John Waters, Quentin Tarantino, and David Lynch had a crack baby it would be this movie. John Water’s Pink Flamingos kind of thing, you know?
Well that was actually written in the script, but the dancing was all me. My sister says that I dance, sorry this is going to be so un-P.C., but I dance like a retarded robot. (laughing) So I remembered that, and that’s the dance that I used. But yeah, it’s been really interesting, because every time I’ve watched it it’s been relief when it’s done.
My sister and cousins I’m ok, because they’d be more open to it. But like my mom, my stepdad, or even my significant other, I told them, “I don’t want you to watch this.” He’s seen the trailer, and just like, please don’t.
I know! And people are saying it’s going to have such a cult following. I’m wondering what it’s going to be like. I’m like, (whispering), “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” It’s a lot to take in.