Charging “Rent”: An Interview with Lin Shaye

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Back in late 2016, World Film Geek had the honor to talk with legendary film veteran Lin Shaye. Shaye is best known for her iconic role of paranormal expert Elise Rainier in the Insidious franchise. Of course, she has done plenty of horror as well as films outside of the genre, including the hilarious There’s Something About Mary. Her latest film, the thriller Room for Rent, is now available on DVD, On Demand, and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

World Film Geek had the honor to once again talk with Shaye about her latest film.

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It is a pleasure to be talking with you again. Last time we talked it was in 2016 with Abattoir. Since then, you have shown no signs of slowing down. I got to see Room for Rent and as always, you just blew me away with your performance.
Oh thank you so much! I have been getting lots of compliments and even I am still astounded with all the good things people are saying about the film.

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Lin Shaye as Joyce in Room for Rent (Uncork’d Entertainment/Pasidg Productions)

What inspired you to take on the role of Joyce in Room for Rent?
Well, I worked with Tommy Stovall originally on a film called Hate Crime back in 2005. This was a film that at the time, was a bit risky, but it was about a gay couple who at the time drew the ire of their neighbor. Bruce Davison was in it and I played his wife. There was a great cast, Seth Peterson, who is a terrific actor. Tommy did the film with Marc Sterling who is his partner and producing partner. They’ve been together a long time and it was great working with him.

Tommy invited me to work on his next film, Sedona, but originally, I didn’t really want the role. However, there was a small role of a homeless woman named Claire Daloon, who had the mindset of a six-year old and she said it was her birthday every day. I ended up doing it and enjoyed working with Tommy and the other actors on the film. Then another year or so passes by and Tommy gives me a script called Room for Rent.

I didn’t like it at first. I felt the film was very dry and it was about a psychopathic killer, so I declined it. A year or so later, he asks me to give the script another shot, and I looked at it. Instead of a psychopathic killer, this would be about a victim. What’s great is that I took on the film and as it progressed, Tommy and I started to flesh out the character of Joyce. Joyce is seen as a victim of circumstance because she was always controlled by her husband. She didn’t have the basic social skills because it was one of those things where it was the man who was in control. Some people today are probably still living in this type of situation, but it was now that he died, what was Joyce to do. I like the line where she goes to the bank and she says she needs money, but she doesn’t know how to go about it because she never entered a bank in her life given the circumstances.

Tommy and I really went and brought this character to life and I was so excited to have so much input in the film. That’s what I like about independent films. You don’t have studio control, you don’t have fourteen people looking at a board and decide what’s popular and what’s not. We had a skeletal crew, two lighting guys and an excellent director of photography in Ruby Harbon. Tommy gave it his all with the direction and I was excited that I got to be a part of the film.

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Tommy Stovall, the director of Room for Rent on set

That’s interesting that this is your third film with Tommy. I talked to him about the underrated Aaron’s Blood a few years back. He loves his horror but both that film and this film are more subtle with those horror overtones and it is safe to say that you two can be a sort of dream team now.
And the great thing about Tommy is that he really thinks things through before deciding on what’s going to work. There were times that I would ask him something and it looks like he was ignoring me. However, what he does is that he listens, really puts thought into it, and then makes a decision. While we had input in the characters, Tommy does get the final say but he isn’t one of those quick thinking types. We had a wonderful collaborative effort on the film in terms of what works and fleshing out the characters.

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Bob (Oliver Rayon), Joyce (Lin Shaye), and Sarah (Valeska Miller) in a soon to be tense moment in Room for Rent (Uncork’d Entertainment/Pasidg Productions)

What was interesting about Joyce is the relationships between her, Bob, and Sarah. The chemistry seemed natural. Was it like that off the set as well?
It was a pleasure working with them. Oliver [Rayon] has this presence and on set, there were times that he was very distant. However, I soon learned that he wanted to stay into character on the set and I do appreciate his kind of method acting. What’s funny is that we had this sort of friendship that didn’t really blossom until much later after filming ended. When the film premiered at the Sedona Film Festival, Oliver showed up and I was a little stunned at first but I can understand he was there to support the film and Tommy. He came out all boisterous and excited and my first thought was, is this the same guy I met on the set? (Laughs) But the camera makes him look great. I mean he’s already a handsome guy but the camera made him look even more handsome.

And Valeska [Miller] was so wonderful to work with. This was actually her first major role, so she was a bit nervous. I was under the impression she might have been scared of me at times (Laughs), but she was such a natural. And she is so beautiful and talented. I think she is about 6’2” and she is a former ballerina. She actually worked as a touring dancer. We hit it off right away and we had this really wonderful friendship.

What’s great about Oliver and Valeska is that they listen. Actors tend not to listen because they think they know it all. But, these two were willing to listen to the director and it worked out very well.

What can fans except from you next?
Wow! Well, in August I will be appearing in the fourth season of Penny Dreadful. My character is a woman who is a Nazi hunter. It is set in 1938 Los Angeles and not that many people know this but there was a lot of Nazism in Los Angeles at that time and there was also a lot of Anti-Semitism. My character’s name is Dolly Minter. She’s Jewish and she’s a Nazi hunter so that’s going to be a fun role to do. The show will be on next year.

I also did the new Grudge movie. From what I understand, they are doing additional shooting right now. The film got pushed back to January so they are doing some additional shoots to connect everything. Anyone who loves the Grudge films will definitely want to see that.

In June, I will be appearing in a small film in upstate New York that I am also executive producing. It will star Henry Thomas and Radha Mitchell, who is an excellent British actress. So, I am keeping busy and we’ll see where we go from here. I mean, I don’t really have life goals. I just love acting so you know what? I do have a goal. My goal is to continue acting until I turn 110 years old and drop dead on the set! (Laughs)

Room for Rent is now available on DVD, VOD, and Digital. Anyone who loves seeing Lin Shaye will enjoy this film as she shines in this film. Thank you again Lin once again for talking about the film.
Thank you so much and here’s to the next one and so on!

A Special Thanks goes to October Coast PR and Lin Shaye for making this interview possible.

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