Allison Scagliotti is best known to genre fans for her role as Claudia Donovan – the most kick-ass hacker this side of Lisbeth Salender – on Syfy's Warehouse 13. But the twenty-one-year-old will likely soon win a new audience of horror fans with her starring role in Chastity Bites, a film that finds the legendary Elizabeth Bathory (the sixteenth century Hungarian countess who bathed in the blood of virgins) setting up shop in a California public high school as an abstinence educator (what better way to keep the virgin population high?). Scagliotti plays Leah Ratliff, a young feminist who might be the only thing standing in this villainess's way. The film wraps production in Los Angeles this week, but Scagliotti kindly took time out of her busy schedule yesterday to chat with me about her role in Chastity Bites; where she'd like to see Claudia go Warehouse 13's fourth season enters production; and her plans for this holiday season. Check out our conversation, as well as some more photos from the film, after the jump.
This must be a pretty busy week for you. It's the last week of shooting for Chastity Bites.
It is the last week, but, oddly enough, even though I'm the lead in the movie, I had two days off in the middle of the week to get ready for the last big day, which I'm trying to utilize to the best of my ability, working out and lining up all my wrap gifts for the cast and crew.
I hear this is also the bloodiest week.
It is the bloodiest week. A lot of blood is spilled in the climax of this movie. [Laughs.] I think horror fans will be very pleased with the gore.
Were you a horror fan before working on this film?
Believe it or not, I wasn't. I scare kind of easily. [Laughs.] My friends took me to see Paranormal Activity 3 when it came out, and even though I know the gimmick, I get totally taken in by the music and the suspense and I will jump out of my seat, and then shrug, like "Whatever, I knew that was coming." But I love movies like Scream that ride that line between comedy and horror. Movies that don't take themselves too seriously. The movie that actually really got me pumped to do Chastity Bites was Ginger Snaps, a Canadian horror movie. Because I felt like that movie really achieved that great balance between straight horror and comedy, and was still a great commentary on what it's like to be a teenager coming of age, specifically a teenage girl coming of age. I love that movie.
Yeah, it's a great film. Definitely one of the better werewolf movies in recent years… As for Chastity Bites, can you say what it is it about this film, and particularly your character, that appealed to you?
Oh totally. Our screenwriter, Lotti Pharriss Knowles, wrote a heroine sort of patterned after herself, who is an independent, strong smart feminist who doesn't apologize for her beliefs, and just wants to blow the whistle on ridiculousness. It's pretty rare, especially in horror movies, to have a female lead who isn't about her breasts and her legs and being a victim. So I really loved that. I loved the humor element in Chastity Bites, and I loved how topical it is, sort of reframing the legend of Elizabeth Bathory in modern times, around the idea of chastity groups. I really responded to it. I thought it was hilarious, and I couldn't wait to dive into it.
Can you talk about how your character gets involved with the Bathory character?
Absolutely. A mysterious, beautiful woman named Liz Batho descends on the sleepy town of San Griento to start a new chapter of her chastity group called the Virginity Action Group – raised eyebrows cued now. [Laughs.] This of course is diametrically opposed to everything my very liberal feminist character believes in. But my character's best friend Katharine, played by the fabulous Francia Raisa [pictured below], is sort of a closeted lesbian who is very drawn in by this alluring Liz Batho character, and sort of falls under her spell and decides to follow her. So what sets off my character's journey in this movie is not just her political opposition to a virginity action group in a public school, but it's the threat of losing the one really important relationship in her life. In all the discussions that I had with our filmmakers, Lottie and the director John Knowles [also pictured below], we decided that my character Leah didn't have a really complete family. She has a mom who works a lot, maybe isn't home a lot, and dad isn't in the picture, so her relationship with Katharine is the most important relationship in her life. So when she's faced with the threat of losing that, I think anyone with a best friend would be able to relate to the lengths that my character goes to to be able to get her back.
Your character in this film, like your character in Warehouse 13, is a bit of a geek. But the two are very different characters. Can you talk about how they're alike and how they differ?
Yeah, absolutely. Well the way that they're the same is that they're both independent, strong, smart, free-willed, don't apologize for their intelligence. But while Claudia would be the type to effortlessly program a virus to wipe out an enemy's computer, Leah is definitely more academic, book smart, is more interested in writing for The Huffington Post then programming a website or hacking into someone's computer. I think that they have incredibly different skill sets. Leah is very logical and methodical and will think through something before she goes after it. Although she's incredibly excited by controversy in the film. Whereas Claudia's street smart. Claudia could probably figure out a way to sneak in and out of a building, disabling the security cameras and lifting what she needs. Whereas Leah would be like, "What? I'm gonna stay in and read my Gloria Steinem book…"
In real life, do you consider yourself a geek?
I think that there's a geek in all of us, we're just geeky about different things. I'm geeky about music. I will sit down with someone and talk about music for hours, whether it's the theory of it or local bands I'm into or the best albums of the year. That's what I'm a geek for. I'm also becoming a geek for filmmaking. On the set, I've followed our director of photography around and just watched him work and tried to pay attention as much as possible to how light and shot composition affects the story as well as moves the action along. It's a fascinating science, and I just wanna learn as much as I can about it. I'm lucky I get to do that working on Warehouse 13 and things like this, the different ways to tell a tale.
What's next for you after this film?
We wrap the day before Christmas Eve, and I've got about three weeks before I gotta hop on a plane and head to Toronto for season 4 of Warehouse 13. But in between I'm working with Chris Russell, the director of the short film Zombie in a Penguin Suit and my friend Josh Breslow who produced it. They've come together to produce a web series called Reliance, that I will be starring in. We'll shoot that in the first week of January. I'm so excited to work with them. If you guys haven't heard of Zombie in a Penguin Suit, I suggest people hit it up on YouTube. It's beautifully done, and these guys have managed to craft a whole narrative with no dialogue, and it's emotional and scary all at the same time. It's great. They're really talented.
Cool. We'll have to check it out. Can you say what's in store for Warehouse 13 in its fourth season?
We definitely left off with as pretty intense cliffhanger, with the Warehouse blown to bits, Mrs. Frederic mummified, Steve dead. All I know is that the writers are hard at work launching us back into season 4. I know that they've probably pitched as many as four series concepts to the network. But that's all I know. They generally protect the actors from the content until everything has been approved and we have a script that we can read at the table.
If you had your say, is there a particular direction in which you might like to see Claudia go this season?
Oh my goodness. Well I think I've said in previous interviews that I would like to see Claudia go dark, although I don't think that that's the plan that our producers have for my character, because she's the youth of the show and in a lot of ways the fun energy on the show. All I hope for is that [she keep] her promise in the finale that she does get to bring Steve back.
With Eureka wrapping up, is there any chance we'll see more of Fargo on Warehouse 13?
I certainly hope we get to see more of Fargo on Warehouse 13. I've said before in other interviews that Neil Grayston is such a joy to work with, not only because he's my friend but because he's a consummate professional. He's a great actor, he's super funny, and he just falls right in with our patterns and our habits on Warehouse. I don't know of any concrete plans, but my fingers are crossed.
Mine too. As much as everyone like Fargo, I think he became a much bigger hero to all of us nerds when he hooked up with Claudia. He's now a champion.
[Laughs.] That's right. And now he has sort of a love storyline with Felicia Day. I get a lot of tweets from people who are like, "That Fargo, he's a lucky dude, with two redheads!"
[Laughs.] Going back to Chastity Bites, what scene has been the most fun to shoot so far?
Hmmm… That's a really good question I hadn't thought of just yet. I will say that what I haven't shot yet, on the last day of shooting will be the big climax of the movie, and it will end with a big fight sequence between me and the villain. A lot of blood from other people. I think I get wounded, but it's not a spoiler that the heroine lives until the end. Recently, I had a really strenuous day sort of bound and gagged with rope and a bandanna, and figuring my way out of it. Because this is FEARnet I will share the most gruesome I ever had to do, which occurred the other day. [Laughs.] There's a moment in the movie, I won't tell you too much about it, but I wind up barefoot and a certain evil henchman licks my foot. It's my understanding that Lottie put that in the script as an homage to another horror movie that did that, that she loves. But it was the strangest, weirdest, most uncomfortable thing that I've ever had to do on camera in my entire career, and I've been doing this for ten years. [Laughs.]
Um, okay. Thank you for that…. [Laughs.] Is there a way to gauge exactly how much blood you've been covered with in this film?
I've been able to stay dry so far, but I have seen a few people covered in a lot of blood. I know they're going through gallons and gallons on the days that they're actually filming the kill sequences, and it's looking great. I watched them shoot the opening kill sequence two nights ago. It's creepy, gory, splashy, fantastic.
Could you see yourself returning to this role if a sequel should happen? Does your character emerge as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer type who could return to defend her school from other supernatural threats?
That's a really good question. I don't know that we've established San Griento as a world where supernatural things happen. And I really stand by the idea that this entire story is set off by a real loyalty to her friend and her need to save her friendship. However, if they wanted to do a Chastity Bites 2, sure, let's see the script.
Cool. You can never have too many ass-kicking high school heroine movies. Do you have any big plans for the holidays that you can share?
It's funny. I am staying in town, I'm just gonna spend it with my mom, and just sort of have an open house, and let all the LA orphans among my friends just sort of trickle in… Back in the day, my mom and her father used to have a competition to see who could make the best gin fizz. [Laughs.] This was in the '80s before I was born. Then my grandfather died before I was born, and my mom hasn't made a gin fizz in a lot of years. I turned twenty-one this year, and I've been filming this movie that's gonna go right up until Christmas, so it occurred to me the other day, why don't we revive the tradition? "Mom, why don't you and I have a gin fizz competition? You make your recipe and I'll bum a recipe from a friend, and we'll just settle this once and for all, which Scagliotti makes the best gin fizz." I have a feeling just based on experience she will emerge as the victor, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.
That's a great story. It's so much better than "I'm going skiing." [Laughs.]
I know. [Laughs.] I'm gonna spend enough time in the snow during Warehouse season 4, so I'm just gonna sit tight in the tropical southern California climate and enjoy it as long as I can.
Sounds like a smart plan. Thank you so much for your time today, Allison, especially when you're busy getting ready for the last day of your shoot.
Oh, of course. It's my pleasure. I'm so glad we had a chance to talk. I think you have the exclusive. You have the first interview.
Sweet, then this thing's going up asap. Have a great break.
Thanks again. You do the same.