It's hard to believe the lovely Laura Ortiz was once the mutant girl Ruby in Alexandre Aja's The Hill Have Eyes. But the actress's experiences have given her the perfect background from which to enter the world of Adam Green and Joe Lynch's Holliston. I caught up with Ortiz last year on the show's set ,where she told me about the madness and hilarity of the new series (which airs Tuesdays at 10:30 PM EST on FEARnet). Check out our chat after the jump.
What can you tell us about your character? How would you describe her?
It's hard for me to describe her because I think Adam just wrote her off of me, who I really am.
So you knew Adam well before the show was created?
Yeah, I've known him for a long time. My character is very bubbly and sweet, but she also has this sort of darker sense of humor; and her imagination is slightly darker, but still sort of bubbly. You'll see that a lot in her artwork, which is always kind of messed up and dark, and not really what you'd expect her to do. But she always has the best intentions. She's really fun, really sweet. Just like me in real life! [Laughs.]
And she's an artist?
Yeah, she's an artist. She paints. She met Cori in college. Cori and her are very different, but somehow they ended up roommates and friends forever. I think my character fits in really well with the boys. Because they're horror-movie directors, up and coming. That's where a lot of my tastes and the darkness of her art blends in.
Compared with you and the boys, is Cori's character the weird one for being kind of straight?
Well, she's Adam's love interest, and Adam's the main, main guy. I would say, yeah. Obviously I has this bond and relationship with Joe. I've been with him forever. So I've kind of gotten to know Adam. In a way, she sort of does come in as my friend. Because I'm also very close to her. But I think I'm also the one who's closest to everyone the same. Because I'm close to her, close to Joe, close to Adam. But she's not exactly that close… There's that awkwardness between her and Adam, because they used to be childhood sweethearts. With Joe, she's his friend, but obviously not as close as I am to him.
What is the relationship like between your and Joe's characters?
We've been together for years. We couldn't be closer. It's really cute, really beautiful, the relationship most people would want to have in their own way. We're not your everyday couple, but we're very loving and together. The tension's between Cori and Adam, because Adam's in love with her and she's moved on.
Were you a horror fan before meeting Adam and Joe?
Yeah. The first film I ever did was The Hills Have Eyes with Alexandre Aja.
One of the few very good remakes in recent years.
Thank. I was proud to be a part of that one on many different levels. From that movie on I've found that horror movie fans are the most loyal. I've worked in a lot of different genres in my life in LA, and I have to say that the horror movie crowd, and people and fans, they're the nicest, the sweetest. You wouldn't want to get away from it if you could. They're incredibly loyal.
What are your favorite fright films?
Aside from The Hills Have Eyes? I have so many different tastes. I love the old classics. I remember watching It on TV when I was a little kid, the Stephen King classic. [Laughs.] I remember watching Poltergeist, and I always wanted to be that little girl from Poltergeist. "They're hee-eere…" I always thought, "I want to play something like that."
In a way you got your wish.
In a way, yeah, Ruby from The Hills Have Eyes is kind of sweet and disturbing. Just the way she looked. She was good-hearted.
Going back to Holliston… Cori's a musician in real life and she plays a musician on the show. Are you an artist in real life?
I am not. I do stand-up comedy.
A different kind of artist.
[Laughs.] Yeah. I'm more of the Picasso of my family, in that my paintings don't look like anything like I want them to look like.
As a stand-up comic, you must have a great repartee with Adam and Joe, since they're both pretty funny guys.
For sure. When I really wanted to do it, I talked to Adam and Joe a lot about it, and sort of ran some ideas past them.
Can you talk about how that came into play with your character? How you helped shape her?
Adam created and wrote it all, so that would be an Adam question, how I may have influenced him. I definitely can't take credit for any of this stuff. I'm just grateful that we get to play around. Adam makes it a very open and safe work environment, so if you have any suggestions you can definitely have input. We all play around with it and see if it works or doesn't. So he gives us a lot of freedom, but I can't take credit for creating her. Not yet! [Laughs.]
Your day will come, I'm sure.
In season 2, I'm writing everything. [Laughs.]
Do you have a favorite scene or moment in Holliston so far?
I don't know if I have a favorite… But we have a scene in episode 4 where Cori and I are just kind of talking on the phone, and there are bicycles and stuff slamming into the car window. That was really fun to shoot, and it was a very proud moment, to not break character while things were flying at us, and having not very many takes. Because unexpectedly our windshield did break. So just having to go through it, making sure not just Cori and I, but the whole crew, was on top of everything, to make sure that we had that take. That was a lot of fun.
I think every scene is so funny. I'm not just saying that because it's a show that I'm on, but every episode has scenes that I can't wait to film and do. I feel like Adam gives me a lot of really good stuff, funny stuff. The skunk episode, I can't wait to film that. I don't even know how it's going to turn out, but I know it's gonna be fun… I love watching Dee [Snyder]. I wasn't working yesterday, but I came in to watch them film.
They just started filming Dee yesterday, and I couldn't stop laughing. I had to leave because they had to film. I was gonna mess it up.
Were you a fan of Twisted Sister and GWAR beforehand?
It's awesome. I was really, really little. I don't even know if I was born yet when Twisted Sister… But my brother, he's a fan, so it's awesome that I get to work with them.
You rub it in his face?
Yes. That's the best thing about anything. Just being able to say, "You know how you worship these people? I'm hanging out with them today. No big deal. Sucks for you. No, I won't introduce you. Because I don't want to." Priceless!
Are there other sitcoms to which you would compare Holliston?
I think it has the feel of Friends in that… You know what Friends had in the last seasons? When you just knew that the whole cast were friends, and you could tell that they were just having fun and they knew what they were doing? I feel like, right off the bat, we have that chemistry, and I think that's why it feels like that. Each one of us just knows who we are and who the other people are, and our relationships, and I think that we're there, even just in this first season. It's definitely a very sweet comedy. I know some people, like my mom, will say, "I don't really want to watch something scary, but I'll watch it for you." But it's not scary at all. You actually get to see how awesome it is to be on the other side of the camera in a way. Because you get to see Adam and Joe trying to be movie directors, and how to make special effects and stuff. They kind of talk about that throughout the sitcom, and they show you. And you get to meet a lot of actors that are pretty big in the horror genre, as themselves. Not as anything scary. I don't think there's anything in the scary world. It's just really cool callbacks to other things in the genre. Even if you don't know the genre that well, I think people are just going to think it's really funny, and it's kind of an anything-goes sitcom. We don't have to be like, "Oh, that would never happen in real life." We're kind of like, "Of course it would never happen. That's why it's awesome that we put it in there." So we really have that freedom. I think it's something that hasn't been done before. The comedy's probably a little bit like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I guess. That's the best way to describe it. Just the feel and the cohesiveness and who we are and the fact that it has a lot of heart in it. I think you're gonna be rooting for all the characters. That's why we tend to say it feels like Friends. Because everyone loved each character. I don't know. I don't know how to describe it… It's awesome! [Laughs.]
And there's still a lot of gore.
There's still a lot of gore.
Have you had to get bloody yet?
I haven't yet, but I probably will. I'm sure we're not all free of it. [Laughs.]
But you're a veteran. [Laughs.]
Yeah. I was really lucky with The Hills Have Eyes. I didn't have to get up at four or five AM for makeup. Mine was mainly CGI and dirt on my face.
That's right. You were the cute mutant. [Laughs.] Cori mentioned this first season of Holliston will end on a cliffhanger. Will that involve all four of you?
Yup, we'll leave you wondering what's going to happen, or how we're gonna pull it off. But we will.
Do you, or do you and Joe, have an arc you go through this season? Or is your character like an anchor?
I think in a way because of all the crazy things that are happening, Joe and Laura are kind of an anchor, normal. As normal as we as a couple could be. Because obviously we're not your everyday sweet little couple, but we definitely have a great dynamic. And in our own way I think people will be able to see how it works. How it's indifferent, and how not all relationships are cookie-cutter – like "This is what a guy does. This is what a girl does." You get to see how we worked it all out.
It sounds like the idea geek relationship. You might find a ton of nerds out there who want to meet someone just like you.
I hope so. [Laughs.] It's very real in that it's not your TV perfect relationship. It's a cool person's relationship. She definitely has his back a lot. She's very proud of him. There's even some scenes where it comes out that these guys don't make a lot of money and they're kind of ashamed. But my character's just always so proud of Joe and Adam, and couldn't believe in them more.
Is your character drafted into their films at all?
There's one episode where she's a small part of one of their films, or almost is. But you'll have to see. [Laughs.]