"When A Stranger Calls": Interview with Camilla Belle

"When A Stranger Calls": Interview with Camilla Belle
Horror.com talks to the terrorized babysitter in the new remake (Feb 2006).
Updated: 02-03-2006

Please note: This interview contains some minor spoilers about the plot.


Q: What attracted you to the role of Jill Johnson?

Camilla Belle: There's really no script that a female character so young is able to play and to carry a film. There's really no roles like that around, it's very rare. So I wanted to take on that opportunity and see if I could pull it off.

Q: How long did you guys shoot in the house?

Camilla Belle: We shot in the house, I think, at least a month.

Q: Did you find yourself getting involved in neurosis or were you able to walk off the set and kind of come back? Because in the movie, there's so much going on and it doesn't stop.

Camilla Belle: I did, everyday I went home emotionally and physically drained. I had to take an Epsom salt bath at night and try to go to bed. I looked forward to every weekend just to sleep and kind of relax my mind and my body a little bit. It was exhausting and it was kind of hard. I didn't have any breaks. This was the first film I did also where I wasn't in school anymore. I would study in my trailer. It was hard but it was a good experience. I don't think I'll be able to do another film like this so this one...

Q: How was that house to shoot in?

Camilla Belle: It was incredible. Incredible. It was great because I was there, I was training for all the physical stuff for about two months before we shot. I was going to the studio every day to go the gym and whatnot so I was kind of seeing the process of the house and how it was being built when it was just a couple of pieces of wood. They added all the wood and slowly started painting on the glass. So I saw the whole process, I've never been able to see that before. That was really fun. I finally walked in when it was done and I was just in awe. It was beautiful. I wouldn't mind living in it, keeping it for myself.

Q: Did you baby-sit at all when you were growing up?

Camilla Belle: Never, never, never. This was brand new to me as well. I kind of had to pretend to know what I was doing. Luckily the kids were asleep and everything and I didn't have to take care of them anyway because I really wouldn't know what to do. I kind of tried to ask my friends what type of experiences they had and it was only about misbehaving children that wouldn't go to bed when they were told.

Q: Have you ever been in the situation where you've been in the house by yourself that you hear strange noises and get freaked out?

Camilla Belle: Luckily no, not too bad. I'm pretty comfortable in my own house and that's another reason why I didn't want to baby-sit when I was younger because I just didn't want to be in a strange house alone with kids having to be responsible for these other kids without knowing every corner of the house, not knowing where I could go if something happened or what to do. So luckily I've never had a really scary experience. Sometimes I get home and you're alone at night and kind of hear noises and it might just be the fridge like in the movie or something really silly but you kind of start creating monsters in your head.

Q: How about prank calls? Have you ever made them or gotten them?

Camilla Belle: No, I haven't. Luckily my friends haven't started doing that yet, but we'll see [laughing] if they're going to start playing with me like that.

Q: Did you do most of your own stunts?

Camilla Belle: I did. Which was also another new thing for me. I did a lot of training before. Choreographing all the fight scenes and all the stairs and all that stuff. I did all that myself, which was so much fun. And I've never gotten so many welts and bruises in my life. It hurt a lot and I definitely got more bruises than Tommy because he was kinda slow in pushing me around but we had a really good time. I wore the bruises with pride. I really enjoyed it actually. It was really, really, fun. The whole running thing was really hard for me because I've never set foot in a track before in my life before that. So again, being an athlete was kind of a strange transformation for me but the stunt scenes really weren't because more choreography and that came more naturally because of the dancing.

Q: Did you hit the tree branch, the tree branch that you hit running in the movie?

 Camilla Belle: I did go with it. I got bruises.  

Q: What about that part in the water when you're under that little bridge?

Camilla Belle: That was pretty intense. [unintelligible] doing that scene for a day maybe and it ends up lasting for a week.

Q: Did they warm the water up for you a little bit?

Camilla Belle: They did. First they were going to do it cold and I was going to have to wear a wetsuit or something. But that would be so uncomfortable. Then they decided to warm the water. So they had to take the fish out, warm the water, keep the fish out, cool it back down, and then put the fish back in. It was a whole process. That was intense. I've always liked water, I was like a water baby I loved water, so I didn't have a big problem with that. It was hard but so much fun at the same time. Because I'm doing everything myself and you just have fun with it. You can't let it bother you.

Q: Can you pick out a favorite scene that you had?

Camilla Belle: I think the fight scene on the stairs. It was physically draining and really hurt. But it was so much fun. We watched that scene all together and I just couldn't believe how real it looked. You can actually tell it's me and not a stunt double or anything, which is really exciting for an actor. That was really, really fun. The hospital scene was just getting to go crazy. That was fun too.

Q: Was there anything in the script that you were excited to shoot?

Camilla Belle: I think a lot of the fight scenes. I think I was excited about the fight scenes in general because I had never done anything like that before and I wanted to give it a try. I think those were always the ones I was looking forward to. And in the water, that was kind of a new thing. That wasn't in the original script, that was kind of added later on. So that I wasn't really aware of until later. Probably all the fight scenes are the ones I was looking forward to the most.

Q: How much did the script change on set? Were there a lot of rewrites on set?

Camilla Belle: On set, no not really. Not that I can remember. There weren't many changes. It was more like right before they kind of were still figuring out the whole last fight sequence with the stairs. we were all still kind of figuring it out right before we shot. The stunt trainer Jeff Imada, he was kind of going through it with Simon and figuring out where we going to be physically. Kind of when we were shooting we were still choreographing that whole scene. It was the fight scenes that we were still figuring out while shooting but the rest of the dialogue and everything, there weren't many rewrites while we were shooting.

Q: In the original film, the kids die. Was there any thought of killing these kids off too?

Camilla Belle: I don't think so. I didn't see the original so I've just been told that what happens. I think that's not the type of film we wanted to make. I think we really wanted to make...obviously Tiffany dies but that's, you have to have one person die to show what type of man this is. You know he's not just playing around, he's really dangerous. The kids, we didn't really want to make that part of the film. I don't think that was ever an idea and I think it was always a plan to not have the kids die in this one.

Q: Did you shoot any other endings? Or was the ending in the script the one you guys went with?

Camilla Belle: Yeah, that was the ending.

Q: Is there a longer cut on something else that was shot that was left out that might be on the DVD?

Camilla Belle: I have no idea. I never saw the film. I just saw parts of it and then I saw the final, when it was done when they had reedited everything. I don't remember the scenes that were cut out, if there were scenes that were cut out. I honestly don't remember. I only saw it when it was completely done so there might be things that I'm just not aware of that might be put in with the DVD. I honestly don't know.

Q: Word is the movie is tracking really well. It might be a big hit, it might do really well. Have they talked to you about doing a sequel or coming back as a cameo?

Camilla Belle: It's always an idea and the ending kind of leaves that as an option. There's always talk about that but I never say never and I'm not going to say it's a plan or not a plan. I don't know.

Q: You've done a lot of work on indie stuff before this. Which do you prefer and which direction do you think your career is going to go?

Camilla Belle: I really don't think in terms of what direction I want to go or what type of film. For me it's always been about the script and the opportunity and the challenge of each script individually. Then if happens to be an Independent, fine. If it happens to be a studio, great. That's the one advantage of doing this, you know people will be aware that it's coming out. That's always the trouble with indie films. It can come out but nobody go see it because they're just not aware of it. It really always been about the script for me. I'm really up for anything. In an ideal world I'd love to do both. Do a couple of really amazing stories then go and do something fun like this.

Q: How about going from one director to another, with totally different styles?

Camilla Belle: That's the fun of it. Working with someone like Rebecca Miller who's all about the writing and the character development and the acting is really, really intense. Then going with someone like Simon who's so excited about the action scenes and running around and really into that and the special effects. He's really into that and really excited about it and a really enthusiastic director. But that's the fun about being an actor, you get to work with so many different people and each director is so different from the other. That's what makes it so much fun and so fascinating, you get to learn so much from each person you work with.

Q: What do you have coming up next? Any other big action movies?

Camilla Belle: Not yet [laughing]. I did a film a year and a half ago called The Quiet with Elisha Cuthbert and Edie Falco that went Toronto last year. But that was an Independent film so you'd never know. It's supposed to come out at some point this year. Now I'm just seeing which direction I want to go after this one, what I want to do next. There's a few things floating around but there's nothing set in stone yet.

Q: Was it a hard transition to go from The Chumscrubber to this? Or was it easier to work with a completely separate...

Camilla Belle: Very separate, yeah. It was quite separate. I do take a lot of time off after each film to just kind of adjust. I really get so into it and I need time to get back to being Camilla again. Slowly start calling my friends back and slowly start getting into my daily routine. I shot Chumscubber last spring maybe...might have been 2 years ago. It was a while ago. I shot this last fall so it was very different timing. Again, I do take a lot of time off. I haven't really done any films back to back. I have to adjust and then get back into it again.

Q: You're shooting at night obviously during the entire time. Is that kind of different for you to be working at night all night rather than during the day?

Camilla Belle: during the time that we were in the studio, because we built the house inside the studio, so that whole time we got to shoot during the day. I mean, the exteriors we shot, it was night shoots. Everything else we shot on a normal schedule because we were inside the studio, which I was really grateful for. Night shoots aren't fun.

Q: Are you a fan of scary movies yourself? Like it's been a big trend over the past couple of years, that's the big thing, especially people your age. Do you go to them with your friends? Do you like them?

Camilla Belle: No, I hate them. I don't like them at all. I don't like being scared. I just don't like the gory horror films. I don't find joy in feeling that way. Really, I get scared with the visual things, anything really gory just freaks me out and I have nightmares forever. And I get really mad that I saw it, so I just don't. But for this I kind of went back to the classy thrillers because that's the kind of film we wanted to make to begin with. That's why I went back and watched Hitchcock. Wait Until Dark was really kind of our inspiration for this film, it's kind of really the film we wanted to make. Those are scary but I can deal with that though because it's more psychological. That I'm fine with. But the horror films, no.

Q: So would you object to doing it if your agent passes you a script to a big old zombie film? You wouldn't be interested in doing it?

Camilla Belle: I'm not going to say no, I'm open to reading anything. But they pretty much know what I like and what I don't like and if it's something really obscure or way horror then I probably won't want to do it. But I always read, if there's a chance that I maybe might like it then I'll read it then make my decision.

Q: How about other genres like the comic book world? If they start casting for Wonder Woman, would you be interested in that?

Camilla Belle: I don't know. I have to read it. They were telling me about this script before and I was kind of skeptical about doing it when they were telling me about it. I was like "That sounds like a horror movie, I don't think I want to do it". Until I sat down with Simon and he told me "This is the type of film I want to make. I want to make it like Wait Until Dark, really classy, not blood and guts everywhere. It's going to be just a really psychological thriller, that's the type film I want to make."

It was then that he convinced me that this might be a really good idea and I might really want to do it. It's really about talking to directors and reading the script. An idea I might back away from but if I hear it from the director I might change my mind.

Q: Is there a director who calls your agent who you don't need a script to work with? Is there someone who could call and say "Come work with me"?

Camilla Belle: I always liked Scorcese or someone like that.

Q: If Quentin Tarantino calls you, you think you'd work?

Camilla Belle: I'd have to read the script [laughter]

Q: So what was your first reaction when you saw the script for When A Stranger Calls?

Camilla Belle: Simon and I always go "It's a psychological thriller" . We don't call it a horror film. For me the first time seeing a film is always kind of shocking. It's really more about going down memory lane than going "Well that day I got that huge gash on my leg". It's kind of remembering what happened on the set and whatnot. It's kind of shocking to see everything put together. Now I'm excited about tonight because I get to see it for the second time, you know with an audience and be more relaxed because I've seen it already.

I think today I'll enjoy it more. I was scared, I was watching myself and I'm so scared that I kind of forgot that was me. Even my Mom was holding my hand and was breaking my fingers she was so scared. Even my dad was scared, he's a big guy and he's watching his daughter, it was very odd. It was fun. It's not in-your-face scary, it's use your mind kind of, I mean your mind can make it a lot scarier than what we presented to you on film, so that's what's fun about it.

Q: How are your parents reacting to your acting career now that you headlined an entire movie?

Camilla Belle: They're really supportive. Mom's basically been my manager my whole life so she's always been there. My Dad, he has his own job and whatnot, but he's always been really supportive. I'm really proud and whatever I want to do is great and he'll support me. Its just been really supportive. My friends are all really excited about it: "Finally a movie that we all get to go see that's in every theater instead of an indie multiplex". So that's been exciting for them.

Q: Have they ever turned down something that you wanted to do?

Camilla Belle: No, no. My Dad is not really involved so much, he's just a supportive Dad. But my Mom is really involved and we usually read scripts together. We read them and we'll talk about them. We usually have the same opinion about them. If I like something a bit more I'll tell her why and we'll kind of talk about it. But we usually agree on everything which is really, really good so far.

Q: What's your ideal role that you'd like to do? Maybe a period piece…?

Camilla Belle: I would love to do a period piece. It's something I've never done and have been dying to do. A musical as well is a dream of mine. I've always wanted to do that. I'd love to do a comedy, I've never done a comedy. There's so many things that I want to try. I'm really open to anything. I would love to try all of that.

Q: Can you sing?

Camilla Belle: I do.

Q: Would Simon let you through to Hollywood on American Idol, or would he send you home?


Camilla Belle: I don't know!




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Read our review of When A Stranger Calls by clicking here.


Latest User Comments:
Re: scaryminda15
[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by scaryminda15 [/i] [B]I cant wait to see this movie, it sounds awesome. I am curious though see the house looked like the movie glass house maybe that is just my opionion. [/B][/QUOTE] agreed - visually its too odd
02-11-2006 by Zero discuss
I cant wait to see this movie, it sounds awesome. I am curious though see the house looked like the movie glass house maybe that is just my opionion.
02-10-2006 by scaryminda15 discuss