The Saw series is the most profitable franchise in the halls of fright history. Every October since 2004, Lionsgate has cranked out one installment after another with varying degrees of quality. I have always felt like the films have been the Star Trek of the horror genre, meaning, the even ones have been the best, while the odd ones have been inferior on all counts. My fingers are crossed that Saw 3D [Saw VII] will turn the tide with a strong script to go along with the heaps of gore.
Scream Queens chronicles a group of unknown actresses competing for a role in the lucrative business that Jigsaw carved out for himself. The winner of the first season was Tanedra Howard, who went on to play Simone in Saw VI. The second season just commenced with Gabby West knocking off Jessica Ortiz in a challenging finale that thrust both ladies through the wringer.
October 29, 2010 will go down as the day that the Saw series comes to an end and the name Gabby West will become a part of ever horror junkie’s vocabulary.
Jason Bene: How were you cast for the show?
Gabby West: They had open casting calls in Los Angeles and New York, but I actually submitted a home video tape because I couldn’t make it to the casting call. The scene we all had to audition was a scene from My Bloody Valentine3D.
Jason Bene: How did you manage the fact that you were going to be away from home and you had to live with complete strangers who were your competition?
Gabby West: I am a very adaptable person. It was certainly very difficult because we have no privacy and we weren’t allowed phones, television, Internet – nothing. We had no connection to the outside world. It was difficult because they had created this situation where the only tangible things that existed were the other girls that we were competing against. The competition was the only thing that existed in our world. It was very, very intense to say the least.
Jason Bene: Unfortunately, when you get a group of people living together things can automatically revert back to high school and there are cliques. How were you able to keep concentration on the prize and not get too involved with the drama that went on with some of the girls?
Gabby West: I think the drama in relationships are a part of life. For me, I just knew that it wasn’t worth it to engageor involve myself in what was going on. That was until it got ridiculous and I really had it and it was appropriate for me to say something because I was defending myself. I got to a point where I had enough.
Jason Bene:You are referring to the episode where you confront Tai’isha who had spent most of the season bad mouthing you, which I always thought was an insecure thing for her to do. What was it like working with three different judges with completely different personalities?
Gabby West: John Homa is an amazing acting teacher. He’s got an intuitive ability to take whatever your vulnerabilities are and work them. It’s just his gift as an acting teacher. It was amazing to work with him, but a little scary at times. He really does demand the best and it’s a lot of pressure. Jaime King was amazing to work with because she really wanted the technique and the acting to be everyone’s best. She really did care about everyone on the show. I have a working relationship with Tim Sullivan and I was just cast in his new film I was a Teenage Werebear. It’s part of an anthology horror movie called Chillerama. I have really only done like two things: Scream Queens 2 and Saw 3D. I love working with him. He has this way about him that makes me feel comfortable. He makes you feel safe as an actor, but he also is similar to Jaime and John as far as demanding the best out of you and getting the best out of you. He’s a very grounding person and his energy is just exceptional for a director. I haven’t had that much experience, but I just adore him and I am so excited to be working with him again next month.
Jason Bene: I read about Chillerama and there are going to be episodes directed by Tim Sullivan, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, and Adam Green. Sounds fun!
Gabby West: It’s a really exciting project. We just made Entertainment Weekly a few days ago which is pretty awesome. I play one of the only lead female roles in the entire film. I am the only female in Tim’s movie. I play a 60’s era, Sandra Dee character who goes crazy. Everything about it is very cool. I’ll be singing and dancing and people will see that I can sing.
Jason Bene: It seemed like from the beginning that Jessica Ortiz set the bar high and everyone was trying to reach her. A lot of people jumped the gun and automatically thought she was going to win. When you started to gain your confidence and show her she had some competition was when she started to have self doubt and then you became the favorite. Could you see that happening like the audience did?
Gabby West: I am okay with letting people think what they’re going to think. Everyone is going to have their opinion. I knew I was going to do really well. Of course, I had some difficulties. I just trusted that the process that I was in and let myself dissolve and let things happen. I think I am different than other people because I am not hanging on so tightly to an idea or something that I am trying to do. For me, a lot of things with acting just come out naturally. I knew that I would be in the top two with Jessica. I definitely thought that there was a good chance that she was going to win. At the end I was surprised because the last couple of challenges we didn’t get to see. I knew that I had worked really hard, but Jessica didn’t have any real difficulties besides from what had happened in Homa’s class. That had nothing to do with acting and was more of a personality thing. To answer your question, I know that I have it and I knew I could do it. I was just waiting for my opportunity to get enough strength to move forward. It was really difficult to do it because of the dynamic we had in the house.
Jason Bene: You were under some extreme pressure.The sessions with John put you through the emotional whirlwind. You had to cry on cue and all of these things. That must have been emotionally draining.
Gabby West: It is really difficult. That really was our entire world: the acting class, the skills test, and the director’s challenge. The whole thing was a pressure cooker.
Jason Bene: Of all the different challenges, the one I thought you nailed was the homage to The Silence of the Lambs. Which one was your favorite?
Gabby West: I really liked the vampire western because I love vampires. I thought that was really cool. I don’t think I have a favorite, but I do think I nailed that character so I agree with you there.
Jason Bene: Not everyone were friends on the show, but you and Christine Haeberman were close. Are there people from the show that you keep in contact with?
Gabby West: There were six of us who went to the Scream Awards last night and everyone was really friendly. I did get to talk to Allison [Kyler], Sara [Alami] from Chicago and Jessica. Everyone was really lovely last night.
Jason Bene: Going into this you knew this was going to be a contest for a role in Saw VII, which turned into being called Saw 3D. Are you a big fan of the movies?
Gabby West: Yes, I am. I love the Saw franchise and to have done it in 3D is really, really cool. I’ve heard from everyone that it looks amazing. It’s really exciting. It probably is the last film as far as I know. I’m pretty sure it is the last one. It’s a big part of history because it is such a cult movie. It’s the last one and it is in 3D. Cary [Elwes] is back. Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, plays my boyfriend. Tanedra is in it and she is amazing.
Jason Bene: I am sure Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures do not want you to say too much about who you play. What can you tell us about your character?
Gabby West: My character’s name is Kara and Chester Bennington is my boyfriend and that’s really about it.
Jason Bene: I think it is very important that the film was shot with 3D camera and not falling in the trap, no pun intended, to shoot in flat then convert it in post-production.
Gabby West: For sure. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear really great things and it is tracking very well. I did talk to the director [Kevin Greutert] and screenwriters [Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton] last night and they were like, “It looks amazing!”
Jason Bene: The 3D trailer that I saw in the theaters was spectacular.
Gabby West: I can’t wait to see it. My premiere is October 27, which is really exciting.
Jason Bene: Is there anything you would like to say to all of your fans?
Gabby West: I have had an amazing outpouring of support from fans, which has been so incredible and I feel lucky to have had the type of fans and support that I have had. I just want to make all of them proud and can’t wait for everyone to see Saw 3D. It’s just so touching to know that you can affect other people live’s by what you do. Staying true to yourself, which is what I did, it really earned me the credibility to have the fans that I do. Do what you think is right and be yourself and trying not to be someone else has a lot of benefits. I think that my fans are definitely one of them. The support has been amazing. I still can’t believe it. It’s so awesome.
I’m just an average man/
With an average life/
I work from nine to five/
Hey, hell, I pay the price/
All I want is to be left alone/
In my average home/
But why do I always feel/
Like I’m in the twilight zone