Scaring Us to Death in The Call [Exclusive]


When Lin Shaye calls, you answer. The actress is a Hollywood legend and true horror icon. She once again brings the scares this weekend in the new thriller The Call, which pairs her with another genre favorite in Saw star Tobin Bell. Together, they are the couple from Hell as they set out to terrorize a group of high school friends who aren’t quite as innocent as they look.

We recently caught up with Lin Shaye from her home to celebrate the release of The Call, which is playing exclusively in select theaters and Drive-Ins across the country. It’s a chilling tale of revenge and the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season as we head into October.

From the creator of Final Destination, Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell star in this chilling thriller from the fall of 1987. After a tragic accident, a group of small-town friends must survive the night in the home of a sinister couple. One by one, their worst nightmares quickly become reality as they enter the realm of The Call. Four Friends. One Phone Call. 60 Seconds. Stay Alive.

With Awards season upon us, we tease Lin Shaye about being the only contender for Best Actress while looking at the possibility of The Call becoming the next big horror franchise. Shaye plays Edith Cranston, who lures four unsuspecting teens into a death trap with the promise of money. Is she innocent? Or a true monster? Lin offers her take on becoming the next great boogeymonster and a whole lot more in her exclusive chat with Paulington James Christensen III.

My first question is..Am I going to get the $10,000 if I survive this Zoom call with you.

Lin Shaye: Yes, Yes.

Do you think I’m gonna manage?

Lin Shaye: Yes. Yes. The answer is always Yes.

I’m horrified that something is going to jump out from behind the TV and kill me before this is over.My second question for you is…Edith Cranston is really a true monster.And I say this because she takes abused kids and then has their abuser kill them. Now, can you defend her and make her more of a sympathetic character in terms of that?

Lin Shaye: 100%. She is not a bad person. She’s a woman who’s been a caregiver to children. She’s got a positive, great relationship with her husband, who she’s been married to for over 30 years. And these kids destroyed her. She’s a fragile woman, actually, who turns to evil. The evil finds, her because she’s been made so vulnerable by these kids who were abusing her and she deteriorates. She did. She deteriorates to a very, very sad and bad place as well as…I don’t want to give it away. But, um, I did. I disagree with you. I don’t think she’s a monster at all. I think the kids are the monsters.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Freddy Krueger do something that evil, because what she pulls off on these kids is pretty hardcore and cold blooded.

Lin Shaye: It is, but it’s letting them look at their mistakes. She’s making them look at themselves, and these are kids who have a…She’s teaching a very harsh lesson, but the harshest lessons, what she does to herself and what they have done to her, that’s a good question. I mean, it’s…I don’t…But I totally see it the opposite. I see the kids as the monsters, and yeah, she does. That’s part of the entertainment, though. Come on, give her a break. Yeah, she’s got to do something horrible to keep the audience watching.

They always use the term phoning it in. You have to actually phone it in in this movie quite a bit. And I’m wondering, were you allowed to interact with these guys on camera or like, off camera while you were doing this, or did you go somewhere else and kind of phone in for the call?

Lin Shaye: I phoned it in, in real life. I mean, we didn’t…I was not on set with them at all. In terms of the actual physical production. I was not there. I was actually on the phone, calling it in on the phone. Timothy recorded it, and the horror really comes from the visuals, and from the situation of who these kids are forced to, they’re forced to confront. It is pretty horrible what she does.

Well, I want to go into the fact that it is set up to be a franchise if it wants to be. But the one thing about this is that there’s a very set specific group of kids that have tormented this lady. So where does Edith go from here? In terms of continuing to scare or get revenge on kids? Does she go find somebody else and show them the way to use this phone?

Lin Shaye: I don’t know if you’ve got to write the sequel. I don’t know. That was a very, very titillating question. But I don’t have answers to that. I don’t know. Um, she’s going to see this. These kids in hell is where the way she sort of leaves it. I don’t think she has to torment anybody else. I think she’s satisfied at the end of this. I really do. I think she has satisfied herself, that she has made them suffer the way she suffered now. I don’t know. I mean, do you believe in that? In that philosophy, I don’t know that they’re very profound questions, actually.

The ending leaves it kind of open. We don’t necessarily see that all of these kids have died, so I mean, it leaves it a little ambiguous for the future. I would think?

Lin Shaye: It’s great. I mean, that’s all very good. Those were very interesting perceptions also because I think everybody will sort of take away at the end with, ‘Did she? Or is she done? Or is she not done?’ I mean, has an actor for the character, I feel I have. I am satisfied that I have shown them. I have taken from them what they took from me, and so and so. I don’t know that if there was a sequel of any kind, that would be up to the imagination of the writer.

Well, in speaking of, in terms of creating this like boogie Monster, that may be around for a while, you do get one great scene where we see you in the flesh and you’ve got the black dripping from your mouth and you look like you literally crawled out of hell. Tell me what it’s like to do that day for the shoot, especially in terms of this black stuff we see coming out of everybody’s mouth. Is that something that’s fun for you to do? Or is that just like, Well, it’s just gross. Let me get this over with?

Lin Shaye: It’s kind of fun, but it also was very…It was a really difficult day. Also, what’s difficult for me always is…You know, the smoke effect they used, and we were in a closed room. It was really hard. It was actually quite a difficult shoot because we were in a closed room. It was like, very late. It was like one or two o’clock in the morning. I’ve been in the make up a long time, and, um, it was a very strenuous, emotionally strenuous scene. So fun, I felt we got a great take, which is what’s in the movie. So for that, that’s always fun and satisfying to feel like you your job and the character’s experience, you know, with your work. Um, but it was physically actually, quite hard. It was quite difficult. I was having trouble with all the smoke and it made me not feel good, and actually, they ended up turning it down a bit. That’s all very technical stuff. But if they let the smoke in to soon, it hurts, really. It’s supposed to be safe…Safe? My ass. I think it’s not. It’s not really that good for you to be breathing it for that long and in a closed environment. No, there was no air, no other air coming in. So it was hard. That was a difficult time. What I experienced physically to pull off, and no one knew it was going to be that like, you know? I mean, I worked on the material, and Timothy gave me a great direction for how to deliver the material. I helped write that particular monologue with the writer. I was contributing thoughts and ideas that I wanted to have in there, and so I was very satisfied with that part of it. But it was physically difficult.

We’re officially in Oscar season. And apparently, as far as I can see, you’re the only one bringing it right now.

Lin Shaye: Oh! Oh, baby.

What does Lin Shaye’s Oscar speech for The Call sound like?

Lin Shaye: I would say thank you for calling. Hey, thank you all for calling. That would be my Oscar speech. And then, of course, to thank Timothy and Pablo and all the other actors.

In speaking on this, you say Edith is not a true monster, right? And I’m just wondering, when I hear the name Edith. I don’t know if you think this, but the person that immediately comes to my mind is Edith Bunker. She was probably the most, you know, warm hearted kindest person that was ever on TV back in the day. And I’m wondering, did you kind of look to other Ediths such as Edith Bunker?

Lin Shaye: No, no. I’ll cut you up right there. No, I heard it for her name. That didn’t even occur to me. It being anything other than something he mother named her. I didn’t have any association with it, other than that was my first name. You’ve got a vivid imagination.

Edith Cranston, though. I mean, that is a great horror movie name.

Lin Shaye: So this is a sitcom? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?

No, no. I’m saying you got the Cranston on the end, which is, like, hard, like it hits. But Cranston sounds like, you know, sounds like the woman that’s looking through the windows, not to use another sitcom, but in Bewitched. I can’t remember what her name is. You know, old Miss Kravitz.

Lin Shaye: Oh, yeah. Um oh, gosh. I’m blanking on her name too. She’s wonderful, but no, no, no, no, no. I mean, my description of Edith is as given in the film. I mean, she’s a good woman, but I think what this film is about is what evil is, what meanness can turn people into. And she is really destroyed by these kids who do not leave her alone and humiliate her and try to harm her in every way they can, and it destroys her, being mean is bad. That’s kind of the theme in a weird way of this story is that being mean damages people and ultimately damages you. Yes, I want to make it a philosophical little sentence. I mean, that’s what I really think this is about.

Now I know everybody’s gonna ask you, but you are working with Tobin Bell, who is also a huge horror icon like yourself. He’s one of the biggest horror icons out there right now.

Lin Shaye: Bigger than me.

No way. I think you’re number one right now? If we’re talking horror icons in American cinema, if you’re not number one, you’re at least in the top three. And I’d like you to name two other actors, right? Now working in horror cinema.

Lin Shaye: I’m just grateful. I’m just grateful to be working, and he was just wonderful to be around and work with. But I had never met him before, and we had a really nice relationship, and he was very easy to work with. It was all very good, very, very good. I thought so. He and I make you believe that we had a real kind relationship. I think he revealed things about me through our our scenes we have together that are not really written in the story so much. I mean, there was a really, really positive love relationship between the two of us.

Now I’m almost out of time. And since it’s October, what does Lin Shaye do for the Halloween season? I know this year is a lot different than any other year we’ve dealt with before. I know they’re shutting down trick ‘r treating here in Los Angeles, silly. But what normally would your Halloween look like?

Lin Shaye: Well, I mean, it’s interesting, when we were doing Insidious, it was always going to Universal Horror Nights, which was really fun to do with all this sort of stuff. But generally, probably this year, I’ll just lock my doors and drink a glass of wine. I’m not a big celebrator of, um, I’ve never been that involved with the season in the world of Halloween as a lot of horror aficionados are. I appreciate it, and it’s fun. Um, the last time I dressed up, I was 11 as a panda. Other than going to Jason Blum’s Halloween party, which was really fun, I dressed up as Snow Mercy, which is another long story. She’s, um, Joe Bashara, who did the music for all the Insidious films…His other half is a beautiful woman who is named Snow Mercy. She’s very tall and very exotic, so I kind of dressed up as her. That was my costume. And we have some great pictures we took together. She dressed up as a witch, but anyway…But I probably won’t do very much. I mean, um, we’ve been robbed a bit. I feel right now in general of just sort of that abandoned joy. You know, you can still have fun, but it doesn’t have that same feel to it. So, I hope things get better

That’s why we’re glad we’ve got you.

Lin Shaye: Well, I’m really excited. I think people are gonna really respond to the film. I think it’s beautifully done. And I thank you so much for your interest. And you’ve got to come up with the sequel. Now it’s your job. Edith Bunker is not gonna be in it.

I’m sure that they’re already working on a sequel. Such sequel potential. I mean, if you can figure out where she goes next.

Lin Shaye: Yeah, that’s good. In my mind…She’s done. She did it. She gave them what they deserved. And she can now sleep in peace in hell.

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