Barbara Hershey on playing Judith in ‘The Manor’ + What Keeps Her Going

Barbara Hershey has been acting for over 50 years, we’ve seen her in Black Swan, The Insidious Movies and now she stars in the latest Welcome To The Blumhouse movie, The Manor. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and talking to her about the role, her career and what keeps her going.

The Manor releases on Amazon Prime Video on October 8.

Richard Valero: What was your first job in the movie industry? 

Barbara Hershey: It was Doris day’s last movie. It was a movie called with six. You good egg roll with Brian Keith endorsed day. And, uh, I was the chubby girl hiding from the camera basically in that film.

RV: What attracted you to the role of Judith?

BH: I liked her life force. I liked your humor. I liked that she swore, you know, it was just untypical, older person. It was she’s feisty and she’s, she’s angry and funny. And I like to all of that, you know, it was very great character to get to play. 

RV: Judith faces internal and external crisis. And how do you prepare for a role like that where you’re not just playing one character, you’re kind of playing a dual role inside the same character? 

BH: Well, usually the parts I play, I do that because I think we feel a lot of opposite things at the same moment. I try to embody that with the characters I play. So she was no different. I approached it on the outside, just kind of going after what was wrong with her physically. She had had a little stroke and the beginning of Parkinson’s, which is what propelled her to go into a nursing home was the fact that it’s a progressive disease and ongoing. I had to get that under my belt to understand it. I didn’t want to make that dominant cause the film’s not about that, but it had to be present. I had to feel it and hopefully the audience in some subliminal level feel it. Then the question mentally is, you know, I mean, it’s a horrific thing she’s seeing and experiencing and which is bad enough, but then the thought that maybe this could be what dementia feels like. This is maybe what insanity feels like. And she begins to doubt her. So I think that’s the real low point, but have all that going on. And at the same time covered was a horror film and the thrills of that and, and the humor, her defense against those fears, his humor. It was a lot to get to act, which I love doing. So it was fun.

RV: I don’t think you can ever put a horror film in a box, right? I’ve seen you do supernatural stuff, but there’s unique about home relevant horror like this, right?

BH: A style of horror film, like this psychological horror film. I’m of the opinion that if you are realistic and can touch the humanity in people, then they care about what happens to your character. And then when scary things happen, they’re very, very frightening. I think psychological horror is much more frightening because it involves you, then something, like monster going boom, or someone’s slicing someone,  that doesn’t interest me, but this kind of film does cause it’s all about humanity and our fears.

RV:You reunite with Bruce Davidson after working together almost 50 years ago on last summer, what was it like working with him again?

BH: Well, we hadn’t seen each other since then. And he was cast before me.  I didn’t know he was cast until after I accepted the part. I was really excited that I was going to get to act with him again. And it’s fun. You know, it’s really interesting to see someone when they’re a kid, which we were, and, and then to get, to see them as a mature human being, it was really fascinating, you know, with like a lifetime in between. It just was amazing.

RV: What are some of your favorite, scary movies?

BH: You know, again, I like the psychological horror ones, but the full-out horror is the king is the Exorcist. But to me, it was so frightening is the idea of something could enter you. That’s like, you know, uh, it, um, but I also like subtle one. So there was one that Nicholas Roeg did a long time ago with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie called Don’t Look Now, I really suggest people see that. Have you seen it?

RV: I have seen it, really good film.

BH: Really atmospherically, so thick with atmosphere. And I was on the edge of my seat in that, during that film, the feeling, the ominous feeling in it. And I just thought it was scary as could be but in a subterranean kind of way. So that’s my kind of scary movie.

RV: You’ve been doing this for over 50 years. What keeps you going?

BH: My love of acting? It’s just pretty simple. You know, I have this, what I call the golden thread inside of myself, which is this knowledge about myself and my love of acting. And I call it golden because it is, I call it a thread because it’s very delicate and needs to be protected, but that has sustained me through all the highs and lows, you know, you have to be hired in order to act. No one can take that away from me. I don’t have to be hired to know this about myself and the power of that golden thread is what keeps me going through the highs and lows and highs again, you know.

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