What Scares Rebecca Hall?

by Jarett Wieselman 9:08 AM PDT, August 17, 2012
Photo: StudioCanal

The scary movie genre has seen its edge dulled considerably over the years thanks to countless spineless, gutless, brainless offerings that rarely seem to actually work off any sort of coherent script. Thankfully that trend seems to be reversing this year with the releases of February's The Innkeepers, April's Cabin in the Woods and August's The Awakening.

Set at a boy's boarding school in post-World War I England, The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart, a hoax exposer brought in to debunk the student's ghost sightings. But this non-believer is about to have her world rocked, and audiences will have their nerves tested, by the terrifying secrets that are awakened within the film.

ETonline recently spoke with Rebecca Hall about her affinity for scary movies, how realistic this career path was back in the 1900s and what you can expect from her role in Iron Man 3!

ETonline: This movie scared me witless!
Rebecca Hall: Good! I mean, I’m sorry. But good [laughs].

ETonline: Are you a big scary movie fan?
Hall: I am! I do enjoy a good scary movie and always have. It's a combination of the adrenaline and the slight amusement park factor. You have to see them in the cinema. It's the kind of genre that benefits from being in a dark room with a bunch of strangers because it's exciting and there's a real social thing that goes on there, which I love. But I'm not a fan of the gory, slasher films. I prefer the suspenseful variety.

EXCLUSIVE CLIP - The Awakening

ETonline: What attracted you to the role of Florence?
Hall: I like that she was really brainy. There's a touch of Sherlock Holmes in her, which was quite a fun thing to play. She's overly intelligent, yet charming. I like the idea that she was cocksure. That this was the pride before the fall. There's something interesting about somebody who thinks they know everything, but, in reality, doesn't know anything. The complexity in those contradictions is quite interesting to play. She is a unique personality in her world as much as she's a unique character in a script.

ETonline: Did this kind of career, being a Hoax Exposer, actually exist?
Hall: I looked into and there were -- and there weren't. What is historically accurate about the script is the massive rise in spiritualism and spiritualists at this time. World War I London was filled with people claiming to be able to get in touch with the dead. And the fact that they were [charlatans] is almost irrelevant because they were providing a comfort and catharsis for a nation that was almost universally going through a kind of grief. I think that's a powerful concept.

TRAILER - The Awakening

ETonline: Do you believe in ghosts?
Hall: I don't know. I'd like to think that I'll never know and you find out what you can as you go along.

ETonline: Often times actors who make scary movies will talk about having encounters or weird occurrences on set. Did anything like that happen to you?
Hall: It's funny you say that because I had heard all those stories. My mum, who is an opera singer, made a wonderful TV film in the Hampton Court Palace and there are famous stories about a ghost that haunts the Hampton Court Palace. She had a couple of experiences like that, so I was completely primed for something to happen [laughs]. Sadly, nothing did. I kept turning dark corners expectedly and bumping into a lighting rigger eating a sandwich.

ETonline: Perhaps you were too prepared -- maybe once you've let your guard down, a ghost will embody the Iron Man suit and just start walking around set!
Hall: Exactly! [laughs] I can't really see that happening, but I'd love to.

ETonline: What was the experience like going from the small production on The Awakening to something massive, like Iron Man 3?
Hall: I decided to do Iron Man 3 because I've never done the "Hurry Up And Wait" movie before. Even the studio movies I've done have been small studio movies, or indie films that we made on a wing and a prayer. I love those, but Iron Man is refreshing in a way because it's something out of my realm of experiences.

FIRST LOOK - Iron Man 3

ETonline: The Iron Man franchise tends to craft strong female characters. Is your character, Maya Hansen, cut from the same cloth?
Hall: She is. Yeah. But I can't possibly tell you more without giving something big away.

ETonline: Have you adjusted to that yet? The secrecy surrounding promoting a big picture?
Hall: It's really weird. I don't quite know what to say or what not to say. I'm guaranteed to put my foot in it at some point. [laughs]

The Awakening is now playing.