Given the fact that she’s been so busy lately, I really appreciate the fact that she was willing to sit down with me for a bit to discuss several aspects of her career as well as touching on her hometown, Detroit. So without further ado here is what Lin Shaye had to say when asked several questions regarding the Insidious franchise as well as a few other topics she shared her thoughts on.
Film Obsession Exclusive Interview
Film Obsession: When you first agreed to the role of Elise Rainier did you ever entertain the idea that the relatively speaking, low budget horror film Insidious would spawn two sequels?
Lin Shaye: I was the first person James Wan cast and after reading the script I was so disturbed I put it in the closet and locked it. I didn’t want that by my head. Any story you’re telling you’re trying to fill up the story as best as fully as you can. Everything is moment to moment and all I was focused on was this story. Blumhouse on the other hand probably had an idea of what they were hoping to do because they were very interested in the franchise. They knew with the success of the Paranormal Activity movies along with a great story with Insidious that there was a good chance for additional movies.
Film Obsession: With Insidious: Chapter 3 James Wan did not direct the film which is a first in the franchise’s short history. It’s understandable given the fact that he had his hands full with helming a big budget action sequel involving fast cars. Having said that he’s left franchise in the very capable hands of Leigh Whannell, who served as the writer for the first two movies. Was there a noticeable difference in style or the overall tone of the movie with the change behind the camera?
Lin Shaye: James Wan is a cinephile first and foremost. Everything is visual and more technical when he was involved. James had a clear vision as to how everything was to play out. Leigh’s voice is more open to all of the thoughts of the cast. He is also very hands on and would sometimes “direct too much” due to his familiarity with all of the characters. Leigh is a total non-depressive though and pushed his positive energy out to others on the set.
Film Obsession: If you were asked to sell people on why they should see Insidious: Chapter 3 what would you say is its most compelling point?
Lin Shaye: Fear is insidious in nature. When you can watch a movie in a safe place with others around you can become scared but you feel comforted as well since others are going through a similar experience with you. When you are home alone though it hits you and you feel the effects. This story is both brilliant and beautiful and should be well received.
Film Obsession: There inevitably comes a point where one must say enough is enough. Usually the thought process after making a prequel is to bring everything together with the next movie project. Do you feel that there is more of a big picture story to still be told or have we gotten to the point where it’s time to close the book on the last chapter?
Lin Shaye: If the audience wants it I believe there’s a lot of life left in the movies. There are lots of origin stories that can be explored. Elsie is at this point the heart of the franchise and there are years of untold stories available if it’s decided to go in that direction. You still have to be careful that the story doesn’t get diluted to the point that the franchise suffers.
Film Obsession: Do you personally believe in spirits, supernatural beings and/or otherwise?
Lin Shaye: I believe in everything because there’s so much we know so little about. Who am I to say “oh no that doesn’t exist?” I also believe in being a good receiver as to what goes on around us because it makes you a better person. None of us know what we’re going to hear. Energy is real. We know that. Radio waves are real and we are being inundated with this kind of technology all of the time. If we can quiet ourselves none of us know what we’re going to hear.
Film Obsession: In reviewing your acting career (congrats on 40 years of performing by the way), you appear to be somewhat of a “scream queen” even though you’ve done pretty much all of the genres. Was this your intended course or is it more of a case of taking what was available because it felt right?
Lin Shaye: I’m an actress who enjoys a good story, good character and good people. I love all genres. I know I’m good at comedy because I look at life with a sense of humor. I’m dedicated to a story with good taste that serves a purpose regardless of the genre. I’m okay with violence and gore as long as its sole reasoning for occurring isn’t to sensationalize violence.
Film Obsession: Is there an actor or director that you’ve always wanted to work with that you haven’t had the opportunity to cross them off of your bucket list yet?
Lin Shaye: Paul Thomas Anderson comes to mind because he always turns out amazing performances with the actors he works with.
Film Obsession: As I’m sure you’re aware Michigan has become somewhat of a “Midwestern Hollywood” over the past 5+ years. The number of projects has greatly diminished over the past few years due to political bickering regarding film incentives. The reason I bring this up is because I’ve had the chance to speak with quite a few people involved in the film industry and they’ve all said the same basic thing; “Michigan is beautiful and the people here seem genuinely nice and welcoming to them.” Also getting around is much easier compared to the daily traffic gridlocks they’re used to in California. Being a native of Detroit, how do you feel about the area being recognized for more than automobiles and crime?
Lin Shaye: I think it’s great that they’ve made it financially feasible to allow people to come here to work. There’s a positive energy here that revolves around work ethic where you can get your hands dirty to get what you want. There’s an element of that in the creative world too. You can’t be afraid to just jump in and make something happen. The energy in the city seems to be recuperating from the sadness and depression. All of that can be turned into something positive like the phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s starting to happen. We’re bringing new focus and new life here.
Currently Lin can be seen reprising the familiar role of Elsie Rainier in Insidious: Chapter 3. The darkest chapter goes back to the beginning in this prequel which can been seen in theaters starting Friday, June 5th.