Shannyn Sossamon: My career didn't just slow down, it 'came to a total stop'
Shannyn Sossamon became something of an "It Girl" in the early noughties with roles in films including "A Knight's Tale," "40 Days and 40 Nights," the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation "Rules of Attraction" and "The Order" (her second and final film with the late Heath Ledger, whom she called "a very special spirit" but was otherwise reticent to talk about in a short-form interview), but after giving birth to her son Audio in 2003 she all but disappeared from the spotlight.
Since then, Sossamon has popped up in everything from well-received indies ("Wristcutters: A Love Story") to big, star-studded Hollywood com-coms ("The Holiday") to TV series (the cult single-season CBS vampire drama "Moonlight"), though recently her resume is heavy on so-called "genre" work, from the 2008 J-horror remake "One Missed Call" to the 2011 post-apocalyptic thriller "The Day" to this year's buzzy summer series "Wayward Pines" and now "Sinister 2," the sequel to the sleeper 2012 hit starring Ethan Hawke (she also has a role on the next season of FOX's retooled "Sleepy Hollow").
As "Sinister 2" prepares to unveil in theaters this Friday, I hopped on the phone with Sossamon to discuss horror, her early career, her recent TV work and her relationship to fame after nearly 15 years in the business. See below for all the highlights.
1. She resisted starring in another horror movie when "Sinister 2" came along.
"I really didn't want to do another horror film. You know, just because they're exhausting. ...I [worked on] 'Wayward Pines' for a really long time and that was draining, and kind of, you know, it wasn't horror exactly but...there are horrifying aspects to the show. And again, I'm playing a mother who's trying to protect her child.
"What I did though is I said, 'I'll meet the director.' My team really pushed for that. They thought it was -- that I should do at least that and that this was a really good job. So you know, I...went and met with [director] Ciaran [Foy] and...we were talking for two hours, and it just went by so quickly. And I walked out of the meeting with him and I thought gosh, he just made me excited to do 'Sinister 2.'"
2. She is not a horror movie fan, but even she has to admit that "The Babadook" was great.
"The only reason I've done a lot of genre is because it comes to me, and you have to work, and you know, some have gone better than others. ...But I don't like to watch horror films, no, unless someone says it's really good. I went and saw 'Babadook' by myself. Yeah, that was great."
[Here I tell her that "It Follows" is also great.]
"You know what, people have been saying that as well, but just to give you an example of how much I don't like to see horror films, I still haven't quite been able to make it to that one yet," she responded. "I trust everybody, I know it's gonna be great, [but] I'm like, well, I saw 'Babadook.' That's enough for a few years."
3. She has never really felt like a star.
"It doesn't feel like I have been [famous], to be honest. I know in the beginning, I was 21, and I had done four big films, one after the other. And then I was pregnant with my son. That felt like it a teeny bit. It was a big whirlwind basically. But when I had my boy I just kind of, I completely, everything stopped. Everything came completely to a total stop. And that was a blessing in disguise for many reasons, obviously. The main one being my beautiful now 12-year-old boy."
4. One of her pet peeves is people expecting her to go through her filmography in public.
"I've never really felt that fame, [but] sometimes I'm reminded of it when I'm out and about, someone says that they liked something I was in, or usually what they say, which is quite irritating, is 'You look really familiar. Are you an actor? What you have been in?' And then they expect you to list your resume while you're in the grocery store and your three year old's crying. I like privacy a lot. But I also really have fallen in love with this job, and the desire's finally there to have a lot of fun and [do] work that...makes me happy and gets me going."
5. She would be happy to do another season of "Moonlight," if the unlikely opportunity arose.
"Sure, I love those people that I worked with, Sophia [Myles] and Alex [O'Loughlin]. I would do it just to hang out with them. That was a fun job."
6. She can say nothing about her role on "Sleepy Hollow" and understands how unexciting that is.
"I can't say much. It seems like no one can say anything these days. Which is so boring, I realize. But it's very different from my last two jobs, which is exciting, and I'm really looking forward to it. I get to play in the mystical fantasy realm, which I haven't been able to do maybe ever. So I'm really excited about that."
"Sinister 2" hits theaters on Friday.