Fans of Ashley Rickards' lovable Jenna Hamilton on MTV's "Awkward" are in for a ghastly surprise when they see the 22-year-old actress in Nicholas McCarthy's horror film AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR, in which she plays a disturbed, and possibly possessed, runaway. It's an effectively creepy performance for Rickards, and about as far as you can get from the bubbly MTV sitcom.
But as you'll find out in the interview below, Rickards perhaps has more in common with her new character than her more famous one. After all, she's come into contact with real-deal supernatural forces. (No joke!) We talk about that, as well as branching out into film, being homeschooled, getting typecast as a possessed person, her favorite current TV show and more!
It's really interesting seeing you in this, knowing you from "Awkward"; were you looking for a project that would allow you to do something totally different?
I'm always looking for a project to branch out on. "Awkward" takes up a certain amount of time of my schedule, and if one of these other scripts appeals to me and works out with my schedule, I'm more than happy to do it. With this one, I was really excited. I've been watching horror movies since I was 7, I've always tended to be a horror movie watcher. Picking my first thriller was something I was definitely cautious about, to be honest. Meeting with Nick [director Nicholas McCarthy] and the producers, and hearing their whole take on the thing, made me super excited. At the end of the day, yes it's just a horror movie, but it's also a human experience. I'll use the word human lightly in this scenario. [Laughs]
Did you have the opportunity to star in other horror movie before this that you weren't interested in?
I would never talk about something that I passed on. [Laughs]
Fair enough. Is it fun to play a character who is so disturbed, or is it troubling and difficult?
The troubling part for me is this is the second possessed person I played this year. Between this and A HAUNTED HOUSE 2, and I was like, "Am I being typecast? Because it's a really weird thing to be typecast for." [Laughs] Obviously, A HAUNTED HOUSE obviously isn't a real horror movie, and AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR is, but you definitely have to use the same skill set, believe it or not. All the bending and movement and guttural screaming.
Yeah, the performance in AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR does not look comfortable.
Yeah, when we were filming it as pouring rain for four weeks straight. It was very nice atmosphere for a horror movie. Going home every night, I was like, "Okay, I'm a little creeped out, but I'll be fine."
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Oh yeah, I've lived in L.A. for way too long to not believe in the hippy-dippy witchy-poo stuff.
Have you ever encountered anything like that you couldn't explain?
Yeah, I had a summer house in Maine for a long time that we later found out a woman had died in. The electronics would plug in themselves, and I would literally see them plug in themselves. Creepy, creepy stuff. So I guess it did happen way before L.A. I guess what had happened was this woman died twenty-something years before we moved in. She had gotten cancer, and then her husband re-married six months after she died, and she haunted the shit out of the new wife. [Laughs] I mean, you're a ghost from beyond the grave, and I think that's pretty cool.
Do you think you'd be haunting people after your death?
I wouldn't want to hang around too long, but there are definitely people I'd want to mess with.
Would you say you're a movie geek in general?
For sure. If you have enough frequent flyer miles, you have to have seen everything. I look forward to the first of the month for when airplanes start playing new movies again. Between that and doing night shoots, when you have to sort of prep yourself by staying awake as long as possible, it's really helpful. So a lot of times it's just me and my TV.
What are your favorite TV shows that are on right now?
I actually just finished binge-watching up to the last episode of "The Last Ship", which I really like. It's the perfect mix of sci-fi thriller but with ridiculously hot guys. Kind of a win-win.
Are you looking to get into film a bit more?For me, I just like good material. Whether that's "Awkward", or another TV show, or a movie, if it's good material I'll do it. That's what happened when "Awkward" came around. I never thought I'd be in an MTV show, but I wanted to do it because it was great. There's also less of a hard line between being a TV actor and a film actor now, for me it's really cool to do both. If you ask me to do the next YA trilogy, consider me in, have your people call my people, but as long as it's good material; I just want to tell stories and entertain people.
Do you enjoy interacting with your fans?
I really do. The other day I was tweeting only in memes, and so people were tweeting at me in memes, and it was very exciting. That was interesting.
How has it been growing up in the business?
I started acting when I was 14, so I did become an actor during those impressionable years, but my parents home-schooled me so I wasn't super impressionable. It was great though, because I got to see the kind of culture I never would have seen in my home town, and I got to see people that I never would have been around. I also got suckered into going to a few proms, so I do feel like I had that normal experience. That being said, one of those proms was definitely not as fun as the others.
What do you think you'd be doing with your life if you weren't in showbiz?
That's a hard question. I think I'd be riding horses, that's what I was doing before I started acting. Riding horses competitively. That's my best guess. But I don't really have a Plan B, so hopefully this works out. I want to keep that train going.
Do you own a horse now?
No, unfortunately. My family sold the farm a while back.
Sorry to hear that. But thank you very much for your time!
No problem, thank you.
You can follow Ashley on Twitter right HERE. AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR is currently available on VOD and all digital platforms; it opens theatrically on September 12th.