Actress Jessica Morris has been working steadily in the business for over ten years, having appeared as a regular on the soap opera "One Life to Live" and in films like SENIOR SKIP DAY, BLOODY MURDER and ROLE MODELS; that last one you'll recall very well her scene with Seann William Scott, in which she played "Linda the Teacher". Yes, the best scene in the film.
Now Jessica is starring in the supernatural thriller HAUNTING OF THE INNOCENT, which comes out in January. I spoke to Jessica about her aversion to horror movies, the grueling schedule of a soap opera, her love for GONE WITH THE WIND, and of course, that scene in ROLE MODELS. Enjoy!
What can you tell me about HAUNTING OF THE INNOCENT and your role in it?
I'm really excited about it. My character and husband and son decide to go back to my hometown after a tragic thing happens to me in Los Angeles. While we're there a lot of supernatural things start to happen; slowly at first, then they build. At the same time I'm having memories that I can't really place. So we're being haunted by this force, and at the same time, I'm being haunted by forces from inside of myself.
How do you conjure up that intense feeling, when you're being scared or traumatized? Do you call up incidents from your real life?
There's not really one technique that I use. I use a lot from my own personal life. I think I make the point of experiencing a lot of different things, so I have a lot to pull from, which makes things interesting. I also just use my imagination and try to dive into the story and character. It helps being on location, because you can just make it your complete world at the moment.
Were there any supernatural experiences on set?
Not really, although someone was saying one of the houses was a little haunted, but that could have just been them trying to scare me. I scare pretty easily.
You've been in many horror movies; is it a cathartic experience, seeing how you scare easily?
Maybe. I don't really love watching horror movies. My boyfriend loves watching them, they're like his favorite, and he always tries to force me to watch them. There are certain ones I can't even get through because they make me so terrified. There are enough scary things in the world and in my mind that, to be entertained, I like to watch comedies or something that soothes me. But I guess that helps me to act in a horror movie because it doesn't take much to freak me out.
Do you believe in ghosts and the paranormal?
Absolutely. I'm totally open-minded to the fact that there's so much going on that we don't know about, and to say you're 100% that there aren't ghosts or an afterlife is being close-minded. I'm open to the possibility of anything and everything.
You were a soap opera actress for many years, is it true that's among the hardest possible jobs for an actor?
I have to say, I do agree with that. Not only are you having to memorize about 40 pages of dialogue a day but it's a full year process, there is no six month hiatus. Some of the story lines are incredibly farfetched and out there, and the writing is as well, so you have to try to come up with something that is believable for yourself and the audience. I don't think soap actors get enough credit, because they're using all of their skills to make that stuff even halfway work.
What was the most outrageous storyline that you were a part of?
Well, lets see. I did the whole getting pregnant and passing it off as someone else's baby thing. My husband had an affair with my mother. (Laughs) There are all sorts of crazy ones, but those are the only ones that are coming to mind at the moment.
Did your character die and then come back as a twin or something?
My character did die, but I didn't come back as a twin I came back as a ghost. I went back and did some ghost stuff. (Laughs) I didn't come back as a twin, but that would have been cool.
Were you anxious to move away from soaps and act in films?
I really was at the time. I had been on a soap for five years and I always wanted to do films, so I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I was in New York shooting the soap but I wanted to come back to Los Angeles and start working on films. I look back and think it was so nice having a regular job every day for five years. When you're doing films you have a lot of downtime, so I do miss having that regular, steady work. But I do prefer doing films, they're more creatively fulfilling for me.
What has been the most fun job you've had working in film?
It was fun doing ROLE MODELS, I had a blast working with Seann William Scott. I like doing comedy sometimes. I think I'm best at dramatic acting, it comes more naturally to me, but it's fun to just be silly sometimes.
Safe to say your NSFW scene in ROLE MODELS is pretty memorable -
Thank you! (Laughs)
Was that the most stressful scene you've ever been a part of?
No, it wasn't stressful at all actually. I think I might have done a shot of tequila, that might have helped. Everyone made me feel really comfortable, it was a closed set. When I'm acting, I don't really feel stressed out, unless the character is stressed out.
What is your favorite movie of all time?
Oh God, that's such a hard question. There are so many. I don't want to say, I'm embarrassed.
Go for it!
(Laughs) It's a classic movie, and I started watching it at a very young age. I love GONE WITH THE WIND, I've always loved that movie. I'm in love with Scarlet, I just always wanted to be her. Rhett is so charming and I was in love with him too. I just feel embarrassed because it's such an old movie, but I guess it is a classic, so.
That's a perfect one. You'd be surprised by some of the ones I hear. Do you have a favorite TV show?
Right now, "The Walking Dead," for sure. The last episode, what happened, I've never cried and screamed at a television like that in my life. I think my neighbors probably thought I was being murdered or one of my family members died. That character was my absolute favorite character, it just broke my heart and I'm not even exaggerating.
Would you make a good "walker" on "The Walking Dead"?
I think I'd rather be someone who is alive. (Laughs) I would love to be on that show, I think if I were on that show I could die happy. But yeah, I'd want to be a character who is alive.
Finally, who is your celebrity crush?
I've always been a huge George Clooney fan. I think he can seduce any woman or man. He's got that charm about him, he's hot stuff. I might get a little sweaty around Johnny Depp, too.