The Arrow interviews Gillian Leigh
Ontario, Canada born actress and model Gillian Leigh is slowly, but surely, climbing the horror ladder. She first hit the genre scene when she appeared in the still-unreleased gore party "Samhain" and followed that up with a lead stint in Christian Viel's upcoming sci-fi horror bonanza "Recon 2020" (in which I also have a small part) Is that a "Scream Queen" in the making, I see? So far, so good! The Arrow had the chance to have a sit down with the lady and here's what came out of it.
ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie sweetie pie?
GILLIAN: I am actually a big baby when it comes to scary movies. I don’t like them at all! I was never allowed to watch them when I was growing up, so I think that led me to being super scared of them! The only two I ever remember seeing scared me so much that to this day, I couldn’t probably even watch a trailer for them. They were American Werewolf in London" and "Pet Sematary". To this day I have a huge dislike for werewolves, if anyone so much as makes that howling sound I freak out!
ARROW: How did you get into acting? Was it a long time goal or did you get into it by fluke?
GILLIAN: I have loved performing since I was a little girl; dance recitals, figure skating carnivals, school plays – you name it! I was just a big ham who liked being the center of attention at all times. The acting bug really hit me when I was 9 and cast as a lead performer in our school musical. I was convinced that I needed an agent and begged my mom until she got so sick of me that she let me audition for musical theatre shows outside of school in our town. All through middle school and high-school I was involved with those, and then once I started University in Toronto, I got an agent for some modeling and acting work and I haven’t looked back since!
ARROW: Which successful actor out there would you say is an inspiration to you?
GILLIAN: To be honest, I admire anyone who can stand out and make a sizable impact in the film industry, because I know for most people what a long road it can be to get there. The actors I admire the most are those who haven’t come from Hollywood families, but have struggled their way up on their own steam, I think that that is inspirational. Talent is one thing, but the drive and determination to make it is also just as inspiring.
ARROW: You acted in the still-unreleased gore fest "Samhain". How would you describe your experience on that troubled set (or so I hear)?
GILLIAN: Honestly, I think that that film was, by far, the most enjoyable experience I’ve had so far. There were a few unsavory characters that were present at times onset, and that was a little unsettling at first, but Christian Viel (the director) dealt with any problems promptly and so I never really felt that bothered by any of it. The cast and crew got along really well (most of us!) and I had an amazing time in Montreal, both on-set and off. It was an experience that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything!
ARROW: You had an extensive nude shower sex scene in "Samhain". Was that a hard bit for you to do?
GILLIAN: I was a nervous wreck leading up to filming that scene. I was so scared and thought that it would be so embarrassing. My body is far from perfect, and that made me so uncomfortable to think that everyone would see it. But you know what, that experience was one of the most empowering that I have ever had – and if anything it gave me more self-confidence.
I don’t think that nudity is something to be ashamed or embarrassed by, instead I think that there’s something to be said for allowing yourself to be that vulnerable, it shows a level of acceptance of yourself; pretty much it’s like, this is me and you either like it or not. Christian was also pretty amazing about the whole thing, he knew how anxious I was about it at first and even went so far as to offer that he and all the crew who would be filming my scene would also go naked to ease my discomfort! It was a great feeling to know that if I was going to put myself out there, so were they! (They ended up keeping their clothes on though, but mine still came off!)
ARROW: We’ll see you next in "Power Corps" playing a space marine. What can you tell us about your character?
GILLIAN: I play a young pilot named ‘Fooks’, described in the script as ‘sassy’. Basically, my character is someone who’s good at what she does (high speed air craft operation and maneuvers!) and who is really well respected in her field. She’s suffered a lot previous to the film’s action, and is still hurting on the return mission that they are embarking on. I think she’s in a tough field and holds her own among the guys, but she’s still just a regular girl who’s doing something that is leading her to rehash some pretty tough emotions.
ARROW: Did you feel comfortable handling the guns that you had to fire for the part?
GILLIAN: I kind of just got thrown into that the morning we were shooting the scene, and I can tell you that the fear on my face was real!! My character has to run for cover in one scene when the firing begins, and I ran so fast that I was tripping over my own feet! It was pretty cool though getting to do something like that, I think I might be hooked – I like the power of something like that between my hands (no dirty comments please!)
ARROW: You had a small part in "Against the Ropes" starring Meg Ryan. Your part is described as ‘Girl in the tub’. What was the nature of the role and what did you do in that tub?
GILLIAN: Actually I was ‘Girl in the hot tub’! Lol…my best friend and I did that one day for fun. The scene was a party in a huge mansion, and while everyone’s partying and drinking, there’s people swimming in the indoor pool, and of course, people hanging out in the hot tub. My friend and I originally thought that we were going to be wearing evening dresses, but when we got there they realized they wanted some ‘tub girls’ so we got thrown in there. It would have been great except all the other girls had breast implants falling all over the place, and my friend and I were, um…considerably less endowed. So we spent the entire scene in the water up to our chins, with the second AD saying ‘would the two blonde girls please get up out of the water a bit!?” Needless to say, by the time we got out about 12 hours later, we were complete raisins!
ARROW: What’s next for you, acting-wise? In what will we see you next?
GILLIAN: I just finished work on a short film titled ‘The Walk of Shame’ in Toronto. I play Tawny, described as ‘a debutante from hell!’ It’s a cool little dogma style film, playing on one moment of weakness in a relationship, and the anxiety that comes from that. Next for me acting-wise, I’m hoping to just keep working, and to develop a lot more as an actress and performer. I want to take some martial arts training - I think I’d like to kick some ass in some future films, sort of "Kill Bill" style.
ARROW: When she’s not acting, what does Gillian like to do to cut the edge?
GILLIAN: I’m a pretty low-key gal. I just like sitting around with my friends or my boyfriend and having some drinks at a lounge or a restaurant. I’m not really into the Toronto club scene, I’d much rather be able to sit and talk than get drinks spilled all over me at a bar! But don’t get me wrong, when I’m in the mood for dancing and fun – no one can hold me back! Right now I’m really into planning vacations, I want to go somewhere hot for New Years and then maybe a ski trip in February…although I don’t ski so that could be interesting!
I'd like to thank Gillian for her time. It should be said that we shared a scene in "Recon 2020" (I try to rape her character) and I have to thank her for not kicking me in the balls too hard during the shoot. Yes, I might want to have kids one day! So thanks Gi-Gi! Keep a look out for this one, guys and dolls! Not only is she a looker, but she's also a class act with talent to boot and a heart of gold. A rare combination indeed.