Alicia Vela-Bailey talks playing the villain of Lights Out!

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Sitting across from the lovely Alicia Vela-Bailey, you’d never expect her to be the woman behind ‘Diana’ in the new horror thriller LIGHTS OUT, from David F. Sandberg. Alicia is far from the monstrous and creepy presence who lurked in the shadows terrorizing Teresa Palmer. In fact, the stunt woman/actress is beautiful, bright and charmingly funny. However, when called for, she can easily take on a  frightening persona.

Recently, a small group of journalist had the pleasure of sitting down with the LIGHTS OUT star to talk about the movie’s impressive opening – especially considering the budget – and working with the first time feature film director. The actress/stunt woman has worked in everything from BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE to DIVERGENT, as well as a ton of genre features. Alicia will next appear in the horror sequel ANNABELLE 2, also directed by Sandberg, so it looks like Alicia may become a major force in the world of horror.

Rarely do we see actors in a role like Diana, it’s oftentimes CG. What was it like for you to step into the role of Diana in LIGHT’S OUT?

It was so much fun. When David first showed me the character and the artwork, I was so excited. It was so creepy. And I love horror movies. I love all that eeriness and just trying to help create the mood and bring the character to life. I had a lot of fun with it.

It was fun to watch.

Yeah, even for me too. There are certain scenes where I forgot about, and I even jumped. You know, I forget about certain things. It looks totally different in the film sometimes than on-set.  And then with the music and everything all combined together, it’s just creepy. I was like, YES!

Were you actually scared by your own performance?

There was a point where I was like, oh… [Laughing] But also when I’m doing the movements and stuff, I don’t see myself you know. So it’s more of just what I feel like so seeing it was really cool. I was like, oh, that’s what it looks like. So it was fun.

Did you get to add your own interpretation of how Diana would move, or was that something David clearly had mapped out in his head?

Yeah, he definitely had an idea but I don’t think he really knew exactly how it would look on a human body; or if someone could move that way. Because of my dance and gymnastics background – I’m sure they have a video of my audition somewhere – I was doing backbends and crawling on my hands. I was doing weird movements because we were just like going fully one way, and then he’d be like, “Oh I like this part, but maybe not so much this.” So we’d turn it around. We were just weaving in and out of doing different movements and trying different ways this character can move and how quick and how supernatural the movement would be. It was just, really fun.

How specifically choreographed does it have to be versus just getting into the character?

It wasn’t like specifically choreographed. Certain scenes though, David had very specific moments he wanted to capture and I would always ask am I popping up really fast, or like a slow raise and do you want it like… There were different moments where I’m crouched in a ball so do you want me to roll up through my spine. Do you want me to just stand up like a cat. Even with the unwinding of the hands because the fingers are so long – slow movements to fast movements – because we kind of wanted to mix things up so not all the movements would be the same. It was never totally choreographed and we would do different versions of it, just to see what would look better on camera and what David liked.

I was noticing obviously in visuals, the look of it was like Asian horror. And what I thought was more interesting about Diana is that she is very deliberate. All those other films from THE RING to THE GRUDGE, they move slowly the whole time. Was that a conscious choice in the script, or was it something you guys discussed? She is very deliberate, she doesn’t waste time.

Oh yeah. And I like that [Laughing]. I mean, I love the horror movies where the killer is always walking at that same pace. It’s kind of fun, you are just yelling, you have time to run away. Go! But for this it’s like, she will creep up on you, and she will move fast if she needs to. That’s what I liked about it. You don’t know what to fully expect from her. And then realizing that she is really strong too. She can toss you. I liked this character. It just gave more to the story and more movement and just different ways she could attack people.

It was unexpected. I didn’t expect her to be so fast. That was creepy.

I know. It worked.

That driveway scene, I didn’t see that coming.

It was so much fun to do all that stuff and just. On set it was funny because I’d be sitting around in between takes trying to stay cool in the suit. It was funny because as Diana, I wanted to stay in the dark. I knew I looked hideous. It was just really weird. I almost felt sorry for Diana. It’s kind of funny, but every time anybody walked over, I’d scare them and I was trying not to scare people. I was trying to sit quietly, but the make-up and everything was just so creepy looking.

Did they keep you separate? You hear a lot of times where they keep people separate.

Well sometimes, but the first scene I filmed with Teresa [Palmer], she never saw me until that scene. So that helped with her performance as well.

Which scene was this?

The bedroom, where she first wakes up.

The red light?

Yeah. So it was a lot of fun.

Is there a degree of difficulty? What is the hardest thing for you when it comest to physicality?

Well there were parts where I was rigged to the ceiling and being in the outfit is a little restrictive. And I’d use these goggles with reflectors for the eyes, so it was really hard to see. And of course the set is so dark, so I’m like blind trying to go to my mark and do the movements without falling. A lot of times I was barefoot and I’d be on my toes just to give it an extra creepy factor. And I was trying not to trip. I don’t want Diana to trip. That wouldn’t be as scary [Laughing]. It was trying to make the subtle movements and stay tight in my core, and still I’d have to move and look like I’m in full control. Sometimes I was like, oh, I’m going to trip on this rug because I can’t see. That was the hard part for me.

One of the things that I don’t know if you all are aware or not is that you are talking about it being difficult to move in a suit and everything like that. There were two different looks for Diana and one of them was kind of a black rubber suit for the shadow Diana. And for the Diana you see in the black light and what not, you were in six to seven hours of prosthetic make-up.

I forget how many pieces. It was like twenty-something glued to my body. I just felt so icky. But it worked.

Did you find one of those set ups harder to work in than the others?

I actually preferred the shadowy, silhouette black version. Because it was a suit, it was a lot easier to, you know, go to the bathroom [laughing]. The other one was just… I needed help because even eating was hard. My fingers were a lot longer so doing anything was… I couldn’t just pick up my phone, you know, I’m bored so I’m going to play games. I felt like a kid or disabled in a way. I couldn’t do my normal things that I would do. Even eating, I had to get my grilled cheese sandwich chopped up into little pieces and get a chopstick and stab it to eat. It was really hard. It’s the little things you take for granted. And you are sticky and you don’t want to mess up the make-up because it took hours to do and you are just trying to be careful. It was interesting.

That’s got to be a huge help with performance though.

It does actually. It really does [Laughing]. It was funny, there was this one scene where we were upstairs in Rebecca’s room and it was a really hot day. I started sweating. And everything is glued to me so there is nowhere for the sweat to go, and I started to feel pools just pile up in me. It was so embarrassing. I had like an air bubble pocket come out of my leg and I just started leaking all my sweat. I was like, it looks like I’m peeing right now, I promise I’m not peeing [Laughing]. I just felt so gross but it helped with playing Diana. It helped me. When it came time to get all aggressive, I was ready for it. I’d get out all my frustration. I was so hungry and I couldn’t eat my sandwich [Laughing].


Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.