INTERVIEW: Shauna Macdonald, The Descent and The Descent 2!

I loved THE DESCENT. There was something terribly appealing about a horror film with a group of girls taking on all the roles, yet not sitting back crying and screaming. They fought and occasionally they won. It also featured a very strong and interesting leading lady in Shauna Macdonald. The actress conveyed tragedy, fear and a whole lot of charisma as Sarah, a woman who has everything that she loves taken away from her. This was a beautiful performance, and thankfully, Shauna returns to those dark and deadly caves in the Appalachian Mountains in THE DESCENT 2.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to Shauna. Yet much to my dismay, technology was against us and we didn’t have quite the connection that you’d like to have while doing a phone interview. But poor phone lines aside, I can say that it was an absolute pleasure to talk shop with her. She talks about working on the sequel and of course, being a part of the first film. She even mentioned near the end of the conversation that there is talk of another sequel, but she most likely wouldn’t be involved. Yet you never know. One thing I do know however, Shauna is a warm and incredibly sweet lady, and she kicks a bunch of monster butt again when THE DESCENT PART 2 comes home to DVD on April 27, 2010.

Now, what was the official ending for THE DESCENT in the script?

Well the original script ended with the daughter and it pans out and you see the cake. And the script diagramed how the light goes out and I can’t remember if we shot that, the light going out. So that’s where it finished, it doesn’t finish in the car.

How surprised were you when they said, hey let’s do a sequel with your character?

I was very surprised [Laughing]. Because I instantly, like a lot of the fans, thought ‘but she’s in the cave… she’s crazy, in the cave, alone. There’s no light, she doesn’t have anything.’ Where could you possibly go with that? And then they said… Aha, open your mind.

One of the things that made the original work is that your character is tough, you all fight back. And this time, you are still the tough one…

Well, also there is a reason why she is so tough. She’s not just tough because she’s tough. She tough because… It’s quite funny when you talk about personal journeys of characters in that genre of film, horror films. A lot of it is getting the audience with the tricks and blood and guts. But actually, you care whether we die or not, we’ve done our job if you care. The reason why you care is because you’ve invested in the characters. But in order to invest in the character, we’ve got to give a really good back story. She had a horrendous experience when her husband and her daughter died which helped the character. And then, that made her… that gave her strength, and she decided to live after that. And that is why… she’s chosen to live and everything becomes choice in the end. And then in part 2, she makes a definite choice. She hasn’t made the choice of fear or anything like that; she’s not really scared of anything. She lost it. She lost everything.

With the new film, I really liked that you kind of take on what Juno was in the first film to a certain extent… although I did question the fact that they bring you down into the cave so damn early…

Yeah. But the time aspect, when they go back into the cave there was a lot of ramblings about the time aspect… at one point, I think it was going to be a couple weeks, a couple months. And then, I think that the choice was made that we just got to get her back down before she remembers [Laughing]. If she remembers, there is no way [Laughing] she’d ever get back there.

It kind of had that ALIEN/ALIENS feel where they bring Ripley back…

I guess, well, but I think that she does believe in the end that she can help them, her living friends.

How easy was it for you to return to the character and take on the physical aspect of the role?

It was difficult to get… I mean, I do keep myself very fit but I had had a baby and I took time off of work. She turned one during the shoot but I was very much out of the game at that point, when I was told we were going to be filming I was just not in that mindset. And when we started filming, I just got to work and got through it. I went through fight training and you’ve just got to be on it.

Was there something that proved more difficult in regards to doing the sequel?

I think just the idea… but the actual practicality of doing it on set, it just seemed easier though. For the first Descent, you’d wake up when it was dark and go to work in a cave and come back home in the dark. If felt a bit more torturous. You’d end up having nightmares, spending three months in the dark.

But the most difficult part [of the sequel] was the physical part… it’s making the fights look real so it looks like you do get hurt. You get bruised and scraped and I had a girl punch me in the face by accident [Laughing]. So physically, the whole shoot, I did more fights than in the first but the sun was shining [Laughing].

At this point, is there any talk about a Descent 3 and your possible involvement?

Yeah, but me being involved not so much. I think there could be a prequel. But there are rumblings, there are always rumblings. It comes down to money right? Well, not so much if it makes money – well I guess ultimately if it makes money – but if people will come and see it. All it does take is some imagination.


Let me know what you think. Send questions and /or comments to [email protected]

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