Resisting the urge to open our conversation with, “Foursomes… I’m
something of an expert, and felt the geometry was off — the physics
too. Care to comment?,” I chatted by phone recently with 25-year-old Jillian Murray, the star, along with Ashley Parker Angel, Marnette Patterson and John Schneider, of Wild Things: Foursome, a characteristically twisty continuation of the sex-soaked and deceit-fueled series set in Southern Florida.
The movie’s story? When race car-driving hotel magnate Ted Wheetley dies
suddenly, his hard-partying son Carson (Angel) submits to a quickie
marriage to his girlfriend Rachel (Patterson, who’s apparently already
had the film scrubbed from her IMDb profile). A rape accusation follows
from the less privileged Brandi Cox (Murray, above), and the double-crossing and back-stabbing
slowly starts to unwind, as detective Frank Walker (Schneider)
investigates, seemingly unable to remember (or access any public records
that would show) the exact same things that have happened recently in
the tony little town of Blue Bay. My conversation with Murray is
Brent Simon: So… what gives with Blue Bay? All this lying, murdering and sexual promiscuity…
Jillian Murray: It’s an interesting town, right? I want to live there.
BS: When you’re doing a film that basically has an airy sense of self, and a sense of its purpose, yet tracks so closely to the plots of its predecessors, and is in fact set again in Blue Bay, is there any benefit to going back and watching the other films in the series?
JM: I don’t think there is a benefit, no, because you’d be copying someone else’s character. I mean, it’s not the same characters, [and] it’s more stylized, but it’s (still) a lot of seduction and murder and wealth in Florida. Those are things that you don’t need to watch the other ones for. You’d be doing it just for the character stuff, and I don’t really want to get lost in what their ideas are of their characters. It’s easier for an actor to just focus on their own thing.
BS: Tell me a bit about your background. You moved out west when you were still a teenager, is that right?
JM: I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. My father retired, so we moved to Arizona, and I went to high school there. And then the day I turned 18 I went to L.A. to try to act.
BS: Was that all surging adolescent confidence, or did a performance instinct kick in when you were younger?
JM: Actually, I wanted a career that had to do with being creative. I read a lot as a child, I loved novels and would create additional backstories for characters as I would read them. And then I saw that there was a casting cattle call, an open call, in Tucson for an independent film. I guess about 2,000 people went and I got my first audition, and started acting. I liked being able to let loose in an audition room. It just felt right. You got to do whatever you could, and if it worked great, and if it didn’t it was, “Oh well, on to the next thing.” It felt freeing.
BS: I think a lot of people are fascinated by actors partially because of auditions, and the idea of continuously interviewing for jobs.
JM: You have to have a very thick skin, because you’re going to be dealing with hundreds or thousands of people telling you, “Oh no, you don’t have the right look. You’re not pretty enough, or tall enough, or skinny enough, or whatever.” Right when you become insecure, you lose, you don’t book anything. Because you won’t be able to go into a room and convince someone that you’ll be able to carry a film and have them bet this many millions of dollars on you. So I think if you’re thick-skinned you can handle it. And you can get very close to booking something, and then the money falls through [which has nothing to do with you]. It’s definitely a roller coaster.
BS: And yet auditioning is a different animal from actually performing on set.
JM: It is. In auditioning, sometimes you don’t even have the script. You just have to make really strong choices, and assume this character may be doing this because of this (other thing). In a way it’s exciting when you put it all out there, because you don’t know what will happen.
BS: I understand Wild Things: Foursome was shot on location in Florida. Being in a place can sometimes help with the story, I imagine, but there are also a lot of distractions, especially if you’re close to the night life of Miami.
JM: Most of the films I’ve done have been on location… and it’s usually more beneficial. You can get sucked into this whole family with your cast and crew, so you’re very comfortable. There’s no L.A. distractions, no agent calling you and saying, “Well, you’re off on Saturday, so can you do this audition?” Miami was a little different because you do have the nightlife and you do have the beaches and the warmth, the sexiness of that whole state. So that was a little distracting, but you work with it. (laughs) I definitely did some Miami nightlife; I went on some boats on the weekend, hit the beach at night.
BS: I don’t know if the working title was Wild Things: Foursome, but —
JM: (interrupts) It was not. I’m not a fan of the title, I’ll just put it out there.
BS: Is that simply because then you have to have that conversation with your parents, telling them its title?
JM: Well, my mom knew about the film, and I told her what I was going to be doing. We’re not really that close-minded, or old-fashioned. I guess I’m young, so I might as well do [nudity] now if I’m going to do it at all. (laughs) But it was originally called Criss-Cross. And then it changed to [just] Wild Things. It was always the same company. They were implying it was going to be another Wild Things installment. And then probably after the fifteenth day of filming (we heard) the studio wanted to call it Foursome. Every single actor had a meeting in my hotel room, and we flipped out. We had people crying. It was bad. I was crying, I was really upset about it.
BS: I’m so sorry.
JM: But you know what — it’s just a name in the end. The movie’s not that bad. It makes it sound like some softcore thing, which it’s not. I understand as a title it’s catchy, and I hope it sells because of that. But I would have preferred a different name.
BS: When you’re doing a scene like the one that lends the movie its title, I imagine it’s important to establish a certain level of rapport with the actors, yet you don’t want it to be too choreographed. I imagine it’s not something you want to rehearse a lot.
JM: You’re talking about the shower scene, I assume? I thought I was going to be so shy, but I was the only person that was like, “Woo, let’s start, let’s go!” They put a little sticker around your private parts, and you’re pretty much walking around like a Barbie doll. I’m amazed. I thought I was going to be shy, but it felt so freeing to walk around naked.
BS: I’m reminded of the famous Red Hot Chili Peppers photo, and how Anthony Kiedis talked about how freeing walking around basically naked was…
JM: That’s funny. I think Ashley wore a sock. And especially the fact that most people would not be comfortable in that situation makes you like, “Oh, yeah!”
BS: As Brandi you have another element of physicality — you get to run around and fire a gun a bit.
JM: I’d never done that before, and it was really exciting, though. It’s a real gun with blanks, and you have spots to hit as you’re running. So you’re living in a videogame, with this one continuous run-through. We had about an hour-and-a-half with the police. I used to go to the firing range years ago so I had some knowledge, but it makes me want to buy a gun. (laughs) But I’m so emotional, I’d probably snap one day at the mailman. So to avoid jailtime I think I’m going to keep a gun out of my house.
BS: The scenes that unfold post-credits and fill in the double-dealing and back story — was it a chore to keep those straight? Because Brandi has a lot of side deals, as do other characters.
JM: It does get a little confusing, because everything is done out of order, and (owing to) whether certain actors are available on certain days. I have a formula I started using on another film: on every page, I just put where the character is on that day. That’s the easiest way to keep track.
BS: What’s next on the horizon for you?
JM: I have a comedy with Lara Flynn Boyle called Cougar Hunting; I play her daughter. And I have a bunch of films I’m producing this year that hopefully you’ll hear about and see very soon.