Olivia Taylor Dudley Talks Acting, 5SecondFilms and Chernobyl Diaries [INTERVIEW]
Actress Olivia Taylor Dudley is one whose career has spanned the television screen, the silver screen and even the computer screen.
Her ability to play a character in both drama and comedy incredibly well is one that many in the industry find to be a difficult task. From her sketch comedy group—5SecondFilms,which has attracted the likes of famed comedians such as Patton Oswalt and David Koechner—to her latest role in ‘Chernobyl Diaries’, Olivia shows her range and proves that her name is one that will be around for years to come.
First of all, congratulations on ‘Chernobyl Diaries.’ This is very big.
You must be really excited about it.
I am. It’s definitely the widest released project I’ve worked on yet, so that was exciting.
How was the role brought to you?
Well, it’s funny because there was no script. We weren’t really given any sort of material until we got overseas where we were shooting.
Oh wow. That’s stressful.
[laughs] I know. It was a long process of auditioning to get the role with a lot of improv during the process. But through that we were finding the different characters.
So there’s no script?
Well there is, but it was developed through the improv process and then we had scriptwriters. But there wasn’t really a script before that, no. It was a unique experience.
That’s really interesting. Have you ever encountered something like that?
I do a lot of improv, mostly comedy but I have yet to make an entire movie like that. It was challenging but it was also very freeing and exciting to get to work with such talented actors who we could just roll with it and see where it went. If it went off track, the director, Oren [Peli], would pull us back in so it was fun.
Speaking of your improv background you’re a part of 5SecondFilms. How did that start? It is really well produced and very funny.
[laughs] 5SecondFilms is definitely one of my passion projects. I was one of the early members almost four years ago now. We’ve put out a new film every Monday through Friday. We’ve never missed a day. We shoot those every Sunday, like five for the week. There are about 8 of us. We write during the week, shoot them on Sundays, edit them and put them up at midnight. We’ve developed a very big cult following on the Internet. It’s fun to get dressed up and play ridiculous characters for five seconds then move on and play a different character for five seconds.
Do you co-write the 5SecondFilms?
Well, there’s eight of us. A couple write the bulk of them. I help write but sometimes I’m working on other projects so I can’t contribute as much but we all operate the cameras and act and write and direct. It’s really collaborative.
In doing that you gain a lot of experience doing different things within the industry: acting, directing, writing. Would you ever like to write/produce/direct your own film?
Yeah! I’ve been in LA for so many years now and have worn all the different hats. I’ve worked in production for years now. So I do write, I’ve produced different things and I’d love to direct one day. But I try to focus on acting as my main thing.
With those being comedy and ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ being about…Chernobyl…how was it going from comedy to horror?
Well, as an actor I get to do all kinds of storytelling. I do a lot of comedy. I do drama. So it wasn’t difficult. It was a sensitive subject dealing with Chernobyl so there’s that, but it wasn’t a difficult transition.
Do you have a preference between comedy and drama?
I really love doing drama but I end up doing a lot of comedy, which I have a blast at. I can’t deny that. I get to work with so many amazing comedic actors out here [Los Angeles]. But I really like drama. I just like storytelling so whatever I can get. [laughs].
So given the fact that it’s a horror movie, quickly shot and that there was no dialogue, what was the process of shooting ‘Chernobyl Diaries’? Was it exciting, nerve-wracking, scary?
We had a blast shooting. It was a very tight shooting schedule, being overseas for about a month. We had a lot to shoot. Our camera operator was amazing. It was handheld so we had the opportunity to do whatever we wanted and move around. But it was a lot of night shoots. It was in November and very cold over there. The most challenging thing was dealing with the harsh weather but we had a blast filming. The whole crew got along fantastically. We had a great time.
In the film you’re all on what’s called ‘Extreme Tourism’. Is there such a thing?
There is! Some people just want the most extreme thing they can find. Some just crave these things.
That’s crazy. So how did you start out with acting?
I’ve been acting since I was little. I’ve been trying to act since I was five years old. I watch The Exorcist and it affected me in such a big way that all I wanted to was make movies and act. So I just started putting on little plays for my family which led to some very anti social teenage years. Then I moved to LA when I was 17 and have been acting ever since.
You’ve worked in both TV and film. Do you have a preference?
I’ve been so lucky to work in both. I love making movies. Movies are so magical so if I can keep making movies I would be happy. TV is super fun but it’s super fast. I like the speed of movies.
Some people don’t want to tie themselves down to one role for five or so years.
Yeah, that can be really daunting. [laughs] You have to really like the role if you want to be doing it for so long.
This movie, as you said, is the biggest project you’ve worked on yet and it will surely lead to further opportunities. What other projects do you have now?
Right now I’m just dealing with this movie coming out last week and doing the press for that. With 5SecondFilms we’re trying to branch out right now into film and television and I’m in the middle of shooting my next film project.
Is anything going to move forward with 5SecondFilms? Maybe off of the Internet?
Oh yeah! Right now we’re working on developing a TV show. That would be ideally the next way to go, but we have so much fun doing them as is too. We have such a loyal and amazing fan base that we’ll probably keep doing it until there’s none of us left.
There’s a great amount of support for that.
Definitely. Also, we have so many great guest stars that come in too. Patton Oswalt is a big supporter. Yesterday I shot a whole bunch with Dave Koechner. There’s so many great comedians who come out to play with us. If we can keep working with them and keep doing that it’d be great.
That’s something fantastic about the comedy community. If one comedian sees something of quality they are so great at supporting it. It’s a tight community there that you don’t see anywhere else.
I know. Comedy is so much fun.
In the future, is there anyone who you’d love to work with?
Goodness, there are so many. Michel Gondry would be amazing. My boyfriend, Evan Glodell, is a fantastic director. I’d love to work on his next film.
What about a role? IS there a certain role you’d love to play?
I used to have an answer for that but the more I work and the older I get I really don’t have one. You can fall in love with any character you play.
As long as you’re working.
Exactly. If I’m working I’m happy.