IN CONVERSATION WITH ALYSSA SUTHERLAND
Interview by Jana Letonja
Australian actress and model Alyssa Sutherland is starring as Ellie in the supernatural horror film ‘Evil Dead Rise’, the fifth installment in the iconic Evil Dead series, which was released on 21st April. Alyssa has previously also appeared in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Don’t Look Up’, ‘Arbitrage’ and ‘Vikings’.
Alyssa, you’re one of the main stars in the latest Evil Dead installment, ‘Evil Dead Rise’. The film is about two estranged sisters trying to survive and save their family from deadites. How exciting was being cast on this film?
It’s always nice when someone wants to employ me. But seriously, I was thrilled that Lee wanted me to play Ellie. I got to play a loving, but stressed mom going through a major life transition and then a sadistic, unhinged deadite. It was such a gift as an actress. I hadn’t seen a female monster on screen like Ellie, so I was chomping at the bit to create her and inhabit her.
The film is a supernatural horror film. How grueling was filming it?
It was certainly one of the tougher shoots I’ve done, but I kind of love that. I like working hard and I’m always really happy on set because I get to do what I love. So roll me around in blood and throw me upside down in a harness.
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You filmed ‘Evid Dead Rise’ in New Zealand. What’s the most memorable and special place you got to film at so far?
I think Ireland and New Zealand are tied for me in terms of beauty. I like photography and I’m pretty keen on getting up for a sunrise adventure to sit and watch the sun come up and the world come to life. The beaches outside of Auckland had incredible sunrises.
Which genre of films and series is your favorite to film and which your favorite to watch?
I love a good, meaty drama to film. Those moments when you and your scene partner are so present and reacting to one another, there’s a sizzle in the air and it’s the most amazing kind of drug. I’m addicted to flow state. As for what I like to watch, it really depends on the mood I’m in. I used to avoid horror because it creeped me out too much, but I’ve come to embrace it after filming ‘Evil Dead Rise’.
Prior to ‘Evil Dead Rise’, we’ve been able to see you in ‘Don’t Look Up’ and ‘Vikings’. Which of the projects you’ve worked on holds the most special place in your life and why?
‘Vikings’ was really my first big job. I had one line in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and it ended up on the cutting room floor. So, I’d say ‘Vikings’ because it was great in terms of where my career was at the time, everything I learned on set about the way things operate and getting an express course in camera awareness. Travis was a really generous scene partner and I picked up some tricks from him about how to support my fellow actor during their coverage.
Looking forward to the future of your acting career, what kind of projects and roles are you looking forward to? Is there any particular actor or a director that you really want to work with?
I’m really just on the hunt for the next challenge, a character I haven’t been in before. As I said above, I love meaty dramas, so it would be a real dream to work with directors like Jane Campion, Chloe Zhao or Maggie Gyllenhaal. Oh my god, how I loved ‘The Lost Daughter’.
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Before acting, you were a model and have been featured on the covers of Vogue Australia, Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, Australian Style, Glamour Italy and Black & White, as well as campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Bulgari. Tell us more about how your modeling career began and some of your favorite memories from those times.
I was discovered at a shopping mall when I was 15. It was a whirlwind. I entered the competition that was happening that day after my agent spoke with me and that was it. Honestly, it wasn’t the most fun job. The pressure I felt having to be incredibly skinny never went away and I felt pretty used and abused most of the time.
I’d say the best memory I have is actually shooting an Australian pyjama catalogue for a brand called Peter Alexander. Peter took us to Tanzania and we were essentially on safari for 6 days. It was a lovely group of people together in an incredible setting. I was very lucky to travel to the places I visited as a model and Africa will forever be my favorite. I have explored more of it over the years and can’t wait to go back. I definitely feel the itch again.
Since transitioning away from modeling, you have expressed guilt about having contributed to the ‘unrealistic standards’ of beauty set by the fashion industry. What’s your opinion on these unrealistic standards and their impacts on young generations? How could the fashion industry improve that?
If I knew how to fix that, I would. It’s a very complicated problem. I think it’s stretched beyond fashion and now social media has taken the reins. I’m so glad I was a teenager before social media. I think if I had a kid, I’d be having an ongoing conversation with them about it all and just loving them as much as possible and giving them a safe place to land.
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Do you feel that acting industry sets unrealistic standards as well? What are the issues you see the acting industry should work on?
I think it certainly has in the past, but a lot has changed recently for the better. Women of all ages and sizes are being celebrated right now for their talent and I find that incredibly exciting.
You are Australian, so one would maybe assume you’re into surfing. Have you ever surfed? What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I’ve tried surfing twice. That was enough. I like cooking, cake decorating, photography and road trips.
Alyssa, after ‘Evil Dead Rise’, what’s next for you? Where will we be able to see you in next?
I’m working on figuring that out. I’m taking a little time to see what comes my way. I just want to be able to keep sinking my teeth into new and challenging characters and collaborating with great creatives.
Talent: Alyssa Sutherland @therealalyssas
Photographer: Gina Gizella Manning @gina_gizella
Stylist: Janet Gomez @janetdgomez
Make-up: Toby Fleischman @tobyfleischman
Hair: Hailey Adickes @haileyadickeshair
Production company: GIZELLA @gzlla
Producers: Joey Pucino & Alexa Frisch @joeypucino @alexafrisch
Lighting team: Travis Prow & Lance Williams @travisprow @golancego
DIT: Josh Gorman @jgorman114
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Interview: Jana Letonja @janaletonja