I had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Robinson in college while attending UCLA. Fast forward two years after our graduation and Samantha's face is appearing in The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The Rolling Stones, Elle Magazine - and that's just naming a few. The young budding actress's most recent endeavor, The Love Witch, has taken the world by storm.
"Destined to be a cult classic" (The Hollywood Reporter), The Love Witch centers around a beautiful witch Elaine, as played by Ms. Robinson, who is so desperate to find love that she is willing to use magic in order to obtain her objects of desire. The film is a nod to American and European sexploitation horror films from the 60s and 70s while featuring a strong feminist undertone. But what makes the film exceptional is its execution. Anna Biller, the film's director, shot the entire film on 35mm with a vibrant color palette that is like a Matisse painting in motion. In addition, Samantha's acting is a technical masterpiece. She effortlessly glides across the screen channeling actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Love Witch herself to ask about her experience with the film.
C: Okay, let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you end up in this crazy business called Hollywood?
S: I was born in New York and raised in London most of my life. I always wanted to be an actress, so when I relocated to the United States and started to apply to colleges I was mainly deciding between New York and LA. In the end, I chose to focus on a career in film and decided upon UCLA. I have been pursuing a career in Hollywood ever since graduation.
C: In your LA Time’s article, Biller described your entrance into the audition room as “bitchy diffidence...actors are so hungry and they just want the part and they come in all whiny and desperate. And [Samantha] just came in and was like, whatever.” What do you think gave you so much confidence as you walked into the room?
S: I am honestly not sure. Perhaps I came across that way because I felt a connection to the role, which in turn gave me a sense of ease walking in. I would be lying if I said that I don't get nervous at auditions. I guess just some more than others.
C: So what about Elaine did you connect to? What attracted you to her character?
S: I liked that she is an empowering female lead whose psychological complexities are illuminated throughout the story. I also loved the fact that she is glamorous femme fatale who embodies the rebellious image of a witch. Furthermore, she turns the tables on the usual horror film tropes by putting a woman in a position of dominance as an executor of violence against men.
C: Elaine is definitely complex. In the months leading up to production how did you prepare yourself for such a demanding role?
S: I watched a lot of female-centric classic films with Anna and we also went over the script extensively together. I read books on witchcraft and went to a few rituals and tarot card gatherings. I also read a lot about borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
C: What was the hardest part of filming The Love Witch?
S: I think it was when we were filming the final fairy-tale scene with the white horse. My co-star was trying to get on the horse behind me and the horse freaked out. It stepped on my co-star’s leg and threw me off. The whole set froze for a minute while we were both immobile on the floor.
C: Hazards of the job! And alternatively, what was your favorite day on set and why?
S: I really enjoyed doing rear projection. I felt like a classic star in a Hitchcock film.
C: Well you certainly looked like one. Out of all the men Elaine seduces, who do you think she had the best shot of having a lasting romance with?
S: Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a lasting shot with any of the men in the movie, as men do not really want the false self that she has constructed. They in turn cannot live up to her idea of a “real man” or give her the love that she so longs for.
C: How do you feel you and Elaine relate? How do you feel like you are different?
S: I feel like I can relate to Elaine because I have at times felt lonely, longing for love, and empowered. I can relate to her trying to maintain control of her body and image and provoking the attention, before it is taken from her. I feel like I am different from Elaine, however, as I have not experienced the deep trauma that she has. And I do not hate men!
C: Haha, well that's a good difference! It’s not easy being an actress in Hollywood, let alone a young woman in the world these days. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice from what you know now what would you tell her?
S: I would say to be patient and have faith that the right projects will fall into place at the right time. Everyone has a different journey and when you feel frustrated or depressed to make sure you are in an acting class, as that will help you express your creativity and keep you working on your craft.
C: Good advice. So what’s next on the list of goals for Samantha Robinson?
S: Working on more indie films or interesting tv projects. I would also love to do theater down the road.
C: And finally, if our readers haven’t yet, where can they catch the next screening of “The Love Witch”?
S: I believe the film is still playing in a few cities in the US. But if you are in Los Angeles, it is currently screening at The Cinefamily.
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