We had the pleasure of speaking with Mischa Barton, who discussed her love of the thriller genre, her inspiration, and her starring role as “Shelby” in Paramount Home Entertainment’s thriller Homecoming on DVD on April 20th.
In Homecoming, you play “Shelby,” a young woman who develops an unhealthy obsession with her ex-boyfriend. What attracted you to the role?
Mischa Barton: Though I’ve done my share of thrillers, I was attracted to the script and the character because I’d previously been on the receiving end of crazy rather than actually portraying it, so it was a lot of fun embracing Shelby’s warped perspective.
Homecoming has been described as “Misery for Teens.” Had you seen Kathy Bates’s performance in Misery prior to shooting? What was your inspiration and how did you prepare for the role?
Mischa Barton: Kathy Bates is a phenomenal actress and I found her performance inspiring well in advance of reading the Homecoming script. Though I didn’t channel Annie Wilkes for Shelby, I just tried to make myself vulnerable to the point of being overcome with jealousy, so much so that that Shelby’s vengeance seemed normal behavior from a first-person perspective.
You were in freezing cold temperatures in the middle of Pennsylvania during the filming of Homecoming. How hard was it to film those scenes?
Mischa Barton: I think that when playing a character so sadistic, that any climate can be a challenge, but since Shelby is so cold-hearted, the freezing temperatures kind of leant itself to getting more in tune with the character.
The axe-wielding scene in Homecoming has become a cult favorite with horror audiences. Do you have any amusing anecdotes of filming those and other scenes with co-stars Jessica Stroup and Matt Long?
Mischa Barton: For the axe-wielding scene, I couldn’t help but think of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. This role is certainly not as classic, but it was fun and almost empowering even though I was scared to death of hurting the others, or myself, for that matter. Kind of ironic, since they (Stroup and Long) were the ones who were supposed to be afraid.
From The Sixth Sense to Homecoming, you have starred in a lot of dark thrillers. What are your personal favorite films and performances from this genre?
Mischa Barton: I’d be remiss if I didn’t single out Haley Joel Osment with whom I had the pleasure of working with on The Sixth Sense. Especially upon reflection, it’s amazing what he was able to tap into at such a young age. I think the genre itself is so entertaining – both to film and watch – because there are so many levels of fear that a performer or audience can tap into. Thrillers can go from one extreme to the other – camp to realistic – but either way they’re fun. My personal favorites are those that are scary and suspenseful without the gore.
You most recently guest-starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. What do you have coming up next?
Mischa Barton: SVU is my favorite show, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance. It was fun to return to NYC, as well. As for what’s next, I’ve yet to decide on my next role, but I am about to launch the new season of my handbag line in the UK and am very excited since they’ve been so well received.
Official Homecoming Site: homecoming-movie.com/