As Above So Below is Perdita Weeks’ Lara Croft audition

Perdita Weeks on found footage scares and being horror’s kick-ass Tomb Raider

Perdita Weeks as Scarlet Marlowe in As Above So Below
Perdita Weeks as Scarlet Marlowe in As Above So Below

No predictable found footage chiller, As Above So Below follows a team of tomb raiders beneath the streets of Paris to uncovered secret horrors in the miles of twisting, turning catacombs. Star Perdita Weeks spoke exclusively to SciFiNow about being the closest thing we’ll see to a decent live action Lara Croft until the reboot…

Were you more scared watching As Above, So Below or were you more scared filming it?

It wasn’t scary doing it. Watching it was more scary. People say surely it’s not scary if you know what’s going to happen but I’m terrified of this kind of thing. I jumped even when I was doing ADR.

Was there anything particularly freaky you found during filming in the catacombs?

When the miners were digging the tunnels for the bodies, they used to use a candle shaped like a pen, which they’d hold up on the ceiling. So everywhere you went you would see these black lines along the ceiling. What was really creepy is that the black lines would sometimes disappear into walls. That was because over time they’d have to close off tunnels and build up walls to keep Paris above stable – but that didn’t stop it from being really creepy.

There are shades of Lara Croft in Scarlett Marlowe, how did you approach the character?

I know, I think it’s the closest I’m ever going to get to playing Lara Croft. When it came to the action I just had to jump right in. But without wanting to sound like too much like an actor I spent some time looking at her back story and her relationship with Benji the cameraman [Edwin Hodge] and George [Ben Feldman].

Horror films really scare me but they scare me even more when there’s an emotional investment with the characters, so I just wanted to make that as realistic and emotional as possible. I was talking to Drew [Dowdle, co-writer and producer] the other day and I was saying, ‘I don’t think I’m that much like Scarlett’. He said, ‘What are you talking about? You’re exactly like her’. I didn’t really how much of myself I’d bowled into the Scarlett lane.

Weeks with Cloverfield's Ben Feldman as George
Weeks with Cloverfield’s Ben Feldman as George

She’s a very determined character. Would you go as far as her?

Oh, no. When I was reading the script, I thought how far would most people go, people when they have mothers and fathers, children or partners. I thought most people would not want to go anywhere near as far as she does. But then I think the difference between Scarlett and most people is that she doesn’t have anybody in her life. All she has is this all-consuming quest to vilify her father and find the philosopher’s stone.

Unlike most innocent female leads in horror movies, Scarlett is actually very manipulative. Was that in interesting character trait to get your teeth into?

Oh yeah, totally. It was great, there were no holds barred. I just knew that Scarlett had to be able to do anything, to say anything to get those people to continue on this journey of peril. People are self-serving – self-consciously or consciously – so to play a character who has a very specific motivation is a dream. It’s just so easy, it was fun finding out the different ways Scarlett would try to get her own way, whether it’s guilt or a sexual thing or pleading – it was really fun to do.

The director/writer duo have dabbled in found-footage in the past with Quarantine, so you must have felt in fairly safe hands with them?

Totally. The main feeling was excitement, they were having so much fun – they were like master puppeteers giving us little bits of information and seeing what we’d do with it. It was a really fun and exciting way to film – but exhausting, it was like constantly full pelt, especially as the character was so terrified all the time. It was just fun to see where it was all going to go, I really enjoyed the found-footage style.

Weeks getting her Da Vinci Code on
Weeks getting her Da Vinci Code on

Did you know what would be in each room before you went into them?

Obviously with it all being in the script it was all laid out, but they did enjoy keeping certain things from us. For example, when we first meet Le Tope [The Mole] for the first time, they kept him away from us before the scene.

My word was that a surprise seeing him coming out of the dark towards us. What was really impressive is that the sets all worked, we were able to do a 10-15-minute scene and would move from room to room to room and there was no stopping and no need to reset. The stone rolling away and then seeing the dead man [Templar Knight] and then going down into the water, that was all done in on go – they could have not cut if they wanted to.

Did you get hurt at all?

I’m not really supposed to say! I was pretty battered at the end of the week in the studio. There was lots of times where I had to run around no shoes on, so I’d just have some gaffer tape on my feet. I ended up with various types of cuts and bruises. It was all good though.

What was the scariest scene for you to film?

There’s a scene where we have to crawl through a tunnel filled with bones – the art department did a great job on them, they looked so realistic and they would splinter in the same way that a normal bone would. Me and Edwin [Hodge, who plays Benji the cameraman] just looked at each other and just said, ‘Are these real?’ I had to be lifted up into the tunnel and I was squeezed in with just a head camera, it was tough to get through there.

Edwin is big and he was really terrified in there, I had to watch him with the camera on my head as he was going ape-shit – excuse my French – there was no acting involved whatsoever. He did it all in one take.

As Above So Below is in cinemas 29 August 2014. For more horror coverage, check out our new range of digital-exclusive Horror Handbooks.