"I found little scratches on my arms in the morning which I blamed on the teddy bears in the room" We chat with Piercey Dalton
January saw the release of another of Netflix original movies, The Open House. It has a simple premise: a mother and son move into an empty second home to escape a traumatic experience, the house turns out not to be what they thought.
We caught up with one of its stars, Piercey Dalton, to ask a few questions about the movie, working with Dylan Minnette, and how she takes her coffee.
Hey Piercey, hope you're having a fantastic day. First question, where are you right now?
I am currently home in Los Angeles.
And what have you been up to today?
I woke up, fed my cat and made my coffee.
So, how did you get into acting?
Watching Mary Poppins laugh herself to the ceiling made me want to do it and so through my entire school career I took every chance I could to perform. After university I started training at a Physical Theatre Centre in Vancouver, BC where I learned basic silks and mime work but then I met my acting coach Kate Twa in 2011 and have been training more classically with her ever since.
The Open House was recently released on Netflix, what can you tell us about the movie in two sentences?
The Open House is a horror movie about a mother and son who are struggling to find their way through grief. In an attempt to make things better, they move to a town that just makes it worse.
What was the most challenging thing about filming it?
Not getting spooked. Some of us were staying in the massive house that we shot in and I was determined to be haunted. I found little scratches on my arms in the morning which I blamed on the teddy bears in the room and one light would flicker off while I was in the shower which I took very personally. I had to put a cap on my imagination in order to sleep and not drive everyone else crazy.
How was working with Dylan Minnette?
It was hilarious and incredibly impressive. Dylan is obviously very skilled in performing and he was always present and supportive as a scene partner, but you may not know the genius of his deadpan and trickery. Unless you follow his band’s Instagram - there are glimpses there.
How did you find working with two directors on the movie?
I loved working with two directors. Matt [Angel] and Suzanne [Coote] were always on set together and always on the same page. I thought it was great to have the extra person’s insight.
You also act on stage, which is your favourite?
I love theatre because it’s live but I’m very interested to keep working in film and television and see what level of intimacy and vitality I can find there.
What can you tell me about Chocolate, the short film you starred in in 2016.
Chocolate was written and directed by Brazilian filmmaker, Thiago Dadalt. It tells a story of a young suburban mother who wanders away from her home and family, due to early onset Alzheimers. Coincidentally when Chocolate premiered I came across a Missing Person poster in my neighbourhood of a woman with early onset Alzheimers who had wandered away from her husband while visiting LACMA. I reached out to her husband, Kirk Moody, and he began attending screenings of Chocolate with us, bringing missing posters and spreading the story of his wife: Nancy Paulikas, who is still missing today. Chocolate has now been written into a feature and hopefully we’ll be seeing it in production soon.
What's your view on the #MeToo & #TimesUp movements?
I think the movements are very strong and that we’re all going to learn a lot about how to do better.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
I haven’t had that moment yet, I’m looking forward to it! I hope it catches me by surprise.
You're from Tucson originally, can you tell us the best and the worst thing about your hometown?
I was born in Tucson but I didn’t grow up there. I go back often to visit and I can tell you that the best thing is the tarot card reader on 4th ave. I’m a sucker for Tucson though, I don’t have a worst thing.
What’s the best thing about being an actor?
For me, it is the constant change. Shapeshifting from character to character and roaming from set to set, setting up a new mini life each time.
And the worst?
Knowing the million other choices I could have made for a character.
What would your dream role be?
Lady Macbeth - film and stage.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
You forgot to ask about my cat, Wendy. She has one eye, three feet and a paralysing fear of humans. I adopted her over a year ago and she still hasn’t let me close enough to pet her. But she’s a great listener and we spend a lot of time hanging out together in the same room.
What can we expect to see you in next?
There are a few projects on their way but right now I recommend keeping your eyes out for A Foreman by Daniel Drummond. It’s a beautifully executed short film which was nominated for a Student Academy Award this past year and will be screening at the 33rd Guadalajara International Film Festival in March. In the film I play a foreman of a machine shop who faces a very tough decision one day at work.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Very seriously. It can’t be explained, it has to be felt.
The Open House is streaming now on Netflix, and you can find out more about Piercey on her website or IMBD page.