ENORMOUS: Exclusive Interview With Actress Ceren Lee
Machinima is adapting the Tim Daniel/Mehi Cheggour comic Enormous, the plot of which postulates a world in which life as we know it has ended, and humanity's survivors are on a dangerous mission that brings them face to face with nefarious humans and giant monsters.
The proposed series - which has been preceded by a nearly 10-minute long pilot webisode (which can be viewed below) - is directed by Cost of Living's BenDavid Grabinski, produced by Hitman and Agent 47's Adrian Askariah and starring Ceren Lee, Steven Brand Billy Miller, Erica Gimpel, Garrett Coffey, Charles Melton, Dallas Liu, Joe Swanberg, Simon Barrett, Todd Farmer and Nathan Moore. In the pilot, Ceren Lee portrays Ellen, a woman who has lost her son in the world's change and is now on a mission of mercy, determined to save whatever surviving children she can locate, with the hope that their blood will be the key for humanity to defeat its enemies and ascend once again. What follows is an exclusive interview with the actress.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: So how did you get involved with Enormous?
CEREN LEE: The funny thing is that I said to my manager, "I'm just going to take some time off; I'm done with auditions for right now. I want to do something else." She said, "No problem, awesome," and then the next day called me and said, "Can you just do this one more thing? The casting director is a friend of mine." So I read the script and I loved it. I went in and it was just so funny that as soon as I said I was going to hold off on things for a while, I come across something that is so awesome. Then I meet BenDavid [the director] and we connect immediately and I end up on a project that could potentially last for quite a long time if everything goes well.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: So in reading the script, what was the appeal in term of the subject matter and, of course, the character of Ellen?
CEREN LEE: For me, Ellen being a mother who has lost her child in this post-apocalyptic world immediately formed a connection for me because I'm a mother. My entire world would end if something like that would happen, and it would feel post-apocalyptic to me. Immediately I felt that realness and I continued reading. I felt like she wasn't written stereotypically. Neither were the other characters. It's an ensemble and ultimately I've seen so many ensembles where everybody is two-dimensional and it's basically just to get the one-liners in and get to the action sequences. I really, really saw the potential and the depth of what could happen after this pilot. It was such a great preface to what's to come. If all goes well, you're going to see so many amazing twists and turns with these people. People are going to come to the forefront and others will take a backseat and you're just going to see a lot of that between the group. That's what I saw in the script.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: So it wasn't, like, "Oh, good, I get to interact with imaginary giant creatures"?
CEREN LEE: [laughs] I was so excited because I remember watching War of the Worlds. I was much younger and I remember thinking, "How the heck do they do that? How do people act opposite something they don't see?" I had a glimpse of that, which was really awesome. But that's not what drew me to the project.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: I watched the first episode today. Normally when you watch something for the web, they mount it beautifully and the effects are often so beautiful and they're able to get people who are so amazing at what they do. But then the actors open their mouths and you're out of it, because, frankly it sucks [both laugh]. So to hear you guys open your mouths and NOT cringe - that's a beautiful thing.
CEREN LEE: Thank you. That's the ultimate compliment. Honestly, my husband [actor Jason Lee] was the last person in the world I wanted to show this to, because he is very honest. He sat there watching it with me and the entire time I was covering my face with a pillow because I didn't want to see his reaction. At the end he was, like, "Wow, shit, that was good." I was so surprised!
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Well, then I gave you a great advertising line - "When the actors opened their mouth, I didn't want to cringe."
CEREN LEE: [laughs] That's perfect!
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Years ago New York critic Rex Reed did a review of the movie Basket Case and he referred to it as the sickest movie he'd ever seen. He did not mean it as a compliment, but the filmmakers took that comment and plastered it all over their advertising campaign.
CEREN LEE: That is awesome!
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: What is the journey that Ellen is on through the course of this thing? What's her evolution going to be?
CEREN LEE: I don't know what BenDavid has in mind, but Tim Daniel, the creator, when we were on set he told me what was going to happen in the comic book. I'm not going to tell you what that is, because that's top secret, but Ellen was written as a lesbian in the comic which is not being translated into this version. I know there's going to be some kind of romantic thing that happens. I think the end purpose of this is to find a solution to what's happened in the world through the children and going in and finding the people who are still alive, and working towards finding a solution to what seems like the end of the world as we know it.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Do you think that for each kid that she saves, it represents a little bit of healing for her in terms of her personal loss?
CEREN LEE: Oh my gosh, that was my entire motivation through doing this. For me, if I had lost my kid, as a human being all I would want to do is save every other child from this fatality. There is nothing else I would want to do with my life than that. For Ellen, it's the exact same thing. Every child that she saves is healing for her; it's coming closer to some kind of piecing herself back together again and becoming not afraid to put her guard down a little bit; to let somebody else in; to feel hurt again; to feel love again. It's all kind of a personal evolution.
VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Well that's a lot heavier than anyone would expect from something with giant bug monsters [laughs].
CEREN LEE: That's exactly what I loved about. I wouldn't have wanted to do something where, like you said, the actors open their mouth and it's rubbish an you're just waiting for the monsters to come and ease the pain of listening to the actors. I would never have been able to do that, especially with my husband saying, "There's no way you're going to do that." That's why this is so amazing.
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