Deadly Beauty: Horror’s Scream Queens and Rising Talent: Maria Olsen
“Maria Olsen came to America in January 2005 and hasn’t taken time to breath since she got here. In eight short years she has performed in 15 stage plays (including one Off-Broadway), directed 3 plays, written and directed her own play and first feature film, shot at least 40 feature films, 70 shorts, 10 web series, 10 music videos and recorded 5 voiceover gigs. She has also won four awards (including awards for both acting and directing), had two short films appear at the 2009 Cannes Short Film Program, one at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and became a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild in March 2009.
Best known for her appearances as Mrs. Dodds/The Fury in Fox’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief – where Chris Columbus directed and Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman starred – and as one of the Paranormal Activity 3 witches, Olsen’s features and shorts have also screened at other international festivals such as Sundance (Renegades), the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors (Justin Paul Ritter’s A Gothic Tale), HorrorFest (Patrick Horvath’s Die-ner (Get It?) – where she won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Rose the Waitress – and the International HBO Latino Film Festival (Sam Benavides’ Mansfield Path). Features The Mudman and Blue like the Morning are currently collecting awards on the festival circuit, while The Haunting of Whaley House, Dragonquest, Die-ner (Get It?), Alone Together, Vile, DisOrientation, IJE: The Journey, Darkening Sky, Shellter, Embers of the Sky and Humanity’s End are now all available on either DVD or VOD. She has also recently completed shooting on several further features, including Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem, Mark Edwin Robinson’s The Levenger Tapes, RD Shalit’s African Gothic, Justin Calen Chenn’s Folklore, Jason Bognacki’s Another, Carl Lindbergh’s Bunnyman 2, Claudia Damasceno’s Feed Me and Jose Figueroa’s San Francisco 2177.
Future projects include Craig Ouellette’s road-trip horror Straight On Till Morning as well as the gritty crime drama Cockroaches and the hilarious comedy The Natural Disaster. Thanks must go to her amazing agents and managers, especially Bonnie Howard and Ileane Rusch, for wanting to represent her and doing it so well. Olsen also owns the ultra-cool production company MOnsterworks66, producer of features such as Brandon Scullion’s Live in Fear, Randal Kamradt Jr’s Faraway, Eric Michael Kochmer’s Way Down In Chinatown, Bert Havird’s Reunion and Christopher Dye’s Something Sinister, TV/web-series such as Edward Payson’s Sunday Night Slaughters and Patrick Griffin’s Our Zombie Mother and the podcast/radio show Barry Morgan’s 1313 Blood Lane.
Location: Los Angeles, California
1. How did you get into the industry?
I started my stage career in East London, South Africa, when I about six years old. For the next thirty years, I worked steadily in theater, concentrating on musical comedy, musical review and straight plays. I was fortunate enough to work with, and learn from, some of the biggest names in South African theater at the time, and I would not be where I am today had it not been for the discipline I learned during my years in the theater.
I arrived in Los Angeles in 2005, and after a short foray into theater that culminated in my appearing Off Broadway in New York with Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Group, I decided to try a new medium: film. Once I learned the difference between on-stage and on-screen technique, I was A for Away, and a string of bookings followed including a national promo for HBO, a commercial for ESPN and the role of Mrs Dodds/The Fury in Fox’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
It wasn’t too long after that that I realized that my intense on-screen presence best suited me to horror, which I had absolutely no problem with as I had loved this genre ever since I was a child. Figuring out the easiest way to book work was to audition for roles that suited me the most, I submitted mainly for horror, fantasy, science fiction and dramatic projects. I think my IMDB page, where I have recently clocked up 100 credits, speaks best about whether or not my strategy has proven successful.
To date, fave horror projects that I have worked on include Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem, Paranormal Activity 3, The Haunting of Whaley House and Vile.
2. What Scream Queen inspired you most?
I watched a lot of horror movies when I was growing up, but these roles, and the women who played them, stick out in my mind:
Sissy Spacek as Carrie
Margot Kidder as Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror
Barbara Hershey as Carla Moran in The Entity
Adrienne Barbeau as Stevie Wayne in The Fog
3. What are the next couple projects you are working on?
In no particular order:
I have the title role and I’m co-producing the new tv/web-series Our Zombie Mother. Click here the teaser!
A feature I’m in, African Gothic, is premiering at the Durban International Film Festival this month.
Another feature I’m in, Starry Eyes, is currently in post-production.
I’m currently helping the following MOnsterworks66 co-productions through post-production: Brandon Scullion’s Live-In Fear and Christopher Dye’s Something Sinister (MOnsterworks66 is my production company).
We’re presently scheduling shooting of the third episode of Edward Payson’s Sunday Night Slaughters, a horror tv/web-series, where I both act and co-produce.
There’s more, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you!
Click here to read a previous interview with The Dedman: Talking With the Dead: 13 Question with Maria Olsen (06/02/2013 on Horror Society)
*Bio Courtesy of Mario Olsen