Actress Elysia Rotaru recently appeared in Dead Again in Tombstone, a Western film shot in the Calgary area. Elysia has also appeared in Supernatural, Arrow and much more.
1. Tell us about Dead Again in Tombstone; for those of us unfamiliar with the original (Dead in Tombstone), what is the general plot?
Dead Again in Tombstone focuses on Guerrero, played by the amazing Danny Trejo, who comes back from the dead to protect a relic from falling into the hands of the evil Colonel Jackson Boomer who is out to conquer and rule the world with some evil schemes. But in this sequel he gets to make peace with his long-lost daughter Alecia, played by me, and finds that like father like daughter, she helps and kick ass and save the day.
2. What was it like learning to ride for the film? What did you enjoy the most, and what was the most difficult thing to learn?
Learning to ride for the film was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve had in my life so far. I’ve always wanted to learn how to ride and to get to do so with such amazing people really amped it up for me. I think the thing that I enjoy the most about riding was just bonding with the animals. Getting to a level where I could really gallop was so exciting; just being out in nature like that. I’ve never felt such an experience like the force of mother nature before. I mean, I’m sitting on top of another creature and I’m not letting it control me by any means, but there’s a mutual understanding – that is really spiritually and mentally awakening.
I think the most difficult thing was actually just learning how to find the balance between animal and human, and kind of just letting my hips adapt; the bounciness of being on a horse and feeling out with a trot feels like and a gallop, and all those things. It was also a little bit stressful because I had to learn how to ride in such a short period of time, but I had to look as though I’ve been doing it my entire life. Any opportunity that I had to be around the animal and get on the horse I would do it.
I remember that in the course of filming there was a scene where they wanted me to do a little stunt trick right. I wanted to learn how, so my stunt double taught me, and the horse wrangler had approved me and they were like “Yeah you got it.” That was probably one of the coolest things, and also getting like high-fives from all the horse wranglers and the cowboys out there really was amazing. It really built my confidence to hear cowboys who have been riding horses since they were kids, telling me that I looked really good on a horse and everything I was doing was right. I have so much respect for those guys and what they do.
3. Do you ride more than one horse in the show? Can you tell us about him/her?
So at first they had already paired me with the horse that I would be riding but I did end up riding another horse just for fun, but the horse wranglers really wanted me to bond with the horse that I would be working with the majority of the time so I was on him a lot. The horse I was on was beautiful and amazing and really great to work with.
4. What are the main differences between acting in a movie and for a TV show (such as Arrow or Supernatural)?
I think there are a lot of differences, but there also both have a lot of similarities. I mean when you’re working on television you’re getting a new script every episode so you’re constantly updating and getting thrown new circumstances and new ideas. With the film it’s all pretty much locked in before you go and shoot so that’s what you’re working with. Yet there are revisions that happen in both worlds, so you have to be prepared for that.
With a TV series you may not know the arc of your character fully because it might be top-secret; with the film the script is already presented to you so you know what is going to happen to your character at the end. I think that really helps propel the performance to give you a little bit more freedom. But the pressure is definitely still on in both worlds to perform and make strong choices. With film, you only get to really live in that character for a certain amount of time versus for TV if you have the opportunity and the luxury to be a series regular or recurring guest, you have to live in that character for a very extended period of time, sometimes over a decade, as in the case of Supernatural with the two leads. That also is a little bit of a challenge I believe because you constantly have to be invested in that character for television versus in film you can let that character go, unless of course you’re doing sequels upon sequels.
5. Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories you can share?
Oh there are tons of behind the scenes stories. All in all I think some of the best ones I have are with Danny just being such a jokester, having such great energy and being so positive. I mean he is such a bright light of a human being to be around. One of my favourite things with him was when he got to ride the buffalo around set. That was pretty epic. I think one of my best behind-the-scenes stories was in a fighting sequence with Elizabeth Lavendar, who played Madame du Vere. We were going over choreography for a big long fight sequins and we just had some funny mishaps happen with our costumes and our hair getting in the way. And also hanging out with Dean McDermott who played Mr. Goldsworthy, we just always had to laugh and found out that we had a few people in common that were friends and it was all a really nice atmosphere.
6. What was your favourite thing about working with horses?
It was definitely bonding with them and learning to find the balance between animal and human and how much being around a horse really showed me what I need to be personally working on. So I could say that it was a really healing time for me, learning how to ride and being around those animals as much as I was and really helped me just evolve on a spiritual level.
7. How do you like filming in Calgary, in comparison to other places (like Vancouver)?
Well filming in Calgary at that time of year was intense. It was freezing, but then it was really hot during the day but then maybe it could snow within an hour. So it was like super ADD weather, which made things very confusing for my whole mental and physical system but the landscape and the people were so beautiful and so welcoming; I can’t wait to go back there and shoot another project. Vancouver is pretty much just rain or no rain and the people are always lovely there too.
8. Do you think you might continue riding?
Oh yes I can’t wait to be able to maybe own horse one day as well. I mean anywhere I go in the world now and I have some downtime if I’m on a trip or there for work I always try and see if there’s a horse ranch so I can go out on a couple of rides.
9. What was the funniest thing to happen to you on set?
Probably being sneezed on by a horse.
10. Do you have an upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I have a few movies that are coming out in the next little while. I am going to be seen in the film Hard Powder starring Liam Neeson, and you can catch me alongside Josh Duhamel, in his film Buddy Games, and then I have a few cartoons that you’re going to be able to hear my voice in, one of them is Corner Gas and Nina’s World. And a short film called FWD, that I produced with my production partner Stephen Sawchuck, is in the film festival circuit as we speak so that is another endeavour that I am working on as well.