FROM HELLOGIGGLES: Troian Bellisario on Why She Decided to Do a Terrifying Horror Movie

Troian Bellisario has spent the last six years playing Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars. But all it takes is a quick trip to her Twitter profile to understand that though we may see her as Spencer, Spencer is only a tiny part of the Troian whole: “(sometimes I play this chick Spencer Hastings on this show Pretty Little Liars). But only sometimes,” she writes in her bio.

Spencer

When she’s not making the town of Rosewood come to life, Troian is following a whole slew of artistic pursuits including writing and producing short films, acting in shows like Suits or, her latest project, starring in the re-make of the famed French horror film Martyrs.

For those who have yet to hear of it, the original Martyrs, made in 2008 by Pascal Laugier, is a notoriously graphic horror movie placed squarely in the ongoing French film wave called the New French Extremity movement. Paste Magazinedefined the movement pretty succinctly saying, “This recent string of films features bodily horror and exploitation that often teeters on the side of the unwatchable. The results are often politically transgressive, depicting contemporary society as isolating and emphasizing nihilism over more hopeful situations, to the extent that most have become deeply polarizing and controversial.” Basically, what’s happening in Martyrs makes the dollhouse episodes of Pretty Little Liars look like child’s play.

In the film, Troian stars as Lucie who, with the help of her childhood friend (played by Bailey Noble of True Blood), is out to seek revenge on those who tortured her as a little girl. It’s heavy, gruesome stuff, and much of it is not easy to watch. Still, it’s a story of perseverance and Troian spoke with us about what got her hooked on this film, and what being identified as Spencer Hastings is really like.

HelloGiggles (HG): What drew you to the Martyrs remake and particularly to the role of Lucie?

Troian Bellisario (TB): From the moment that I read the script I was drawn to the role of Lucie. Both of the roles are absolutely incredible and Bailey [Noble] did a wonderful job in her role, she was perfect, we had the best time working together. But really it was the script that drew me to the project.

I love the friendship between the two characters, and I also love that it’s a horror film but it’s really about strong women. It’s a horror film in which it felt like there was never any sexual objectification or sexualizing of these girls. They are also fighting something that isn’t supernatural. The thing with Lucie is that she’s fighting against her mind, and that to me is what was so frightening. It’s a horror film and yet I identified with this character so much. I’ve never been chased by a ghost, I’ve never experienced vampires (not to say that I wouldn’t love to make a movie about that), but for me I was like, “I’ve battled with my own demons. I’ve struggled with self harm, with self punishment.” It’s just that Lucie is externalizing them in a much greater way. I found it so interesting.

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HG: The film is so gruesome and many of the scenes I found too hard to watch. How did you leave, those images and experiences at work when you went home at night?

TB: You do and you don’t. I found that the second you do something like, like the final torturing scene, you almost instinctively begin to joke around because it’s too much. You can’t stay in that mind-frame. Truthfully you’re there with a bunch of guys and girls (the crew members) who are making the same movie and they’re staring at you in this incredibly painful situation, screaming your head off, and they’re having to watch it. So when you walk away from that you almost feel like it’s your responsibility to let them know that you’re ok, it’s ok, I’m ok.

Then I’d get in my car at the end of the day and that’s when I’d just let it get to me and really go into what I’ve been doing and thinking about. That’s when I’d need to just make sure I get home okay and call people who I love and say, “today was absolutely crazy, I was covered in blood for 12 hours, I love you mom.” That to me is why I’m very fortunate to have a bunch of people around me who really love me and will pick up the phone at two in the morning to hear me talk about insane stuff like that because otherwise, a lot of people turn to substances. You don’t want to be alone at the end of the day, it’s not fun. What I do is I connect with people and that’s the only way I know how to get through it.

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