Jamie Bernadette is an incredibly talented actress, writer and producer who is currently taking the horror world by storm.
I first became aware of Jamie after catching a showing of last years I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu. I was thoroughly blown away by her fearless performance and made it my mission to seek out more of Jamie’s movies.
As it turned out, Jamie is an especially busy/prolific actress. So much so that had it not been for this current lockdown situation we find ourselves in, we might have struggled to pin her down for this interview.
Jamie’s volume of work over the last few years is genuinely staggering, and she shows no signs of slowing down. Just head over to her IMDB page and take a look at the list of impending projects Jamie has in the works.
It’s clear that acting isn’t just a job for Jamie, it’s a passion. This is evident in her enthusiastic work-ethic and shines through in her performances.
If anyone reading this is unfamiliar With Jamie’s filmography, I heartily suggest you look at rectifying this. Jamie’s latest film Dead by Dawn looks amazing.
As a fan, I’m excited that we at ReelHorrorShow got the opportunity to conduct this interview before lockdown ends and Jamie sprints out of quarantine at light-speed and throws herself back into her work.
Hi Jamie, and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. For those who don’t know, could you tell us a little about yourself and how you first got into acting? I am the youngest of nine children from a small town in Illinois. I was always acting in school plays from a young age, so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone when I decided to pursue it as a professional career as an adult. I drove out to Los Angeles with $600 in my pocket and no job and rented out a garage that had been turned into a bedroom in a very bad neighborhood with a friend of mine. It is in my personality to not overthink things but to just go with my intuition, which was the case here. I was very under-prepared to make such a huge change in my life, but it didn’t concern me. I just did it. We read that as a child; you used to enjoy acting out scenes from your favourite films. Did you have any particular favourites or scenes that you would act out more than others?
Yes, they would play “A Nightmare on Elm Street” on television and I loved it. I have probably seen the movie 40 times. I loved acting like Nancy and doing all of the scenes. I knew some of them by heart. I would do the whole bathtub scene in its entirety, even acting out when she gets sucked underneath the tub into a pool of water. Your first horror film was Son of Sam and your filmography is very horror-oriented. What is it about the genre that keeps you going back?
I have always loved the genre since I was a child. I grew up watching a lot of Hitchcock with my mom, such as “Psycho” and “The Birds”. Acting in horror is also a lot of fun. You get to run the full gamut of emotions in horror, which is very exciting and challenging. Your role in I Spit on Your Grave – Déjà vu is harrowing to watch and, I imagine, even more so to act out. How did you prepare mentally and physically for such a tough role? Honestly, I think that life prepared me for such a role. I haven’t had such an easy life, especially in my childhood, so I believe in my heart that I have turned those disheartening times into an art form. Physically, I have done my own stunts in all of my films and tv shows and I tend to be very active so I feel I was prepared for the physical scenes in the movie. I did lose a lot of weight to play the role, since she was an anorexic model, so that was a challenge. I was very worried about what I looked like and as I watch the film, I look sickly thin, so I did achieve the look I was going for. I exercised a ton before that shoot and was really watching what I ate. I tend to be on the thin side, so when I lose weight it is very evident. How was it getting to work opposite Camille Keaton, who is considered a horror icon for her role in the 1978 original? It was absolutely wonderful. She and I connected immediately and we remain good friends to this day. I truly adore her and she is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.
How familiar were you with the original I Spit On Your Grave before coming to work on its sequel, all these years later? I had seen the film way before they started casting for the sequel, so I knew it well and I loved it. I thought it was raw and real and honest. I watched it several more times before beginning to film in the sequel. I sent in a tape for the role and I received an in-person second audition and I remember thinking, “If I just get to meet Director Meir Zarchi, I will be happy. Even if I don’t get the role, I will be happy if I get to meet him” and he was there and worked with me for 40 minutes in that room and I was thrilled. Your new film The Furnace is a drama where your character battles personal tragedy to complete a gruelling cross-country run through the wilds of Africa. This is obviously another physically demanding role. You don’t believe in going easy on yourself, do you? Haha, I guess I don’t. I do tend to gravitate toward roles that are emotionally and physically demanding. “The Furnace” was the most difficult film that I have ever done. I took myself to some very dark places mentally to bring truth to the character and physically, there were some days I ran nearly 12 hours straight. As The Furnace is more of a drama, do you think this movie will appeal to fans of your genre work?
Yes, it has appealed to them already. They have expressed their support and a lot of them have said that it is my best movie and best performance yet. I appreciate that a lot and I love my fans. Some have stood by me since the very beginning and watch everything I do. How was working on location in Africa? Did you have any memorable encounters with the wildlife? I absolutely loved working in South Africa and have been back there twice since. I truly love the country and the people and I have made some of my very closest friends there. I worked with elephants, lions, cheetahs, and hyenas in the film. I particularly bonded with the elephant and I really felt like when I looked into her eyes, I could see a soul there. I do believe we are souls in a body and the elephant is no exception to this. I fed her oranges, and she was very persistent about wanting the orange, much like a dog would behave when you have a treat in your hand. It was fascinating and very special—a time in my life I will cherish forever. You have a few producer credits to your name. Do you think you will ever step behind the camera to direct? Absolutely. I am already in talks about it and I think I have the first script that I want to direct. I am going to write it. It is, of course, a horror/thriller with elements of drama.
You’re playing a villain in Dead by Dawn. Some actors make a career out of playing villainous characters as they often seem more fun to play? How was it, and would you like to do more villainous roles in the future? It was a blast! I loved playing “Snack”! She was a whacky villain, comedic at times, and just plain crazy. I would definitely love to play more villains in the future. They are a lot of fun! In the upcoming Harvest Moon, you star alongside Robert Englund and Betsy Baker (of Evil Dead fame). Getting to work with legends of the horror world must be a dream come true for any genre fan. Oh, absolutely! As I mentioned earlier, I had an obsession with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” when I was a child, so it will be surreal to work with Freddy Krueger! And it’ll be a real treat working with Betsy as well! I can’t believe I get to work with all of these horror legends. It doesn’t seem real! I am very thankful.
Horror conventions are huge right now and it’s a great way for fans to connect with the stars of some of their favourite movies. Have you attended any and would you consider doing any in the future?
I have not attended any and I would consider doing them in the future. A lot of my fans do ask me to do them, so I am sure I will at some point. I film a lot so I guess it just depends on if it works into my schedule in between my films. If you could work with anyone in the horror genre, who would it be and why? Lin Shaye. I think she is so talented. I particularly loved her performance in “Dead End”, a horror film that isn’t as well known as some of her other ones, but it is fantastic. I would definitely recommend checking it out. I love the movie. Who would play you in the movie of your life? I could see Betsy Sligh playing me. She is a young actress who I know very well and I am filming with her in a horror/thriller/western film called “Homestead” right now. She is a fantastic talent and we are very similar in the way we act and we look alike too so I could see her playing me and she knows me very well so that’s a bonus!
Thank you Jamie, for taking the time to answer our questions.
For anyone wanting to get up to speed with Jamie's filmography, click the link below to be taken to her IMDB page: