Director’s Notes: Part 3 of 3
In the case of casting Abbey Karr, the opposite was true of Mike Kalinowski’s situation. Due to the nature of the plots in both Inner Beauty and The Shed, it was important that the female characters be played by separate actresses. And we of course found a very talented leading lady for both productions (please check out Jennifer Christa Palmer’s Bio Page at the Shed Site for more info).
Of course, with the character “Gwen” in Inner Beauty, she’s a very attractive “twenty something” young woman, who is looking to meet the man of her dreams… on the surface, she’s this shy, “nice girl you bring home to meet the folks”, but she’s also got this kind of ”operator” quality – this “seductress in hiding” aspect to her, with a lot of sensual tools at her disposal. But only to the extent that we all have those qualities, as just part of being human and going through the dating process at some point in our lives.
So the role required a very attractive actress, but somone who could be very complex emotionally. Because of the nature of the story, and because this story would first be released as a short and seen out of context with the larger feature film, I felt we would be taking a risk with the audience misunderstanding what we were trying to say. In my discussions with Jaime Jessup, the writer, it was extremely important to me as a director, that the character of “Gwen” come across as a very likeable, sweet girl, and not as a typical Hollywood stereotype of a “bimbo” or as a two dimensional character.
Again, without revealing too much, I wanted whatever actress we went with to be able to pull off being this gorgeous, flirtatious but modern woman- beauty and brains… and yet not be seen as a vixen. Sexy, but also, old fashioned. Otherwise, we would be saying the wrong thing with the piece, and delivering the wrong message about why were doing this type of story.
This was Abbey’s first work on a Starfield Studios production, and the first time I’d met her. To be honest, I was told she was known more for her modeling work – but it very quickly became clear to me in the first round of auditions that she had excellent instincts and skills as an actress. In all her sides, the subtext and emotion were there, and she really got the character and just nailed how to play her, with this great mix of vulnerability and strength. There were some key ideas I gave her to play with, and she took the direction immediately well - when I asked her to play a different choice here and there, she sensed exactly what I was after, with her questions about the character. And she very quickly put these new changes into “Gwen” at the auditions, and brought them ready to go as well on each day of shooting.
Also, during casting, there was just this explosive, natural chemistry between her and actor Mike Kalinowski who was one of our strong callback choices for “Mike” at that point. So we just had her read in various key emotional scenes with our top male lead candidates, and ultimately, the footage didn’t lie… it was just her and Kalinowski that were right for these two characters.
- Douglas Pritchard, 2010