Cassidy Gifford may be the daughter of well-known TV host, Kathy Lee Gifford, but she’s cutting the shackles from her famous name and emerging from the shadows and embarking on a journey of her own start as actress in her own right.
Cassidy is about to hit our screens as one of the leading ladies in high school horror film, The Gallows and we got a chance to sit down and have a chat about all things The Gallows, paranormal goings on what lies in store for this emerging young star.
Your upcoming movie is The Gallows and you play the lead Cassidy, Tell us about your character.
The film is about four friends that break into their high school at night to tear up the set of the play that’s going out the next day. Mayhem sort of ensues when we do break in. For me I play Cassidy, she may be my namesake but we couldn’t be more different. She’s a very stereotypical mean, popular girl that’s going out with the captain of the football team, causing trouble but slowly starts to realise, when doors are locked and the phones don’t work and we don’t have service and everything kind of starts going the complete opposite to how we planned it, and we try to escape the area.
The film comes from the same people who made Paranormal Activity and Insidious, both had quite a bit of success, did this attract you to the film? How did you get involved?
It absolutely did attract me, when I did come on board later than the rest of the cast, I was actually the result of a recasting for just my role so of course I was excited about it but at the same time there was nothing definitive about it. What really attracted me was at my audition, my call back at least was with the rest of the cast, We made friends right then and there and I thought honestly even if I don’t get the role I would have gotten a couple of great friends out of it. So I found out two days after my call-back that I had gotten it, and ever since then it was completely down outside of the Hollywood norm. Our two directors, Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing are friends, they live together, they met in film school and they wanted to do it outside of the complete Hollywood budget type thing as we didn’t have it, it was a complete underdog story. We shot it late at night, so ultimately the product that we got out of it was something you couldn’t even imagine. You would never have thought it came from such a low budget. They knew what they wanted and they weren’t willing to compromise and I think that’s what made it so special, you didn’t have a million voices in Hollywood giving their opinions and taking out what made it special. These two guys, who had a vision they knew how to get what they wanted and all on no money.
The Gallows is another horror in which the format is that as found footage, why do you think this is so popular in the horror genre?
I think it’s because it’s so relatable you know, what makes something scary is when you think it could possibly be applicable to your own life. It’s so easy to watch a Hollywood horror film, but when you’re watching found footage, a lot of the time you’re questioning and wondering if this really happened. It plays of off the fact it could have been based off a true story. I think when the audience is watching you care more about the characters, and your routing for them because they think what if this was me. Constantly you are wondering could this happen in my own high school, you start thinking about that girl. All four of us I think represent at least one person that you knew when you were in high school.
It’s a pretty intense film, How did you get in the right frame of mind for your role?
It’s funny because for me it wasn’t necessarily the being scared part that was hard it was the emotional scenes. We did night shoots, so instead of sleeping all day before we had to be back on set, I would wake up early, go off on my own, go sit in a cafe somewhere and listen to music. Just try to separate myself from everyone. I loved the fact that every time we where together we were having a laugh. So when it came down to it I had to distance myself from it so when it was time to get on set I could just get in the moment. So I guess I had about an hour an hour and a half by myself listening to my IPod. I had certain playlists. There are certain things that trigger different things, like making up hypothetical scenarios that I knew would trigger certain things. If anyone sits for long enough thinking about losing a loved one or anything that would trigger that emotion it would be hard not to get in that kind of mindset. For the short scenes, we would spend hours and hours filming them so I drank tons of water. It actually became very easy to get in the space I needed to.
Seeing as though on-screen it’s pretty intense, did you manage to have any fun on set?
We didn’t really have a set script so much just have a rough outline of what we needed to do for that day. We didn’t have to go to our hotel rooms to go and focus memorizing our lines. What our Director wanted was for us to be friends so that would come across organically on screen. It came across very quickly with all of us, we were inseparable, we did everything together. We’d watch Movies or TV together. We’d have every meal together we would wake up together and we would get breakfast together. None of us are from LA actually, Pfeifer is from Missouri, Reese is from Oklahoma, Ryan is from Maine and I’m from Connecticut none of us where these Hollywood grown up. We instantly had this mutual ground and we all have the same sense of humour it was just very easy. They will be friends for the rest of my life.
Growing up did you ever encounter ghost stories at school? Have you ever had a paranormal experience yourself?
I never experienced anything when I was growing up but you hear all the stories at every school. Everyone has been to some school where you hear something happened 100 years ago. I think in my lower school there was a rumour that one of the music teachers who would have been around 100 years ago had passed away and haunted our theatre. I found it funny that when I did this movie I got to use it. when we were on set definitely a lot of freaky things happened, it was a really old building we were shooting in and it was supposedly haunted. So we went into it hearing a million stories and never knowing what to believe. I definitely heard a bunch of things and going into it I wasn’t scared because again I came on board a little bit later than everyone. So trying to be the tough new kid getting there pretending I wasn’t scared at all. Then they told me we are going to put you in one of the bathrooms, you have to be in there for 10 minutes, by yourself completely cut off from everyone, if you’re not scared, fine we’ll believe you. It was 3 am in an old building, I was tired but because it was such a small cast and crew you knew where everyone was, they were always accounted for. So I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, five minutes went by and I thought this is ridiculous I’m not superstitious but why are they making me do this but fine, and then about another minute later I swear I heard something that freaked me out, But because it was a very old building I could rationalise anything like that, but afterwards I was afraid to go anywhere by myself, down hallways, weird sounds, no matter what. You know when you’re safe in your own room when you’re at home by yourself you kind of let your own mind trick you into thinking certain things you just can’t help it.
Both your parents are actors, so it’s obviously in the blood, did you always want to follow in their footsteps?
My Dad did a little bit of acting, just to pay the bills. But my Mum started out acting but went down a different path and ended up being a talk show host. So for me I never felt like I was following any of their footsteps, I just knew what I loved to do and if anything they would have discouraged me from doing it because they knew how harsh it was, So ultimately when it came down to it I did a little take in a play and I thought I loved this, I liked it so much more than reading or math but I loved writing but ultimately it wasn’t was one thing I could give up. I guess since I was seven I knew this is the only thing I ever really really wanted to do.
What kind of role would you really like to get involved with next?
I would love to do some kind of romantic comedy, This past year I did this and a sort of thriller adventure film all have been amazing. I kind of want to try something different. I just want to take on a role that’s completely transformative compared to the last one.
What else can we expect to see from you this year?
I’ve just finished two small independent films as I said a thriller adventure film and another sort of a passion project about human trafficking film and combating that but I’ve got a couple of things right now I need to hear about.
The Gallows is out in UK Cinemas on the 17th of July.