Uncovering the Pyramid
An Interview with star Ashley Hinshaw
By Jessica Dwyer
When people think of horror films set in Egypt they typically think mummies. Undead creatures unleashed via a scroll or a curse that’s been uttered by an unwitting digger or grave robber. But that’s not the case in The Pyramid, hitting Digital HD on 4/17. This new take on Egyptian based horror goes a different route through the buried secrets of an ancient tomb. In the realm of found footage horror The Pyramid stands out due to the subject matter as well.
A modern archeological dig finds a 3 sided Pyramid, a very unique discovery. The father/daughter team leading the dig, under pressure of time and results make the poor choice of entering the tomb for a “quick look” and things go as well as you can expect.
The Pyramid has a healthy horror pedigree. It’s produced by Alexander Aja (Horns) and is the first directorial project for Gregory Levasseur who’s written the new version of Maniac starring Elijah Wood, The Hills Have Eyes, as well as High Tension.
Star wise it’s headed up by Ashley Hinshaw, who you may as the woman who turned Jason Stackhouse’s life around on the final season of TrueBlood. Ashley plays Nora, the smart and tech savvy archeologist at odds with her father. Along with Ashley is another TrueBlood veteran, Dennis O’Hare who plays Holden, Nora’s more old school archeologist father whose ambition leads both he and his daughter on a dangerous path.
I got the chance to talk with Ashley about her work on The Pyramid and also of having played one of the few “normal” women in TrueBlood.
FG: What were the locations like for this? It looked very claustrophobic in some spots and then there were these sweeping desert panorama shots.
AH: We filmed in Morocco. It was actually really great. When something is set in such a remote location it helps to be filming in a remote location rather than the back lot at Warner Brothers. It was really great.
We spent our first week in the middle of the desert, the Sahara where we’re in the desert before going into the pyramid. And then once we get inside it was all sets in a soundstage in this tiny town in Morocco. And there were many claustrophobic moments and I’m really lucky I don’t have a small confined spaces issue. It was a rough shoot.
FG: You had some real physical things that you were doing in this. Were there any instances that will stick with you that you’ll never forget?
AH: OH yeah. I got two concussions on this film. Only because I was I very persuasive and convincing to try and do my own stunts on this movie. I mean it’s totally my own fault. But it’s certainly the most physical I’ve ever been in a film. But I’m really interested in that type of stuff. But half way through filming I was a wreck. I was beat up; I was just one massive bruise. I had to work through it.
But I’m really interested in doing these sorts of physical things. I mean, there’s a scene where I’m being buried in sand. What other type of movie are you going to get to do that in? And I told them I really wanted to do it. And they were like “No, we’re using a stunt double. Are you an insane person?” But I really wanted to try it. A normal project you don’t get to do cool things like that.
FG: Were there any moments where you were in your head doing the Indiana Jones theme music while filming this? Because I would have totally been doing that.
AH: That was happening straight away.
FG: Research wise for this did you study any of the mythology or books on this subject of archeology before filming?
AH: Oh yes. Playing an archeologist is something that I took very seriously. I wanted to make sure I came off sounding like I knew what I was talking about and wasn’t just an actress saying words that she didn’t know what they meant. So I read a lot about it and I watched a lot of documentaries about it. And I was just always really fascinated by Egyptian mythology and the pyramids.
So it was actually really interesting for me to do. It didn’t really feel like work at all.
FG: It sounds like that is a lot of what attracted you to this project. And plus I haven’t seen a lot of films set in the supernatural aspects of Egypt that utilize the Gods of their mythology…usually it’s a mummy.
AH: That’s what I thought it was going to be. I was going to turn around and there was going to be a mummy there wrapped up in toilet paper coming down the hallway at me. But it didn’t happen. And I love horror films and I love archeology and I thought what an interesting pairing of the two.
It is a typical horror film at some points. So audiences are sitting there thinking “oh I know what’s coming…” But it does take a few different twists and turns on that road. It was really interesting as an actress to be a part of that.
And I think as horror movies go, I’d rather do something that is a little bit different than the average scary film.
FG: It was neat to see you paired up as a father and daughter with Denis O’Hare. How was that to get to work with him?
AH: I got so lucky to get to work with him. He’s a great actor and an even greater human. We became friends and it was just a learning experience for me. He’s such a fantastic actor and he’s got very strong opinions on what he wants to bring to the project. And it was such a blessing. His involvement took the script from being a little more generic to a little more interesting.
FG: Well one thing I have to say was I loved the fact that you and Dennis are in this and you were both in TrueBlood. I just had to say I really liked your character and the fact that you were a normal person and not a supernatural but also…and this is going to sound really bad…but you weren’t out to bang Jason Stackhouse.
AH: (Laughing) I have a lot of friends on the show including Dennis. But I didn’t watch every episode before I got cast…but I kind of knew what the girls who got hooked up with Jason were typically like. And I was just glad I was going to be a refreshing character.
And I think what I do as an actress best is very natural characters. And I think I was really lucky that they let me do that. Because that show is fantastic but very kitschy and every character has an agenda. I think it was refreshing that at the end they let someone come in and change that up.
I was so excited to be a part of that show. That was such a fantastic series and I wish I could have been on it longer.
FG: And like you said I like the fact that you weren’t out to have like some insane vampire werewolf three way with Jason or something.
AH: They actually shot a sex scene with us but they didn’t air it. They decided it’s so nice as it is and we’re giving his character growth by showing the flash forward scene with his character end up with a girl who’s so different than the women he’s been with. So you’re making more of a statement by not seeing them hook up.
FG: You saved Jason Stackhouse! Yay!
AH: I just want to save people!
The Pyramid is on Digital HD right now and able to be purchased on Amazon digital download here
Check out the trailer: