Crystal Balint
Photo credit: The Portrait Sessions

Interview with Actress Crystal Balint, Star of Netflix’s ‘Midnight Mass’

One of the most popular and most-talked-about series right now is Netflix’s Midnight Mass. I was lucky enough to chat with one of the stars of Midnight Mass, Crystal Balint. She is a brilliant actress and has a great career ahead of her. Crystal gives us a deep insight into her role in the series, as well as some behind the scene details, plus more!

Crystal Balint
Photo credit: The Portrait Sessions

PopHorror – Hey Crystal. It’s great to chat with you. How are you doing?

Crystal Balint – I’m doing really well, thanks! Thanks for inviting me to chat!

PopHorror – Of course! What inspired you to become an actress?

Crystal Balint – Well, I think on some level I always knew I wanted to act. I was a huge fan of movies/TV as a kid. Growing up an only child in the ’80s, I watched a lot of television and movies, and it quickly became a habit to watch and re-watch movies I loved; to this day I’m a chronic re-watcher. And I think even at that early age, I was just in awe of the impact of storytelling; how a scene in just the right setting, with the right lighting and the right music, could impact your emotions so completely. When I was 14 or so, I joined the local theatre company and the bug bit me hard. I also had a terrifically creative, forward-thinking high school drama teacher who really challenged us all to think outside the box, giving us opportunities to write, direct and tackle some pretty unique characters, which only fueled me more. So once I graduated, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I would seek out, or at least try my damnedest, to create a life for myself in this industry and I’ve been so lucky to be able to build a career doing what I truly love.

PopHorror – That’s so wonderful to hear. I’m also a chronic re-watcher! What was the first film you worked on and how did that impact you?

Crystal Balint – The very first professional set I worked on was a TV series called MythQuest. I played the role of an Egyptian goddess named Nephthys, which was such a treat because I’m a big history lover, so it ticked a couple of boxes for me. I was quite green, having only been on a professional set a few times as a background performer, so it was really fascinating to get a closer look at the filmmaking process. I also learned a lot from my co-stars, both on and off-screen, and I remember they really helped guide me through my first experience as a principal actor. There’s a lot that I think young or new actors can take away from more seasoned professionals in the on-set environment, and it really helps to have people around who are willing to step up and be an integral part of that learning experience. It doesn’t happen on every set, but when it does, it can be really valuable. So the time I spent on that show gave me a first real look at what it means to be a collaborator; that you are just one cog in this big machine and all the parts are important to its success. This was one of the key things that stuck with me on that first show, and I really try to keep that in mind wherever my career takes me. Also, I discovered craft services, which was both a blessing and a curse; the lesson learned there was always pace yourself at crafty.

PopHorror – I’ll have to check that series out. It sounds fantastic. Your newest role is on the exciting new Netflix series, Midnight Mass. How did you get involved with that?

Crystal Balint – Well, I was asked to audition for the role in December 2019, and I remember the details about the project and character were really vague. This was literally days before Christmas, so I sent my tape off and then jumped straight into the holiday season with my family. A couple of weeks into the new year, I got a call from my agent saying I’d been offered the role, and to be honest, I had kind of forgotten about it! Naturally, I immediately sought out The Haunting of Hill House – which I had NOT watched yet because I’m a wimp when it comes to horror anything – but my partner and I binged it over a couple of days and I. Was. FLOORED. It was incredibly moving and thoughtful and beautiful and haunting in all the best ways. So obviously after that, I was just so excited to get cracking on Midnight Mass, and once I read the scripts, man, it was game over for me.

PopHorror – That’s so exciting! Can you tell us about your character?

Crystal Balint – Sure. So, Dolly is the wife of Wade, who is the mayor of Crockett Island, and she’s mother to Leeza, whose own journey plays quite a pivotal role in the story of Midnight Mass. She’s lived on Crockett her whole life like many of the remaining community members, so she’s a pretty familiar face to everyone. When we first meet Dolly, she is in a pretty low place; her daughter suffered a devastating injury several years prior, and in the years following the “accident”, she’s had a very difficult time adjusting to life as a parent of a child with newly acquired disabilities. Dolly’s a woman of great faith, and she’s found some solace in the teachings and support of the church, but the challenges her family has faced have really changed her in a deep, almost cellular way. So when Father Paul arrives, Dolly is very much in need of the energy, enthusiasm, and ultimately miraculous gifts that he brings with him. She is desperate for a shift in her life, and it’s that desperation combined with the overwhelming faith that allows her to be led on the journey she takes throughout the show.

Crystal Balint as Molly in Netflix’s Midnight Mass

PopHorror – Wow, that sounds like a pretty emotional storyline. Could you relate to her at all?

Crystal Balint – Yes, I could relate to Dolly in a number of ways, honestly. I mean, I think Dolly is a pretty relatable character. I could definitely relate to Dolly’s tremendous love for her family; her deep desire to see her daughter happy and safe, and the helplessness she feels not being able to change the way things are. As a mother, my family is so important to me, and as any parent knows, there are very few sacrifices we won’t make for our kids. So if you look at her choices through the lens of her love for her daughter, it’s a little easier to understand why she makes the choices she does. And ya know, when you’ve had a long period of primarily bad news and really hard times, I think it’s easy to find yourself desperately seeking out and clinging to anything that makes you feel even a little bit better. For Dolly, it’s her faith, it’s her community and it’s the good word; just a few simple things that keep her afloat in a storm. I have anxiety; I know what it’s like to rely on my little life raft tools that help me through those challenging moments, so on that level, I could definitely relate to her.

And listen – as we all continue to endure this global pandemic with its multitude of stressors and unknowns, sometimes I just don’t want to hear the numbers, and I need to check out and watch cat videos on YouTube or something. Just in an effort to feel a bit better about things. Dolly feels that in a profound way when we meet her, so when things start to improve for her and the community around her, no matter the consequences, she grabs a  hold of that good feeling and doesn’t really let go until it’s too late.

PopHorror – I love your perspective on that! What was it like working with Mike Flanagan?

Crystal Balint – Honestly, I could gush for hours, but working with Mike was one of the best experiences of my career so far. Aside from being a truly gifted writer and an astute director, he has this way about him that just makes one immediately feel like an integral member of the production family, right out of the gate. And in my experience,  that is just not the norm in this business; it’s not unusual to work on projects and have little to no contact with the person or people at the helm of the show, so that trust he makes the effort to create with his collaborators really allows you to just breathe deeply and relax. He’s also incredibly detail-oriented and the specificity of his writing seems to carry over to pretty much every aspect of what he does, which is just a joy as an actor because, for me, it makes a huge difference when you can walk on set and trust that pretty much all the elements at play have been examined and fine-tuned so that you can just focus on what you’re there to do; it’s a truly safe, creative space. Ya know, we filmed Midnight Mass during the pandemic and we were one of the first series to return to filming after the lockdown; it was new territory for everyone on set, in every department, and that was a  great equalizer, but also incredibly anxiety creating. And even on the scariest days of the second wave, when we watched the numbers rising all around us, Mike, Trevor Macy and the whole team at Intrepid created this really physically safe space coupled with trust and very open communication where we could rest easy, feel safe, and focus on bringing our best work each day. And I  really think that it’s that sense of trust that translates into the richness of the characters and connections you see on screen. And of course, the icing on this cake is that he’s also just a really terrific guy; funny, welcoming, and super easy to be around. It’s no wonder that so many of his collaborators jump at the opportunity to work with him again and again.

PopHorror – I’m so glad it was a rewarding experience. Everyone is talking about Midnight Mass. Are you proud to belong to such a popular series?

Crystal Balint – Absolutely! I’m deeply, deeply proud of the show and of the work that we ALL – cast and crew –  invested in this project. I’m such a huge fan of all the people I had the privilege to share the screen with, and I was in awe of everyone’s immense talent and humanity as we were shooting. Again, because of the environment, we were filming the show in, it really bonded the cast in a unique way, in that for many of us, the only socialization we were able to do was at work, with our castmates; so we became heavily invested in each other, both personally and in the work we were all endeavoring to create. Then seeing it in its final form, with all the bells and whistles, completely blew my socks off; I am just so inspired and impressed by everyone. And I’m so grateful that audiences are responding to it in such a meaningful way because it really was such a labor of love for us all. So no matter what, the experience of making this project will always hold a special place in my heart, so that is what matters most to me.

PopHorror – I’m so happy for you! What’s next for you?

Crystal Balint – Well, this fall you can catch me in the final season of Supergirl, which was a blast to work on and I was lucky to get to play with those fine folks as they drew things to a close. And next year, you’ll be able to see me in Mike Flanagan’s upcoming project for Netflix, The Midnight Club, which was a joy to be invited to come and be a part of. It’s a really unique and inventive adaptation of some of Christopher Pike’s novels, which I loved as a kid, and I’m really excited for people to see the terrific characters he’s created and the phenomenal actors who play them.

PopHorror – Wow that’s fantastic. I can’t wait for that! Thanks again for chatting with me, and I look forward to all your upcoming projects!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-XIRcjf3l4

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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