Interview With Madeleine Wade: Model, Actress, Survivor

Born in Germany, Madeleine Wade spent her childhood years in Europe, the Middle East, Korea and Japan, where she began working professionally as a model at the age of 15. Following high school, the young woman entered into adulthood, moved to the United States and began a life of freedom, independence and self-reliant responsibility. Utilizing her experience in modeling to support herself, Madeleine eventually made the leap to L.A., transitioning into film.

Navigating the tricky waters of the entertainment industry, the aspiring actress began booking small roles on well-known productions such as Legally Blonde 2 (2003), Sons of Anarchy TV series and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), as well as independent films such as Tremain Hayhoe’s 2018 film, Rideshare (read our review here), and Sweet Madness, a short fan film she lead as Harley Quinn. More recently, the former model revisited the dark, painful years of abuse she survived during childhood by writing, producing and leading her own full-feature indie horror entitled Blood Craft (read our review here).

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Madeleine about her start in the industry, her experiences on major Hollywood sets, working in the independent scene and the personal inspiration behind her more recent project.

Madeleine Wade

PopHorror: Hi, Madeleine! Thank you for speaking with me. I’m aware that you were born in Germany and spent most of your childhood in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. When did you decide to move to the United States, and what sparked your interest in pursuing a career in entertainment?

Madeleine Wade: Of course! My pleasure. I started working professionally as a model during my teenage years in Korea and Japan. And when I turned 18, I wanted to get away from home. So, I ventured off on my own and moved to the United States where I began my adult life in Oregon. I had my daughter at a young age and, when she turned 6 or 7, I enrolled her in school. That’s when I began considering professional career directions other than the modeling I had previously done. Because I had experience in theater and commercials when I was younger, I began to look at acting. That sounded like a fun transition for me. So, I moved to L.A.

PopHorror: How did you get your start as an actress?

Madeleine Wade: I started going to auditions where I had some Weinstein-type of incidents. I don’t think people grasp how prevalent that is in L.A., especially 20 years ago. You encounter this sort of thing from managers to producers to directors… it was like navigating a minefield. It was really difficult navigating the shady stuff because it just wasn’t a route I was willing to go. It was a slow start. However, through the course of all that, I found some legitimate people who actually intended to help with my career. These people pointed me in the right directions, which gave me a little bit of a foothold in the industry.

Like so many others, I was young, naive and thought that I was going to go to L.A. and start doing big movies right away. But that’s just not how it works. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and determination. So, I got really lucky, booked a few good roles and built my way up from there!

PopHorror: You’ve made small appearances in some major productions like the TV series, Sons of Anarchy, Legally Blonde 2 and The Wolf of Wall Street. Which of these productions were some of your favorites to be a part of and why?

Madeleine Wade: I’ve been pretty lucky getting some really cool projects. Legally Blonde 2 was a really fun to do and it’s still popular after all these years! I just had a blast playing that role, and I love doing comedy. So, that was really fun. The Wolf of Wall Street was… really interesting! (laughs) I have never seen so much fake cocaine in my life! They used crushed vitamins to make it look real, and it was this crazy party! Since it was the ’80s/’90s, the outfits were pretty wild, and it was fun. I think it’s really ironic that someone like me, who has never done any kind of drugs, gets so many crazy, party, druggie roles. I’ve never even been much of a drinker! (laughs) So, I get to live vicariously through these characters.

PopHorror: I’m personally a big fan The Wolf of Wall Street. How did you become involved with this production, Sons of Anarchy and Legally Blonde 2? And what was it like to work on these sets?

Madeleine Wade: I was given the opportunity to submit my work for quite a few of these parts because I knew someone working on production. So, it was a who-you-know type of thing. Other parts came from randomly auditioning and getting lucky. I’ll be honest. (laughs) I’m not good at auditioning, because I get nervous. But when I’m on set, I’m more comfortable, have fun and really get into the role. And being on these bigger sets is very surreal. It’s hard to believe you’re actually there with Oscar winners, and I’m really grateful to be able to get those roles!

Madeleine Wade as Harley Quinn in Sweet Madness

PopHorror: I’m also aware that you portrayed Harley Quinn in a 2015 DC fan film called Sweet Madness. Fantastic job, by the way! How did you get into character for such a crazy role?

Madeleine Wade: Thank you! It’s funny, because I didn’t really know very much about Harley Quinn. I’ve never been big into comic books. Of course, I’ve heard of Batman, Joker and Harley, but I had never seen any movies or shows with her in it. So, I wasn’t very familiar with her as a character. This was a random casting call that I saw and thought it would be cool to try out. I auditioned and the director, Peter Dukes, described that he wanted a portrayal on par with the ’80s cartoons. The fun thing about playing crazy people is that they don’t know they’re crazy. These big highs, these big lows and eccentric attitudes are just normal for them. For me, these types of roles are fun to do. So, I studied up a little by watching clips from the cartoons, changed my voice a little to match the character and went for it!

PopHorror: A few years ago, you got your feet wet on the production side of film as an executive producer and actress for Tremain Hayhoe’s 2018 indie horror film, Rideshare. How did you become involved with this project, and how did your first experience in production go?

Madeleine Wade: I met Tremain at a Hollywood event, and we stayed in touch. When this role came up for Rideshare, Tremain told me he was having a difficult time casting this character. No one wanted it because the character is written as being such a bitch! (laughs) I was surprised because those are some of the best roles! Then again, quite a few of the cast members were coming from YouTube backgrounds, and they may have had a branding image to uphold for their channel, which didn’t quite align with this character. (laughs) For me, I was thinking the bitchier the better. So, I auditioned and got the role. I didn’t come onto the production side of things until post-production. At the time, I was also in the process of writing and producing my own film, which I feel is the natural progression for someone who has been in the industry for a number of years.

PopHorror: More recently, you wrote the script for your own indie project called Blood Craft, a film that you not only lead, but you produced as well. What were some of the biggest challenges in making this film?

Poster artwork for Blood Craft

Madeleine Wade: When you’re making something that has a lower budget, it can be challenging to get the best production quality possible, especially since I funded the whole project myself. I basically used my life savings and maxed out my credit cards. I decided to go all in, and it was a big risk! So, that was challenging in itself. But I didn’t want to look back and live with what-ifs. So, I’m glad I did it. And I worked with people I knew were fully capable of pulling this off. I had never written a script before. So I brought James Bressack onboard to not only direct the film, but also help fine tune the script in pre-production. I was really excited to work with him since he has experience in the horror genre.

PopHorror: What was your favorite part of making Blood Craft?

Madeleine Wade as Grace in Blood Craft

Madeleine Wade: For me, I think my favorite part was being in a position that allowed me to be in charge of everything. Because I trusted James, I left the directing to him. But I had control over casting all the roles and I had say in everything. So, for me, (laughs) it really brought out the control freak. Normally, as an actor, you go on set, do what they tell you to do and that’s it. So, this was different, and I really liked it!

PopHorror: Unless I’m mistaken, this film was a very personal project for you. Was there a reason why you chose the horror genre for Blood Craft?

Madeleine Wade: I wanted the story to be about a woman who suffered sexual abuse as a child and her pursuit of closure through revenge. And what better way to do that than to bring in a horror witchcraft element? For me, this just fit because of some stuff I went through as a child, I never got any closure. Not that I want revenge. I don’t care about that. In real life, you eventually move past these sorts of things by forgiving the person just for your own sanity. I’ll never get any acknowledgement, admission or apology for things that happened, and I had to come to terms with that. So, I wrote a script in which I could place someone who gets these things that I didn’t get in real life.

L-R: Augie Duke as Serena and Madeleine Wade as Grace in Blood Craft

PopHorror: Going off of what you just mentioned, what inspired the story behind Blood Craft?

Madeleine Wade: A big part of it came from being a survivor of abuse. There are quite a few things in the film that are specific to my personal story, and this was extremely emotional to shoot these scenes. I have an old photo album with pictures from when I was a kid. Before certain scenes, I would just flip through the photo album and it would bring everything back for me to prepare for the scene, which was emotionally taxing. There are parts in the film that are very personal. For example, my mother was German, and she really did pass away from cancer. In regards to other elements, there’s a line in the film that says, “I remember the smell of alcohol on your breath when you did these things to me.” And remembering the smell of alcohol is one of my biggest childhood memories from the abuse. But I obviously changed some things for the film. There wasn’t a sister involved in the abuse I experienced.

PopHorror: I’m so sorry that happened to you. Do you see yourself making something so personal in the future?

Madeleine Wade: I feel like that is the most personal thing that I’ve been through, but I never shy away from personal stuff like that. This is something that many people have gone through. There are other things involving people close to me who have dealt with drug addiction and alcoholism. So, if I did another personal film, it might touch on those topics. But to be honest with you, (laughs) I’d really like to write something comedic! Even if it were to be in the horror genre, it would be campy and over-the-top.

PopHorror: Are you a fan of horror? Are you a believer in witchcraft and the paranormal?

Madeleine Wade: As a viewer, horror isn’t my go-to genre. I love quite a bit of historical fiction and drama. The type of horror I tend to gravitate towards is more psychological thrillers, and I think that element comes through in Blood Craft. I like films that are more thought provoking, which can be in horror, but not always. So, it isn’t necessarily my number one favorite genre. (laughs) It’s the one I just happened to write!

I don’t personally have any experience in witchcraft, but I don’t think what is typically portrayed in television and films is very accurate. The practice of Wicca is very different. It’s more about nature and the elements. But there are films about vampires, werewolves and other things that don’t exist. So, you have to spice it up a little, I guess!

As far as the paranormal goes, I’ve had some personal experiences. I’ve lived in places that are haunted, and I’ve encountered some things that I just can’t explain. While living in one house during my time in Korea, I remember hearing footsteps walking up and down the stairs in the middle of the night when no one was there. The lights and the TV would turn off and on randomly by themselves.

I also had a strange experience while living in another place located in Sherman Oaks, California. My daughter, who was about 11 years-old at the time, told me that an old man wearing a suit and a hat watched over her while she slept. I thought that was creepy, but she assured me that she didn’t feel scared, he wasn’t there to harm her. He was just watching over her. I ended up seeing this man one time when he peeked his head around the corner while I was in my bedroom. I heard him say, “Loretta,” as if he was looking for his wife. I brought this up to the apartment manager one day, and he knew about this old man. And he said that he hopes I never see the old lady… because she’s really mean. (laughs) I’m thankful that I never saw Loretta.

PopHorror: Although the world is currently on hold, are there any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

Madeleine Wade: Because of everything that is happening right now due to COVID-19, I’m not sure where these projects are in the filmmaking process. But there is a small indie film that I’m in called Losin’ It, which I believe is currently in post-production. It’s a very interesting story about the struggles of caring for a parent who has dementia, and it was directed by Pascal Cooper. The script was based on his mother’s story and sadly she recently passed away. I have another interesting film that will eventually be released called The Call, which features performances by Lin Shaye and other horror icons. In this film, I got to play a mother in the 1980s, which was really fun!

PopHorror: I hope to see the release of these films in the near future! Congratulations on Blood Craft, Madeleine. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, being so open and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Madeleine Wade: Of course! Thank you!

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