Interview with Jamie Bernadette: Dreams Become Reality

Growing up in the small town of Kankakee, Illinois, Jamie Bernadette dreamed of appearing on the big screen from a young age. When it came time to decide between settling into small town life or pursuing her dreams, she decided to leave for L.A. After making appearances in several commercials, television shows and films, Jamie explored her passion for the horror genre by producing, co-writing and starring in The 6th Friend, which earned several awards in the film festival circuit. Jamie was gracious enough to take a break from her very busy filming schedule to discuss her leading roles in the indie action horror films 4/20 Massacre and Killing Joan, as well as the highly anticipated sequel to Meir Zarchi’s 1978 controversial feature, I Spit on Your Grave.

PopHorror: Hi, Jamie! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me!

Jamie Bernadette: You’re very welcome!

PopHorror: To start, I have to ask. Do you really share a birthday with Adolf Hitler (in reference to 4/20 Massacre)?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, no, thank goodness. My birthday is December 14th (laughs).

PopHorror: How did you initially get started in the film industry?

Jamie Bernadette: Well, I was acting since I was a child. I started watching films and acting them out when I was around 5 years old. So, I think it was always in me to do this. In my home town of Kankakee, people tend to get married very young, and I had a choice to either stay and get married or move to Los Angeles and pursue acting. I almost chose to get married.

PopHorror: Oh, wow! So, things could be completely different for you right now.

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, totally. He was buying a ring, and at the last minute, I told him not to. I just felt a sort of doomed. I mean, it’s great that a lot of people decide to get married and have kids young. It’s the thing to do in my hometown. But for me, when I realized it was actually going to happen, I just felt depressed. It was four days after that when I left for Los Angeles with $600 dollars in my pocket.

PopHorror: That is crazy! Did you have a plan, or were you just kind of winging it?

Jamie Bernadette: Well, I had two friends here. One of them was new to L.A. as well, and he got us a temporary place to stay. It was in a garage that they turned into a room (laughs). So, we were living in a garage. With no insulation. In July. In L.A. I would wake up in the morning and be pouring sweat (laughs). It was fun, though. After a month, I started second guessing my decision. So, I drove all the way back to Illinois (laughs). On my way back, I stopped at a hotel in Colorado, and I remember feeling like someone had just punched me in the stomach with the realization that I left. When I got back to Illinois, I was there for about a week, and I cried the entire time. It wasn’t long until I turned around and went back to L.A. (laughs). When I got back to L.A., I decided that I needed to stay there and pursue acting.

PopHorror: I mean, it looks like it’s working out for you, seeing what you have accomplished.

Jamie Bernadette: Thank you. You know, I never regretted my decision.

PopHorror: So, how did you get involved in the horror genre? Has horror always been what you were aiming for?

Jamie Bernadette: I have always loved horror. I was obsessed with A Nightmare on Elm Street. I would act out all the scenes playing Nancy. I knew every word of that film when I was 9 years old from when they played it on T.V. I probably watched it 40 to 50 times (laughs). My first horror film that I appeared in was Son of Sam directed by Ulli Lommel and distributed by Lionsgate.

PopHorror: I know that film, but I don’t think I ever have seen it.

Jamie Bernadette: It’s a gritty kind of rough film. Ulli, I would say, was experimental in his film adventures. He has since passed away, and I miss him. But yeah, my friend was cast as a lead in the film and told me they were looking for a girl and asked if I would come to the set. That’s pretty much all I was told (laughs). I ended up playing the love interest of the lead and appeared in a couple of scenes.

PopHorror: So, as you probably know, I have seen both films, 4/20 Massacre and Killing Joan. You give fantastic performances in both, by the way.

Jamie Bernadette: Thank you so much. That really means a lot. It really does!

PopHorror: You don’t initially appear like you would come off as tough, but the way you carried yourself in Killing Joan came off as intimidating, as though you could care less whether someone outweighs you by 100 pounds or towers over you.

Jamie Bernadette: That’s good (laughs)! I tried.

PopHorror: So, in regards to 4/20 Massacre, how did you become involved in that project?

Jamie Bernadette: I had met Dylan Reynolds, the director, at the premiere of his last feature, Nipples and Palm Trees, which is a fantastic film. I loved the film and introduced myself to him. Years later, he asked me to send in an audition tape for 4/20 Massacre and he cast me based on the tape.

PopHorror: What were some of the challenges involved during production?

Jamie Bernadette: The cold. It gets really cold in the mountains at night. On the last day filming, I was in that sports bra and thin pants. Since we were rushed for time, we were doing a lot at once. There was also a bunch of soot from there being fires, so I was filthy as well as freezing. When you’re in the cold, not dressed properly for hours and hours, it can be a real challenge.

PopHorror: So, the scene where Ranger Rick goes all William Tell by shooting an arrow in a tree right next to your head… how was that done? Was there actually a marksman who shot an arrow at the tree?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, no, thank goodness! I’m not really into having arrows shot at me (laughs). They did that in post-production CGI, so I only had to look like an arrow just missed my head.

PopHorror: How did you get into character as Jess for 4/20?

Jamie Bernadette: I mean, Jess isn’t too much different from how I am. She’s just down to earth. She cares about her friends, and she’s courageous and strong. Of course, I had to do some fight training. I am not a martial artist, but I have done a ton of stunts and fight choreography in my past films. Also, it’s funny that she’s the only one who doesn’t smoke pot in the film. I could relate to an extent, being a nonsmoker in California, the land of marijuana (laughs). So, the scene where everyone is smoking pot, and Jess is just sitting there… that’s me in real life (laughs).

PopHorror: What was your favorite part of filming 4/20?

Jamie Bernadette: I really liked the all-girl principle aspect. It just felt like a slumber party from younger less complicated years.

PopHorror: So, in the process of filming Killing Joan, what were some of the challenges?

Jamie Bernadette: There was a lot of tough wirework, and the footage was corrupted, which was very unfortunate, because it would have added such production value to the film. We did a full day’s shoot of fight scenes with me flying through the air in front of a green screen. I think that was the first time I’ve ever done wirework, and I was really sore. But it was fun. I even did the stunt that the Harry Potter double died doing.

PopHorror: Oh, wow!

Jamie Bernadette: Yeah. They pull the wire and you fly back towards a wall. In Harry Potter, they pulled it too hard, and he hit his head, cracking his neck.

PopHorror: Did you know that was the same stunt prior to shooting?

Jamie Bernadette: Nope, I didn’t. It was scary having someone pull you towards a wall because you can’t see where you’re going. So, I could see how that accident could have happened. Of course, I felt terrible for the stunt double in Harry Potter, but I was relieved that nothing happened.

PopHorror: Do you do all your own stunts?

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, I do for the most part. In NCIS: New Orleans, they filmed me and my stunt double doing the same stunt. Then they used bits and pieces of both to put it all together. But on my other films, I’ve done everything. If there was anything I would have felt uncomfortable doing, I would have told them, and they would have gotten a stunt double.

PopHorror: What was your favorite part about Killing Joan?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, I just love the people. It’s honestly one of my favorite films I’ve worked on. It was like everyday was a blast. Everyone seemed to click and have fun. It just really made for a great experience.

PopHorror: Could you relate to the character of Joan at all?

Jamie Bernadette: Well, I’m not an angry person at all, so I had to drum that up a little from inside. But I think I could relate to her more towards the end, when she’s more vulnerable and wears her heart on her sleeve.

PopHorror: You have an upcoming role in the fifth installment of the controversial franchise, I Spit on Your Grave, entitled Déjà Vu. How did you become involved in this? What can you tell me about the film?

Jamie Bernadette: I saw the casting notice, and I knew all about the franchise and loved it. Thinking I wouldn’t get the role, I almost didn’t bother. But, I thought I would just try anyway. They asked me for an audition tape, which I sent in. Some time passed and I didn’t hear anything. So, I thought they must have not been interested in casting me. A few months later, I got called in, and Meir Zarchi was there. I was like, “Wow, I just met the director of I Spit on Your Grave!” I was so happy.

I remember thinking before the callback audition that if I just meet Meir, even if I didn’t get the part, I was okay. It was between me and a couple of other actresses. They called me in to do a follow-up, and it was a 5-hour audition. For some time, I would get a call from the producer, about once a week, who would ask me questions. A couple of months later, they called, letting me know that I got the role! So, it was a very long process.

PopHorror: I can imagine that you were probably pretty excited!

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, I was crying actually! It was the first time in my career that I had an emotional breakdown when they called me (laughs). So, yes, it was wild.

PopHorror: How far along in production is Déjà Vu?

Jamie Bernadette: It is currently in the final stages of post-production. It’s coming out this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original film.

PopHorror: I remember seeing the original several years ago, and it is some very intense stuff. Can we expect the same amount of intensity from the upcoming installment?

Jamie Bernadette: I can’t say much or go into specifics, but I can say that it will, of course, be intense. It won’t be exactly like the original. Meir has, once again, told the story how he wants to tell it. He didn’t follow any rules of Hollywood, just like he didn’t in 1978. He told the story he wanted to tell, and he didn’t care about what anyone else thought about it. I’ve seen the rough cut of the film, and I know there’s going to be a director’s cut, which is going to be about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

PopHorror: That’s exciting news! What was it like being a part of Déjà Vu?

Jamie Bernadette: It was surreal acting with Camille Keaton, who plays my character’s mother and starred in the original, of course. The character I play is an intelligent, deep thinker who is courageous and brave. As expected, it was definitely a very challenging role, but I was excited for it. It was absolutely amazing and a dream role.

PopHorror: I’m looking forward to viewing the film! So, do you have any other upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, actually. I just filmed in a feature called Backseat with Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell. I can’t say much, but I do have a scene with one of the A-list stars. In very big features, they do film a lot and sometimes smaller roles do get cut, but I think my scene is going to make it, and I really hope it does. It’s a lovely scene, and I’m really excited about it.

I’m also about to leave on Saturday to film in South Africa with Oscar nominated director Darrell Roodt for his feature called The Furnace. I’m the leading role, and it’s very much a survival film. There’s a faith-based element, and I’m going to be in the desert for a lot of the film. I’m really excited, because I’ve always wanted to play in a survival film with me against the elements. And this group of filmmakers are phenomenal. Have you seen the recently released horror film, The Lullaby?

PopHorror: I have not seen that yet, but I will put it on my list, for sure.

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, you have to see that film. It is gorgeous. It’s a horror film, and every frame is absolutely stunning. So, it’s a must see. The same exact team who was on that project will be working on The Furnace. In the fall, I start filming Harvest Moon as a leading role, and Robert Englund, my childhood hero, is going to be in it.

PopHorror: That sounds like it will be a dream come true for you!

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, absolutely! We are filming in Colorado and Maria Olsen, who is a very good friend of mine, is going to be in it as well. So, I’m very excited for that one.

PopHorror: It sounds like your career is really taking off, and from the roles I’ve seen you in so far, it is well deserved.

Jamie Bernadette: Thank you so much! It really means a lot.

PopHorror: It seems like you are getting quite a bit of your dream roles already. But if there were one role that you have yet to play that you would absolutely love to do, what would it be?

Jamie Bernadette: I have always wanted to play a vampire, and I have always wanted to play a possessed person, like in The Exorcist. I would say those two would definitely qualify as dream roles.

PopHorror: Those would be great to see you in, and hopefully, the opportunities come along! Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to speak with me.

Jamie Bernadette: Thank you, so much!

Constantly on the move through the film industry, Jamie’s career seems to be building momentum without any sign of stopping. Carving a path and establishing herself as a beautiful, talented and versatile actress with a passion for horror, Jamie Bernadette is a name we will likely continue to see. Personally, I cannot wait to see her upcoming projects and what she does next!

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