This August marks 50 years since Sharon Tate and her friends Abagail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski & Steven Parent were brutally murdered in her home by the Manson Family. Director/Writer Daniel Farrands (‘The Amityville Murders‘) gives a whole new take on the tragedy in ‘THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE.’ ‘The Haunting of Sharon Tate’ takes the story away from Charlie Manson and tells it from the perspective of Sharon and her friends. It is not a film so much about the Manson Family as it is Sharon Tate. The film delves into Sharon’s nightmares of being murdered and deals with themes of fate & destiny. Lydia Hearst co-stars as Abigail Folger, one of the victims. Sharon Tate often overshadows Abigail, but this film reminds us of who Abigail was. Yes, Abigail was the heiress to the Folger Coffee fortune, but there was so much more to her. She was an academic that loved art and poetry. Abigail received her graduate degree in Art History from Harvard. She worked as a social worker for a time, volunteered for political campaigns and was very interested in Civil Rights. Lydia Hearst is perfectly cast as Abigail in ‘The Haunting of Sharon Tate.’ Her performance is sincere, heartfelt and never over the top. Latin Horror’s Jennifer E. Ortega recently spoke to Lydia about her role.
Lydia Hearst: Hello.
Jennifer Ortega: Hi, it’s so lovely to talk to you. I met you at Screamfest when you were moderating for Daniel Farrands.
Lydia: Yes, how are you?
Jennifer: Good, how are you? I am so excited that the movie is finally coming out because I have been thinking about it since you mentioned it back in October. I watched it, and I loved it because it was so different and such a different take, the casting was great and everything. How was your experience working with the director Daniel Farrands and Hilary Duff? The cast was incredibly strong.
Lydia: It was an incredible experience to be a part of this film. I mean having the opportunity to portray someone real, and especially with this kind of story it’s a truly humbling experience.
Jennifer: I think as an actress it has to be so different playing somebody, that was a real person and especially somebody that has such a horrific thing happened to them.
Lydia: When you play someone that’s real, as an actor I think it’s essential that you do your due diligence and your best effort and put in the time to learn about who it is that you are playing, and who the other people are in the cast and who is in their life. It was important to me to respectfully portray the person that I was hired to play.
Jennifer: I love that there is a light on Abigail Folger. Everybody knows who or should know who Sharon Tate is and knows who Charles Manson is. But sometimes Jay Sebring and Stephen Parent and Abigail…they kind of get lost in the shuffle so I think it’s a beautiful tribute to see who these people were and see that Abigail was a brilliant woman. I was reading about her, and I think she was supposed to fly back to San Francisco the next morning which is insane.
Lydia: Right? She was supposed to have gone home that morning. She had plans to go back and I know a week or two following the incident she was scheduled to give a lecture on Civil Rights at my mother’s High School.
Jennifer: Are you serious?
Jennifer: That whole thing is completely insane, and it’s heart-breaking.
Lydia: One of the things that I loved about this film is that it doesn’t sensationalize the events that occurred. It is a horror movie, but that’s only because what happened was so horrifying.
Jennifer: That’s what I like about it too. I feel like sometimes you get these serial killer movies, and we have a way of almost romanticizing these awful people, and this does not do that at all. Even when you see Charlie Manson, he’s very much in the shadows, so it’s not about him at all. It’s really about Sharon and her friends. I love Daniel’s whole approach to it. It’s very different.
Lydia: Yes, I appreciated the way he went about telling the story, and how he as well as myself and all of the other actors that were involved in this. It was very respectful of the people who we were portraying, and I love the idea that it was a much more psychological and spiritual film, that begs the question of whether or not we have the power to alter the course of destiny, and in such an idealistic way.
Jennifer: There is a closure in a sense, but it’s so interesting the idea of like are your choices predestined or do your choices even matter and are you going to end up in the same place, which goes way deeper I think then really anything that has been portrayed about the Sharon Tate. It’s such a unique and unusual take on it I think. I am curious where you shot it?
Lydia: We shot the majority of the film at the house located in Runyon Canyon. It was built by the same architect who constructed the original home on Cielo Drive; they are very similar floor plans.
Jennifer: Yes, it looks so similar, and that house was demolished years and years ago, so I was like I wonder where they did this?
Lydia: It was, so this one was built maybe two years after the one on Cielo Drive was made I believe, but I could be mistaken on that, but I know it was around the same time, and it was the same architect.
Jennifer: I love your acting because it is so natural and I thought you were so great, because you were so natural as her and it’s not an over-the-top like crazy role but there’s just – I don’t know you…are so good at it and in your modeling too, like you come across very, to me always like very ethereal and it kind of meshes really well together. I think it’s a lovely tribute to her.
Lydia: Thank you. I mean I try very hard to do justice to Abigail and to portray her respectfully. That was extremely important to me.
Jennifer: Your mom (Patricia Hearst) has been in some of my favorite movies of all time. I think the scene in the ‘Serial Mom’ is one of my favorite scenes forever with the high heels.
Lydia: We think that’s a really fun one, yes.
Jennifer: Do you ever talk to her about roles, or get advice from her when you are going into a role?
Lydia: I don’t. I have an acting coach that I work with and I like to do my own work and my own effort to build my own stories and characters and do what I can. I mean sometimes if I have any question or if I can’t get past something I will call my mom.
Jennifer: I was also really excited because at Screamfest you moderated the Q&A afterward, so I love that you have such a passion for film and the history of it and the different aspects of it, and I hope you do more moderating because I love hearing you talking about film.
Lydia: I mean it’s fun, I love going to Screamfest every year and I love genre films it’s a big part of my life in a sense. So yes it’s really great and again I loved being able to be a part of this film, I know it does fall into the category of a genre horror film, but at the same time it’s much more psychological and it’s really only because the events were so horrifying.
Jennifer: I can’t wait for people to see it because it was completely different than what I expected. I like going into the movie blank and not reading about it too much at all.
I try very hard to do justice to Abigail and to portray her respectfully. That was extremely important to me.
— Lydia Hearst
Lydia: Well I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that this film is based on, like the parts inspired by an actual quote given by Sharon Tate from an interview that was published one year prior to her death in a magazine, where she sort of revealed having these dreams about ghosts and hauntings in her house, and foreseeing her own death because of a satanic cult.
Jennifer: I was going to ask you about that because it opens with an interview about her.
Lydia: That’s an actual interview that Sharon gave.
Jennifer: That’s so incredible. This is why I love horror movies and genre movies in particular because you get these powerful topics, but I feel like they have a way of entertaining people and at the same time addressing these topics that they don’t necessarily think about until afterward. And you wake up the next day, and you start to think about the themes like in this film, I mean it goes so deep about like choices in life and are you fated. I saw it a few days ago, and I have been thinking about it since. So I love that horror can explore these deeper topics, and I think especially now people are paying more and more attention to genre films and respecting the craft to them because they are more profound than people realize.
Lydia: I think we are, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how like in genre films the narration and the details that go into telling the story, and how much like other films there’s that by-line of how entire groups are being punished. It’s really interesting and again this film – I know a lot of people think that horror doesn’t necessarily have substance but it does. There is a lot more to it than just blood and gore, and again in this movie, there isn’t even much of that. The focus is on only the people and their relationship and their friendship and faith.
Jennifer: It’s interesting too because the way it’s shot it really reminds me of like character-driven films from the 70s which I love. It’s shot beautifully and it looks amazing and you are amazing in it.
Lydia: Thank you.
Jennifer: I know you have to get going, but I am just curious is there any director that you want to work with that you’ve yet to?
Lydia: I mean there are countless people that hopefully, I will be able to work with. I feel like I am still just starting out in my theatrical career. So yes there are loads of people, and I have to think that my dream role hasn’t even been written yet.
Jennifer: I always feel like you’re such a good storyteller. I hope you write something.
Lydia: I have actually been starting to write a bit so hopefully, but I mean there is so much that goes into making a film it’s a miracle when anything gets made.
Jennifer: Well there’s something about you that’s just like a natural storyteller. I know you have to get off the phone and talk to other people, but I think it would be incredible for you to write something and be in it.
Lydia: I am working on it, so we will see but thank you.
Jennifer: I am a fan and a supporter of that. Well, thank you so much.
Lydia: Thank you so much.
Jennifer: It’s my pleasure, I can’t wait for people to see this. I think they are really going to be like blown away and surprised by it.
Lydia: I hope so. I really hope so, thank you.
Jennifer: Thank you so much, Lydia.
Lydia: Have a great rest of the day, and hopefully I will see you at Screamfest next year.
Jennifer: Absolutely, I will be there.
Based on one of Hollywood’s most chilling murder cases, this spellbinding thriller follows 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate (Hilary Duff), a rising star about to have her first baby with her husband, director Roman Polanski. Plagued by terrifying premonitions, Sharon sees her worst nightmares come to life with the appearance of Charles Manson and his deadly cult.
Rated: R for bloody violence and terror
Runtime: 94 minutes
Distributed by: Saban Capital Group, Voltage Pictures
Production Company: Skyline Entertainment; ETA Films; Green Light Pictures; 1428 Films
Directed by: Daniel Farrands
Written by: Daniel Farrands
Cast: Hilary Duff, Lydia Hearst, Jonathan Bennett, Pawel Szajda, Tyler Johnson, Fivel Stewart, Bella Popa & Ben Mellish
Director of Photography: Carlo Rinaldi
Produced by: Lucas Jarach, Daniel Farrands & Eric Brenner