Camille Hollett-French chats ‘Kingdom Come’

CHF Jessica Martin in Kingdom Come

NY Life: Can you tell us a bit about the movie ‘Kingdom Come’?

It’s about a group of eight people who wake up in an old, abandoned building and have no idea where they are or why. As the story unfolds, we learn about all their secrets and whether they’ll last as a “sinister force” stalks them!

It’s creepy. It was shot in a legitimate abandoned hospital. I think they’re tearing it down soon actually. It’s got a great cast. My two co-stars’ Ry Barrett and Ellie O’Brien were amazing to work with. I hope it makes you pee your pants. Just a little.

NY Life: How was the casting process for you for the film?

Well, I thought I bombed it! But then they all got up and shook my hand afterward, and I thought, “That’s weird that they’d do that since, I just bombed it. Maybe they’re crazy.” And after I left I couldn’t remember much of what had happened. Then I got a call-back and I thought, “Ok they’re for sure crazy.” Then three days before Christmas I got the call that I had booked it, which was so exciting because I booked a national commercial that day too. I’m pretty sure a not-so-sinister force was looking out for me. It was basically a Christmas miracle. So it was a pretty good day.

Also, I’m a total nerd a lot of the time, and I can be very awkward. I’m not great with crowds, I’m an introvert, I like to hole up at home—that sort of thing, and I saw Ry Barrett in the hallway in the building after my audition. He was kind of just staring off into to space and without even stopping myself I totally jumped right in and said, “Hi I’m Camille. We know some of the same people. And our agent said you’d be here today and hi! Nice to finally meet you!” And he just stared at me for a second then gave me a weird look, said hi, then kind of just walked away and left the building. I later found it was because he was just in a total daze after his audition. Apparently it was such a great audition he was flying high! I don’t know. We laughed a lot about it afterward. I made fun of him for a while.

NY Life: Can you tell us about your character as Jessica Martin? How does she differ from you?

Jessica is different because she’s much softer in her demeanor. She’s got a very strong inner force, but it takes a while for that to come out. Sam and Celia help her slowly uncover that until she takes a stand completely by herself and owns it.

I don’t know if I come off as soft! I mean sure, sometimes, because we’ve got so many parts of ourselves, we don’t always get to opportunity to showcase them all—not that we necessarily should. I think I’m a lot more like my mom, though. I grew up watching her move through the world just making things happen. In high school this one time, we talked about me moving my room to the basement. I came home from school a few days later and she had moved everything two story’s down. I’m talking bed, mattress, dressers, clothes—everything!

That’s just one example but she’s a powerhouse. I don’t know where she gets her energy. She has an intensity about her. Some people find her intimidating. I don’t, obviously. I know her too well. I’d like to think I could be as awesome as she is, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Being around her though, and witnessing her strength and ability on the daily has taught me really valuable, important traits, like how to speak up and to voice my opinion, especially in the face of adversity.

During Kingdom Come, there’s a glimpse of the same into Jessica’s life as she’s learning to face her opponents. What’s really fun about the character is that there are times she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to do it, but she tries and it works out and she surprises herself, like when she’s fighting off gate keepers. Or going down a really scary, pitch black hallway. That’s how we’re alike! We’re both terrified of the dark.

NY Life: What was it like to be the leading lady in the movie? Did you find it challenging?

It was challenging for sure, but it fueled me. That’s the thing about working in a profession you love—it never feels like work. The hours were long and the shoot was almost non-stop for more than a month, but every time I’d be freezing my nuts off (we shot in the dead of winter) or had a really early call-time, I’d think to myself, this is so effing cool. Look what my job is! We got to shoot in an incredibly authentic location. We got to ride golf carts around in the dark to get from set to set, although I usually had my eyes covered the whole time because I was afraid to see some creature from the underworld hanging around somewhere. The entire cast and crew were so supportive and positive and just all-round good people.

We had one big communal napping-bed in the greenroom. It was a king-sized bed that our director and PM had brought from home and it was glorious. The second-storey room was heated by these giant tubes from a generator outside so it was always super toasty, like a dry sauna. It was so cozy. Actually that was the way I met a lot of the actors. I’d wake up and be like, “Oh, there’s a topless gatekeeper in full make-up wearing a robe, having a nap next to me. Cool. That scared the crap out of me, but hello, nice to meet you. Go back to sleep.” We just became a big family.

NY Life: What was it like to work with your co-star Ry Barrett and the rest of the cast?

It was a great shoot. Lots of dramatic tension and sparks flying. I mean, what would a film shoot be without a little set romance?

NY Life: What have you been up to recently?

I just shot this really cool film called Fin. It was right up my alley: a little odd, unforgettable, about mental illness, which is still such a taboo somehow. I’ve been known to rock the boat here and there, especially to make people think about and talk about subjects that may be a bit uncomfortable. I like to see them squirm a little, but only enough to experience someone else’s narrative, to see what it’s like on the other side of their comfortable perspectives. The film is about a man who’s life is so affected by this thing he just can’t seem to change—his mental health. It’s a great production team in Toronto and I’m excited to be a part of making something amazing happen. I hope I can be an instrument in opening people’s eyes to what it’s really like to live with a mental illness every day.

NY Life: What’s next on the horizon for you?

Keep making movies. Keep writing. I was actually a writer first! Won my first award a couple years back. In kindergarten. Yup, that’s when I knew I’d always be a writer, when I was five. But really, I have a diploma in journalism, which taught me to hone in on the structure of story, so I’m working on a script write now called Half Empty, about “a girl whose bland, somewhat delusional boyfriend proposes to her and how fate (or something) saves her from it.”

It’s not as scary as it sounds! It’s not quite the same genre as Kingdom Come. It’s more of a darkly humorous tale.

Other than that, as an actor, I’m going to keep partnering with great production teams in hopes of helping to tell intriguing, thoughtful stories.

I think in terms of storytelling; creators have this unique ability to change over time. The types of stories and the characters I want to tackle will change my entire life. And it doesn’t mean what we had said or done before wasn’t authentic. It just means we’ve evolved. So, next, I’m hoping to continue evolving to be the best artist and businesswoman that I can be.

Thanks for your time!

 

 

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