Romeo and Juliet never included zombies but a movie shot in Ponoka is giving the world’s newest tragic lovers ample opportunity to fight for their lives and push personal boundaries.
Aspiring actress, theatre buff, and fan of the hit show The Walking Dead, Meegan Sweet is using her time as Suzi in Masked Maniac VS The Zombies to expand her repertoire and explore the variety of characters she’s able to portray.
“I think it’s just nice to show people variety. In most of the other things I’ve played it’s been mostly innocent girls. Very womanly girls, very feminine and she’s just not that, she’s so crude,” said Sweet.
Last winter Sweet played Sidel in Klaglahachie’s rendition of Fiddler on the Roof. In September she’s attending Red Deer College for a pre-professional year, then moving to the University of Alberta for bachelor of fine arts study. “They only accept 12 people, so six guys and six girls. It’s heavy duty acting for three years.”
Sweet saw an ad for the movie in February and phoned director CJ Hutchinson that night. “I auditioned and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do.”
She read for many parts and when Hutchinson handed her the part of Suzi, Sweet knew playing the rude go-go girl was going to be an entirely new experience.
“Suzie was just the bitch and I guess that suited me,” said Sweet. “I just went in open-minded and I guess he have me Suzi. I think maybe he thought I could be really strong emotionally.”
Although she was playing this type of character for the first time, Sweet thought playing Suzi would be harder than it was. “Reading the lines, I just have this mental picture of, ‘I hate the world’”.
One of the biggest challenges for Sweet was shooting the love scene. “It’s kind of hard, especially because I’m local too.”
That scene was also co-star Josh Earl’s most challenging, yet favorite part of the experience. “It took me completely out of my comfort zone. At first it was nerve-racking but then it was hilarious.”
“It’s hard to go from flirting on screen to ‘Ok now we’re just back to normal’. But it’s good for chemistry with a co-star,” he added.
Earl, a young stand-up comedian from Red Deer, heard about the movie from another interested actor through the Red Deer improve group Bull Skit.
The first-time actor read for the part of the cowboy but ended up with the leading role of Johnny Paradise.
Another obstacle for Earl was overcoming his social anxiety. “I kind of just dove into the character and tried to make every scene count.”
Although it was his first time acting, Earl really got into the experience because of the team aspect needed to create the movie. “It’s a bunch of people working together to create something — the synergy involved.”
Each day on set started at 8 a.m. and ran anywhere to 5 or 8 p.m. Earl was commuting from Red Deer the whole week and despite the fact the he was battling an impending zombie apocalypse, spearheaded by an evil clown, his car didn’t feel the same urgency.
Earl was already nervous about the film when his car broke down on the way to the set.
However, Earl’s character, Johnny Paradise, is a quick shooter and he was able to make it on time to help vanquish the plague of the undead.