Emma Wright (Hayley Law) faces a formidable adversary in Stickman. Photo copyright of SYFY.
Jason, Freddy, Leatherface – over the years, feature films and TV have introduced audiences to these and plenty of other evildoers who love nothing more than spilling other peoples’ blood just to satisfy their own twisted desires. In the upcoming SYFY made-for-TV movie Stickman, another one of these fiends is set loose to terrorize as well as entertain the unsuspecting viewer. Among those he has in his sights is Emma Wright, whom the Stickman has enjoyed toying with for a very long time. Unfortunately for him, his day of reckoning might be closer than he ever imagined. Our heroine is played by Hayley Law, who can be seen in the upcoming 2018 Netflix series Altered Carbon, and currently plays Valerie Brown in The CW’s Riverdale. This was the actress’ first foray into the horror genre, and she admits to frightening herself even before the cameras began to role.
“My agent sent me the script for Stickman, and I had never really read anything like it before,” says Law. “I’m actually quite terrified of horror movies, and when I sat down to read the script, it was nighttime and the more pages I turned, the more scared I got. It’s not the type of thing you read alone and in the dark,” she jokes. “Initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to prepare for the Emma role, but the [filming] environment we worked in kind of made things a little easier for me. I definitely felt like I ‘became’ the character while we were shooting the film. We worked a lot of nights, so I was pretty tired and, honestly, looked kind of unattractive in front of the camera. So filming in the middle of the night gave me kind of that extra little push to get where I needed to be as Emma.”
Believe it or not, the malevolent title character in Stickman was indirectly “brought to life” by a seven-year-old, Taidgh Daly. One day he was sitting in his mom Christine O’Shea-Daly’s office drawing a picture of, yes, you guessed it, a Stickman figure. She just happens to be a producer on Stickman, and the rest as they say is history. In the movie, Law’s character of Emma Wright was the same age when she was accused of killing her sister. Sadly, no one believed her when she tried to tell them who the real murderer was. Despite Emma’s pleas to the contrary, she was removed from society in order to be looked after and rehabilitated. Years later, Emma attempts to finally put the past behind her, but the Stickman is not ready to let her go.
“I think Emma is misunderstood and, of course, was traumatized,” notes Law. “There’s a scene in the first 10 minutes of the film where she’s talking with one of the doctors about what’s been going on with her. Emma is trying so hard to get him to understand why she’s the way she is, but he doesn’t really believe her. That was probably the hardest scene for me to do, and it took a great deal out of me emotionally. By the time we shot the last take, I was crying the entire time and couldn’t really get the lines out. I mean, yes, I knew the lines weren’t going to change and neither was the tone of the scene no matter how many takes we did, but it’s an incredibly sad scene, and I just felt so frustrated for Emma that this doctor wasn’t getting it.
“Initially, you’ll see that Emma is very scared and feels defeated. Again, no one really listens to her and she’s frustrated about that. She also accepts the fact that she’s going to go through life being considered by most people to be a liar. About a quarter of the way through the story, Emma thinks she’s going to have a normal life, but this is, after all, a horror movie, so that’s not going to happen. However, she learns to deal with what you’ll see she has to deal with, and she does so with more power and confidence than she maybe though she had. Emma isn’t happy about it, but she takes control of the situation and deals with it, while at the same time not being afraid of people thinking she’s crazy.
“Acting-wise, it wasn’t hard for me to get into this role, but more so to get out of it. I felt like in order to play this character truthfully, I needed to put myself in her shoes and understand what it would be like to experience what Emma is going through. Yes, I realize it’s a movie, but in real life, a lot of people go through very traumatic events, and in Emma’s case, she’s not lying about what she saw, namely the Stickman. So I had to go to a place where I felt frightened as well as vulnerable, and getting out of that headspace at the end of the workday was not easy.”
The actress has high praise for her fellow Stickman castmates and the film’s director Sheldon Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay. “I worked mainly with five other actresses, all of whom were incredibly supportive,” she says. “We still keep in touch and have group chats every so often. The six of us understood what we needed to do to help each other get into character. At one point, we all go through something traumatic onscreen, and each of us gave one another the energy to deliver our best possible work.
“As for being directed by Sheldon Wilson, it was great because this is his specialty. He knows horror movies like the back of his hand, so he understands better than anyone else what it takes to make a great scene, and that made the work all the more enjoyable.”
Stickman premieres Saturday, October 21st @ 9:00 p.m. EST on SYFY (US). As noted above, photo copyright of SYFY, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!