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Actress Natalie Brown: Overcoming Fear Through Horror

A Channel Zero Interview

Photo Credit: Allen Fraser/Syfy
Photo Credit: Allen Fraser/Syfy

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Channel Zero: Candle Cove.

Canadian-born Natalie Brown, currently starring in SyFy’s Channel Zero: Candle Cove, has made a name for herself in the horror genre. In addition to the SyFy hit, Natalie can be seen in The Strain, Bitten, Being Human, and the film Dawn of the Dead (2004). The funny thing is, Natalie confesses, “Horror gives me nightmares.”

“I was plagued by nightmares as a child. I had a recurring nightmare for years, and so I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre only because I don’t think that feeling scared is an enjoyable feeling. (laughs). So I’ve often shunned horror and shied away from scary movies, scary shows. So it’s really interesting that I’ m now part of so many of them. And this one, even though I read the script, I know what happens, after watching the second episode I had a recurring nightmare all that week thanks in no small part to the tooth child.”

The actress goes on to say, “And it’s interesting because, you know, they’ll say that dreaming about death doesn’t necessarily indicate death. It’s when you dream of teeth that you’re in trouble. So the tooth child seems to be a manifestation of every dream of death I’ve ever had. And it’s an appropriate week for Jessica to die. At least it’s a week where everyone is feeling festive with their fears and what better way to die than All Soul’s Day.”

Natalie nursed herself with a goblet of wine after filming last night’s episode of Channel Zero: Candle Cove, in which her character Jessica is stabbed to death by four children under the twisted possession of the TV show, Candle Cove (fun fact: the children were stabbing watermelons in reality). The death was as shocking to Natalie as it was to viewers.

“When I auditioned for the project, I had only been given the first script, and I thought it to be very intriguing. I knew it was only a 6-episode mini series/anthology so I was looking forward to 6 episodes. It’s fine to be a part of four of them, but Jessica’s demise came as a huge shock. But wasn’t nearly as bad to film.”

She continues, “ I was traumatized reading it. When I first saw it in the script, I had gotten an email before I had read Episode 4 saying we need to talk about your death scene in the kiddie pool. And I thought, do I drown in a small amount of water after having too much wine? (laughs). I had no idea. Nothing prepared me for how I was going to come to perish in a kiddie pool. The most horrifying thing I had read. I actually spoke to the first assistant director to see what we could do to have me not be present because I wasn’t sure if I would be — survive the day. And yet, as always in the filmmaking process, you’re working with really talented, wonderful children who for them this was a day of make believe. They relished in the stabbing. They thought it was great fun….”

The series focuses on Mike Painter, who lost his twin brother Eddie during a tragic summer in the 80’s, when several of the town’s children were found dead. All had been viewers of a show called Candle Cove, which only children were able to see. After a psychotic break, Mike returns to his hometown of Iron Hill – and Candle Cove starts to broadcast once again, and this time the adults fall prey as well.

Why was Jessica targeted? In flashback sequences, we see that Mike and Jessica had started to have feelings for each other as children. Mike’s brother Eddie was resentful of their growing friendship. Jessica also confesses to Mike’s mom present day that she and Mike had been texting and emailing for years before Mike stopped responding. Natalie believes, “Eddie had a lot of unfinished business, and we do find out that there was jealousy on Eddie’s part over the relationship that Mike and Jessica shared,” she says. “I think that if he had his way, he would’ve carried this out back when they were 12. I know that this isn’t something that Jessica picked up on at the time, but I think it’s something that Mike innately knew when he was a boy and I believe that it’s one of the reasons that he did what he had to do to Eddie to protect Jessica and the others. If only he could protect them this time around.”

Her relationship with Mike (Paul Schneider) runs dangerously deep. Jessica is one of the few people who trust and rely on Mike from the moment he returns to town. “She trusts him and knows him better than anyone else and I’m sure she would like not to believe the horrors that are happening but she needs to put faith in the one person that stands the best chance of putting an end to the horrors that she’s experienced as a mother and also the horrors that happened to them in childhood. I think she knows and trusts that Mike is the key to understanding and hopefully solving the situation. She knows that there was more at play. There’s something more sinister at play and she also trusts him professionally. She knows that he has insights into child psychology and understands children, and the shared history they have, the trauma they’ve experienced together. She has no choice but to trust Mike. He can protect her in ways that her sheriff husband can’t.“

If Jessica hadn’t died, would their relationship had gone any further? “For sure, and we get to see that a little bit in [this] episode. It was something that the both of them wondered what if or what could have been. But they’ve both gone on to live their lives in different ways and it’s a classic tale of unrequited love. And who knows if things hadn’t gone the way they went in last evening’s episode, who knows what could have happened. I think there’s just an unbreakable bond between them that is better left undefined.”

Although Natalie’s character has died, she says Jessica’s death will have a “profound impact” on Mike and her husband, Gary. It will not be “without consequences.”

“The death of my character will definitely have a ripple effect for the duration of the season.”

Interestingly, Natalie has played actor Shaun Benson’s wife five times, and their dynamic is one of the reasons Natalie was so comfortable playing Jessica. In addition, she says, “I had a friend give me a book on the psychology of fable, so I was better able to understand the importance of a fable and how kids are unable to process certain unconscious feelings. A lot of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales that we grew up with are a way of exercising unconscious feelings. So clearly I’ve got some dark emotions I have yet to deal with.”

Natalie is strong and determined in facing her fears. She says, “That which you resist persists, and I resisted horror for so long, and it’s definitely been persistent in the latter part of my career. I learned so much from not shying away from that which fears us. There’s something about it that resonates with audiences. People like to be scared. It also opens up so many more creative doors as an actor. The roles are that much more challenging as are the storylines. So I feel very fortunate at the age and stage I am at in my career that I’ve been able to play such unique characters that pose such incredible challenges that the horror genre has provided me. So I should be grateful, not fearful for these opportunities.”

Natalie is definitely embracing her future in the horror genre head on. Next up for her is a project called “XX,” an all-female horror anthology created, written and directed by women and with an all female leads. The series is currently in post-production and will air sometime in 2017. We at TNWU will be looking forward to seeing the series and will keep readers updated as more information becomes available.

Meanwhile, there are still two episodes left of Channel Zero: Candle Cove, airing Tuesdays at 9 pm ET on SyFy. Tune in to see how Jessica’s death impacts Mike and everyone else in Iron Hill.

 

 

*CONFERENCE CALL*

Written by Arlene Allen

Hello, my name is Arlene Allen, and I love all things nerd: genre tv and movies, books, loud rock and roll music, kittens, conventions, books, graphic novels and superheroes, RPG and tabletop games, and did I say books? Oh, yes. I spent 25 years as a librarian (nerd) mainly working with youth (creating nerds), a number of years as a teacher (more nerd indoctrination). I have my own spawn, leveled up to 22 and my partner in nerdiness. As a nerdy writer, I have found a home at Talk Nerdy With Us.

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