Exclusive Interview with 10 Days in a Madhouse Actress Caroline Barry

Photo Credit: John Regalado
Photo Credit: John Regalado

Growing up, actress Caroline Barry was immersed in theater. After getting a degree in acting, Caroline moved from Colorado to Los Angeles and was quickly picked up for the starring role as Nellie Bly in the upcoming feature film “10 Days in a Madhouse.” We asked Caroline what it was like working on the film.

How did you hear about the role for “10 Days in a Madhouse”?

“I had just moved to LA in August, and it was around late August when I was looking online and came across the role of Nellie Bly for ’10 Days In A Madhouse’. I researched Nellie Bly– I had never heard of her before– and I fell in love with her. She was this amazing trailblazer journalist who invented the field of investigative reporting. I thought she was so cool. I sent in an audition tape, and then a few weeks later I got a call that I landed the part! It was really surreal. I later found out that there were over 8,000 other actors who auditioned for the role of Nellie.”

How did you prepare for the role?

“To prepare for the role of Nellie Bly, I did a lot of research about the time period. Just because 1887 is so different from 2015, I wanted to make sure I knew as much as I could about that time. I also did a ton of research on Nellie. Brooke Kroger was our historical consultant and she is the Nellie Bly expert. She wrote Nellie’s biography that I really focused on during my research. The book goes into such incredible detail about her life and my copy just got ripped apart because I read it so many times. I also think I have a lot in common with Nellie. For example, she was known for smiling all the time, and I smile all the time too. So when we were filming, I tried to keep that part of me alive.”

What was it like acting in the movie? Was it emotionally draining to play that type of role?

“Definitely. 10 Days in a Madhouse has a lot of really heavy material, a lot of violence and a lot of abuse, specifically towards women, so it was really challenging to perform in those scenes. Just being with the whole cast and crew on set, you could really feel everyone being affected by the story. A big part of that was just knowing that these events really happened. Part of what made it so challenging and emotionally impactful was that we actually filmed in an abandoned insane asylum in Oregon. It was freezing, I think on average it was 10 degrees fahrenheit, and there was no electricity. It was like hard-core filmmaking. In between every take we had to have coats and everyone was shivering, then when the director yelled action, we all threw our coats off and got into character. That definitely added to the emotion.”

What was it like working with Christopher Lambert?

“Christopher Lambert was so cool to work with. I’ve watched him in all of the Highlander movies so I was really excited to get to work alongside him. He is the kindest, most gentle, humble, passionate person you’ll ever meet. On set, he was so willing to talk about the characters and the story and just work things out with you. He’s really, really passionate about what he does, and it was an honor to work with him.”

Aside from the obvious difference in time, how is acting in a feature-length film different than acting in a short film?

“Acting in a feature film is more like putting together a full play: from beginning to end, you have so many little story arcs that you have to look at. I try to approach a feature film like a play: act by act and moment by moment. For a short film, you kind of get to see a snippet of someone’s life, just kind of like a snapshot, whereas with a full length film you get to go along for the whole ride. For 10 Days In A Madhouse, getting to be Nellie Bly and taking her through the whole madhouse for ten days was really immersive and really exciting.”

Do you feel theater influences your film roles?

“Definitely. I think there’s always the stereotype that theater people are “too big”, but I actually find that I love actors that come from a strong theater background. Those are some of my favorite actors, and I think that what theater does is it really puts you in the moment and lets you play with every single second. I think that’s also what film’s all about.”

How does theater compare to film acting?

“It’s funny because I go back and forth. With film, I love being able to act in a scene and just do it in the moment. It’s fresh and you’re only going to do the scene like that one time. So it’s kind of magical because it exists in that moment. With theater, you rehearse and spend all this time honing in on exactly what each moment is. You gain a sense of perfection and aliveness, obviously, with live theater.”

If you had to give one piece of advice to other aspiring actors, what would it be?

“That’s a great question. I think for actors who are just starting out, it’s really important to find what area of acting you love the most. I think a lot of actors love being able to express themselves emotionally, and I think a lot of actors love getting to show off, and both are great. Just finding what you love most about acting and never forgetting, and holding on to that.” 



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