In The Vatican Tapes, the upcoming horror film by Mark Neveldine (Crank, Gamer), Father Lozano (Michael Pena) fights to save the soul of a young woman via exorcism, and realizes he may just be fighting to save the world. I caught up with Olivia Taylor Dudley, who plays the possessed woman, Angela, to ask her about her improv career and what happens when the future of the world lies in the balance.
Dudley told me that her 5 Second Films career began six years ago, and that they film all weekend to be able to release one film, every week day. She told me that a single, five-second film could take hours to film, but that the focus is on making it funny.
Funny? Funny doesn’t begin to describe her latest output, or her previous film, The Chernobyl Diaries, but Dudley says she isn’t out to be “just” a comedian.
“I’ve been acting my whole life,” she said. “I’ve been in all different kinds of movies; I like doing all of it. Comedy was obviously something that got me recognized but it’s not necessarily what I want to do for my whole career.”
“Acting is acting; it’s all the same,” Dudley said, before laughing. After a pause, she admitted, “It is nice to have a script.”
We turned from her comedic exploits to the more serious nature of The Vatican Tapes. Seriously, how could a woman funny enough to make 5 Second Films really dig into a role like Angela’s?
“I love Angela,” Dudley said. “I’ve been a big fan of exorcism films since I was a little girl. It’s awesome to be able to play someone who is goodhearted and pure when you meet her, who turns into something else, and finally, who transforms into someone else is an actor’s dream.”
She continued, “I had a month of rehearsal, so there was lots of time with the director, script, and the other actors. I was able to pinpoint how far to go with the character at each spot along the way.”
The film itself sets us up to understand that it’s not just about one young woman’s soul (like that isn’t enough) but that the fate of the world is at stake. I asked Dudley if that wasn’t a sort of superhero vibe, defending the world at a galactic level.
“No one has called it a superhero movie before!” Dudley said. “I think it’s a battle that has been going on for a very long time, and one that will keep going for a long time, without end.”
She continued, “The pope recently said the antichrist is real and is here. I think good and evil does exist. And there are real people out there performing exorcisms like the priests in the film, people who are acting as superheroes every day.”
But what does evil look like, I asked? How can the faith we see in The Vatican Tapes really speak to the way that the world works today?
“In Angela’s case, she was a good person; she’s definitely not an evil person,” Dudley said. “It’s no longer Angela in the end. People have been obsessed with exorcism movies for a long time, because in the back of your mind, it’s a possibility it could happen. Maybe people will think twice about what is going on with the people around them.”
I asked Dudley what her dream job would be, and she admitted that the desires can change from day to day. “One day I have one answer for my dream job, the next day it changes,” she said. “If the character is good, and the script is interesting, I’m happy with it.
But as we closed, she admitted, “I like playing badass women. I think Angela is one, physical (and I got to learn a new language.) I like to kick ass.”
Superheroes saving the world from evil, indeed.