I came of age in the suburbs during the late 80’s early 90’s. Where I lived could have easily been called Pop country. No one I went to school with listened to anything other the “mainstream”
I’m setting here working on the website, beating my head against a wall over a plugin when this song pops up on my Spotify list. I’ve listened to this song probably a thousand times both
MB: How did you get involved with this project?
NMA: That’s sort of a long story, but I’ll try and be brief. I met the director Oklahoma Ward several years ago when I auditioned for his first film. We lived in Los Angeles together as roommates for a while and then we began dating. He and I lived and worked in LA for about 3 years and decided that we needed to do something drastic if we wanted to make the movie he envisioned. So we packed up – moved to Tulsa, OK – built our studio and filmed CRAWL OR DIE. I guess you could say that I was involved with the film from the very beginning. We quite literally built this thing from the ground up.
MB: The movie has a lot of claustrophobic scenes in it. Are you claustrophobic? How did you mentally prepare yourself for some of those moments?
NMA: Luckily, I am not naturally claustrophobic. I am a rather short/small person and I used to love trying to squeeze in tiny spaces when playing hide-and-seek as a kid. (Once I hid in a dryer, haha). When Oklahoma shared the idea for the movie with me, I wasn’t worried at all – however… I did not take into account the amount of time I’d be spending in these tunnels or just how TIGHT they would get! I definitely got claustrophobic more than once during filming. I would have to stop – breath, remind myself that I wasn’t trapped and that I wasn’t going to die. The smaller metal tunnel (which was approximately 14 inches) and the dirt tunnels were probably the hardest for me. The dirt tunnel was hard because I was breathing it in, dirt and grass (and who knows what else) were falling on me every time I moved. Dirt kept getting in my ears, nose and mouth. The metal tunnel was hard because I literally could not move my arms and several times I got wedged in a position and had to really squirm to release myself. It was tough, but TOTALLY worth it.
MB: The role of Tank qualifies as a strong female character in the vein of Resident Evil’s Alice or Aliens Ripley. How do you feel about becoming the next female role model?
NMA: First I just have to say that I do a little girl squeal inside every time someone puts me in the same category as women like Ripley(Sigourney Weaver) and Alice(Milla Jovovich). It’s so humbling to have people compare me to such strong women in film. Ripley(Sigourney Weaver) is a hero and favorite of mine – I actually studied her performance when preparing to play TANK, so that’s probably the best compliment you could give me. The thought of being the next female role model is very humbling to me. I’ve looked up to women like Ripley(Sigourney Weaver) and Sarah Conner(Linda Hamilton) all my life, so the thought of TANK being able to be that for a young women – well – it’s downright awesome! I didn’t choose to play TANK for that reason, but that is an amazing feeling. TANK is someone that I aspire to be more like in my everyday life. She’s strong willed, independent, driven, smart and she doesn’t quit. When I read the script I knew I had to play this character. I knew I had to do her justice and bring her to life in a way that she deserved. It makes me SO happy to know that other women and people in general are connecting with her and like her, because I wouldn’t have felt like I did my job otherwise. This is a once in a lifetime role and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to take it on.
MB: What kind of preparations do you go through as an actress when taking on a role like Tank?
NMA: There was a lot of preparation I did to play TANK. As I stated above – it was SO important to me to do this character justice and to bring her to life. Physically I did a lot of training. For months I spent hours and hours in the in the gym seven days a week. I knew the conditions would be grueling. I wanted to be ready.
Mentally there were several things. Before I had the script, Oklahoma gave me a list of films which he wanted me to watch and study the performances of the actors. Alien, Domino, G.I. Jane and Terminator II most notably. I watched these films countless times and took notes. Oklahoma made it very clear that he did not want me to play this role as a man would play this role (or think a female should play this role). TANK is not a man – she’s not Rambo. She is a woman with all the emotions and reactions of a women, but – she’s tough. She can be just as strong (mentally) as any man. She’s a fighter and refuses to give up. In this case – I really drew from Ripley. I wanted to show TANK’s human side. Yes – she’s tough, but she was scared sh*tless, too! She’s not perfect. She stumbles – and she may fall, but I think what counts is that she keeps getting back up. I also looked into several blogs online by female marines to get a sense of how it was for them in a male dominated world. Once I had all these tools, I finally got the script, and TANK really became clear to me at that point. I knew her. I knew who she was and how she would handle everything. It was really fun exploring that and being her.
MB: Tank goes through a lot of emotions during the movie. There are a couple of scenes where she is emotional raw and close to losing it. Did you find it difficult to carry that range of emotions and how do you come down after these emotionally raw scenes?
NMA: This is such a great question! Thank you!
As I said above – it was really important to both Oklahoma and I that TANK come across as human. I didn’t want her to have zero emotions and just power through everything like a machine. That being said – I knew TANK wasn’t someone who would just break down and start sobbing. The situation she’s in is horrible and traumatic and maybe not winnable, that makes her angry and frustrated. The scenes were exhausting and difficult, but Oklahoma Ward is such skilled director when it comes to dealing with his actors, that I felt completely safe to explore these options – how close to crying she might be etc. He would never let me fail, and he trusted me as an actor. I only found carrying all those emotions difficult because I was deep in character, and for TANK – showing emotions is extremely difficult.
MB: What is your favorite horror movie?
NMA: CRAWL OR DIE! haha Ok, ok, that’s probably cheating. I’d definitely have to say Alien (the original).
MB: I hear there is going to be another Crawl or Die movie. Is there anything you can tell us about that film?
NMA: There is! There are actually going to be 2 more films in this series. Unfortunately there is very little I can share with you at this time because – believe it or not, I don’t know much about them! Oklahoma is very good about keeping things under wraps until he hands me a script, so I actually have no idea! I do know the next one will involve water, spiders, vertical tunnels, more characters and a lot more story background – among other things. It’s also possibly going to be filmed in 4K which is exciting. He did say to me: “If you thought this movie was tough to be in physically – and claustrophobic – you ain’t seen nothing yet!” So you – and I – can only imagine!
Thanks so much for interviewing me and for your thoughtful questions. I had a lot of fun answering these! For anyone reading this who might want to learn more about the movie and/or watch the movie – they can visit our website:
Nicole Alonso (TANK)