In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, actress Tinsel Korey reprises her role as Emily Young, the fiancee of Wolf Pack alpha Sam Uley (Chaske Spencer). As part of another love triangle in the film – this one between Emily, Sam and his ex, Leah Clearwater (Julia Jones) – the storyline brings a heightened tension to an already more intense film.
During an exclusive chat over coffee at a Hollywood Starbucks, Tinsel Korey talked about playing a visibly scarred character, seeing herself in the make-up the first time, what it was like to work with Kristen Stewart and all the guys in the Wolf Pack, and realizing just how big the Twilight saga had become when she heard Oprah talk about the films. She also talked about playing a schizophrenic serial killer in the upcoming indie Stained, and how she hopes to do more comedic roles in the future. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you originally get involved with the Twilight films? Did you just go on an audition?
Tinsel: Yeah. My little sister told me about the Twilight books and what a big fan she was. She said, “It’s like Harry Potter in love,” which it’s not. So, when the audition came up, I wanted to get the film for her. It was great because I got to take her to the premiere. She got all dolled up and was treated like a princess for the day. But, yeah, it was just the regular audition process. There were a couple people telling me about it and that they were looking for the actors, but my manager is pretty good at sorting that out. And, (casting director) Rene Haynes cast me in Into the West, and she’s always kept in touch and been a real big supporter of my career.
What was the audition process like? Did you always know that you were always being considered for Emily?
Tinsel: There was one female role, which was Emily. When I did the audition, I flubbed up. It was my first audition back from Christmas break, and I flubbed up and was devastated. In the audition room, they were like, “Oh, you did great!,” but you never really know. So, I left the audition in tears. I was like, “I screwed up. I’m never going to get this part.” I was totally devastated. I was like, “I don’t want to act anymore!” And then, the next day my agent called and told me that I was short-listed. But, the room was so small. I was sitting on top of people and it was just really uncomfortable. There was no place to move. And, I don’t like auditioning, anyways. With auditions, you can get so nervous, or other things get into your head and throw you off, and it doesn’t really reflect what you can do, as an actor. The whole thing was just really nerve-wracking, but I ended up getting it.
Did they give you scenes to read?
Tinsel: Yeah. I just read that one scene for Emily in New Moon, and it was pretty simple and straightforward. They liked that I did it really natural. They were like, “That was great!,” even with what little I had. Sometimes just having those little scenes are a lot tougher than if you have five pages because you have to go from 0 to 100 in a snap. Whereas, if you have a longer scene, then you have momentum to build it up. I thought I sucked, but Chris Weitz is an actor, so he understands that process and that you can get nervous in it, and he can look beyond that. Or, it was just me and I was over-thinking the entire thing.
Once you were cast, were there specific things you wanted to make sure you did with this character?
Tinsel: I just wanted to honor who Emily was. She’s just a strong woman. Through my journey of playing her, I found a lot of strength, and I think that I’ve changed, as a female, in the way that I carry myself. To go through something traumatic, like getting your face scarred, it made me analyze vanity a lot. When you have a little pimple and you’re like, “Oh, my god, there’s an alien on my face!,” you feel like it’s magnified.
Even though she’s dealing with a scar, Emily just carries on with life. It’s not a big deal. While we were shooting the scene, I tried it different ways. I tried it where I was hiding my face, and Chris [Weitz] was like, “Let’s try it where she doesn’t care,” and that’s who she is. She doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. She stands proud in who she is. And, I met this girl who had a huge scar on her leg from a car accident. She was talking about how, after it first happened, she would always wear long pants and cover it up. But, as she started to grow into it, she decided that that’s just her now. It’s just a part of who she is. She wears skirts and she shows it off now.
I just thought there was something so beautiful about that. No matter what happens to you in life, you just roll with it. And then, when we went back to shoot Eclipse, I went to Quileute and taught some acting to the kids, and just got to spend some time in the community, which was great because it gave me an idea of where Emily came from. And, I also went to the Makah Nation ‘cause that’s where Emily is originally from and spent time with them too. Seeing the whole spectrum of who she is as a being was cool. And, I miss it. It’s beautiful. I miss the kids a lot. I miss everything about that whole entire adventure.
Did you read the books to help with your character’s backstory?
Tinsel: Most of Emily’s backstory is written out between New Moon and Eclipse. I’m reading them as we’re shooting the films. I haven’t read Breaking Dawn yet. It’s just too crazy. There’s too much going on that you need a map. I just try to focus on one movie at a time. When we were doing New Moon press, people were already asking about Eclipse. I didn’t read it until I was ready to go, so that it was fresh and I wasn’t jumbled with all this other stuff. But, I knew everything about her backstory. I skimmed through all the books and read through everything that happened between Sam (Chaske Spencer), Emily and Leah (Julia Jones), so by the time we started filming, I knew everything that had to do with my storyline.
What was the make-up process like for you?
Tinsel: After the make-up process, I was like, “I never want to do a sci-fi movie where I’m in make-up for seven months.” It’s interesting. It was my first time ever getting prosthetics. They put this goopy stuff all over your head and they tell you it’s like a facial, but it’s actually very claustrophobic. All they have are these places where your nostrils are and I kept thinking that they were closing up, but they were like, “No, we’re looking at it.” So, they made a mold of my face.
The first make-up crew had three test runs, so by the time we were shooting, they got it down to three hours. They switched make-up crews for Eclipse and they never had any test runs, and they had to figure out what the other team had done, so the first day, I was in the chair for eight hours. But, they adjusted the scar from New Moon to Eclipse. The first time, there was more pullage on my face, so I had a hard time eating. It didn’t hurt, but it was uncomfortable.
Tinsel: It’s weird. It’s other people’s reactions that made me feel uncomfortable. People would be like, “Woah, that’s crazy!,” or they’d look at me really funny, but it also helped because that’s how people look at Emily. I was like, “Come on, be sensitive! I have a scar on my face. It’s not nice to just stare at somebody.” That was really interesting.
What’s it like for you to watch yourself in the film, with the scar?
Tinsel: I’ve developed a way to separate myself from me being me, to me being the character. I can separate watching me, Tinsel Korey, from watching Emily.
How was it to work all the guys in the Wolf Pack? Were they a handful?
Tinsel: They’re a handful, but Emily deals with that all the time and, as an actor, I deal with that all the time, so you just ignore it. When Julia [Jones] first came on set, she was like, “How do you deal with it?,” and I told her, “You just tune it out after awhile.” They were competing with each other, doing push-ups and just being ridiculous, so you just have to zone out.
What was Kristen Stewart like to work with?
Tinsel: Kristen is really focused and really quiet, as an actress. She just does her thing, but she’s cool. I like her. I know a lot of people have mixed comments about her, but I think she’s a rad person. She’s just focused on what she’s doing, as an actress, and she wants to pick the right roles, and she’s committed to her craft. She’s really cool. We got along. There weren’t any tensions or anything.
Can you talk about working with Chaske Spencer and developing the relationship between your characters?
Tinsel: We went for coffee and talked. Our relationship was much stronger in Eclipse than it was in New Moon. We were still getting to know each other. People cast certain actors in films because they know that they’ll have chemistry, so it was instinctually there, but it got stronger by the time we went back for Eclipse because we had seen each other off the set and communicated more. Now, we’re homies. He’s one of my favorite people. He’s just a really genuine and sweet person.
How were Chris Weitz and David Slade, as directors? Did you notice any differences between their styles?
Tinsel: Yes, there was a massive difference between their styles. David is a very technical director and Chris is an actor’s director, in the sense of emotion. With David, he’s done horror films, so Eclipse is much darker, whereas I found New Moon really light and poetic. I didn’t have as much interaction with David because the casting process was already done. Chris was involved in that casting process. It was a different feel because New Moon was the first time that the Wolf Pack got together. With Eclipse, we were already established, so I didn’t have that same bond or connection with David. It was very technical. He had a vision and an idea of what he wanted to do.
Do you get recognized much when you go out, or do people have a harder time knowing that it’s you, out of the make-up?
Tinsel: Everyone was like, “You’re life is going to change so much,” but I don’t think anybody recognizes me. Sometimes my friends will say, “Oh, that person recognized you,” but I don’t notice it. I don’t even look at people when I walk because it weirds me out, if they’re looking at me. But, I don’t have paparazzi following me. Because I’m a human character, it’s different. The vampires get a lot of attention, and then the werewolves, and then the humans. It hasn’t really changed that much for me. Because I have the scar, people are like, “Who did you play in the film?,” and I tell them, “The girl with the scar,” and then they’re like, “Oh, yeah!” I think most people expect me to have the scar.
What was it like to work with all of the fans and paparazzi hanging around the set?
Tinsel: I think the paparazzi are absolutely ridiculous. When we were filming, there was a lot of them. It’s different being in L.A., where there are so many celebrities. But, when it was in Vancouver, it was all about the film, so there was paparazzi following us. It’s just part of the business. Eventually, if your career goes higher and higher, that’s just how it is, but it’s a little frightening. When I was younger and I thought about being an actor, I thought of the old Hollywood style of glamour, and that was so beautiful and appealing to me. Now, if you want to be an actor, it’s not the same. Everybody is in your business, gossiping and being mean spirited. It’s different. Sometimes I’m like, “Do I want to do this?,” because it’s not about the art anymore. It’s a struggle. There’s part of me that wants to share my gift, which is art, and if I don’t, am I taking away something that the Creator gave me to share? At the same time, I don’t want to be a part of feeding the dumbing down of society.
At what point did you realize just how big these films had become?
Tinsel: It was a realization for me when Oprah was talking about New Moon. I was like, “Oh, my god, she’s watched a movie that I’ve been in!” People were like, “It just kicked in for you?,” but it’s just work for me. The idea that somebody that I’ve admired for so long had seen something that I’d done was when I understood the magnitude of it.
Since you started in this business when you were so young, have you just always wanted to be a performer?
Tinsel: I’ve just always been that kid that was like, “Look at me! Look at me!,” and doing performances and skits. I’m also, as most artists are, a very sensitive person, so I need that outlet to release that. Art needs to be in my life, otherwise I can’t function as a human being. I heard Madonna say, “Live it, breathe it, eat it.” That’s how I am with the artistic part of myself.
Is there one artistic outlet that means the most to you?
Tinsel: They all happened at once. I’ve done choir since I was tiny, and I’ve always tried to get into plays. They all just meshed together. Now with my career, especially with music, people are like, “Which one do you pick?” I don’t pick either. They’re just different expressions of who I am. With acting, I’m taking somebody else’s work and interpreting it. Whereas with music, it’s organic. It’s completely myself. Nobody else is really involved with the beginning stages of it. Art is something that I haven’t really put out to the public. There’s a couple pictures on MySpace, but I haven’t done a gallery opening or anything like that. Art is very personal to me. I haven’t really shared it with too many people.
Tinsel: Oh, yeah. It’s a juggling act. Every time I get going on the album stuff or being musical, acting kicks in and I book a job. It comes down to a money thing. A lot of people think that, as actors, we have an endless supply of money, and you don’t. It comes in waves, and then you’re riding a certain amount of money for awhile. When you’re at that point where you’re like, “Do I feed myself or do I do music?,” it’s a juggling act.
What sort of music are you doing? Is there a particular style, or do you feel like it’s a combination of things?
Tinsel: It’s bluesy, rocky jazz. I call it soul music, but it’s not James Brown soul music. It comes from my soul. It comes from a deeper place. Duffy has that similar old school soul sound to herself. If I opened for Duffy, that would make sense to me, in my head. But, I always say that you should just listen to it and see what you think it sounds like it is. I don’t think it should be labeled. Most musicians feel like that. No one wants to put their music in a category. But, I don’t think it’s all over the place. I don’t go from metal to jazz, or anything crazy.
What is Stained and who do you play in that?
Tinsel: Stained is about a lonely bookshop keeper, and her past comes back to haunt her. I play a femme fatale, schizophrenic serial killer. They offered me the part and I was like, “I’m just curious why you thought I would be perfect for this role,” and the director (Karen Lam) said, “You have this look that, when you’re smiling, you’re really sweet, but when you’re not smiling, you look like you could kill somebody.”
It was a very, very intense film for me. I almost lost my mind because there are scenes where I have to kill people, and that energy is absolutely overwhelming. At the same time, as an actor, you never play a character with judgment. It’s not my place to judge the fact that she kills people. It’s for me to look at her psychology to see what makes her do that.
There’s so much going on, with child abuse, not having the right relationships and being in abusive relationships, that play into her, and that energy was constantly in my body for a month. I was the lead character and it was very, very intense. I didn’t want to be around anybody because it was just too much for my brain. But, as an actress, you hope you get those meaty roles that push you into the extremities of that psychology. I like doing independent films because there’s more room for you to be creative, and the director allowed me to just go wherever I needed to go. It was emotional. I had to cry a lot.
Tinsel: Yeah, absolutely. I was in the car driving back, after having done a scene where I kill somebody, and I just said to the driver, “I can’t talk right now. I’m too emotional.” The whole car ride back, I was just crying. When you’re actually feeling a character and you’re going through the real emotions, and you’re not fake acting, that energy stays with you and sometimes you can’t get it off for days. It just resonates in your body, unless you have some sort of release, whatever it is. Most of the time, it just sat there in my body, until the weekend. After five or six takes of crying, your body does not want to cry anybody. Your body is like, “I’m over this, can we start laughing, or something?,” but you have to keep the emotion. It’s a really weird process and it definitely just stays with you.
Have you given any thought about what you’d like to do next?
Tinsel: I’ve always said that I want to play a neo-femme action star, and I kind of got to do that in this movie-of-the-week called “Wyvern,” where I got to shoot a gun and be a little bad-ass, but I’d like to do that even further. I’m dorky myself. I’ll play “Zelda” for 10 hours. There are certain aspects of me that can be bad-ass sometimes, but being able to push it to the extreme is something I’d love to play. You don’t get those roles, as a female, and especially as an indigenous female. There aren’t those roles out there, so I want that. I want women to see a strong, sexy female without showing her body too much.
I also love doing comedy. I just moved to L.A. last July. Before that, Vancouver is all about sci-fi, so I didn’t get any comedy, whatsoever. But in L.A., people are like, “You don’t look quirky enough,” and I’m like, “I’m quirky. I’m the definition of quirky. How do you want me to look quirky.” They have these little boxes that they put everyone in, so now I have to try to break the mold and get them to see me as being quirky.
Does comedy come easy for you?
Tinsel: Yeah. I’m a goofball, so I think comedy is one of my stronger points, as an actor. I just never get to do it. But, I’m taking classes at Groundlings, where Will Ferrell and Lisa Kudrow studied, and it’s all improv comedy. It feels good to be able to do that and be funny. Also, my humor is really dry-witted, Canadian humor, so some people get it and some people don’t. I’d be great on “The Office.” I would like to be on that show. And, I could see me doing romantic comedy films, and stuff like that.