IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Aubrey Peeples Talks 'Rage,' 'Jem and the Holograms,' and the 'Sharknado' Phenomenon

Sunday, 13 July 2014 15:54 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Aubrey Peeples Talks 'Rage,' 'Jem and the Holograms,' and the 'Sharknado' Phenomenon

Actress Aubrey Peeples is probably best known for playing Layla Grant on the popular ABC series Nashville, as well as appearing in the pop culture phenomenon Sharknado. However, that could soon change with her upcoming role as the iconic title character in Jem and the Holograms, a live-action adaptation of the cult classic ‘80s animated series. But first, Peeples can be seen acting opposite Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage (Joe, The Frozen Ground) in the new crime thriller Rage, which opens in theaters on July 11th. 

In Rage, Peeples plays Caitlin Maguire, the daughter of reformed criminal Paul Maguire (Cage). When she is kidnapped, Paul rounds up his old crew to seek his own brand of justice. The film was directed by Paco Cabezas (Neon Flesh), and also stars Rachel Nichols (Alex Cross), Peter Stormare (Fargo), and Danny Glover (Supremacy). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Aubrey Peeples about her work on Rage, as well as Jem and the Holograms, and the Sharknado phenomenon. The talented young actress discussed her new film, “Getting in the Cage” with Nicolas Cage, his process as an actor, making a small role memorable, director Paco Cabezas, Jem and the Holograms, researching the original source material, what elements of the cartoon the film will adapt, singing in the movie, when she wrapped filming, working with director Jon M. Chu, and the legacy of Sharknado

Here is what Aubrey Peeples had to say about Rage, Jem and the Holograms, and the Sharknado phenomenon:

IAR: To begin with, working on this movie you had the rare opportunity to “Get in the Cage” with Nicolas Cage. Most of your scenes in Rage are with him, so what was he like to work with as an actor?

Aubrey Peeples: He’s awesome! He’s a really cool dude. He’s a big family guy. He’s really professional and he’s super nice. That’s always nice. I mean here’s someone who is so iconic, he’s been respected for so many years and he has so many different kinds of fans. So to meet somebody like that and find out they’re really an awesome, down to Earth person is always nice. When I first met him I was playing my dead self. I was acting like a corpse and then he comes in and cries on my shoulder. So that was basically how I met him. I was like, nice to meet you. I look dead. But it was really cool. Getting to watch him work was awesome. He’s so professional and he just gets right to it. As soon as the director called action he was just all of a sudden crying on my shoulder. He wasn’t even planning on doing that in the scene. It just happened naturally and it was beautiful. He was really cool. 

Cage has such an unusual approach to acting and it really changes from film to film. What did you learn from working with him, and did you get an idea for his process as an actor? 

Peeples: Well you know, I really respect that when he has a serious scene he needs his own space, but not in a rude way. He’s really focused and he’s really professional. He allows himself this space in which he needs to work. But at the same time he’s also able to goof off and have a great time with everybody. He doesn’t make it too heavy. I feel like that’s always really nice. That’s a perfect combination when working with somebody. I was just watching him go straight into character and it was so great because he obviously was so prepared. Then he’s also able to goof off after everything is said and done. I really respected that.

Without giving too much away about the movie, although you already alluded to it, you’re not in the film for very long. As an actress, how do you approach playing a small but pivotal role like that and find away to make the character memorable even though you have a shortage of screen time?

Peeples: I think it’s the same for every character regardless of how big or small it is. It doesn’t mean you just know your character a little bit or a lot. You have to draw out the character completely. You have to know them completely. For me, at least if I have a small role it doesn’t mean I’m going to prepare any less for it. I’m going to do what is necessary to make the character work. I think when I approach something I don’t look at it as okay, this is a big character, this is a small character, this is on a TV show or a film or whatever. I just look at the individual characters on a case-by-case basis of what I need to do to crush them out. 

Can you talk about director Paco Cabezas’ vision for the film and how he approached achieving that?

Peeples: He is brilliant. Watching him work was incredible. I think he’s such a genius especially after seeing his other works like Neon Flesh. I’m a big fan of that. He really thinks a lot about the way something is shot. I know that every director does, but what I mean by that is he really is concerned by the metaphor of it. If he can make the way it’s shot be a message as to what’s going on in the scene, he will. Watching that happen and that process happen was so incredible. There was this one moment on the first day when I acting dead. We were shooting from behind where I was onto Nicolas Cage’s hand and I believe he’s holding my necklace. So he wanted to shoot in a specific way that captured that. Nicolas Cage had a little scratch, like a cut on his finger, not on purpose or anything but it was just there. Somebody was like, should we cover it up? Paco’s like no, I want to keep that. He wanted it to translate that his finger was cut up and that was the finger that was touching the necklace. So I was sitting on the table all cut up and it translated to me, that the necklace represented me. He thinks of those little things on the spot and it was just brilliant watching that. It’s all about translating the message of the movie and I thought that that was beautiful.

You’re playing the title character in the live action adaption of the classic ‘80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms. Were you aware of the property before you got the role?

Peeples: I was born after the series was created and all of that jazz. But I’m such a big fan now. Obviously I’ve done my research and it’s incredible. It was so cool learning about it through this process. I feel like people are going to hate the fact that I wasn’t born during the time period. But if I were born during the time period then I wouldn’t be the right age to play the part. So I’m a huge fan of it now. I think its cool, female rock stars fighting crime and there’s a robot. It’s amazing. Getting to be a part of something that has such a cult following and me becoming a fan of it through learning about it was so cool. I felt like even though I didn’t grow up on it I have this respect for it and admiration for it now. 

You just mentioned that Jem and the Holograms are rock stars fighting crime and that there’s even a robot in the movie. It seems that the filmmakers are keeping a lot of the sci-fi elements from the cartoon that fans love, but are they also keeping the ‘80s MTV feel that the original had?

Peeples: No. We are updating it and it’s going to be more acceptable to today’s culture, but we’re totally keeping the same elements involved. Everyone’s going to have to wait and see exactly what that means. I think people who were fans of the cartoon will be fans of this as well. 

Will you be doing your own singing in the movie? 

Peeples: Yeah! I’ve been singing for a very long time. I have been classically trained for eleven years now and I play guitar and piano. I played around town when I was shooting there and it was great.

Have you finished filming already?

Peeples: Yeah, we’ve finished shooting. We might have a few more pick up days coming up, but we basically shot it in April and May.   

How’d you like working with Jon M. Chu?

Peeples: Jon is amazing. Jon is so cool. He’s so passionate and he gets so excited like he basically geeks out while he’s shooting and it’s so wonderful to work with him. He’s so excited about what they’re doing. 

Finally, you were in Sharknado! What did you think about the pop culture phenomenon that the movie became?

Peeples: I was surprised, but very pleasantly so. I’m so glad that it has this following that it does and that everybody knows what it is. It’s just basically a riot. It’s a ridiculous, hilarious riot. I think that it’s great because I feel like we made a lot of people laugh and have a really good time. That’s really all we wanted to do. Of course a lot of hard work was put into it, but I think it’s great that so many people understood what a riot it was. It’s great. I feel like it’s our own little Rocky Horror a little bit. 

I think it’s cool that the term “Sharknado” has become part of the American vernacular.

Peeples: That’s so cool. 

Rage opens in theaters on July 11th.

To watch our exclusive clip from Rage, please click here

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