Nicole K. Riddell (Actor, Mask of the Devil)
The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?
Nicole K. Riddell: My favourite horror movie is actually the Evil Dead Remake (2013), the moment I watched it I knew I wanted to be Mia-style character in a movie someday. I really loved the intensity of it all; which is so different to the original comedy of the Evil Dead Franchise. The movie that scared me the most was actually The Grudge (2004) and the original Ju-on (2002). That horrible death rattle kept me awake for weeks and I’ve never looked at an attic the same way again!
THR: I got a chance to get an early screening of Mask of the Devil, which is a really interesting indie slasher movie that’s tearing up the festival circuit. It’s also your first starring role! What was it like being in the lead for the first time?
NKR: It is my first starring role and I still can’t believe it! I was so scared to take up the mantle as a leading lady, I know it’s such a huge responsibility and I walked into it knowing it would be my hardest test yet! I spent a lot of time preparing for the role, mainly because I’m actually Scottish and Mary isn’t! I worked really closely with a dialect coach and harassing my housemate to help me with words that I was struggling with… and really just watching as many horror movies with strong female leads as I could!
THR: Richard Rowntree, who directed Mask of the Devil, is really an incredible up-and-coming indie director who has made some great films so far. What was your experience with Richard like?
NKR: He is amazing! And he is so supportive and complimentary! I felt at ease from day 1, he had his vision and he knew exactly what he wanted out of this process. But I also love that he let me play with my character too, he let me experiment with her relationships with the other characters and improvise moments that just felt right. Richard is a pleasure to work with as was the whole crew and if you ever get a chance to work with him and Ash Mountain… jump at it!
THR: The movie itself was an allegory about working in the entertainment industry during COVID. Can you share some of your experiences in the industry during that time?
NKR: Well yeah! We filmed it when we could through the pandemic! I actually recorded my audition in the height of the pandemic when we couldn’t leave our houses! I was alone through-out the whole of lockdown and threw all of that into my audition, the fear and loneliness, the determination to get through it. It was terrifying but I believe it made us all more determined to make this film and make it great, we all fought through so much to get there!
At the beginning of the shoot, I didn’t even really know what anyone looked like! They were all masked up and social distancing; Covid testing in my car then texting the all clear. Then when we were allowed too I finally see the amazing crew I was working with? That day was very special.
THR: Mask of the Devil is pretty badass, with some great gore throughout the film. Are you a fan of gore in horror movies?
NKR: YES! Yes I am! Is that weird? It was the end sequence of the Evil Dead remake with the blood rain that I have always wanted to recreate! I almost got too with the end sequence of MoD actually, I was covered head to toe in blood and gore! Even got it in my eyes, and I can confirm it burns real bad. But even that didn’t deter me… I actually asked our SFX makeup artist Griff Dambella to apply more.
THR: The movie also takes place on a porn set, which was an interesting location for a horror movie to take place. Was there anything inherently challenging when trying to make a movie with porn as the backdrop?
NKR: Well, here’s a secret I am actually quite delicate when it comes to all things sex joke. 50 shades? 50 shades of my worst nightmare! I’ve always been like that but I think it really helped with my character because she is the same, she is 18 from a hyper religious family; she hasn’t seen any of this before so there is a huge amount of Shock and cautiousness as she starts this weird new job. It was out of my comfort zone and I believe it made it hyper realistic on screen because of that!
THR: British horror, especially in the indie world, is coming back with a vengeance. While most critics and fans would say that America is the king when it comes to making horror movies, the UK has a great history as well. Which country’s horror do you prefer, and why?
NKR: I actually prefer Japan in terms of horror, it’s extreme and it’s terrifying but I also think Korea is pretty amazing at it too, recently I enjoyed Warning: Do not play (2019) and Gokseong (2016).
There just isn’t any boundaries? It’s a different, deeper and truer type of horror that really rattles me to my core. It’s more psychological and the jump scares are incredible. It’s less gore but more fear factor.
THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
NKR: I would want to work with Lin Shaye or Vera Farmiga. I adore both these powerful horror actresses and have seen so many of their movies both Hollywood and indie. My first audition was actually for The Conjuring 2, back when my English accent wasn’t that great, I understand why I didn’t get the recall! But to know I could have worked with Vera has made me determined to work harder and get that opportunity again.
Lin Shaye is just everywhere! I first saw her in 2001 Maniacs with Robert Englund who I would also give my left foot to work with. They are just the pillars of horror to me and to work with them and learn from them would just be the biggest opportunity I could think of.
THR: Remakes are all the rage in a lot of the industry, but fans worldwide seem to detest when their favorite film gets the treatment. Are you a fan of horror remakes? Is there a horror movie that you think deserves a good remake, and would you be the one to make it?
NKR: I actually do like remakes, as you can probably tell by now but I think it depends on the film. Some films really should be left alone, like the nightmare on elm street series… that should never have been remade. I think if any classic horror were to be remade it would have to be Carrie. The newest remake really didn’t sit well with me? I would love to see a more intense version rooted in the struggle of religion vs freedom and teenage struggle to break free. Obviously, I would love to be Carrie! Who wouldn’t?
THR: What inspires you as an actress in general? What inspired your performance in Mask of the Devil?
NKR: My granny inspires me. Always has and always will. She came to every theatre performance and every musical I did as a child. All she wanted was to see me on the big screen or on her little screen in the living room. Sadly, she didn’t live to see that day but I continue on, in her name to make her proud. I never thought I was good enough to make it as an actress, I wasn’t skinny enough and my skin was acne prone… but she helped me realise it doesn’t matter. I am me and I am proud of me. I want to inspire other people to be happy in their own skin and break convention and know that they can do anything if they just believe in themselves.
My own experiences inspired a lot of Mary as a character, as mentioned and I think that made her more relatable as a character. You want to believe in her because you can in some ways relate to her.
THR: You’re relatively new to the industry as an actress. Do you have any desire to work in other areas of film, like writing or directing your own film?
NKR: I am and I’m playing the long game! I am in this for life and in this until I get to where I want to be. But I am curious about other positions within the crew as well. I kind of want to try out being a runner or maybe an AD? I love being organised and problem solving and planning and I think it would be a great experience for me.
THR: What’s next for you? Where can fans expect to see you next?
NKR: Who knows what the future holds! I don’t have anything in major in the works at the moment other than auditioning away and applying for everything I can! I’ll be on your screens soon in a BT ad and another ad I can’t actually mention yet! And I’m always on Tik Tok doing silly things for fun (@Nicoleriddell)
THR: Finally, where’s your favorite place to get takeout?
NKR: Takeout?! Your speaking my language!! I actually love Taco Bell!