LOS ANGELES - Talented actress Casey Ruggieri is known for last year's series of Del Taco commercials for its Fresca Bowls as well as for her role in David Fincher's "Gone Girl." Today she is relishing her part in the horror-themed "Tales of Halloween," now playing in theaters.
The young actress who is just a few years removed from her days as a college student with Hollywood dreams, is among a slew of stars appearing in the quirky horror film that features 10 stories that are woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night of mayhem.
The upstate New York native was part of a cast led by Grace Phipps ("Vampire Diaries"), Cerina Vincent ("Cabin Fever") and Adrianne Curry ("My Fair Brady") in a production that featured 11 different directors and 9 different writers.
The talented actress spoke with us on her life, career and her new film, "Tales of Halloween" now playing:
Question: Where are you from originally and were you a drama geek growing up?
Answer: Rochester, New York originally. I wasn't a huge drama geek, actually! I'd say I was pretty diplomatic in my taste for the arts early on. I spend a portion of my time in acting and drama class, some in my studio art class, and I could often be found in the dark room too, developing my "totally brillant" photos. Ahh...teenagers...
Q: What led you to study acting? Did you have a mentor early on?
A: I wouldn't say there was one specific thing or moment. I grew up with artistic parents and aunts. My early years were definitely informed with visual and creative arts, as well as writing. My aunt Claire used to play the piano and tell stories, I was always fond of that. My aunts were amazing seamstresses and would create these wonderful creatures for Halloween. My mother and father were both artists and teachers. Somewhere in all of that my voice for the stage and screen arose, but always accompanied by a visual eye for story telling as well.
Q: What did your parents think of your interest in acting? How did you respond to that?
A: I think, for a long time, they thought it was just that, an interest. Nothing I was going to pursue seriously. But I'm stubborn and I packed up and transplanted to Los Angeles. So, I guess my response was, get three thousand miles away, and then they will know I am serious!! Ha...but kidding aside, I think now that I have been working and building a career, my family has really rallied around me in support. My father was always supportive though, from the very beginning. He missed me terribly, but he always told me to follow my dream and keep pluggin' away.
Q: Where did you study acting? Did you go to college and got the college experience and party atmosphere?
A: I studied the visual arts and acting throughout high school into college at Ithaca, where I was actually a Cinema Production & Photography major. And yes, there was of course partying, even film nerds need to release stress!
Q: How did you arrive in Los Angeles and was that your plan all along?
A: Oh LA, home of the transplants! Ha ha! I arrived by car, packed to the gills with everything from my former life. I did not plan to move here originally. I'd visited in college for interships, and found then, I really didn't like it! But I think that may have had something to do with being an intern at a desk job. Get my coffee Katie! Uhm, it's Casey...not fun. I really enjoy the version of Los Angeles I get to live in now. Being able to live and work in a creative environment and with creative people. I think LA is actually a wonderful place for that.
Q: What was your experience like after arriving in Los Angeles and how has it worked out?
A: Culture shock, coming from New York, like where the hell are all the trees! I still get shocked, just in different ways -- like the prices at Whole Foods!!
Q: Your an East Coast girl, how did you adapt to life in L.A.?
A: You'll laugh, but it was pretty simple. I got pets. I grew up with animals my whole life and for first bit of being here, I didn't have any. My father kept saying, "get yourself a cat, honey." He was a huge animal lover. So, I got two -- brothers -- and they have kept me grounded in the most beautiful and simple way. Having pets makes my life here feel more normal because that is how I was raised and there is something very securing and anchoring about having little lives to be responsible for. I guess that helps me deal with all the flux and flurry of living in Los Angeles... (p.s. RESCUE and ADOPT!)
Q: What was your first on-set experience like and how did you get your role in "Gone Girl"?
A: I think my first on-set experience was on a furniture commerical, when I first got here. It paid peanuts and I remember the director yelling to me, "we love your dimples! Keep smiling!" But I was so happy to be on set. I love being on set. Set is my happy place.
Gone Girl was a great set experience. I got the role by normal means, I auditioned with Laray Mayfield Casting, and Fincher liked my tape. I was cast in the role of "Rebecca" the young reporter from the book. However, as happens in Hollywood, the role was cut, as they were trying to shorten the script, (the movie is around three hours now). It happens all the time, as an actor you have to learn to roll with the punches. But here is how awesome Laray and Fincher are, they still had me work on the film as a reporter in the scene in which Ben's character proposes to Rosmund's character. It was such a thrill to be on set with these seasoned actors and director. I learned alot and that's part of what is so great about working in a creative field, you can always be learning.
Q: What was working on "Tales of Halloween" like. Did you get to kill anybody?
A: Working on Tales was like working with a family. These guys in the indie horror film world are so tight knit and the community is so supportive of each other. Adam Gierasch even cast his friend's kids in his story! I hadn't been in that world yet, and it was very cool to see and experience. For people who make bloody and scary stories, they are the most loving bunch of people!! I felt like the long lost cousin or something, being welcomed to the holiday dinner. Everyone was so great to be around.
And you'll have to watch Tales of Halloween to see if I kill or am killed! No spoilers from me!
Q: Do you like horror movies and movies about the supernatural? Or are you a big scaredy cat about horror movies?
A: Uhm... this was almost the perfect movie for me to be cast in. I love ghost stories. I love all things supernatural. Halloween is my jam...and yes I will be the one screaming at the top of her lungs too!
Q: What was the funniest thing or weirdest thing to happen on set?
A: What sticks out in my mind from shooting 'Tales,' was the way the kids were totally raring to go the WHOLE night. We shot from something like 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. two nights in a row, and the kids were into it and hyped up the whole time. It was awesome to be around their energy. They were REALLY excited to play these creepy little kids...a little too excited. haha
Q: Do you believe in ghosts and evil spirits and things like that and does it help in a movie if you do?
A: One hundred percent yes. Not so much "evil" spirits. I think there can be some negative stuff floating around, sure, but just like the living, there are people with good intentions and bad. I don't believe anything is inherently evil. I use my imagination in creating the environment of my characters, so yes, having an interest for all things supernatural gives me more to draw from when I am creating a life for my character.
Q: Do you prefer comedy or dramas more? What's your favorite movie so far this year?
A: I really don't have a preference. I enjoy both comedy and drama. I think some of the best work blends the two, as so often happens in real life. A movie that I think is a great example of this, from this year is, "Skeleton Twins," with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Here you have two known "comedy" actors, playing these really fragile, emotionally injured people. They are living some tough, awkward stuff, and although that it dark material, there is humor inherently in the situations...they pull it off excellently. Plus I loves me some Kristen Wiig...she's actually from my neck of the woods! The finger lakes region of New York.
Q: What are you doing next?
A: A haunted hayride, a haunted house, a corn maze, then a good old fashioned campfire and ghost stories. I told you I love Halloween... hee hee.
For more, Casey Ruggieri is online at https://twitter.com/caseyruggieri and https://www.facebook.com/Casey-Ruggieri-269298243166278/.