Shannyn Sossoman is the “it” girl of horror films. Even if she isn’t particularly a fan of them. Yet, despite her fears, she still manages to shine through the terror. From her role in Fox’s Wayward Pines to now starring in the new season of Sleepy Hollow, she boasts a long catalog of spooky films and even primetime roles in unforgettable films like A Knight’s Tale along with 40 Days and 40 Nights.
Now she’s taking on the role of Courtney, an over-protective mother battling supernatural powers and an abusive relationship in Sinister 2. The scary flick directed by Ciarán Foy debuts in theaters today (Aug. 21) and Sossoman assures you won’t want to miss it. “It’s terrifyingly scary and if you were a fan of [the first[ Sinister, you’ll definitely like this one,” she said over the phone. “I think people need to know that, because I know sometimes sequels can tend to disappoint or they can be lazier. I think this director is incredible and people should see it.”
Here, Shannyn discusses bringing Courtney to life, her beliefs in supernatural powers and set life for Sinister 2.
VIBE: What drew you to Sinister 2?
Shannyn Sossoman: I like the character of Courtney, and her struggle and fight. I thought I could do something with that. I think I more specifically, though, I can do really something like that with [director] Ciarán Foy. After I met him I was really excited to team up with him.
What about Courtney’s struggle seemed so appealing to you?
I’m not a huge horror film fan because I don’t like to be scared. I am a drama queen in the theater seat with whatever is happening but I love it when they have real characters and a real story going on that everyone can relate to or feel empathetically. And then the horror happens on top of it. So to help be part of that and show that the true villain of the piece might actually be their father, that’s where real evil lies in our homes with human beings. We all have a dark side and a light side. The evil keeps happening in this world. I believe this darkness because it starts at home. I feel like Ciaran cleverly and quietly showed that he thought that too. So I liked helping tell that part of that story. And I just love second chances. I love that she had a life in which she made a lot of mistakes and obviously wasn’t the greatest mother by even choosing to be with this man for as long as she’s been but I like second chances, and that she stopped it. She wants to make a better life for her kids. I loved her for that. Obviously, it doesn’t end so great in many ways, but she tried.
Can you relate to having a second chance in your personal life?
Yes! I feel grateful that I have two healthy boys. I have a 12 year-old and a 3-year-old so with my second child, I feel grateful that I got a second healthy child and that I also get to be a better, healthier, grounded mother to my second child, in learning from the mistakes I might have made with my first child. That’s huge. I also always feel grateful anytime I get acting work because I do feel very lucky. Even though I sometimes can complain about having to sign contracts [Laughs.] I don’t like to be owned or have to sign years away of your life on a television show. Just for personal reasons, it gives me a suffocating feeling. But as an actress who always wants to be creative, I always feel grateful when I get a good job or a solid script. So I can try to dig in and be better and continue to get better.
Would you say you prefer doing more movies over TV shows?
What I do love about TV shows is that if it’s just one long season ’cause then it becomes a really long movie, which is cool because you can get into the story but there is still an end. But I love movies. I hope that they continue to get made. I hope I get to do more because I love to travel and a beginning, middle and an end. I love going into something knowing what story you’re telling. I don’t know what that means [Laughs.] Because with television, anything can happen. [Shows] can throw you curveballs left and right; it depends on the mood of the writers that week. Because our job is chaotic, I need structure. Sometimes in life, you need structure so I’m always like, ‘What area in life can I grab on to [for] a little bit of structure?’ because I know I have to surrender to the unknown of this crazy job.
Circling back to Courtney, how did you tap into those emotions to play a protective mother and a victim of an abusive relationship?
That was pretty easy being a mother. I don’t want to say easy because it’s not fun to feel those feelings when they are happening even if it is pretend but I think it’s just being a mom—those are the stakes right there. It’s like, ‘Don’t you hurt my kids.’ It makes you wild on the inside; there are so many emotions that can come out of a momma bear.
Were there any parts that got too emotional when filming?
[Laughs.] Yeah, I think a lot towards the end. I mean it was just too much. I don’t want to give anything away, but I remember just cracking up—because we were out in the field and we were tied up. So I said to the director, ‘You know what? I was just having a picnic. It wasn’t the greatest picnic because I’m back here with this a-hole. And I’m miserable and I’m just playing along. This is the best I can do in this moment as their mother.’ I think towards the end it was like, ‘Whoa, what’s happening? This is too much.’
What was the experience filming Sinister 2 like in general? Did anything weird happen on set?
Yes, I was hit by a flying prop. It was kind of creepy in the sense that it was very, very strange how it happened. It was in a scene where objects and unseen objects were flying across the room. They really were flying around the room but the objects obviously were made out of very safe material because they were made out of foam. One of the items was a trophy, which strangely came apart. The screw of the bottom of the trophy top hit me in the head but it was coming at me so fast and was being propelled by something behind it that made it hit into my head further. And I got a concussion. I think that was kind of eerie but everything is fine obviously. That ended good but mostly, you keep the horrifying aspects of the story at bay as much as possible when you’re not shooting and in between set-ups. Everyone just tries to make themselves laugh as much as they can because it is a very scary movie, and there is a lot of scary things going on in the movie both super natural and very real so you do have to keep it light. I was knitting a lot; I think I knitted a whole scarf. I just tried to keep myself in a nice, fun, light space in between.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Yeah, little things that I won’t go into, but absolutely. I’m very comfortable with the unknown, and don’t question it. I don’t need a lot of answers. I don’t need proof. I’m not digging through the depths of Google for weird ghost stories to prove the supernatural. I am just completely comfortable with the idea that anything can happen. It’s a strange universe that we are all in and anything can happen.