Renée Willett is set to star alongside fellow actors Ron Perlman and Michael Pitt in the upcoming indie drama Run With the Hunted. Joining other actors that include William Forsythe, Mark Boone Jr., Brad Carter and Dree Hemingway, Willett will be playing Keryn, a character portrayed over a 15-year period.
We spoke with Renée Willett about what viewers can expect from the film, the importance of the theme and the #MeToo movement, surviving a Sharknado, and what her fans can expect from her next.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Renée Willett below:
What motivated you to initially pursue acting? Is there anyone who influenced or inspired you?
I’ve wanted to be an actress ever since I watched my first episode of Barney and found out what an actress was. From that moment when the spark was lit, that dream has embodied every part of my being. Professionally, my acting career began after graduating from college at USC. Once introduced to life on set, I started to discover what I was most attracted to; comedy. I look up to actresses like Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Banks and Leslie Mann.
You have already been able to work with some impressive names so far in your career. Is there anyone you would love to work with someday?
My dream has always been to land a role in a Judd Apatow film as well as work opposite Will Ferrell and/or Ben Stiller. Working with any of those geniuses would be a dream.
Can you talk a little about your role in the upcoming drama “Run With the Hunted”? What originally attracted you to the role?
My role as Keryn, the Sheriff Office Receptionist, was attractive to me for multiple reasons. First, my character continually gets inappropriately harassed by her boss for years. A topic that is important to me and one I think is perfect to bring light to during the current times within politics and the entertainment industry. Second, my character spans over the course of 15 years, something I thought would be really fun to do.
This role is a bit unique because it takes place over a 15 year period. Was that challenging for you to portray? How was that experience filming for you?
It was definitely a new experience within my career. I very much enjoyed it. I made some choices like speaking slightly deeper, and embodying a more haggard persona of someone who is disappointed in her life that she is still in the same dead end job with the same horrible boss. That mixed with the makeup; lines of wrinkles and such all over my face to make me look older, was really cool. Not challenging at all, it was an adventure!
With the public conversation around sensitive topics like the Me Too Movement, were you eager to shed a light on that type of issue with this role? Where would you say you draw your inspiration and strength from for projects like this one?
I think as an actor it is undoubtedly a responsibility of my career to shed light on topics I believe in. In the case of MeToo and its prevailing prominence, this was a perfect role at a perfect time. I have had instances in the workplace, where my boss was extremely inappropriate. I feel lucky that I had the strength to do something about it. Bringing awareness to this issue I hope gives strength to even one woman watching to get herself out of an uncomfortable work environment.
What would you say viewers can expect from “Run With the Hunted”? What are you most eager for them to see?
Michael Pitt is such an amazing method actor who morphs into his role. Witnessing it in person, and knowing how much of his process he endured to prepare for this role, is something that is very exciting to me about this film. I appreciate amazing acting when I see it. I’m excited for the viewers, and excited to see myself, how his performance shines on screen.
On a different note, you are also well-known for your appearance in the Sharknado franchise. With the most recent movie just released, can you talk a little about your experience filming and why you think that franchise has been such a success with its audience?
TV movies are their own animal, no pun intended. I think once the first one became such a huge success, it wasn’t difficult for producers to develop an ongoing franchise. These types of projects aren’t too expensive, so once each one after the next becomes a hit the margins are hard to deny green lighting the next one. My experience was incredible. It was the first set I had ever been on. Anthony Weiner and I in a scene; As a New Yorker it was pretty comical. I had no idea what to expect. The crew was amazing and I was just so excited to be on the silver screen. I had a shark party when the film premiered where all my guests wore giant felt hats in the shape of upside-down sharks with open mouths where the mouth looked like it was eating your head. I survived a Sharknado. Have you?
What else are you working on? What can your fans look forward to from you next?
I’m continuously writing and updating my stand-up act. I also influence via Instagram for my social media following. I just wrapped on a TV show in Thailand and NYC that will release within the next few months. I have two independent features releasing within a few months as well; One called Kingfish with Molly Ringwald and Kevin Corrigan and the other called Walk To Vegas with Vince Van Patten and John O’Hurley.
I have three more indie features that I am shooting this fall and winter.
Thanks so much to Renée Willett for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We really appreciate it!
Keep up to date with Renée Willett by following her on Instagram @ReneeWillett.