The new horror-thriller The Cleaning Lady just released this month and iHororr.com had the opportunity to speak to actress and filmmaker, Alexis Kendra. We speak about the origins of the film, future projects, and of course her top five scary movies! Go ahead and check out the interview below and read our review by clicking here.
“On the surface, Alice (Kendra) seems like a woman who has it all: a gorgeous apartment, a booming career, a stunning physique, and a handsome boyfriend. The only problem is he’s married to someone else. Looking for a way to simplify her life, Alice hires Shelly to clean her house. As Alice begins to confide in Shelly about her illicit affair, their friendship grows… and so does Shelly’s twisted obsession with her new employer. It soon becomes clear that Shelly has motives that reach further than a normal cleaning lady. Shelly wants to cleanse Alice’s entire life and will stop at nothing until she’s done.”
The Cleaning Lady is now available On Demand, Digital HD and DVD
Interview With Alexis Kendra
Ryan T. Cusick: Hi Alexis how are you?
Alexis Kendra: Hi, I am good how are you doing?
RTC: I’m doing well, thank you so much for taking my call today.
AK: Yeah, of course, no problem.
RTC: This movie was great and I just found out this morning as I was thumbing through your IMDb page that you actually wrote it as well and I got really excited over that.
AK: Oh thank you, thank you so much. That means a lot.
RTC: Now I wanted to ask you real quickly the short that you did back in 2016 can we see that on the internet?
AK: I think that it is still up there. I think if you google “The Cleaning Lady short” I believe it should pop up.
RTC: Perfect. You wrote, produced, starred – how did it all come together for this film?
AK: The director Jon Knautz and myself we made the short as you were just previously mentioning and we used that as a proof of concept we wanted to use that as a way of raising the financing for the feature, that was the goal ultimately. The goal was never to make just a short, the goal was to make a feature. We had the screenplay but just based on that alone we were unable to secure the financing – everybody wanted visuals. Everybody wanted to see what Shelly would look like, who Alice was and what actress would play her. John and I decided that we are just going to make a proof of concept and we are going to try to do it on a dime, which of course it never is.
RTC: Yeah, something always happens.
AK: Yeah, we were really happy with it because, in the end, what ended up happening is that we ended up finding an executive producer who jumped on board who ended up finding the rest of the financing for us based on that short and the previous feature that we co-wrote together, produced, and made together as well. That is how it pretty much all came together.
RTC: I actually noticed in the short you actually played Shelly, who is actually the opposite that you played in the feature. Did you want to play Shelly again in the feature [The Cleaning Lady]? What really got you in tune with the character you did play Alice? How did Alice’s character appeal to you?
AK: I wrote this film to play Shelly, one hundred percent, I was going to play Shelly those are types of roles that I gravitate towards. Those are the roles that I write for me in mind. It was getting closer to day one of principal photography and we did not have our lead, we did not have our protagonist, we don’t have Alice what are we going to do? I was in a meeting with the director and we were sitting in this conference room at a table and he was just staring at me. I thought to myself, “Oh no, I know that look – I just know that I have to play Alice.” He asked if I was sure and I said, “Yes, I am absolutely sure.” I had to totally do a one-eighty on everything and I did know of an actress that I had cast in my first film in Goddess of Love that I had previously mentioned. I knew that she would nail it, once you find a good actress you never let them go. I knew that I had wanted to use her in another film that I would produce and this was the chance, so I gave her a call to come in and read for us and she nailed it, as I knew she would so we gave her the role. For me to now play Alice I had to do one-eighty on the approach, just with my might set and mind frame of this film. Once I really wrapped my head around who Alice is and how she is this woman who is struggling, on the outside she has it all together. She is attractive, she has a beautiful apartment, great career, and everything looks so nice but then when you dig deeper you get to know her a little better and this is a very sad woman with a lot of pain who is in a love affair with a married man and not only is she participating in that, she is trying desperately to get out of it. She is in a twelve-step program to deal with that. Once I wrapped myself around all of that, I had a ball playing her.
RTC: I really enjoyed the writing of that character [Alice] Normally these type of characters embrace that type of behavior but this one like you had mentioned did the exact opposite. She wanted to seek help and I thought that was a pleasant twist on it.
AK: Thank you so much. Yeah, we didn’t want her to be one dimensional. I don’t know of any protagonist on any film that I am a fan of when the protagonist has it all together and is perfect. I don’t know them in real life and I don’t want to write them and I definitely don’t want to play them.
RTC: Rachel Alig that played Shelly [Cleaning Lady] got really creepy with her performance. It was very disturbing and I really enjoyed the last two acts of the film because of that performance. [Laughs] I think that you created a new villain. Do you plan on writing a sequel? Do you plan on going further with this at all?
AK: I don’t know. We haven’t been approached for a sequel but if we are we will definitely put our heads together and write it. I have some ideas. But what I find cool about this particular film is that it is left open-ended in a way for a sequel, that would be possible.
RTC: Endings like that are always fun because it allows our imaginations to run wild, we are left wondering “what’s next, what could happen?” That’s always fun when filmmakers do that for us. Speaking of the writing part you wrote with the director John, how is your dynamic with a writing partner? Is it difficult? Did you two just bounce ideas off each other?
AK: We have a wonderful working relationship especially with the writing area. When it comes to writing we have opposite skill sets and I believe this is why we partner so well together. The way that it works we get together for several months and we sit down over cigars and talk story. This is kind of where the plot comes to life, I have a hand in helping the broad strokes of the plot. John then takes it further and beaks it down scene by scene making sure that the story arch is complete. I then end up writing every word of dialogue, of course, John will have some lines in there. We cross over sometimes. For the most part, I handle the dialogue and he handles the plot story and by the end, we have a screenplay and that is our dynamic.
RTC: And it does show in the final product. I remember making notes – “the storytelling, the storytelling” it was superb. I loved the back story that you gave Shelly, I enjoyed how you dove into her childhood and explained what had caused everything.
AK: Thank you.
RTC: You’ve done a few horror films. Valentine’s Day, Hatchet II, Big Ass Spider, are you a fan of horror films?
AK: [Laughs] I should hope so or I really shouldn’t be writing them, right?
RTC: [Laughs] True, True.
AK: I’m a horror girl, totally.
RTC: What’s your favorite one?
AK: I have a top five. I could never pick one. Off the top of my head and not in order I would say, Audition, Marauders, Tale of Two Sisters, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Shining.
RTC: Very good. Was there any particular film you saw as a young child that hooked you in and got you started
AK: No, I didn’t watch horror when I was little. I was watching Adventure’s In Babysitting, Red Sonja, that’s what I was watching.
RTC: You were still watching good stuff [Laughs]
AK: [Laughs] Yeah, I was watching some quality, for sure. I really didn’t start watching horror until I moved to L.A. What I found about the horror genre was that every time I watched a horror film it was the ultimate escape for me. I am not a huge partier I am not a huge drinker, for me, a horror film really puts me in another world, another realm, another life in a way that nothing else does for me so that is why I am drawn to horror over any other genre.
RTC: That makes sense it fills that void. What’s next, what are you working on right now?
AK: We are shopping scripts right now. This part is not my favorite, but this is what Independent Filmmakers go through. We write scripts, we get financing, we make a film, publicity, festivals and then we wait and see if people liked the film and then write another one. So that is where we are right now, in the financing stages of several stories.
RTC: Well Alexis, thank you, thank you so very much for speaking with me.
AK: It was a pleasure, thank you.