Shannen Doherty goes full-on mommy dearest in her new horror film “BETHANY”!


From witch, to bitch, Shannen Doherty has played her fill of memorable characters. If you’re my age you probably know her as the annoying little sister in GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, the bulimic bitch in HEATHERS, or, of course, the iconic Brenda Walsh in 90210. Now, Doherty can add psychotic/abusive mother to that list in her new horror flick, BETHANY.

BETHANY, also starring Zack Ward (A CHRISTMAS STORY, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE) and Tom Green (FREDDY GOT FINGERED, CHARLIE’S ANGELS), is the latest project from indie filmmaker James Cullen Bressack and one of the first horror films for Doherty. Though this role may be a far leap from her other films, Doherty completely dissolves into her character, offering up a stellar performance worthy of a repeat watch. Now, Doherty gives Fango readers an exclusive look into what it took to get into the mind frame of her darkest character to date.

FANGORIA: So how did you find yourself working on a horror film?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: It’s definitely not my M.O. I’m at a place in my life where if it doesn’t resonate with me in some powerful way, either pushing me as an actor or hitting a note within me that makes sense, then I just don’t want to leave my house. I just don’t want to be apart of anything I don’t really believe in anymore, and that’s more of a new thing to be honest. Before I always picked jobs that I really loved and did a few money jobs, which will go on named.  Also, it’s probably the fifth or sixth movie I’ve done with James Cullen Bressack, and I guess we just love working with each other. We always have a really good time on set and he lets me explore creatively and it was a fairly straightforward sort of work schedule. And, he likes me. [Laughing]


FANGORIA: What was it about BETHANY that drew you into the story?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: This was something very different and I hadn’t really ventured into the horror movie genre before. To me, yes it’s a horror movie but it’s just so psychologically interesting that I felt compelled to play Susan. And it was a challenge to be that vicious, to do the things that Susan did but also to find that vulnerability within her. It was definitely one of those things where I’m challenged and it’s really good and I should just do this.


FANGORIA: So, Susan is an extremely dark character. What did it take for you to get to where you had to be in order to play her?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: For me I had to go into a very weird mind space.  I’ve never considered myself a method actor; I’m definitely not that because I don’t carry it with me on the weekends. But I think when you go into that sort of creepy space, that emotional space, you do get a little method. I think I let every wall down and building up to that, your mind set just has to go to some very dark, dark, unhealthy place. 

FANGORIA: One scene in particular, which was hauntingly well done, was the scene where you’re looking into a mirror and just basically lose your mind.  Can you talk about what it took to get that scene out of you?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: You know, you’re looking in the mirror you’re berating yourself, berating how you look, and berating the fact that you’re getting old. Emotionally, that takes you on the journey that you need to go on for a scene like that and originally there was a lot of dialogue. James wrote it where I was staring at myself in the mirror and saying like a lot, a lot of stuff and that felt very uncomfortable to me. I don’t know many people who actually do, do that and even for Susan, I was just like, this feels so wrong. Then, on top of it all, it was right when I found out or maybe about a month or two after I found out I had cancer.  So, I just had to go in there, look in the mirror and just convey, through emotion, what he wanted me to actually say. Forget the dialogue. Here’s again why I love working with James so much; he’s so flexible and he also has a lot of trust in the actors. So he was like, I believe you can say it all with emotion, so let’s just go shoot it and don’t worry about any dialogue. It played and made it much more powerful.


FANGORIA: The film deals with some heavy psychological fears as well as the sort of eerie, supernatural horror. For you, which one is more terrifying?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: Out of those two? I was about to say, well there’s real life. [Laughing]  But, probably more eerie. In real life, I’m that girl where if one thing is off or if I hear a weird noise, I’m so freaked out and usually hiding somewhere.  I’m not necessarily scared of the physically intimidating. I mean Susan came off as physically intimidating to her daughter, but people don’t necessarily scare me. I know people can be horrible and people can also be beautiful, but it’s more that eerie, oh my God the door creaks open and I’m like, ahhh what’s happening? It’s that that scares me the most. I actually don’t watch horror movies because I have nightmares for like weeks; I cannot watch them!  


FANGORIA: Did anyone on set use that against you; you know, play a prank or two and have a bit of fun?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: No. [Laughing] No, you’ve got James who’s just the sweetest man in the world and surrounded by such a great crew and I’ve worked with these guys a bunch of times, so they all know me; so nothing scary on set. Again, just to get into the character, it’s just a mindset and everyone was very respectful of that mindset. So it was like, there has to be some peace, there has to be some quiet so that way I can connect and Anna [HARR] can connect with me and James can connect.


FANGORIA: It seems like James had a huge impact over your experience of working on this film.

SHANNEN DOHERTY: You know it’s so, funny because I looked at him on the first day and I had this sort of grin on my face and I was like, yeah this is why I do what I do, I love it. James always reminds me of that and that probably is one of my biggest take-aways from the movie. He reminds me of that every single day and inspires me to get back to doing what I love to do. It’s his way of saying, go fight Shan!


FANGORIA: If there’s one thing you learned from this whole experience, what would that be?

SHANNEN DOHERTY: I think that the more raw and vulnerable I allow myself to be in my own life, the more raw and vulnerable I can be on camera. I tend to guard myself a lot, I’ve been hurt and depressed and everything in between. Through all of it, I think that I had a thick guard up, a wall, but on BETHANY that wall was so taken down. And it was pretty devastating to be told I had cancer and it kind of stripped me bare and I’m really thankful that it stripped me bare. It made me raw and vulnerable onset and in my character. I was able to be Fearless.

BETHANY is in theaters and on VOD now!

Check out the eerie trailer below:

Stay tuned here at FANGORIA.com for more on BETHANY and Uncork’d Entertainment releases!

About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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