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Tuesday, 12 October, 2010 3:00 AM
Sarah Butler stars as Jennifer Hills in the new film, I Spit on Your Grave: Unrated
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Actress Sarah Butler was born in Puyallup, Wash. She attended the University of Southern California and received a degree in theater and opera studies. Butler played the character of Belle at Disneyland, then entered the world of film and television. She has starred in episodes of "CSI: New York," "CSI: Miami" and did a webisode for "Prison Break." Now, she is the lead actress in the new Anchor Bay film, I Spit On Your Grave. Butler plays the character of Jennifer Hills in the new movie, which is currently in theaters now.
"I had a lot of interest in it at a young age, doing school plays and that kind of led me to come down from Washington state to Los Angeles," Butler said in an exclusive phone interview. "When I got here, I had a friend who was working at Disneyland and he said, 'We have auditions coming up for one of the Princesses. If you could come, I think you would be really good.' So I was like, well that sounds like an amazing job. I ended up playing Belle from The Beauty and The Beast for a year and a half."
You've been on many TV shows so which was your most favorite and why?
"They were both so fun, I got exploded in both of my 'CSI' episodes," the actress explained. "I'm fully combustible, I don't know why. It was really nice working on both shows. On 'CSI: New York,' the staff and the cast embraced me. I formed friendships with a couple of the cast members and the writer. Even Gary Sinise, who not only stars on the show, but also produces it as well. He is like a really great guy. Getting to work for him, I really realized that. He took the time to come up to me and he addresses me by name. He said, 'Sarah, It was a pleasure having you on the show. Great job, thank you very much.' It was something so small, but it makes a really big difference."
How did you find out that you were going to be cast as the lead actress for the new film, I Spit on Your Grave?
"It just came through like any other audition," Butler said. "I got an e-mail from my agent. Learn these few pages and go to this place at this time. That's pretty much all I knew about it at first. The original pages didn't really reveal that much about the plot line of the movie. I really didn't know that much about it. It wasn't until I got offered the second audition then they gave me the script and I really realized what I was getting myself into. It was scary at first, I don't know if I can do this movie. There's so much in it, it was tough material. Something that I hadn't really considered that I might have to do. Underneath all of the violence and the nudity, I realized there was actually a great role under that where I could just have a huge character arc and a great opportunity for someone at this point in my career. I'm ready to make this look awesome and never look back from there."
Could you tell us a little about your character in the film?
"I play Jennifer Hills, I'm a writer, I live in the big city and I've just had great success with my first novel," the Hollywood actress explains. "I'm going to be writing my sophomore novel. It's kind of pressure, you know, the sophomore novel is always the difficult one. In order to get some peace and quiet to work on it, I decide to run like havoc out in the country. That's where I am when I get attacked by some of the locals, who kind of have a distorted view of city folks. They don't really understand us. It's interesting, in the original film, they didn't really explain why these men would want to attack in the woman. In our version, it's definitely explained more about the point-of-view of these people who live out in the country and feel that city folks are prepared better than them and they resent them for that. Not only that, but I'm a woman and I'm walking around their town and I'm not paying any attention to them. They come and attack me and after being through such an ordeal, rape and everything, it gives me a complete new perspective as Jennifer. I kind of turn into, something that people might even call even worse than what the rapist did to me and the revenge on them in the very cruel and inventive ways."
Why is the movie unrated instead of an "R" rating?
"We did try for an 'R' rating and I guess the MPAA, from what I understand, was requiring over 100 cuts," Butler said. "That was the original plan was to go with the 'R' rating, but after all the cuts had been made, our production team felt that it kind of cut the legs off the film being that the shock values is really its most unique traits. We didn't want to lose that. We went to our distribution company, Anchor Bay, and said, 'We want to release this unrated. It's not the film we intended to make with all these cuts.' Surprisingly enough, Anchor Bay agreed, which was a pretty gutsy move for a distribution company. They want to make their money back on the film. We're all hoping that it pays off knowing that the fans of the original will definitely be happy we're releasing it unhappy. Fans of this genre don't want to see anything get water down. Hopefully, that keeps you coming into the theatre curious about what it is we do in this movie that we can't go with an 'R' rating."
What's next for you after this film...any other TV shows or movies that you're working on?
"I'm just searching for the right next thing," the actress explains. "I had an offer come in. I've been looking at some different projects. It's like Jennifer Hills working on her sophomore novel. It's kind of like my sophomore movie in a way, kind of a complicated process. I'm more focused on building a broad foundation for my career than anything else. It's a diffficult decision, haven't settled on anything yet. Hopefully, the right thing will be coming through my door soon."
Would you consider doing your next movie or TV show in Michigan with our state's 42 percent tax incentive for the film industry?
"Especially if I was producing it, I would definitely be interested in that," Butler laughed. "I have never done a film in Michigan, but I would love to check it out to see what it's all about up there."
What is your advice to film or theatre students who are looking to break into the industry?
"One of the biggest lessons that I've learned in this industry is perserverance and patience," the actress said. "People come into this town thinking, 'I'll give myself a year or two years. If I'm not famous by then, I'll leave.' The thing that most people don't realize is that, that majority of the actors and actresses, even people behind the scenes, directors, cinematographers and all the different people in this industry, they've been working at their careers for years before you even know who they are. It's got to be something that you're willing to devote your life to and have fun doing it. It is fun, you just have to stick it out for a while, usually, to gain that success then it's really worth it at the end."
For more information on the film "I Spit on Your Grave," visit www.ispitonyourgravemovie.com.
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