When it comes to the thought of storm chasing, you can’t help but envision the 1996 classic Twister, in which an enthusiastic team of scientists seek out the perfect storm. In 2014, we find actress Sarah Wayne Callies rustling one of the biggest tornados ever recorded in the jaw-dropping thriller Into The Storm. As endearing as Helen Hunt’s character was in Twister, Callies manages to one-up the action with a touching storyline and gripping wind-battered scenes. But you’ll have to see it for yourself to believe it.
Known widely for her roles in hit television series Prison Break (as Sara Tancredi) and The Walking Dead (as Lori Grimes), Sarah is no stranger to on-screen angst. In this UrbLife.com exclusive interview, we sat down with the beautiful actress and activist to discuss how she relates to her character in Into The Storm, her thoughts on her own daughter’s role in the film, and why fighting the world’s biggest tornado might just be scarier than the Zombie Apocalypse.
You’re a mother, and in the movie you have a young daughter. Have you ever had to chase your own career, maybe sacrificing some of your motherly duties as your character does?
Sarah Wayne Callies: I think every woman who’s a working mother has. I don’t know a single working mom who doesn’t feel torn up by guilt that they are either letting down their boss or letting down their kids. We shot this movie, I was on location for 10-12 weeks and my daughter would come and visit, but they weren’t there the whole time. On the one hand I’m doing the right thing, I’m providing for my family, I’m the sole bread winner of my family. I’m modeling for my daughter that it’s important for women to nurture their dreams, and I’m heartbroken at the end of every night that I can’t tuck her in and make her dinner. That’s just how it works.
The interesting thing was in the original filming we never saw that [daughter]character. When they tested the movie the audience really connected with [my character]Allison and what was going on with her struggle, and they said, “we want to see her daughter”. My daughter got wind of that and said “I want to play it”, and I said, “well, actresses just don’t get handed parts,” so I made her audition. We have different last names, no one knew it was her and she got the part. So she’s actually in the movie, and that was a lot of fun… although I don’t want her to be an actress.
What will you do if she turns around and says “Mommy I want to be serious about this”. Is that something you support?
SWC: I support her dreams no matter what they are. I have a very intimate relationship with the downsides of this business. Every business has downsides, I’ll tell you one thing, no one’s ever gonna mess with my little girl. There’s somebody in Hollywood who will be protecting her no matter what. I think her creativity will find other paths.
Now you’ve had the very distinct honor of being involved with two TV series that have been nominated for awards, are critically acclaimed and have good fan bases. Now that you’re getting into the film side, are you reading scripts in hope that you’ll be garnering awards, or are you doing it more for personal pleasure?
SWC: The first time I ever went to an awards show, it felt like all my life I’d seen this diamond, and I got upright next to it and realized it was glass, and I thought, “this isn’t worth the time”. There’s nothing wrong with them, but as a goal I think they are poison. I love telling stories… I love telling stories that I would watch. This is a movie I would be dying to see if I wasn’t in it. I think we discovered who we are through storytelling culturally. That’s the point of storytelling and it always has been. Every culture throughout history has storytellers.
I like to find characters that are as different from each other as I can find, and at the end of the day I like t o have a lot of fun. This movie was fun. I got to be up on wires flying around with wind and rain on my face. It’s like a big giant playground. I’ve got some goals as far as characters I want to play and stories I want to tell, but they don’t have anything to do with whether its television or film. I finally got to do a play again after this, which was amazing. Very feminine character, period [piece], really cool play and I love that. Maybe [Into The Storm co-star] Richard [Armitage] and I will do a play.
If you could play any role from any movie that’s ever been made and remake it, what would it be and who would be your character?
SWC: Joan of Arc [The Messenger, 1999] is amazing and tremendous, and I love Milla [Jovovich] personally and I thought she killed it, but if they were going to remake it I would love to play her. There’s some amazing Queens out there. Elizabeth would be an awful lot of fun. I love the idea of doing something period.
Nikita is pretty badass, and that would be incredible. I’ve gotta say a lot of my favorite movies are on the eclectic side. Like Water for Chocolate, one of my favorite movies ever made, and I’d play anybody in that just because it was extraordinary… You know, at four in the morning I’m going to wake up and say [snap]“It was that one!”
What is more difficult to battle: The biggest tornado of the entire planet or the Zombie Apocalypse?
SWC: I think a tornado is always more dangerous because you can’t kill it. There’s no world in which you take on a tornado and win the war. So in the moment, a tornado’s always worse, but of course The Walking Dead story is about a group of people whose entire society has collapsed. So I think there is something to be said for the fact that the day that Into the Storm takes place will end. And when that day ends the people are still living in the United States, they still have access to government assistance, things like that. So their big picture I think is a more optimistic one, but the actual battle that their fighting against, the dangerous [tornado]is far more dangerous.
What would you like for people to take away from this film?
SWC: I think it’s possible that this is a movie that asks the question: “Is a parent’s love for their children stronger than mother nature?” I think that’s a worthwhile question to ask. I don’t know that I could defeat a tornado, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t, but I would go to battle for it if I needed to for my kids. Somewhere in that world a sense of our priorities and our power as people to reach out to each other. CNN is a depressing place right now, the news is a depressing place right now and I think we got ample evidence of our ability to hurt each other. Some of the best parts of ourselves come out in crisis like this. Hurricane Sandy, 9/11, people really dig deep to be heroes for one another, and I think it’s not a bad idea to be reminded of that.
Follow Sarah Wayne Callies on Instagram @SarahWayneCallies – that’s actually her.
CLICK HERE to read the ULx film review on Into The Storm
CLICK HERE to read our ULx Exclusive Interview with Into The Storm co-star Richard Armitage
Watch the Into The Storm featurette
For more on Into The Storm, go to the official site at IntoTheStormMovie.com