Industry praise for Chris McGinn in Kidnap:
Selected interview excerpts with Chris McGinn:
The scariest movie I’ve seen this year was just released digitally and on Blu Ray / DVD, and it doesn’t have a clown in it. And it features a wonder woman driving a red mini van.
The independent Kidnap, co-produced and starring Oscar winner Halle Berry, depicts most parents’ worst nightmare: a kid is [spoil alert!] kidnapped, almost out from under his mom, no less, and she spends the balance of the film desperately trying to get him back.
The first time I saw the movie, in a crowded theatre last summer, I had a mini panic attack. Headache, shortness of breath, dizziness…the real deal. And that was before I was even halfway through the movie.
Audiences nationwide reacted the same way I did, making Kidnap one of the most successful independent films of the year. And according to the film’s director, Luis Prieto, our reaction was exactly what he, Berry, and the rest of the film’s cast and crew were shooting for.
“That’s somewhat the purpose of this movie: to get you screaming,” Prieto joked by phone, from the set of his upcoming project. “It’s so very intense. The story is told from the protagonist’s point of view, so we wanted the audience to experience the things that she was experiencing.”
“I went to different screenings of the film, at different hours and in different neighborhoods, and it was interesting to see how people reacted,” Prieto continued. “I have to say that seeing and hearing the audience screaming was very fulfilling! We told the story properly. Mission accomplished!”
Chris McGinn plays one of the film’s kidnappers. She also got a kick out of scaring moviegoers to death.
“I’m glad you were sucked in,” McGinn enthused by phone. “The first time I’d seen the film’s final cut was at the premiere, and I saw it three times that week. When the phone would ring or a door would creak, people in the audience would scream and jump! I thought it was very cool, and a testament to Luis’ direction.”
McGinn’s performance in Kidnap left me literally holding my breath during quite a few scenes. She masterfully portrays one of the greatest movie villains I’ve seen since I cowered watching a great white shark terrorize a movie theatre in Detroit over 40 years ago.
As it turns out, McGinn drew on another classic movie villain as she prepared for her role.
“I thought about the whole Hannibal Lecter / Anthony Hopkins thing, because I thought Hopkins was so brilliant in that movie,” McGinn shared. “Hannibal was likable. He just happened to be a killer who ate people. I wanted my character, Margot, to be the same way. She doesn’t think she’s bad. She’s just desperate.”
McGinn’s connection to Silence Of The Lambs goes back decades.
“I was in Silence Of The Lambs. It was the first movie I ever did,” McGinn said. “I am the dead body on the
Feature article from the Kirksville, MO Daily Express:
Truman State University alumna and actress Chris McGinn currently stars in the movie “Kidnap” alongside Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry. It was a Thursday evening in Aug. 2014 when Truman State University alumna and actress Chris McGinn got a call from a her manager about the biggest role of her career. “I’m sitting with my friend in my living room on Thursday and my manager calls screaming, ‘It’s yours! It’s yours! They picked you! They picked you! You’re going to New Orleans on Tuesday for six weeks,’” McGinn said.
McGinn currently stars in the movie “Kidnap” alongside Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry. The film, which hit theaters on Aug. 4, tells the story of a mom, Berry, who’s playing with her son in a park when she gets distracted and later sees her son being kidnapped. Berry then pursues the kidnappers in an effort to get her son back. McGinn plays the role of Margo, the lead kidnapper in the film. “I’ve had some really great parts, I’ve had some really good jobs...I’ve had some good scenes and good opportunities but never a lead for six weeks in a film,” McGinn said.
While growing up in St. Louis, McGinn loved to sing and act. Her passion for the arts continued while she attended Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State), where she majored in teaching theater, speech and English. “I went into education for a degree because I felt as much as I wanted to act and do other things, I wanted to be sure I had a way to make a living so I got an education degree so I can be a teacher,” McGinn said. “I felt that I was more qualified to go into acting and that acting gave me more opportunities.”
McGinn graduated from the university in 1978 and a week later, she moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Her first opportunity in show business came when she stage managed a play by Mark Medoff. While attending college, McGinn said she was a part of a production of one Medoff’s plays and her knowledge of his work allowed her to get a job and meet people in the business. “My education was well-rounded and it gave me opportunities to meet people,” McGinn said. “My way to crack into the business was to use my skills to meet people and get opportunities. Out of that it paid off into acting opportunities, getting an agent and different things like that.”
According to McGinn’s profile on the website IMDb.com, she is credited in 32 films and television shows. She said she also teaches and coaches actors. It was around Aug. 2014 when McGinn’s manager called saying she was excited about an audition for a film.
The audition was in Los Angeles and McGinn couldn’t fly out on short notice since shelived in New York.She was allowed to submit a self-take, a recorded audition.
“They kept calling every couple of days asking for more information about me or from me.” About a week later, McGinn received a call from the film’s casting director, who asked her to Skype with the film’s director, Luis Prieto.
table, the first victim. It’s such an irony that in my first movie I was the victim and my first lead role was to be the victimizer and the person on the attack.”
McGinn’s acting partner in Kidnap was equally compelling. Berry was, in a word, riveting. Her character, Karla, is willing to do anything and everything necessary to get her son back.
One scene in particular, of Karla in a police station begging for help, left me almost in tears.
Berry believes that Karla is universally relatable.
“I think every parent around the world will relate to the superhuman strength she is capable of when her child is in jeopardy,” Berry said. “It’s about female empowerment. It’s about women. It’s about moms. It’s about the triumph of the human spirit and how far each of us will go to save the ones we love.”
Both Prieto and McGinn say that Berry was a joy to work with, and was a consummate professional during Kidnap’s brief 20 day shoot.
“I didn’t meet Halle until I got to the set,” McGinn recalled. “From the second I met her, she jumped up and down, she hugged me, and she told me she was excited to work with me. She treated me like her equal the whole time. She treated us all like an acting troupe that was working together for the best result. She was just so fun and cool and gracious. ”
“To say that she was fantastic would be incorrect,” Prieto echoed. “She was more than fantastic. She is an incredible actor, like everyone knows. Also, she is such a professional. Because we were shooting on such a tight schedule, we didn’t have time to show Halle what was going to happen in a scene. She just had to go with the ride. There were cars coming at her at full speed, looking like they were going to crash into her, and she just went for it.”
“To put it in context, Kidnap would have been very easy to shoot in a studio with a green screen. I could have had a martini and been in air conditioning while we were shooting it,” Prieto laughed. “But we decided to shoot it the way movies were shot in the 60s — or even the 80s: we were shooting it for real. With the exception of the moment when the bad guys are dangling the kid out of the car, because we couldn’t put the kid in a dangerous situation, everything else was shot for real.”
While Kidnap received both critical and commercial acclaim, McGinn shared one disappointment about the film’s reception.
“A lot of men who reviewed the movie thought a girl couldn’t do the things Karla did,” McGinn recalled. “They kind of dismissed it. It’s OK to think that Arnold [Schwarzenegger] could be The Terminator, or that Liam Neeson could fight, so why couldn’t a woman stand up and kick ass?”
Prieto concurred, and added that race may have played a factor in the film getting short shrift with some reviewers.
“We’re not used to seeing a woman saving the day, let alone an African American woman,” Prieto reflected. “It’s a sexist mentality. It’s ok for any man, regardless of his age, to fly or kill 20 people in a movie, but if it is a woman doing that, or just hitting someone with a shovel, saving their kids, men will say ‘Eh, that’s not real.’”
“The relationship between mother and child is primal,” Prieto said. “She will do anything to get him back. You don’t see a woman in a role like this very often. I also love that you never know what’s going to happen next. Karla is figuring it out as she goes along, and you can see that in Halle’s eyes. It’s powerful.”
That has to be one of the great understatements of the year. If you’re up for a good scare and a great film, hold on tight and check Kidnap out.
Jason Norman: They wanted a woman who looked real, not a model. You and the makeup crew went through some tests and had plaster molds made.
McGinn: They created pieces that looked like skin to glue on to me. They put makeup on top of the skin pieces to look like I’d been filleted. They were taking Polaroids of my mouth and teeth, the angles they ended up using in the movie, to find the thing in my throat. My scene took two days to shoot. They had a room for me, a towel, and a sheet to cover me the minute they said cut. I didn’t really feel naked.
Jason Norman: As for the butterfly…
McGinn: They made it out of Tootsie Rolls so I wouldn’t choke if it got stuck. I learned how to hold it with my tongue, to look dead, to be still and for them to be able to pop my jaw.
The Geekiary: You and Lew Temple really looked the part of kidnappers.
McGinn: When I auditioned, I wore a too-tight Eagles tee shirt and some yoga pants and I left my hair kind of greasy. I went kind of low class on the audition tapes. I felt that, since this was so serious and dark, I really needed to be more the character and less the nice, friendly girl. When (dir.) Luis Prieto called and said, we were afraid you were really Margo, I understood why they felt that way because they hadn’t seen me any other way. That was the only way how I knew to get some attention.
About a week later, McGinn received a call from the film’s casting director, who asked her to Skype with the film’s director, Luis Prieto.
“He said they needed to call me to make sure that I was not Margo the character because I was so scary and convincing in the (audition) video. They wanted to know that I was a nice person because I did the part so well,” McGinn said while laughing. “It was thrilling. It was an out-of-body experience because I knew it was real and yet it didn’t quite feel real,” McGinn said.
While filming the movie, McGinn was able to settle in New Orleans for several weeks. She enjoyed living in the area and was able to build good relationships with the cast. “We were the ones who were together for six weeks. It really kind of bonded us,” McGinn said. “We had fun. It was really fun.” She also said she enjoyed working alongside a star like Halle Berry.
“The minute she met me, she was jumping up and down and saying how excited she was to work with me and how much fun we were going to have together. It just was wonderful.”
“We had a really great relationship. The movie’s filming was completed around Nov. 2014 and was slated to come out in 2015, but after a setback with the media company, the film was stuck in a standstill. Aviron Pictures later stepped in and released the movie. The movie cost about $20 million to make and has grossed about $21.1 million, so far.”
“It is fun because people and friends are calling me and people are recognizing me. I’m finding that people are reaching out to me through social media because they saw the movie and they liked me,” McGinn said. “They’ll write things like, ‘Oh, I hate you so much. You were really good,’” she said while laughing. “That’s been fun in that capacity to have people not so much recognize me as the bad guy, but think I did a good job in the film.”
Since the film’s release, McGinn said she’s been fielding more acting opportunities and hopes to ride the wave of the film and parlay the role into bigger jobs.“I’ve been pretty good, since I moved to New York, about getting work,” McGinn said.
“It’s just to get a bigger and more important job...to have a job that’s a few weeks long and months long is my goal, which will hopefully come from this movie. More opportunities to be seen and recognized.”