If you’re a fan of the Slasher franchise, you’re already aware of the unique casting around it. There are, from season to season, a handful of actors who check in, usually playing very different characters from the seasons before. That’s certainly the case for Paula Brancati, who returns to Slasher: Flesh & Blood playing a very different role from Violet, the social media addict on Slasher: Solstice.
On Flesh & Blood, airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite, Brancati portrays Christy, who has married into the Galloway family, a group currently battling each other for the family fortune while dodging a killer called The Gentleman.
We spoke to Brancati, who is currently prepping her first project as a director with Junior’s Giant, written by Deb McGrath, about her experiences this season.
When Aaron Martin and Ian Carpenter reach out to you and say they’ve got you in mind for a new season of Slasher, are you all in no matter what?
Paula Brancati: Oh, yeah. It’s no question. I love them as people and as creators. And it generally starts with Aaron and Ian and I over a Bellini at Milestones, which is where we like to take our creative meetings. And they often lead with one of our more graphic scenes. They’ll tell me something wild that they’re thinking of for the character. So the pitches are always so colourful. And it’s a very easy yes for me.
It’s very rare that you get to come back and work with people that you trust again and again, who keep writing for you and continue to challenge you as an actor. Because I think, a lot of times, with the Slasher series, I get to come back and act in roles that I don’t think I necessarily would be auditioning for. So they see something, I think, in all their casting choices. They really trust their actors and push them. Christy, this season, cannot be more different from Violet in Solstice.
From the first two episodes that I have seen, Christy is more low-key, part of a somewhat dysfunctional family unit. So what was it like playing her?
PB: I really loved Christy from the get-go. It was the first time I was playing a mother. And [director] Adam [MacDonald] and I, who are old friends and worked together last season as well, of course, we had really great conversations about her early on.
She is levelheaded. But as you can imagine with this show, nothing is ever what it seems. And a lot unravels very quickly. We talked a lot about Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Mother. That was somebody that Adam really took to early on as a reference for Christy. And I think we really held onto that, because I think she is this sort of grounding centre, and she really operates as eyes in for the audience. She really is a moral compass. And I think she’s fully aware of the dysfunction of the Galloways and has been married into that family for so long. But as you might have been able to see from the first two episodes, if you aren’t a blood relative, you are never fully accepted. And even when you are a blood relative, nothing is off bounds with those family members.
You said something interesting about talking to Adam about Christy. Do you like to do that with your characters, talk them out with the director? Or is that the case of you’ve known Adam, and so there’s that comfort level?
PB: That’s such a good question. I love working with all kinds of directors and really love to kind of adapt to what their process is too. But I think what’s really special about Slasher and about Adam as a director is that he’s taking on something that really is Herculean. His relationship with Ian and what they bring in leading that set is really special.
We are block shooting all eight episodes out of order for many months. So we do have the advantage of coming in with all the scripts prepared and arching that together. And I know Adam, we just love every character so much and have a full life for them. So I know that he spoke to everybody really, about different references I think. And that is the joy of the show. It really is. It feels like we’re building it all together.
And then add to that, the chemistry of the cast that doesn’t get to meetâ€”unless we’ve known each other previously, we don’t get to meet before we start shooting. So a lot sort of evolves on the floor as well. And especially in some of those bigger group scenes, which you’ll see a lot more of in this season until people start dying. We are all sort of together a lot and absorbing a lot of the madness together. And I think Adam is so great at seeing what chemistry pops up on the day and really running with that.
I’ve really enjoyed the big, family meeting scenes. As an actor, do you like that too, the bigger the group, the more people to play with in one spot?
PB: I love it. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I feel like I should be more jaded or something, but I do really enjoy it all. I do. I really relish in some of our quieter, two-hander moments myself and Breton [Lalama], myself and Chris Jacot got to do some stuff in the first couple of episodes together that was on the sort of more intimate side. And I love acting opposite those two actors and opposite our entire cast.
And then something like a big dinner scene, where we’re all sparring, and David Cronenberg is at the centre. Those are so exciting to me. And I think it does feel like theatre. I find those really long scenes, where the pace is quicker, and we’re jumping on top of each other, I find it really thrilling. I like it when I feel a little nervous and have butterflies for the scenes that we’re doing, which I think happens a lot on our show, because we are doing scenes that are pitched very high, and the stakes are very high. So that’s kind of the thrill of it as well.
With this cast of familiar faces, if I start crossing faces off the list, and I haven’t seen a particular face yet, am I on the right track as to who’s behind that mask? Or do you think I’m going to be surprised?
PB: I see what you’re saying there. Very tricky way of wording it there, Greg. I will say, that I was very surprised.
I scare easily, but I tend to be inherently suspicious, so I love a whodunit. Every season, you have a cast of characters that are all so, so rich. I would watch shows about all these characters, honestly, on their own. So we have all these people in one room now, all these characters that have very full lives, that all have a lot of secrets. And I think once those secrets come undone, you’ll see that it really could be anyone behind that mask. And also, you can’t really predict what these characters are going to do to each other. And I think that’s actually possibly even more terrifying, honestly.
Slasher: Flesh & Blood airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite.
Featured image courtesy of Salvatore Antonio. Series images courtesy of Cole Burston.