Writer/director Karen Moncrieff's dramatic film The Dead Girl features an ensemble cast most directors would kill to work with. Toni Collette, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington, Brittany Murphy, Piper Laurie, Rose Byrne, James Franco, Giovanni Ribisi, Mary Steenburgen, and Bruce Davison rotate through the film, telling a mesmerizing, character-driven story centered around the murder of a young woman.
Every member of the cast brought something special to the film, including Mary Beth Hurt who earned a Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female for her portrayal of a wife who discovers her husband's hiding a very disturbing secret. On the blue carpet at the Spirit Awards, Hurt discussed The Dead Girl and the importance of award shows in helping to get independent films seen by wider audiences.
How important was it for you to be involved in this film?
"Very, very important. As soon as I read it, the first few pages I was thinking, ‘Oh no, oh no. This is just going to be gory and exploitative.’ And then things started to change and the people became much more human than I had ever seen, or ever had the chance to play in a film. So I was just thrilled to be a part of this."
The Dead Girl really did attract a first-rate cast.
"Yeah, the thing that strikes me most is the tremendous ensemble of people. Even though we never met each other most of the time, to have the caliber of actors doing it… It really is an ensemble piece and I’m very pleased to be in it.”
What was Karen Moncrieff like to work with?
"She is exacting. She’d been an actress and had written some successful things before, and had directed some successful things. She had very strong ideas about what she wanted, most of which I agreed with. Some of which I didn’t. We got along fine. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with conflict as long as nobody’s hitting or fighting.”
When you're a part of such a large ensemble, do you ever worry there isn't enough time to flesh out your character?
"I don’t have any control over that so I tend not to worry about those things that I can’t control in any way. I do the character exactly as I can to who I think she is, and then I keep my fingers crossed."
How important is being a part of the Spirit Awards to a film like The Dead Girl?
"I think it’s very important. It hasn’t had a wide release so far. I hope that it manages to because I really believe in it."