Whether she’s playing the ghastly Magda in There’s Something About Mary or psychic Elise Rainier in the Insidious franchise, Lin Shaye is always a joy to watch. We put some questions to the veteran actress about her lead role in fourth chapter Insidious: The Last Key.
Set just prior to the events of the first film, Elise is drawn back to her hometown of Five Keys in New Mexico, where an entity she called up as a child is still haunting the family home.
Together with ghost hunters Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), Elise uncovers more than just a haunting and must confront the demons of her past.
After so many wonderful supporting roles, it’s great to see you front and centre in Insidious: The Last Key. Were you surprised when you discovered that Elise would be the lead in this one?
I was thrilled to find out that Elise was front and centre – what actress wouldn’t be? But especially because I love the character so much, and am so proud of the “life she has lived” in Insidious 1,2 and 3. I knew Leigh Whannell would write a history for the character I would be proud of, too, and would be excited and proud to “play.” I love her, and trust Leigh completely to reveal her past, present and future… and FURTHER!
What input did you have in the character’s back-story?
I really had no idea the back-story Leigh was creating. It was far more interesting than what I could have imagined or come up with, and the fact that Elise came out of such a violent and tumultuous past made the present Elise stronger, knowing that she is able to overcome such horror as a child and STILL maintain her “gift,” her love of life and others, and continue to use her gift to help others.
Did you ever talk to actual clairvoyants to get a sense of the role?
Did I ever talk to actual clairvoyants? No I did not. I used what I feel about myself and others – hopefully to create an empathy towards others, their problems and sadness, to create a character who is a giver and not a taker.
What are your own thoughts on the paranormal?
I believe anything and everything is possible. We know so LITTLE about SO MUCH!
You’re one of the few characters to die early in a franchise and then return. Was there ever talk early on about bringing Elise back?
The first Insidious, as far as we all knew, was a standalone film. Of course James Wan may have been thinking ahead and differently, but I had no thought at all about Elise going anywhere but into the Further in the first film!
You’ve been in several cult classic horror films as well as four Insidious movies, but are you a fan of the genre?
I am first and foremost a fan of a good story well told, and interesting characters. Whether it be Horror, Comedy or Drama, those are the primary elements that draw me into the desire to do a film.
What do you think distinguishes the Insidious films from the other contemporary supernatural movies out there?
I think the fact that James Wan and our fantastic writer and storyteller, Leigh Whannell, use the family and comfortable and emotional elements to draw the audience into the stories first. Gaining the viewers trust and comfort intensifies the horror. They set you up to turn these characters on their heads –you are invested in them in familiar ways.
Is there a particular moment in the series that really stands out for you? For us it’s the séance you hold in the gas mask in the first film – it’s fantastic!
We are on the same page! The gas mask sequence is one of my favourites as well – so odd and so spooky. Also, I love the confrontation with my father in The Last Key, and the showdown with Keyface!
Specs and Tucker are also enduring characters in the series. How do you find working with Aussies Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson?
LEIGH AND ANGUS!!! TREASURES IN ALL WAYS!! They are smart, loving, funny, respectful, articulate, and fantastic “partners-in-crime” and creators at the top of their games, both comedically and dramatically and all time fantastic! As you can see, I can’t say enough wonderful things about them…
What do you think new director Adam Robitel brings to the Insidious series?
Adam Robitel came into a tough act to follow and brought his own sensibility and experiences, both personal and professional, to all of us on set. He is a true team player and knew he was coming into a well-established franchise that had “expectations” and still room for growth. His “vision” of story and storytelling, and his brand of communication created a work environment we all flourished in, as evidenced by the final product. I adore Adam and have the greatest respect for him in the way he attacked the challenge with such grace, and apparent success.
Leigh Whannell, Adam Robitel and Lin Shaye on the set
Will The Last Key be the last film in the series, or will we see Elise again?
I HOPE FOR MORE OF COURSE! It will be up to “the powers that be” – primarily Blumhouse, Leigh Whannell, and the fans to decide if there will be a “next”. Insidious: The Last Key has found a lot of love, so I am hoping we will find more stories to tell. Elise may have to stay in the Further from now on, but hey, I could learn to love it there!