Women’s Voice, January 18, 2003
Women’s Voice – What an unusual concept for a script. Your character, Felice Quick, is the result of an old CIA mind-control experiment gone bad. You are a rogue agent with a mission. Not to mention you're character is a multiple personality. Did you have any hesitations when you accepted this role?
Ann Tyler Allen – Loads! I never question the quality of the script, the directors ability, or the viability of the project. I knew that the actor playing the role of Felice would make or break the believability of the film. If my characters came across as a bunch of sketch comedy characters, I would kill the film. I will always be indebted to writer/director Laurel Wetzork for believing I could perform this role.
WV – This was a very low budget independent feature film. Why did you choose to perform such a complex role without taking any up front compensation?
ATA – Rogues is a great script and Felice Quick is a magnificent character. I can’t imagine an actress, who really loves performing, who would not want to do this role. To this day I am honored to have been chosen to play the role of Felice Quick. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, no matter what the budgetary restrictions were. It was a big risk to take as my first starring role, but no matter what the critics say, I will always be happy that I took the risk.
WV – How much time did you have to prepare for the role of Felice Quick in Rogues?
ATA – About a year. I started researching the character/ characters in the fall of 2001.
WV – What kind of research did you do? How did you prepare for the role?
ATA – I read everything I could find on multiple personalities. I watched documentaries and other films relating to the disorder. I talked with psychologists who had worked with multiples. Then I worked on developing a back story for Felice Quick. When and where she was born? What kind of friends did she have? How was she abused and by whom? Why did each of the personalities come into being? Who came first? I tried to do everything as one character for a day, how would they dress, walk, eat, talk! It wa amazing how much of an impact that had on developing the characters.
WV – Do you believe that multiple personalities really exist?
ATA – We all alter our personalities in a minor way when we talk to different people. You don't talk to a priest the same way you talk to your friends, or talk to your elderly grandfather the way you talk to a murderer or a policeman. Multiples develop those traits in an extreme way. We alter our tone and posture when talking to different kinds of people because we want be respected loved, safe or not hauled off to jail. Multiples do it to survive the next burning cigarette in their back, the next sexual assault, the next murder they have to witness. The mind either shuts down completely or it fractures, compartmentalizing issues, developing different personalities. Each one developed to handle a different kind of situation. The personalities can not accept each other's existence, if they did, then they would see the whole picture and be threatened with a complete breakdown.
WV – That still does explain how you are so sure multiple personalities really exist. That those people aren't just great actors.
ATA – I read so much that confirmed to me it was a real disorder. But the final reassurance came when I read about a couple of multiple personality patients Dr. Andrew Weil had seen. He spoke of how the one patient had a severe allergy to citrus and whenever they had citrus within twenty minutes they would breakout in a tremendous rash. However one of the three personalities did not have any allergic reaction. The other very similar case was a multiple who was clinically proven to have diabetes. In this instance one of the three personalities showed no signs of diabetes and went without any insulin. Their minds believed that these personalities were independent of the others even though they shared a body.
WV – What was your biggest challenge in creating the role of Felice Quick?
ATA – Felice is a very complex character, to say the least. She is quick witted, sexy, funny, dark, manipulative and vulnerable. There are so many layers to Felice that I really had to break her down into moments, beats in the script. And that's just Felice! Aside from changing into five other personalities on screen I had to create these characters with two sides. There was the performing side, the one trying to lure Sam into her trap. Then each character also had their true selves. The one that was conspiring with the others to entrap Sam. And you think you are confused. It was really like playing 12 characters in a sense. I never could have done this if the director Laurel Wetzork had not guided me through the character changes. There were days I had to switch characters five or six times. Her direction gave me creative insight that made a very complex characterization possible under very intense conditions.
WV – What has been your greatest acting accomplishment?
ATA – Without any doubt, Rogues and the role of Felice Quick. This was the most challenging role I have ever performed. With the added challenges of such a limited shoot schedule, high summer temperatures, little or no rehearsal time (and for me no one to help with hair or wardrobe, ha), I feel we all accomplished a great deal and have created a powerful film.
WV – When did you start acting?
ATA – I was very interested in acting by the time I was 9 or 10 years old performing in community theaters and school plays in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t until I came to Los Angeles that I pursued more serious training and began to perform in television and film.
WV – Have you always been a serious film actress?
ATA – Yes and no. I have always wanted a serious film-acting career, but I have enjoyed many types of performance. Even sketch comedy and improv helps keep my mind creative and moving fast. I look at those arts as a great workout.
WV – Is it true that you have done stand-up comedy? Is that something you might do again?
ATA – Yes, I have spent some time doing stand-up with my warmhearted senior citizen character, Harriet. I am also staging a new stand-up act Momedy©, featuring true-life stories of parenting my two children, Andy and Alicia, not to mention the antics of my husband Paul.
WV – What one actor has had the greatest impact on your career?
ATA – Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Kathy Bates, Betty Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Glenn Close, Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, and comics such as Carol Burnett and Whoppi Goldberg. Oh I could go on as the list is long. If I really had to pick one, I guess it would be Meryl Streep. I have always wanted to perform roles I knew Meryl would have considered performing. Somehow that set a bar, a level of accomplishment to strive for in looking at projects. Women have a harder time in this industry, especially after 30. We need writers to write more great roles for women over 30, roles like Felice Quick in Rogues. Thank you Laurel Wetzork!!! We have a zillion 40 year old men in nearly every film. It’s time we gave women the same opportunities!!!