[Interview] Juliette Lewis Talks Her New Show, 'Sacred Lies,' And Her Personal Interest in True Crime!
In promotion of Blumhouse’s new crime series Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juliette Lewis for Killer Horror Critic about her role as Harper...
...While working at a soul-sucking job as a telemarketer, Harper is a volunteer investigator for the Jane Doe project, a civilian-run database that collects information and leads about cold cases involving missing women. Harper’s obsession with solving cold cases leads her to one particularly tangled web of confused identity and missing persons.
Check out the interview below, in which we discussed Juliette's role, her interest in true crime and what's coming next, and stream Sacred Lies on Facebook Watch this Thursday, February 20, 2020!
Killer Horror Critic: You look amazing in your IG posts from the Oscars. It looked so fun… IS it as fun as it looks, or is it one of those holiday business parties where you want to make a quick Irish exit?
Juliette Lewis: Yes, a little bit of that, but I’ve learned, now, over the years, how to have fun. Honestly, you get to see people you worked with—I joked with my boyfriend, who’s new to all this stuff, “It’s the company party, honey,” that’s literally how I said it—but I think it helps when you feel good in what you’re wearing. You do it once a year, and I got to see so many people who I adore… Dan Levy from Schitt’s Creek, I mean, come on. Whitney Cummings, who I love. I got to see John Choo, and I did a movie with him a while back… you get to see a lot people who you really like. Once you get past the picture-taking, then you can enjoy your night. And they have a great DJ, and a dance party…
KHC: So it’s kind of both, then. That’s great! I wanted to ask a few questions about your role as Harper in the new Facebook Watch series by Blumhouse, Sacred Lies… what drew you to that role?
JL: The writing! It was one of the most exciting scripts that I’ve read in a long time, and the character was definitely different on the page. I knew exactly how I would play her. I could feel her energy. I love that she’s an introvert, I love that she has no vanity because that’s not what she thinks about. I understood her obsessive nature as a creative personality—we are kind of obsessive. And then I met Raelle Tucker, and she’s just such a special talent. She’s the show creator and writer. I joked with her, “Oh my God, you mean my hundreds of hours watching Forensic Files and ID has prepared me? I was actually doing research that whole time?” Even though what drives (Harper) is her traumatic history, I really understood that passion of wanting to solve cold cases, and I admired it.
KHC: I was going to ask if you have personal interest in true crime—and it sounds like with Forensic Files and stuff that you do have some. How did you get into that head space? What did you do to prepare for that character? And… do you have a particular crime that interests you the most?
JL: Oh, God. There’s so many. Honestly, I love survival stories. I’ve watched documentaries about what women did to survive horrendous crimes, and of course that’s easier to stomach because the people live. But then on the detective side, what makes a great detective is that sixth sense. It’s fascinating how homicide detectives read a crime scene. I drew on that. I’ve seen documentaries on that, I’ve read books on that, of how all they’re looking at is the body and all the things around it, and they can tell you what type of personality committed those crimes. Profilers! A lot of times when you play characters, you get to use what’s already in your experience, and you draw from that. And I liked that Harper was a gay woman who was cut off from loving herself, nurturing herself, from her intimate relationships, and that discovery, to me, was interesting to play, in an honest way.
KHC: I know how you love to make realistic, memorable characters, and she’s such a believable person. I also love true crime, and as a person who writes about it a lot, I always want to make sure that I don’t misrepresent anything. Sacred Lies says it’s based in part on actual crime, and part on a fairy tale. What was that like, to know that you were somewhat reenacting something that actually happened?
JL: We never specify a single crime, it’s more a plural of some cold cases, and I think the environment of where crimes get committed are so telling. And so we start to weave—oh my God, my little brain was about to give away some of the plot. That’s terrible. When they tell me to keep a secret. OKAY. I’m not gonna give it away. The environment, who it’s close to, who is in the area… all of those elements become clues. I was just more wrapped up in that I understood what drove her every day. That she woke up, and that’s what on her mind. She snacks. She doesn’t really feed herself properly. It is her life’s mission….
KHC: I loved that, too. It’s so well-depicted in the very first scenes she’s in, and your character is on the phone making those cold calls and hating it, and she sits down, and we see that huge bulletin board over the desk, and I was like, yes. Yes, this is my jam. And there’s that one line where she says, “I found the body because I was trying to see the body through her eyes,” which is what I think you were saying about, basically, paying attention to the right things. It seems like with some of your more recent roles like this one, like in The Act based on the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard—which is a WILD story—and one of my favorites--
JL: Yeah! Yeah!
KHC: And then with Ma, and one of my personal, HUGE fan favorite, LOVE Natural Born Killers, was that a conscious career decision? To go down the path of crime and horror? Or is that what happened based on current trends?
JL: It’s just a trip of what finds you. Those are both crazy cases. I’m just looking for characters and to be a part of things. Some roles are leads, some roles are cameos. I have another project I did with Mark Ruffalo that’s a three episode role in a limited series, that’s called I Know This Much is True, and that’ll be out in April on HBO. It’s breathtaking. It’s quite opposite: she’s really girly, she’s narcissistic, she’s a professor. It was really fun to play. But I did some looking for pretty much great storytelling and characters, and now in the shift in our industry where there’s so much great television… I just had a really great year last year. I have a lot of projects coming out.
KHC: Which ones are you excited about next?
JL: Definitely the Mark Ruffalo project. I have two movies I did—and movies are more unpredictable when they’re independent You don’t know where they’re going to end up. I did this really incredible movie called May Day that’s super female-centric. You can see the cast. And then there was another one with such a big cast. Same with Tate Taylor, the director who did The Help and Ma. I was in his next movie… Alison Janney stars, Wanda Sykes is in it, Ellen Barkin, Awkwafina.
KHC: That sounds like so much fun.
JL: It’s called Breaking News in Yuba County. And then I did this Showtime TV show that doesn’t a have release date yet. That’s called Yellowjackets.
KHC: You’ve been REAL busy! I wanted to know, too, what is your bucket list role, or what would you love to play? Or if you’ve already hit that, what’s the role that you’re the most proud of?
JL: No, you never hit it! We always got to dream up more dreams. I think… a jazz singer. I love the era. I love the drama and that time period. I always wanted to get a story about Anita O’Day. It’s just hard to get rights to things. And then another dream project, that I’m developing, that I wrote, and that I’m directing. The good news is the TV work has increased my profile so I can talk business for a second, and then I’ll direct this movie.
KHC: That sounds awesome… and then after you finish this dream job, you can re-wear that dress from the Oscars for your jazz singer role! Thank you so much for spending this time with Killer Horror Critic!
By Mary Kay McBrayer