Penelope Lagos is an actress who appears in the film The Jersey Devil; here is a link to her website:
Q: What is The Jersey Devil about?
A: The Jersey Devil is about the original Devil, Lucifer, whose term limits are up and must turn the reigns of Hell over to James Burnett. Burnett has a new plan for Hell that includes changing its image and relocation. He enlists the help of others and after an extensive search, they settle on New Jersey. He implements his plan to gather as many souls as possible. Meanwhile, Lucifer, with his wife Eve and Advocate Judas have arrived in Jersey to put an end to James’ plans. After several failed attempts to stop him, Lucifer turns to a higher power for help. The Jersey Devil is now available on Amazon streaming for only $1.99! (http://www.amazon.com/The-Jersey-Devil-ChrisMulkey/dp/B01351N642)
Q: What role do you play?
A: I play the role of Tori LaSalle, who is Burnett’s side kick Richard Cooper’s love interest. Did you catch all that? She is often mistaken as a stripper/exotic dancer but in reality she is a girl looking for love in all the wrong places.
Q: How did you prepare for the role?
A: The role of Tori was a unique one in that she had to be likable by the audience but she was in fact in hell, so as a character she was flawed. I read the script several times, made my notes, did my usual character breakdown and spoke with the writer/director Joe Pepitone about how he imagined her. I think it’s important for any actor to bring the writer’s vision to life and having an open dialogue with Joe helped me greatly. He is truly an actor’s director and wants you to succeed which helps A LOT. I also watched some classic scenes from Married with Children, as aspects of the character Kelly Bundy reminded me of Tori. I memorize lines only before I go to sleep so you can say Joe’s script was my bed time story for many nights. I swear I have a method to my madness!
Q: How is the movie different than other films set in Hell?
A: The Jersey Devil is not your stereotypical hell with fire/flames, crazy heat and people with horns running around. It’s also not a horror film so you don’t have any of the blood and gore you would see in that genre. It’s really a group of people who are living a fairly normal life in the afterlife. After all, normal life can in fact be hell at times (laughs).
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?
A: My weekly work is shoe modeling. I do showroom, runway and fittings so that keeps me busy. It’s very similar to acting in that you are presenting yourself to an audience without using words. It’s still a show, but on a much smaller scale. I also just completed a children’s picture book called I Miss My Best Friend on pet loss, so I will be pitching to publishing companies over the next few months. My love for animals has driven me back to school, and I recently completed a certification in Canine Conditioning and Basic Massage. By next year, I plan to have my certification in Canine Hydrotherapy and will be opening up my own small business. Bonding with animals teaches you a lot about yourself and having compassion and vulnerability in my day to day and acting life.
Q: What is your strangest on set story?
A: There have been a few (laughs). So when we shot “JD” there were two blizzards within a week. I couldn’t stay overnight because of another work commitment and so everyone was placing bets that I would be a no show the next day on set. Only essential vehicles were allowed on the road, but I made it there (long story, don’t ask) and I was actually the first actor on set. That day we were shooting the end scene with the whole cast. Roy Nowlin, who plays Adam came out in a next to nothing outfit and let’s just say I was not expecting it. So there we all are in the middle of a blizzard on a random day in February pretending to be in hell. We are confronting Chris Mulkey who plays God and seeing Adam and Eve reunite for the first time while I’m protecting my latest boyfriend from being struck by the powers of God. I’d say it doesn’t get much stranger than that!
Q: Why is New Jersey a great place to film a movie?
A: I’m a Jersey girl through and through. I was born and raised here and currently live in the town I grew up in. People don’t give NJ the credit it deserves. I think there are so many facets to it and being a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and yet easily accessible to the relaxation of the beach, we are very fortunate. NJ played its own character in this film. People always tell me I should have been a realtor because I really sell The Garden State.
Q: What is the best acting advice anyone has ever given you?
A: When I was over at Atlantic Acting School, they emphasized the importance of treating acting as a business and being professional, on time and staying true to the writer’s written words. This has stuck with me and it’s advice I pass along to anyone interested in entering this crazy business.
Q: What famous role could you have nailed?
A: Well one of my acting idol’s is definitely Julia Roberts and I have watched Pretty Woman more times than I care to reveal in this interview. I don’t believe anyone could have topped her performance or had the chemistry she did with Richard Gere but it would have been a dream role for me.
Q: If you could run hell for a day, what changes would you make?
A: Well hopefully I will never be in that situation because that would mean I was down there too, God forbid. (laughs, hoping you caught that pun) So let’s say I’m visiting for the day. I think I would line up a small group of people, let’s call them the “A listers”, who have been very well behaved since they arrived. Angels in hell of sorts. I’d give them one chance to redeem themselves. I believe in second chances if someone is truly remorseful for what he/she has done so yeah another chance at life after life.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.