TEN Cast Interview: Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Today marks the halfway point in our series of interviews with the cast of TEN! If you’ve been following along, there has been talk of menstrual cycle alignment, the troll-like uttering of the word “Mutton!”, the singing of a song from a pig musical, and much more. The next interview features Rachel Leah Blumenthal, who will play a historian in the film and almost definitely get killed off at least once, because she dies in nearly all of Michel J. Epstein’s film projects. She is also doing a variety of behind-the-scenes tasks for TEN, including conducting these interviews. She enjoys writing in third person, eating spicy foods, and taking long walks on the beach.

What’s your acting background? I was always a musical theater kid – camp shows, school shows, community shows. I grew up going to musicals with my parents and listening to a lot of Broadway music, and I loved it all. I was generally in the chorus in most productions, but I had a few larger roles here and there. My year of glory was eighth grade, when I played Anita in the middle school production of West Side Story. It was awkward trying to be sexy and sophisticated at that age. Even more awkward? My first kiss was on stage in that production, in front of a packed auditorium. Film acting is pretty new to me, though, and my entire IMDB page is populated with Mike and Sophia’s projects. The most intense project so far would probably be the 25-minute silent film that we made as a band (I’m in the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library with Mike and Sophia and a bunch of other amazing ladies. Did I just imply that Mike’s a lady?) We filmed in the dead of winter, mostly outside, and I totally froze my butt off while getting strangled by a zombie. And I loved it.

What got you interested in TEN? Basically, when Mike and Sophia ask me if I want to do something, I say yes. It’s probably a dangerous habit, especially since they usually kill me off. I can’t help it, though. Their projects are always an adventure. I never expected to be playing in a band that occasionally tours and acting in a films at 27; I thought I had missed the boat on all of that, but thanks to meeting them by chance, here I am, doing things that I find really bizarre and fun and amazing. When they started talking about the trailer competition that ultimately resulted in this whole project coming about, I knew I had to participate. When they decided to take the ideas from the fake trailer and actually make a real movie, they asked if I wanted to be involved, and I didn’t have to think twice before agreeing.

What’s this about Mike and Sophia killing you all the time? Seriously, nearly every project I’ve done with them, I’ve ended up dead. I’m kind of worried about what this means in terms of our working relationship and what they think of me. I think the body count…my body count…is somewhere around five. In the silent film, I get strangled by a zombie and also fall from the sky as a flying machine breaks down. In one of their Darling Pet Munkee videos, I’m hugged to death at the end of a date with Frankenstein’s monster. In another video that hasn’t been released yet, I’m eaten by sea monkeys. In TEN, rumor has it that I may die not once but twice.

What do you anticipate will be the most challenging thing about this project for you? The acting will be difficult, I think. I have no training in film acting, and I’m not sure I’m quite a natural at it. Mike’s great at giving direction, though, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to help draw a great performance out of me. More challenging, though, will be surviving the shooting week. I’m doing a lot of tasks aside from acting – I don’t even know all of the things that I’ll be doing – but I’m not anticipating finding much time to sleep. It’s a horror movie, though, so it’s probably ok if I look exhausted and crazy, right?

What are you most looking forward to? The overall experience – the shooting week, in particular. We’ll all be living together at a mansion for the week. I anticipate that it’ll be very similar to sleepaway camp or touring with a band. Amazing and terrible and ridiculously memorable and exhausting all at once. I’m probably going to want to run away or kill a few people by the end, but it’s certainly going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How are you preparing for your role? I don’t have too many lines to learn, so while that’s obviously important, I’m really focusing more on physical preparation. I want to be in peak condition – for one thing, it’d be nice to lose the ten pounds that the camera allegedly adds! Also, the pants we found for me are a little bit tight, so it’d be nice to be able to breathe when I wear them. But more importantly, I just want to be in great shape so that I have the endurance to get through the intense week. Since October, I’ve been working on a “couch to 10k” running program, and I have about ten workouts left to go. I’ve also been trying to eat a bit healthier. For this last month before we shoot, I’m cutting way back on meat (Sophia’s sharing some of her favorite vegan recipes!), beer, and other things that make me feel sluggish. I’m a food writer in “real life,” so I go to a lot of events where I’m fed kind of ridiculous feasts; I’m trying to balance that with healthy choices when I’m not on the job and smart portion control at all times.

Who is your favorite pig in history or literature? I’d have to go with Snowball in Animal Farm, an idealistic but ultimately flawed, doomed character.

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