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Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block

Wingman Wednesday

Diana Bentley

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Photo By: Shaun Benson

The latest season of the horror anthology series “Channel Zero” has been injecting our Wednesday nights with a dose of the creepy crawlies. Filled with morbidly captivating visuals and paced to unsettling perfection, “Butcher’s Block” is a gem of a genre offering from series creator Nick Antosca and the folks at SYFY, but it’s the ensemble cast that has us transfixed.

Diana Bentley portrays Edie Peach in the mystery-filled season, and much like the character’s surname would suggest, she is surface sweet, but there’s also something completely and utterly menacing about her that indicates this Peach is rotten to the core.

We recently sat down with Bentley to discuss her “Channel Zero” trip, why she was instantly at home in Edie, and the reason she feels so lucky to be a character actor in the current content climate.

TrunkSpace: “Channel Zero” is part visual feast and part mind trip. “Butcher’s Block” in particular looks like it would have been quite the experience for all involved just because of the nature of the story and the world in which you’re working. When you’re performing in a project that has a heightened reality, does it make the process a bit more surreal?
Bentley: This process was unique because, although the world around Edie Peach in “Channel Zero” is surreal, Edie is quite a grounded and clear mother bear to me. She sees the world only from her own perspective and experience, and isn’t concerned with seeing anything other than that. So, for me as the actor I felt like I was wandering around set in rose colored glasses having the time of my life! I’m sure it was a very different trip for the rest of the cast. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We know you have a theater background. In watching “Butcher’s Block,” we couldn’t help but notice that there’s something very theatrical about it at times, even right down to the framing. The dinner scene in particular comes to mind. In those shots where the entire table is visible, it’s almost like you’re looking up at it on a stage. As you were working on the project, did you get that theatrical vibe at any point during production?
Bentley: I don’t know whether I would say I felt the show was ‘theatrical’ but I would say it feels heightened to be inside. There’s a tension and a need and a ‘keeping up appearances’ that kept me feeling like I couldn’t let the ball drop. I think that’s the magic of the Peach clan and the show’s storytelling.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what was the most exciting aspect of Edie Peach that you were looking forward to tackling? Was there something in her personality that was an entirely new take on a character for you?
Bentley: From the moment I read the audition I fell in love with Edie and needed to play her because I understood her so deeply. I’ve never felt so at home in a character or loved them so much. There is a quality to Edie that wants to love and be loved so badly, that it obliterates everything else. I found this an intoxicating aspect of her personality.

TrunkSpace: We always hear about character complexity and how that can make working on a project more interesting for a performer, but does that also apply to story complexity? Does a yarn spun with lots of twists and turns keep things more interesting for you?
Bentley: Yes. The story is everything. Arkasha Stevenson and Nick Antosca had such an incredible grasp on the story and who these characters were, and that made it a delight to work on. Arkasha let me improvise as Edie and pushed me to explore Edie’s humor and also her darkness. She trusted that I knew the character inside out and let me play – it was just the best experience. When you can really follow a director and where they take you it makes for an awesome ride.

TrunkSpace: “Channel Zero” plays in various genre sandboxes, but the one that is most apparent (and the big draw for viewers) is horror. One of the things the show does so well is setting a really uncomfortable, creepy tone for the audience, and based on early feedback, this season is firing on all creepy cylinders. What are you most excited for viewers to see and experience as the season rolls on?
Bentley: I just think as the show delves deeper and deeper into the world and psyches of the characters, viewers will be more and more entranced and horrified. Olivia (Luccardi) and Holland (Roden) have such wild journeys – I can’t wait for the audiences to see where these two sisters end up!

TrunkSpace: Horror fans are pretty welcoming when it comes to new projects, especially when those projects are done right. When you’re coming into a series like “Channel Zero,” do you go in thinking about the end product and how it will be perceived? When all is said and done, the genre has a bit of a built-in audience so there’s automatically going to be a set of viewers who will tune in to see if it’s their cup of tea, which must be nice to know as you’re working on something… that the work you’re doing will be discovered regardless?
Bentley: I didn’t think about the end result – but I was really excited to share this show with viewers. I just think it’s such a wacky, dark, terrifying and often funny ride. As a cast we really bonded making it, and when that happens it’s usually a sign that it’s going to be good!

Photo By: Allen Fraser/Syfy

TrunkSpace: You’re also returning to “Frontier” for Season 3 later this year. We hear so much about how exciting of a time it is for actors in this “golden age of television” because of the rich, character-driven stories, but is the quantity just as exciting as the quality? Is there more work now than when you started your career?
Bentley: I feel pretty lucky to be a character actor right now because I think more than ever dynamic and meaty characters are being written for women. Edie is the perfect example – she is all of the traditional conventions of femininity but turned upside down. And Imogen on “Frontier” is not dissimilar! What you see isn’t always what you get and that’s what I’m drawn to.

TrunkSpace: Is theater still a big part of your life? Does acting on stage give you a different thrill than tackling a role on-camera?
Bentley: Theater is a huge part of my life. I run my own theater in Toronto called the Coal Mine Theatre! It’s a 90 seat theater in a storefront and we have an awesome audience. There’s nothing like performing on stage – it’s a different thrill performing live and a different beast in many ways. I like flexing those muscles once in a while.

TrunkSpace: What is the best house you’ve ever performed in? Not the best play or experience, but the most beautifully-moving theater itself – the kind of place that inspired you night after night – and why?
Bentley: I did a show at my own theater a few years ago called “Bull” by English playwright Mike Bartlett. It’s a play about bullying and we did the entire show inside a cage with the audience right on the other side of the cage, up against it. It was the most insane experience because the audience felt free to speak and comment and voice what they were feeling throughout the show. It was intense but awesome.

TrunkSpace: Anything is possible in “Channel Zero,” so we figured we’d take a page from that fantastical handbook for our last question. If we had at time machine and it could send you ahead 10 years to see what your career would look like in 2028, would you take that opportunity for a futuristic sneak peek?
Bentley: No! I love living in the moment. One of things I try to embrace about being an actor is not knowing what’s coming next or what’s happening. It’s one of the unique things about the profession that I’m learning to love. Your life could completely change overnight and that’s intoxicating if you let it be.

“Channel Zero” airs Wednesdays on SYFY.

For more information on the Coal Mine Theatre, visit here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Holland Roden

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After spending six seasons on the hit MTV series “Teen Wolf,” actress Holland Roden is used to dipping her toes into the supernatural water, but like the nightly news so often teaches us, human nature is far more disturbing than those things that go bump on a full moon night. In Season 3 of the horror anthology series “Channel Zero” (subtitled “Butcher’s Block”), Roden’s character Zoe is battling demons of the personal variety while being dropped in the middle of an unsettling mystery that would make anyone question the sordid capabilities of humanity. The troubling journey offers sights, sounds and an atmosphere that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. It is the worst case scenario for a character grappling with her own soundness of judgment.

We recently sat down with Roden to discuss tackling mental illness onscreen, why she was excited to dive into the “stripped down” nature of Zoe, and the reason acting satisfies her gypsy soul.

TrunkSpace: You portrayed Lydia Martin in 100 episodes of “Teen Wolf.” Does stepping into a series like “Channel Zero” have a different vibe as an actress, knowing that it has a single season ceiling? Does it feel more like you’re working in film rather than in television?
Roden: It feels just like a different story. Playing Lydia I had a certain feeling and Zoe a certain feeling. She’s an adult, she… well, I think of her as living in the real world. Lydia lived in a supernatural one, for all intents and purposes. Zoe has a much more realistic approach despite what she deals with mentally.

TrunkSpace: From a character’s journey standpoint, did you have a clear take on what Zoe’s beginning, middle and end would be when you signed on to play her, and if so, does knowing that journey beforehand make it easier to make choices for a character in the early stages of finding who she is beneath the surface?
Roden: I don’t know how much of the plot I can give away. There was one aspect I found out only when I read Episode 2. I had recently seen a movie called “Raw” and loved it, so let’s just say I was excited to be able to play some of the same urges that were for the characters in “Raw.”

TrunkSpace: When we first meet Zoe we learn that she is suffering from a genetically-inherited psychotic break. What kind of research did you do beforehand to get a sense of what that would look like for Zoe and how you would portray it onscreen?
Roden: Lots of YouTube, articles and books. One book that Nick (Antosca) and Arkasha (Stevenson) recommended and I read was “No One Cares About Crazy People.”

TrunkSpace: Zoe seems very different than any of the previous characters we have seen you take on in the past. Creatively, was that part of the appeal for you in “Channel Zero,” getting to tackle a character and territory that you have yet to in your career?
Roden: Exactly that – I play an adult. I play a character with a lot of responsibility and hopelessness at the same time. I was enthralled to tackle Zoe. There is a stripped down aspect to her – no makeup, baggy clothes – the opposite of Lydia.

TrunkSpace: “Channel Zero” plays in various genre sandboxes, but the one that is most apparent (and the big draw for viewers) is horror. One of the things the show does so well is setting a really uncomfortable, creepy tone for the audience, and based on early feedback, this season is firing on all creepy cylinders. What are you most excited for viewers to see and experience as the season rolls on?
Roden: The dinner scenes for sure.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that we are always fascinated with is how actors can tap into fear, which we would imagine, is one of the more difficult emotions to find on set just because it is so specific and needs to read so honestly in order to be believable for viewers. From a performance standpoint, how do you go about that? What are your tricks to finding fear within a scene?
Roden: I just pile myself to the best of my ability in the situation – sense memory to a certain extent. I write backstories on characters I play. Some days are better than others. We all have bad days at the office, but ultimately, once you are there, it is real to me.

TrunkSpace: Again sticking with the idea of performance, what was the most difficult part of shooting “Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block” for you? Where did you feel the most out of your comfort zone?
Roden: Hmm. I don’t know. Well, smoking for me was a big one. I am allergic to nicotine. Of course, these don’t have that but getting the smoking thing down was tough for me. Now I don’t think twice when I have to smoke a rose cigarette, but for a long time I dreaded it.

Roden in “Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block.”

TrunkSpace: Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Roden: I don’t act at any cost anymore. If it makes sense then great, if not – from either end – there are so many amazing professions and lives to live out there. Too much to see and do to fret if this life doesn’t work.

TrunkSpace: We read that you were originally on a path towards a career in molecular biology. Had you not left your studies to pursue acting, do you think you would be a different person today? Would you have a different view and outlook on life?
Roden: I would probably be the same person but with a sharper mind at this point, yet with more curiosity. The amazing opportunity with this profession is it really feeds the gypsy, curiosity path. Nothing shocks me anymore. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’re still so young with so much career in front of you. If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Holland, go develop any project you want for yourself,” what type of project would you greenlight and why?
Roden: Wow, great question. I would explore different types of mental illnesses. One hundred percent, I would strive to only make stories we haven’t seen before.

Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block” airs Wednesday on SYFY.

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Trunk Stubs

Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block

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Series: Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block

Where To Watch: SYFY

Rated: TV-14

Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery

Release Date: February 7th, 2018

Episodes: Season 3/Six Episodes

Starring: Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden, Krisha Fairchild, Rutger Hauer

Creator: Nick Antosca

Reason We’re Watching It: Nick Antosca has taken the source material provided by Creepypasta, a group of digital urban horror stories, and given visual life to these tales and legends that will haunt your thoughts and dreams. The last two seasons of “Channel Zero” kept us up at night, wondering what the next episode will hold. “Butcher’s Block” has proven to have the same hook and is indeed the most harrowing and chilling installment of “Channel Zero” thus far.

What It’s About: “Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block” is inspired by Kerry Hammond’s Creepypasta “Search and Rescue Woods” Reddit series. The story follows Alice (Olivia Luccardi) and her sister Zoe (Holland Roden) as they move to a new town in an attempt to escape the families’ dark history with mental illness. We find out their mother is in a mental facility and that Zoe is also suffering from the same mental health issues, as well as battling with addiction. Alice is working as a social worker, hoping to help children in need. Meanwhile, there have been multiple disappearances occurring in the small town, and there are more questions than answers as to the cause. As Alice ventures further down the rabbit hole that is “Butcher’s Block,” you find out the town is much darker and sinister than you could ever imagine.

Whoah! Rewind That!: In the first episode there are a lot of moments that will have you hitting the rewind button and getting a second look at what just transpired on your screen. For us, one moment that evoked a verbal reaction from the room of viewers was the…well, we’re not sure what it was yet, but we’ll call it the “thing” in the wall. Alice makes a social worker call to check in on a mother and child. You start to hear and see this “thing” in the wall. Then, when they show the child’s room, you see a hole in the wall that would perfectly fit its face, implying that it could easily peer in on the child. The thought of this “thing” looking through the face-sized hole at the sleeping child is just horrifying to contemplate.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Season 3 of “Channel Zero” was originally going to be called “Staircases.” You’ll see why when you watch it. The creators changed the name to “Butcher’s Block,” which we have to admit, immediately sets the tone for this story.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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