Holland Roden approached dual ‘Mother, May I?” role ‘as realistically as possible’


Holland Roden stars in "Mother May I?" File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI

Holland Roden stars in “Mother May I?” File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 21 (UPI) — Holland Roden plays a woman literally turning into her boyfriend’s mother in Mother, May I?, in theaters and video on demand Friday.

Anya (Roden) accompanies Emmett (Kyle Gallner) to settle his late mother Tracy’s estate, but begins acting like Tracy.

“I wanted to approach it as realistically as possible,” Roden told UPI in a phone interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike. “That was a first for me, playing the girlfriend and his 65-year-old deceased mother.”

Roden said she crafted a different physicality to portray Anya and Tracy.

“Anya didn’t lead with her sexuality and the mother did,” Roden said. “Having that bravado in a 65-year-old’s perspective, I think, was my biggest concern.”

Emmett is taken aback when he sees Anya dancing like his mother. Roden said she practiced choreography from ballets of the ’70s with producer Daisy Long, who also had ballet experience.

“That felt very out-of-body for me, so no pun intended, it was very much out of Anya’s body, as well,” Roden said. “She had to be good at it.”

Anya and Emmett eat psilocybin mushrooms at the beginning of their visit. Writer-director Laurence Vannicelli leaves Mother, May I? open to interpretation as to whether Anya is truly possessed or just having a bad trip.

Roden, however, felt Anya’s new dance skills lent credence to the possession interpretation.

“For me, the dancing was one of the signs that edged it more toward a supernatural effect,” Roden said. “I ultimately approached both characters authentically, meaning Tracy was actually in her body.”

However, Roden said just because she chose to play Anya as possessed by Tracy, that does not mean that is the correct interpretation. Roden said Vannicelli also left clues that Anya could have been manipulating Emmett.

“Is there that twinkle in her eye that says, ‘I’m fooling you’ and so therefore you hate Anya?” Roden asked rhetorically. “Both could be believable, and it’s up to the audience member” to decide.

If Anya is possessed, that would make Mother, May I? another horror movie for Roden.

After six seasons on MTV’s Teen Wolf, a role she reprised in this year’s Teen Wolf: The Movie, Roden also starred in a season of Channel Zero and the films Follow Me and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.

“I just like good stories,” Roden said. “I don’t care what shape that comes in.”

Roden said Mother, May I?‘s remote estate location in western upstate New York also helped evoke the mood of the film. The cast and crew lived at the house in which they filmed.

Roden said after intense days of shootings, they would decompress by watching the comedy, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

“The tone around the house was quite jubilant for such a dark film,” Roden said.

Roden has three more projects she completed before the SAG-AFTRA strike. In a back-to-school movie, The Re-Education of Molly Singer, Roden plays a comic villain.

“I was very much the Bridesmaids and Legally Blonde spin of a villain,” Roden said.

In the Hallmark Channel movie, Making Waves, premiering Aug. 5, Roden plays a record label executive who reconnects with a childhood sweetheart (Corey Cott) while trying to sign his band.

A holiday miniseries coming in October casts Roden as a bride-to-be whose parents (John C. McGinley and Virginia Madsen) and neighbors are caught up in holiday chaos. Roden calls that one a “cheerful feel, good holiday project.”

Speaking on the eve of the strike, Roden said she supports the guild in its fight to raise minimum salaries and curb unreasonable AI use.

Roden said she hopes the walkout does not adversely impact the release of independent films if cast members are not allowed to do publicity.

“I believe in why we’re striking,” Roden said. “Recurring actors [on TV shows] have other jobs. That’s crazy to me that you can’t make a living being an actor.”

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