Encouraged by her set-decorating parents, California native Amanda Grace Cooper started acting when she was about eight and started seeing it more as a job when she was fifteen. The cult-ready, unclassifiable All Cheerleaders Die (now in select theaters and on VOD) is Cooper’s first lead feature that has seen distribution. In the darkly comic horror film, co-written and directed by Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson, Cooper plays Hanna, one of four cheerleaders who dies in a car accident and returns as a zombified vampire hungry for male blood. Before the accident, Hanna is a put-upon outcast who just wants to fit in with the social clique. Once reanimated, she switches bodies with her older sister and gets a jolt of confidence. Diabolique had the pleasure to speak with Amanda Grace Cooper on the film:
DIABOLIQUE: Since “All Cheerleaders Die” hops through a few different genres and tones, how would you describe it?
AMANDA GRACE COOPER: I would describe it as a black comedy. It’s funny because we’re not giving anything away with the title. It sounds like a slasher. That’s what we all went into thinking, and then it turned into something fun, campy, funny, and just awesome.
DIABOLIQUE: Can you describe the casting process? Did you plan to read for the role of Hanna?
AMANDA: No, I actually planned to read for Leena—the gothic, lesbian character—but I wasn’t really right for it, plus Sianoa (Smit-McPhee) did a wonderful job. I didn’t hear anything for about a month and then I got called back to read for Hanna. I felt more innate as that character.
DIABOLIQUE: Before the cheerleaders become literal man-eaters, which character in the film would you say you identify with most? Hanna?
AMANDA: I would say I definitely identify most with Hanna. In high school, I was the wallflower, just dying to be cool and popular. I wasn’t a Martha, or Tracy, or Maddy. Definitely a Hanna.
DIABOLIQUE: Without spoiling too much, how was it “throwing” guys against trees and acting out your sort-of “Freaky Friday” moment?
AMANDA: That was a ton of fun! I had even more fun playing the Martha character because it was further away from myself. As for “throwing” the guys against trees, I definitely got rid of some ex-boyfriend angst. Of course, the stunt doubles did some of the real stunts, but I did sprang my ankle when running through the forest. That was a blast to shoot.
DIABOLIQUE: How was it working with two directors, Lucky and Chris?
AMANDA: It was pretty awesome. You don’t usually work with two directors on a movie. Lucky and Chris are two different people, with completely different personalities, but they both had the same vision—and created something amazing. They were super sweet and pulled emotions out of me that I never thought were possible. A lot of directors know what they want but can’t explain it, but Lucky and Chris knew exactly what they wanted and how to convey it.
DIABOLIQUE: Are there any directors you are dying to work with?
AMANDA: Quentin Tarantino. It was funny because my father let me watch his movies when I was, maybe, 8.
DIABOLIQUE: What is your favorite film, horror or non-horror?
AMANDA: Non-horror. I’m obsessed with “Almost Famous.” I’m in love with musicians and I’m a big fan of Kate Hudson; she was the perfect Penny Lane. I normally don’t watch horror movies, but it was such a trip watching myself on screen in the slasher moments.
DIABOLIQUE: Do you enjoy straight horror movies, or do you like a little humor with your gore and tension?
AMANDA: I like something I can get a kick out of. I can definitely get into the “Scream” movies. What throws me off is if I know the actor and then I know it’s make-believe. The “Paranormal Activities,” though, have unknown actors, so it’s easier to get scared.
DIABOLIQUE: Do you have any upcoming projects and are any of them horror-related?
AMANDA: I do have one upcoming project and it’s a feature film. It’s not horror, but it’s like “‘Thirteen’ meets ‘Girl, Interrupted’.” It’s very cool and edgy.
DIABOLIQUE: Finally, what would you say about “All Cheerleaders Die” to prompt horror fans to see it?
AMANDA: You’ve never seen this kind of horror film before. It’s not your typical slasher, where everyone dies. There are vampires, witchcraft, sex appeal — it’s very much like “The Craft.”
Read Diabolique’s review of All Cheerleaders Die here and follow Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaGCooper_