Q&A Interview with Eloise Mumford of “The River” (for the DVD release of “The River – The Complete First Season”) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
May 15, 2012 by Dennis Amith
The horror/drama series known as “The River” is coming out on DVD via “The River – The Complete First Season”.
“The River” was created by horror filmmaker/writer Oren Peli (“Paranormal Activity” films, “Chernobyl Diaries”, “Area 51″),veteran TV writer Michael R. Perry (“Millennium”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “The Guardian”) and veteran TV writer Michael Green (“Smallville”, “Heroes”, “Everwood”, “Green Lantern”). The series also features Steven Spielberg as the executive producer.
With the upcoming DVD release of “The River – The Complete First Season”, J!-ENT will be featuring media Q&A’s with the several cast members of “The River”. We kicked things off with actor Bruce Greenwood, who plays the character role of the famous explorer Dr. Emmet Cole. For our second Q&A, we feature Eloise Mumford, who plays Lena Landry on “The River”.
Eloise appeared in several TV series such as “Lone Star” and “Crash”. In “The River”, Eloise plays the mysterious character Lena Landry, who grew up with Dr. Emmet Cole’s son Lincoln (played by Joe Anderson).
Lena’s father is also missing and she accompanies Tess and Lincoln Cole along with the production crew to the Amazon jungle in hopes of finding her father. But there may be more to Lena than the others may know about her.
What secrets is she keeping from Lincoln and the group about the missing Dr. Emmet Cole?
Through this media Q&A we learn of how Eloise got the role for “The River” and her thoughts on being part of a horror/paranormal drama series.
What attracted you to the role of Lena Landry in The River?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I stumbled across The River by accident. I was auditioning for something else when I overheard two actors talking quite loudly about their favorite pilots. I’d heard about most of the shows they were discussing, but then they mentioned The River, which I hadn’t read yet. The one thing I remember about what they said was the fact that the producers were looking for actors who could act as realistically as possible. That was the whole focus of the show, that it is meant to seem real and it was like a documentary-style program. I thought to myself: ‘Huh, that’s interesting.’ As soon as I got out of the audition, I emailed my manager and I asked him: “Hey, what’s the deal with The River?”
What happened next?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I went and auditioned for The River the next morning. After I did some scenes, the producers said to me: “Okay, great. Do you mind if we now interview you as the character?” I was ecstatic because I love that kind of thing. The show’s creator, Oren Peli, then interviewed me for 15 minutes as Lena Landry.
Did you think you aced the audition?
ELOISE MUMFORD: When I left the room, I really wasn’t sure if I could pull off the role. Lena is a helicopter pilot and she’s very different to me – but I knew I’d love to be on a show where you’re given such freedom as an actor. By that night, I was booked to appear in the pilot. It was a crazy 36 hours of emotions, but I was thrilled to be part of such an exciting and fresh new show.
The show is about the search for Dr. Emmet Cole, but it’s also about survival in the Amazon. Are you much of an outdoors girl in real life?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I am, luckily, which is why it was extra fun to shoot out in the open. It was also fun to get to do something where I could be tough and strong. As a young actress, it’s unusual to find a role where you get to be intelligent and have your own secrets and storyline, without it being about makeup and looks.
Talking of secrets, your character seems to know more than she is letting on…
ELOISE MUMFORD: I’m not sure how much I can give away, but the audience soon figures out that Dr. Cole has been communicating with Lena. However, nobody is quite sure why or to what degree. I know I’m allowed to say that the show will explore how much Lena knows because she definitely knows more than everyone else in the group – but she doesn’t let on anything for a while. There is something really untruthful going on and Lena is being really secretive about her information.
What research did you undertake for the role of Lena?
ELOISE MUMFORD: Lena is a helicopter pilot, so I read a lot about helicopters before we shot the pilot. I even watched the movie Blue Thunder, which is all about helicopters. As the show progressed, I found myself reading more and more about the Amazon, especially when it comes to the folklore and mystery of the region. It’s quite fascinating how much of the magic from the show isn’t made up. People actually believe in the magic of the Amazon and the folklore down there.
How much did your helicopter research help you tackle the role?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I’ll let you into a secret… When you see me in the helicopter in the first episode of The River, that is the first time I had been in a helicopter in my life. But I learned pretty fast how to get out of it like a natural.
Did you enjoy shooting that scene?
ELOISE MUMFORD: It was pretty funny because I had never been shown how to get out of a helicopter properly. As soon as I walked on to the set, I was told: “Okay, we’re rolling.” And I asked: “Wait! Aren’t we going to practice me getting out of the helicopter?” The chopper was going already and they replied: “No, Eloise… ACTION!” I just had to get on with it and guess what to do – but it was fine. I am actually quite good at it now.
How much have you learned about the Amazon and boating?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I’ve had a blast filming the show, but we learned a lot along the way. I remember the first time we practiced in the little motorboats on the show. We zoomed around underneath these huge canopies – and now we’re all experts at it. That’s what is sometimes so thrilling about being an actor; you get to experience these things that otherwise you’d never get the chance to do.
There are lots of plot twists and secrets to this series. How much did they keep you in the dark about the big mysteries as the filming went on?
ELOISE MUMFORD: As actors, we’re always somewhat in the dark because that’s the nature of TV shows. The producers need to be able to change things, so you don’t ever know too much about what’s going on in the future. You kind of ride the wave a little bit, which is also really liberating because you can just be in the moment and react to exactly what’s going on around you.
The River creator Oren Peli is famous for creating the horror movie franchise, Paranormal Activity. Did you watch any of his previous projects to research your role in The River?
ELOISE MUMFORD: When I landed this part, I rented one of Oren’s movies – but then I carried it around with me for a month because I get creeped out by horrors if I watch them alone. I kept trying to watch it in my hotel room, but I couldn’t do it. In the end, I watched the trailer instead – but even that creeped me out. When it came to shooting the pilot episode, I decided it was more important for me to get a good night’s sleep and to do well on the shoot than to watch Oren’s movies.
If you’re easily scared, were you frightened by the prospect of working on a paranormal show like The River?
ELOISE MUMFORD: When I heard about some of the plotlines for the first season of the show, I was definitely scared because I knew there were going to be a lot of creepy events happening. There was one scene in particular that I was extremely nervous about filming because it was incredibly intense, but I knew I’d be fine. It’s never as tense when you’re an actor and you know what is going on because you see all of the set-up. It’s not so much creepy as fun to be a part of.
Can you tell what scenes are going to be creepy to shoot when you read a script?
ELOISE MUMFORD: Usually, I can spot the creepy scenes – but most of the time it’s not creepy at all because we shot a lot of scenes in the middle of a soundstage surrounded by the crew. However, it’s very different when we’re out on location. During the first season, we shot a scene where we’re in the river in the dark. Joe Anderson [who plays Lincoln Cole] and I were actually in the water at 4 o’clock in the morning. There were bugs all over the place, fish swimming up against us in the water and some really strange sounds in the distance. That was genuinely creepy.
Has working on The River made you want to explore more roles in the horror genre?
ELOISE MUMFORD: I think what makes The River different from traditional horrors is that it’s far more about the suspense and the thrill of it. I don’t have a huge interest in being in straight-up horror films, but this is great because it’s very different. It’s been a thrill to shoot the show and I think it’s going to be a thrill to watch it. It’s suspenseful, chilling and a really fun ride.
“The River – The Complete First Season” will be released on DVD on May 22nd.
Images courtesy of ABC Studios.
(Note: The Q&A’s were conducted before the recent announcement that ABC had canceled the series.)
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