Sharon Hinnendael has established herself as a young actress on the rise in Hollywood, leaving her poised become a breakout star in the years to come. Known for her roles in ‘Look’ and ‘Rites of Passage,’ she is an incredibly expressive young actress, who’s career is about to kick into overdrive. Her latest role is as the lead in the re-imagining of the 1995 Alyssa Milano fueled cult classic — ‘Embrace of The Vampire.’ Helmed by director Carl Bessai, ‘Embrace of The Vampire’ stars Sharon Hinnendael as Charlotte, a timid and sheltered teen who has just left an all-girls Catholic school for a new life at a co-ed university. But an ancient evil has followed her here, tormenting her with disturbing nightmares and tempting her with forbidden desires. It is a hunger that can only be satiated by sensual pleasures of the flesh…and a thirst for blood. It’s a battle for her soul… and one she’s losing. But Charlotte is a fighter. The chaos and torment threatens to unleash her own inner beast, and anyone even close to her may find themselves embracing their own horrific fate. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Sharon Hinnendael to discuss her career, latest role in ‘Embrace of The Vampire’ and her continuing evolution as an artist.
I wanted to go all the way back to the beginning and give everyone an idea of who you are. How did you get started on your journey in the entertainment industry?
Oh, yeah! A little Sharon background! I am originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and I have three older brothers. I started doing plays in high school, as well as a lot of other things. I also played soccer and those were just a few of the things I did. I started modeling then I was twelve years old in New York. I always liked acting but I really loved modeling. I didn’t really like Los Angeles because I lived there for a few months when I was 18 and hated it. I thought I would never go back! Now, I have lived here for four years! [laughs] A manager spotted me when I was really young. She told me to move out to LA and give it a month or two to see how it went. I came out here for a month from Brooklyn after doing the modeling thing and ended up booking a few things the first month I was here. I decided “Ok! Let’s stick around and see how it goes!” Here I am a couple of years later and I love it!
Who would you cite as your biggest influence? Has someone served as a mentor for you along way?
My parents were very supportive of my career. They said “Go out to LA! Go try this thing and see what happens!” My former manager was also one who pushed me. They were the driving forces. I am glad they pushed me because it all kinda worked out!
Your latest project is “Embrace of The Vampire.” How did you get involved initially?
I got the audition, just like any other audition. I gave it 100%! I knew they were looking for a name, someone who was bigger than me and who everyone recognized. I was surprised when they ended up calling me and saying “We want you to go in about a week.” I left within a week and started fencing rehearsals soon after. It was a really, really crazy last minute project! The director called me and said “You are great. I have been watching girls for weeks and weeks. You are our girl! We are going to go for the name with the guy.” They got Victor Webster. It was a very last minute, crazy and exciting ordeal!
Was there something about the character that intrigued you?
I really liked the character. She is a very shy and insecure, which is very much opposite of me and the roles I usually play. I knew it was going to be difficult memorizing all the lines but it was a character I could relate to but it wasn’t me. It was very, very challenging and I am one who always goes where the challenges are! I knew the role would be physical draining with the fencing and mentally draining with all the lines and emotions. I am really proud of the film and we accomplished a lot in a small amount of time!
The film is based on the Alyssa Milano film from 1995. Where you familiar with the original at all before this film?
I had heard about it and I knew there was nudity and stuff. This is a remake. I didn’t think it would be doing me any favors to watch it. It was going to be a totally different thing and that is exactly what I wanted it to be! I was able to do my own character with my own spin, so I didn’t want to watch the film to see what she had done with the character. I just wanted to make it my own!
You touched on how the character is different from you. How is Charlotte similar to your personality? Do we see elements of the real you shining through?
Yeah. I think I have a lot of similarities. I am very independent and can relate to people. I do have a quiet side and there are situations where I do feel insecure. You will see bits of me here and there but as a whole, this character and I are like night and day! [laughs]
With this film or any project for that matter, is there a particular process you go about as you prepare for the role?
Yeah. It is a matter of focus. When I am reading through the script and memorizing, I think “What is this girl feeling right now?” I think of someone from high school who is quieter like this and how they would stand, sit or even the nervous habits they might have. It is really about feeling how this person would feel and thinking that way as filming commences. It is a trip! It is like being a different person for a few months! I mean, I was Charlotte for how many hours a day? Many more as Charlotte than Sharon on this project! It is definitely a trip!
They say everyone takes away a little something from each new project. What did you learn as an actor from your time on this film?
I was pretty much at my breaking point! I had no time to sit at lunch because I was typically fencing. During that time, they would be setting up the next scene. I would go right from filming some intense scene, right over to the next scene to block the next one. It was the most exhausting and rewarding thing I have ever experienced. I am very close to the cast and crew of the film. The makeup artist is one of my best friends. I went to Canada a few months ago to visit her. It was so challenging! It was truly non-stop! It was physically and emotionally exhausting 24 hours a day for the couple months I was there. Having been a part of that experience, I feel like I can do anything now!
Obviously, “Embrace of The Vampire” contains some nudity on your end. What were your experiences there?
The director and I worked very closely together and he made me feel very comfortable. I had done nudity on-screen in the past. I did a Showtime series, where I was the lead, called “Look.” So, I am familiar with on-screen nudity. I have also been modeling since I was twelve years old, so I am very comfortable. When the nudity comes up, it is more like me focusing on the other character. I do that because chances are this might be there first nude scene and you don’t think about yourself at that point. You think about what you can do to make the other person comfortable. I mean, you are laughing between takes and it is not a whole big thing. Whatever! We all get naked day to day, right? You have sex with people! It is a regular thing you do!
This is just people watching you with a camera. It is not really sex. It is acting! You just take it scene by scene and laugh it off! People get uncomfortable when they are naked sometimes, it adds comedy! [laughs] Between takes is really, really funny! Everyone is always laughing and joking!
You mentioned working closely with director Carl Bessai. What did he bring to this project?
Oh man, I love Carl. I met him before I left for Canada. I love him! He is the nicest guy and the easiest person to work with! If I wanted to change something around, he would be right there next to me agreeing and backing me up. He is the best. You couldn’t ask for a better director. We had such a busy shooting schedule, we worked very closely together. After we left the set for the day, I would go to his room with some of the others and talk about the day and what we were going to do tomorrow. We would talk about a game plan and what, if anything, we were going to change. We would have some drinks, take a breather and try to enjoy the process. Even though we were in over our heads, we were still enjoying it. You couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew!
You are still very early in your career but I am curious to know how you feel you have evolved since first starting out as an actor.
I know how things on a set work now! [laughs] When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was just doing what everyone told me to do. That is what models do! I come from that background where you do what they tell you to do. Now, it is like “No. I am not doing that,” or “We should talk about this scene before we do it. I am going to pitch in my ideas here.” I feel that acting is much more of an interactive process than the “Dance monkey!” mentality of the modeling world! [laughs] They are two totally different worlds!
Moving forward, is there a particular type of role you are anxious to tackle in the near future?
I have a couple other movies coming up this month. One is called “Spring Break Killer,” which you guys will like. There is another one called “Resident Advisor” which is a comedy. I have a comedic role in that one. I would love to play a stoner chick. I feel like my voice fits and I am the girl next door with tons of dude friends and I grew up with brothers. I just want to play that role! [laughs]
Somebody just give me that role!
Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration as an actress these days?
Kirsten Dunst is my girl! She is my favorite. “Melancholia” is one of my favorite movies in the past couple of years and I have watched it fifty times! Lars Von Trier is a genius! Kirsten Dunst and Anna Faris are the two girls I want to be like. Obviously, they are killing the game but they are the two I look up to!
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you on your journey, which you can pass along to other aspiring actors?
Oh, Jason! I like that question! Stay true to your roots! I come from Wisconsin and am part of a very humble, hardworking family, who is really close. I think staying true to your roots and finding really good friends around you, who care about you and not money or status is very important. LA is a hard place! Once you stop having fun, get out of the game! As cheesy as it sounds, Drake has a new album and on “Too Much” he says “Moment I’m done having fun with it, I’m done with it.” That is exactly me! If I am not having fun with it, I can’t be doing it because bleeds through into your work. If you aren’t enjoying your life outside of work, how can you be enjoying work?
You seem to be the type of person who likes to keep a lot of different irons in the fire. Where do you see yourself in the future?
Absolutely! In addition to acting, I also DJ. I am on Instagram as SharyBomb. That is my DJ name. I also do modeling full-time. I am starting a clothing company and I also work at a medical marijuana dispensary on the weekends! I do a million different things and I am busy every day! I love everything I do. Because I do so many different things, I have so many characters floating around in my mind. I am experiencing a lot of different walks of life and it is awesome!
Thanks for your time today, Sharon! We will continue to keep an eye out for all your projects!
Thank you, Jason! It has been great talking to you!
EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE is available on Xbox, Hulu and iTunes now! The film hits Blu-ray and DVD on October 15th. Connect with Sharon Hinnendael on Twitter at @SharonHinnendae!