Alfre Woodward mugs for the camera and pretends to be scared, posing by the poster for “Annabelle” at the film’s Hollywood premiere Tuesday night. | Mark Davis/Getty Images
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — Alfre Woodard, the acclaimed Oscar-nominated, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress currently playing the U.S. president in the new “State of Affairs” TV show has portrayed a wide range of characters over her long career.
However, in “Annabelle” (opening Friday), the prequel to the horror movie “The Conjuring,” Woodard gets to act in the paranormal, horror genre — something she’s never done before. In the film, she plays Evelyn, a mysterious bookshop owner who befriends the film’s primary characters.
Q: I understand that horror movies are really not your thing, and you’ve never done one before. Was it fun to create the character of Evelyn?
A: The reason that I did the film was because I have never done a film like this before. One of the things you want to do as an actor, especially if you’re a veteran actor, is to keep finding new ways to flex your acting muscles. With Evelyn, I thought it was important for the audience to not really put their hand on Evelyn, so to speak. To put their hand on the pulse of who she is, whether good or evil, or a little bit of both.
Part of the experience of a paranormal thriller is what you bring to it, and how you let your mind race along. So it’s on you, the audience, and however you see things.
Q: Obviously, you feel it was vital for the audience to be kept in the dark about Evelyn. Did you enjoy keeping her mysterious?
A: Yes, it reminded me of situations like when you get on an elevator and there’s just one person there with you, and he may look kind of threatening. Now, I can stand there thinking, “Oh, you are just a lovely man.” Or, I could suddenly get the feeling, “Oh my God, I hope the elevator doesn’t get stuck and stop. He’s probably got a knife!”
Q: In real life, what scares you? What gives you nightmares?
A: It’s funny. I like and I also hate to be surprised. I like to jump. I like to scream. It also pisses me off when people do it to me. I also really like to do it people myself. It’s a weird dichotomy there!
Human beings scare me, demons don’t. Horrible, mean human beings scare me.
Q: The last time I interviewed you, was for ’12 Years A Slave,’ and you were so excited to introduce a young actress to me and the other members of the press, predicting we’d hear a lot from her in the years to come. Of course, it was Lupita Nyong’o. You must be thrilled by her success.
A: Yes, I’m so excited for her.