Sara Coates is perhaps most widely recognized for her recurring role of Serena (Pie Girl) in Syfy’s post-apocalyptic series, “Z Nation”. But the beautiful actress is also versatile enough to have appeared in the Sundance hit, “Laggies” with Keira Knightley and more recently, as the voice of Margeurite Bake in the “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” video game.
Sara will showcase even more of her dynamic prowess with her next film, “Lane 1974”. Written and directed by S. J. Chiro, “Lane 1974” follows the story of 13-year old Lane [Sophia Mitri Schloss] whose life is uprooted when her mother [Katherine Moennig] forces the family to leave the safe confines of the North Carolina commune where she grew up. After a series of dangerous and isolating events, Lane sets out on a 600-mile journey alone in search of the “normal” life she has always imagined.
Sara plays Clarise, one of the only people in the film that gives Lane’s mother, Hallelujah, a chance. Even though Clarise thinks the best of people and their intentions, she eventually becomes frustrated by Hallelujah’s attitude, especially when the children are put in danger because of it. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday, March 11th.
I recently spoke with Sara about Lane 1974 and much more in this exclusive new interview.
Let’s talk about your new film, “Lane 1974”. How did it all come about?
I’m from Seattle originally and was really deep in the theater community. The director and screenwriter, S.J. was also from Seattle and we had known each other briefly. When she was going to do this movie she thought of me and the two of us sat down and had coffee and talked for hours about the movie and the time-period. It was the first time I got to sit down with the creator and ask questions and give my opinions. S. J. is so passionate about her characters and her work and eventually offered me the role.
What was it about the script that piqued your interest?
A period piece was unlike anything I had ever done before. That was a huge thing. The script is based on the book, “The Hypocrisy of Disco” and is so beautiful. It’s a coming of age story about a relationship between a mother and daughter and how that relationship can be confusing and not always perfect. I related to the main character, Lane, who wanted to have this incredible life but realizes she has to make it her own. That was really interesting to me.
What can you tell me about your character, Clarise?
Clarise is one of the only characters that gives Hallelujah [played by Katherine Moennig] a chance. Clarise lives on a bus and is this “Earth Mother” who believes that she can fix everyone. She goes through this journey of realizing that she may have to put up walls and not just let everyone in. What was interesting about playing her was that it went against everything I’m usually comfortable with as a girl. Stepping into this new experience of not brushing my hair for a while and wearing relatively no make up wasn’t something I was used to, but it was very exciting to transform into this character.
What was the filming process like?
Because it was a lower budgeted film there was a lot of team work involved. Coming from community theater where everyone does everything, it was cool to get thrown into that kind of grassroots effort. We filmed at S.J.’s mom’s property in Northern California which was (and still is) a commune. It was very collaborative with lots of long days. This film is close to S.J.’s heart and she was integral in making it a creatively satisfying experience.
I have to ask about another project you were involved in – the video game, Resident Evil 7. What was that experience like?
It’s funny because even though we knew it was horror game, we worked on it for almost a year and a half before they actually told us what game it was [laughs]. I remember they really wanted to keep the character’s relationships strong. So we had vocal coaches and many, many rehearsals. They were adamant about having relationships that were almost palpable as well as terrifying.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
I have a new web series coming out called “Language Academy”. It’s a funny story about an English as a second language teacher where I got to work with a lot of really funny comedians. And who knows? I may also come back to “Z Nation“. My character has already died twice, but it’s a comedic, apocalyptic world where anything can happen. I love the fans and the ScyFy network and was so excited to be a part of the project.
Was a career in acting something you always aspired to do?
It was always something that I wanted to do but growing up it seemed so out of reach. My mom and brother are both artists and my dad was an engineer and I always did programs in school that allowed me to do improv or plays. It wasn’t until I got to college that I decided I was going to do it. I realized then that this was what I was going to do because nothing else made me feel so alive. Sometimes people will ask me what my main goal is, and it’s hard to answer because I have so many. I just keep working, meeting people and making an impression. It’s about never stopping and being open to the experiences that come to you.