The actress pulls back the layers on her time in American Horror Story: Coven and her new role in The Last Son.
Entering the film and TV industry isn’t easy. With the turn-over rate high and the competition fierce, it can be difficult for most newcomers ready to enter the scene. But for Emily Marie Palmer, it all came with ease. Having first made her entrance in the iconic American Horror Story: Coven, the rising star lived out most actors dreams under neath the gaze of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
“We shot everything in one very long night shoot,” the actress recalls. “I remember catching glimpses of myself in my beautiful little pilgrim dress — looking like a witch straight out of Salem — while the director and crew devised creative ways to shoot all of the special effects in the style of an old silent film, and just feeling like I was having the most wonderful dream. It certainly didn’t feel like real life. I have such giddy, nostalgic memories of my short time on American Horror Story. What a dream.”
Teaming up with Sam Worthington and Machine Gun Kelly for her next project The Last Son, the actress tackles a more challenging role, taking on the curious yet calming Megan as she deals with her family’s struggle to survive in a harsh environment while venturing into a world beyond her own. Describing the role as “exceptionally challenging” yet “fortunate”, we caught up with the actress virtually breaking down her role as Megan and filming in such unpredictable weather environments.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Emily, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
This past year has had its challenges, certainly, but I am very grateful to say that on the whole it has been really lovely, and I feel so lucky.
The film industry was hit hard by COVID, what has been the biggest change you seen in the industry?
Yes, sadly, it was. Besides the very obvious new realities of testing, vaccination, and on set covid safety, I think I experienced less dramatic changes than a lot of my fellow actors because I don’t currently live in Los Angeles. It was already quite normal for me to submit self-tapes (instead of auditioning in person) and I already had a little studio set-up in my home for that purpose. So, in that respect, I definitely feel that I was one of the lucky ones because I had one less thing to worry about adapting to during a time of so much chaos and change.
How did you first get into acting, what started the interest?
I’ve been so fascinated with life, people, and stories for as long as I can remember. I was constantly playing make-believe as a child, and as soon as I learned to read and write I was devouring books and writing my own stories. My mother’s roots are in Appalachia, and so I had the benefit of growing up hearing her sing these beautiful, rich, old folk songs as lullabies… and gosh, I loved them so much. They made such a deep impression on me. So, I think I’ve always been naturally drawn to art, and to storytelling. Some of my siblings are creative as well, and so the first acting I ever did was in the plays we would write and put on together — a bit like the March sisters in Little Women.
And then you went to study in Paris, before ultimately going to purse acting full time, what made you decide this?
Even before I went to Paris, I think I always knew that I would return to the U.S. and pursue a career in film. I was the first person in my immediate family to venture outside the United States, and I felt quite brave (and extremely lucky) setting off on that adventure at 18 years old. While I was there, I took a few days to make a sort of “pilgrimage” to Domrémy-la-Pucelle — which is the tiny village in northeastern France where Joan of Arc was born. She was such an important childhood hero of mine, and during those few days I spent wandering alone around her village and the surrounding hills, I just felt my heart filling up with so much longing, and courage, and determination to do the work that I felt called to in this world — no matter how wild or unattainable it seemed. At the time, for me, that was acting. And, I should add that, having grown up homeschooled in a small town in Tennessee, everything about the film industry felt completely foreign and unattainable to me at the time.
Working on American Horror Story: Coven, what was the most memorable thing about filming?
Oh, I loved that whole experience. It was actually the first role I ever booked after being signed by my agent. Because the show was (and is) so popular, they kept the scripts under lock and key, and I didn’t find out what I was going to be shooting until I arrived on set. We shot everything in one very long night shoot, and I remember catching glimpses of myself in my beautiful little pilgrim dress — looking like a witch straight out of Salem — while the director and crew devised creative ways to shoot all of the special effects in the style of an old silent film, and just feeling like I was having the most wonderful dream. It certainly didn’t feel like real life. I have such giddy, nostalgic memories of my short time on American Horror Story. What a dream.
And now you’re working with Sam Worthington and Machine Gun Kelly on The Last Son, how did you get involved on the project and how did you approach the character?
I was really fortunate to have connected with one of the producers, Andre Relis, in 2018 while playing a supporting role in another one of his films, Grand Isle. Andre reached out to me about The Last Son last year, and when I read the script, I instantly connected with the character. I feel less as if I had to approach Megan, and more that I had simply to ease into her. I deeply identified with her innocence, and her hungry curiosity. When the story of the film takes place, she is coming of age in such a harsh and violent world. She has grown up isolated, and her family’s daily struggle to survive in the harsh frontier has made her strong, but there is a profound freshness about her, and a childlike curiosity for the world beyond her isolated fields and forests.
Looking back on the filming process, was there any challenges?
The weather was exceptionally challenging. When I first arrived at the Montana ranch where we shot most of the film, the weather was warm, and sunny, and beautiful. Less than two weeks later, the temperature plummeted below zero, and it snowed non-stop. Sometimes there would be these kinds of dramatic shifts within just a few hours! We were shooting in a mountain range called “The Crazies” — and some say they derived their name from their highly unpredictable weather patterns.
Who would you love to work with in the industry?
I’d love to work with Jennifer Kent — her film, The Nightingale, astounds me. The first time I saw it, I sat silent — open-mouthed with tears streaming down my cheeks — through the entire ending credits. The love, dedication and depth of research that went into its creation are just incredible to me. And Robert Eggers! I love history, and I so deeply appreciate directors who give such attentive care to the historical accuracy of their projects like he does. Ah! And Brit Marling. What an artist. It would be an honor to step into any world she creates.
What are you most excited for?
I am really excited for 2022. I don’t know why, but I have a very good feeling about it.
I’m using these last few weeks of this year, when the industry tends to quiet down a little, to finish a script I’m working on right now that I’m terribly excited about. It’s a gritty thriller set in the Ozark Mountains in the 1850s, and it’s quite a ride.