By RACHEL REEVES
Director Pierre Tsigaridis’ movie TWO WITCHES has a lot of great things going for it. For one, it’s a spooky tale of witchy women doing wonderfully witchy things. And who doesn’t love that, right? There’s also the unique structure, enchanting visual aesthetic and haunting narrative to capture the audience hook, line and sinker. But without a doubt, it is the jaw-dropping performance of Rebekah Kennedy as Masha that casts the strongest spell.
Broken into two chapters, the overarching story of TWO WITCHES involves one particularly powerful family bloodline. In the first chapter, Masha’s grandmother injects herself into the life of a young, pregnant woman named Sarah (Belle Adams). Then, in the second chapter, the story shifts focus to Masha. Young, odd and a little aimless, everything changes when Masha finally inherits a power that puts china sets and antique furniture to shame.
As Masha, Kennedy navigates the delicate intricacies of the character beautifully. No stranger to dark material, Kennedy’s credits include Bastard, Season of the Witch, Criminal Minds and Limbo. Initially exuding a quirky but harmless energy, only Masha knows what she is truly capable of and what her ultimate inheritance will bring. Executed through carefully nuanced facial and body movements, Kennedy conveys both Masha’s insecurity and knack for manipulation with ease. As Masha’s strength and confidence grow, Kennedy amps up her delivery and supplies a truly chilling and astonishing physical performance.
Rue Morgue recently had the privilege of chatting with Kennedy all about her amazing embodiment of Masha. Along the way, we also discuss her background with theatre, her fave holiday movies (yes, TWO WITCHES is also a Christmas movie!), the many layers of Masha, and so much more.
You have been acting professionally for quite a long time now. How did you first get interested and involved with acting?
I initially started doing theater when I was 12, but my first draw into action [came when] my mom took me to see my first play when I was 4. I don’t remember the play, and I don’t really remember why, but I remember looking at her and saying, “I want to do that.” At the time, I was involved in other activities, and my older sister was involved in other activities, so she kind of put that on the back burner and didn’t take it too seriously. But I kept bringing it up.
I did my first little play in elementary school, which was a modern version of Cinderella, and I played the Fairy Godmother. She was kind of wacky and crazy, which is funny now, looking back, because it’s still very much the roles that I play. [Laughs] Then, when I was 12, I tried out for the cheerleading squad at my school, and I didn’t make it. I was just devastated. So my mom finally said, “Do you still want to try acting?”
So she found me this children’s group, and it was a great place for my mom to see that it was something that I actually really wanted to do. I remember my mom said she dropped me off the first time, came back to get me, watched from the corner and was like, “Oh. This is it.” And it was! So I did that for several years and then started auditioning for professional and community theater.
I went to college for musical theater and then, after college, continued doing theater while starting to dabble in film and TV. Then, in 2010, I really started doing film and TV with House Hunting, Creature and Season of the Witch. I then moved to L.A. and am still doing it! I feel really, really blessed to be still doing what I love. Thankfully, my parents have been really supportive since the beginning and were willing to drive me to auditions, drive me to rehearsals and help me be able to pursue what I wanted to do.
When did TWO WITCHES first make it onto your radar? What creatively attracted you to the project?
I remember distinctly. It was actually Thanksgiving break of 2019, and Kristina Klebe, who plays Rachel, my roommate in the movie, messaged me and was like, “We have this role that just opened up in this film. We were wondering if you would be interested in looking at the script and seeing if you might be interested in coming on board.”
So they sent me the script, and I had seen Pierre, the director, his other short that he had filmed, I Who Have No One. I loved that and thought he was brilliant. After reading the script, I was immediately captivated by Masha. I thought she was so fun and badass. And I’ve never played a witch before! Or someone that evil. I thought it would be so fun to play someone who was so unhinged and who had just lost control of herself a bit. So I said, “Yes! Please send my stuff to the director.”
Kristina sent my reel and my materials to Pierre, we talked and were like, “Yeah. Let’s do this.” It was very quick. We started shooting a few days later, so there was not a lot of time to think or process or plan. Which I think worked out in my favor. Masha, for a lot of the movie, feels very out of place and feels very lost, confused and trying to figure out where she fits in and how to make herself known in this world. That kind of fueled how I felt too.
What was it like working with Pierre, especially considering the tight timeline? This film feels like he had a very distinct vision and plan for the final product.
It was great! He’s a wonderful director. He’s very collaborative, but as you said, he has a distinct vision for how he wants it to look and feel. That is great as an actor because I know he’s able to communicate really well what he wants and what the shot is going to look like. Especially for this movie, that really matters a lot.
He was also really open to ideas and my thoughts on the character. Especially when it came to the faces and the different contorting of the horror faces that we found on the day, in the shot, in the moment. Those were not things that I really had time to prep or necessarily wanted to. I didn’t want it to feel contrived or rehearsed. I don’t even know if I’d be able to remember what I did! [Laughs] So he was really wonderful about helping me find what worked right then and just trying different things.
Because I didn’t have a lot of prep, I really focused on Masha and the “why” for her. For me, her deeper inner life was really the fact that she is kind of weird and lost. People see that, and she knows that. They see that she wants to be something else, and she always feels like she’s someone that people don’t see. She is just desperate to be loved and to be given attention. So when she does get the powers, instead of using them for good, she kind of goes off the deep end.
For me, it wasn’t playing someone evil just for the sake of being evil. The audience may or may not see that or whatever they interpret, but for me playing her, it was always my intention that I just desperately wanted to be seen. And what do you do when you’re so desperate, and you actually get the powers to be seen? What would you do with them? It’s an interesting question.
That’s such an intriguing part of Masha’s character. She has the privilege of knowing that she will eventually inherit these powers, and then she finally does. How did you approach or interpret that transition with her character?
That’s a great question. Pierre, we talked a lot and likened her to Carrie a bit. That amazing movie and that amazing character were a big inspiration for the character, and Sissy Spacek is just a queen. I mean, I couldn’t even compare. But it’s an interesting thing because she knows that she’s strange, but there isn’t much she can do about it. It’s just who she is and how she comes across.
I think that’s what makes her the most interesting. She is not someone that you would necessarily notice, but when you do talk to her, there is a strangeness about her and a very weird quirkiness that she doesn’t quite know what to do with. She says things that are very off-putting but then doesn’t necessarily apologize for it, either. She just is who she is, which I love about her!
I think that drive for love and attention, when she does get her powers, then takes her off the deep end. She then embraces them, and she has this confidence and this control. And if someone were to call her weird or strange now, it’s, “Do you want to say that again?” Because now she can actually do something about it. How we wish that we could possibly get back at all our bullies in the way she does. She takes control of her life and has this amazing confidence in herself.
Especially near the end when she’s talking with Charlie, Rachel’s boyfriend and is like, “You’re my boyfriend now. You have no say in the matter.” I find that just really bold and fascinating. And obviously not okay, either. But in her mind, she finally gets all these things that she’s wanted, and she can finally be somewhat happy. It’s an interesting and fun transformation. There are a lot more complexities that I found about her than maybe was first on the page.
We have to talk about your stunning physical performance as Masha. The way you embody her is incredibly captivating. But, it also felt exaggerated in the best way, similar to a stage performance. Do you think your theater background helped you deliver that?
First off, that’s really sweet of you. Thank you! Absolutely. I think it definitely influenced and helped me just jump. There’s no other way into the role other than just throwing yourself in, doing it and not feeling self-conscious. Not feeling like, “Oh my gosh, this is going to look stupid.” Trusting that Pierre, who is wonderful, will guide me and guide us into what works and what doesn’t. I couldn’t necessarily see what I was doing unless I watched playback. And I don’t like to watch playback a lot because, unless it’s just a really cool shot, I tend to get in my head. I’d rather him guide that than me worry about things that aren’t important.
I hadn’t necessarily thought about it that way, so it’s really amazing that you brought that up. I definitely think that helps. As you said, it is very theatrical. When you’re on the stage, you have to play, especially if you’re in a big house, you have to play to the 3000 seats in the back, or nobody sees what you’re doing. Obviously, film is so much more contained and so much more of a laser pointer. But in this case, when you’re doing the faces and the theatricality of Masha, it’s that fun balance of not going too far with it where people think it’s too over the top, but then going far enough where people are in with her and willing to go on the ride. So, that’s a great question. I think that definitely inspired me, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
TWO WITCHES has two distinct segments to it. Were you able to see that first segment before you filmed yours? Did that impact your performance or understanding of Masha at all?
Yes, I did see the first chapter before we started. That was part of the pitch, too, like, “Do you want to do this movie?” It helped me immensely to see what kind of film they were making. It also helped me understand the grandmother and how she would relate to the story. As far as the characters, they’re also filmed a little bit differently. But I do think there’s a really interesting underlying message or tone of jealousy.
You know, there’s not a clear answer to why The Boogeywoman picks on Sarah. But you could take it as she’s jealous that Sarah is young, beautiful, pregnant and going to bring a life into this world. And The Boogeywoman is older; her soul is dying, and she can no longer do the things that she wants to do in life.
It was a really interesting message to then take into the second chapter. Masha is also very jealous of Rachel, her life, her boyfriend, her mom, her happiness and her seemingly perfect life. Masha desperately wants a boyfriend that would love her and would be there for her in an instant and a family that cares about her as much as Rachel’s family does. You take all those things, and it’s kind of a sad story, too. But, then, you can layer the horror over that.
The film ends with a “To Be Continued….” Is that actually in the cards? Is Masha going to make a return at some point?
Yes, there is a sequel written. And never fear, Masha is back. I’m not sure when we’re going into production yet, but I’m really excited to be able to revisit Masha. Especially now as she has come into her powers. Before, she had them, but she still wasn’t exactly sure what she could do with them and how they were going to impact other people. Now, in the second one, she has definitely come into her own and will be able to unleash some hell. I’m really excited for people to see where her character can go from here.
One thing folks may not realize about TWO WITCHES is that it is, in fact, a Christmas movie. Do you have any favorite holiday movies you like to throw on this time of year?
They’re usually not in the horror genre, which is funny, but I love the Home Alone movies. I mean, the first two, especially, are just magical. I also love The Santa Clause movies. I worked with Art LaFleur, who played the Tooth Fairy in them quite a few years ago. He’s since passed away, but those hold a really special place in my heart. Whenever I see them, I think of him, and that’s just really special.
Let’s see, what else? I also love Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Christmas with the Kranks. That is more of an unknown one, but it always makes me laugh. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are just gold together.
Do you have anything coming up that you can share?
Yeah, so I have three movies that are in post-production, which is really exciting. I’ll start with The Veil, which I shot earlier this year in Pennsylvania. I play a young Amish woman, and it is a thriller mystery, and I’m really excited to see that one. I’ve only seen little clips, but it looks fantastic already.
I have another called The Unseen that I wrapped in the summer with RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad. That one is horror as well. It’s about a young lawyer who has to confront his past. And then I have one other called The Otherkind that is sci-fi. It is about people in a small town that start disappearing. Then I have some more that are in pre-production that I haven’t started filming yet—staying busy!
TWO WITCHES is currently streaming on Arrow Player and is also available on VOD.