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Interview: Actress Aubrey Peeples talks ‘Rage,’ ‘Nashville,’ and more

Aubrey Peeples
Aubrey Peeples
Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment, used with permission

Actress Aubrey Peeples recently spoke to the Chico Movie Examiner about her role in the action thriller, “Rage,” which releases to limited theaters on July 11. Peeples is best known for her recurring role as Layla Grant on ABC’s “Nashville,” and for her role in the Syfy cult hit, “Sharknado.”

In “Rage,” Peeples plays Caitlin, the 16-year-old daughter of a reformed criminal named Paul (Nicolas Cage). When Caitlin gets kidnapped, Paul calls up his old crew and sets out to find the men who took her. The film also stars Danny Glover, Rachel Nichols, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady, and Peter Stormare.

Peeples talks about her role; how it was to work with Nicolas Cage; and who she would want to have by her side if she is going after some bad guys. There is also a brief discussion about her work in “Nashville” and the upcoming “Jem and the Holograms” movie. Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: A lot of this film is about Paul recalling his past in order to help him out through this current situation of you being kidnapped. In real life, you were 19 when this started filming, but you play a 16-year-old. Was there anything from your life at 16 that you brought back in order to play this role?

Aubrey Peeples: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think that, basically, Caitlin is in high school, and she wants to have a good time, and she wants to hang out with her friends, and then she’s rebelling. I feel like every teenager goes through that. I think with every character, though, I use part of my past to relate to them.

DW: Do you think the 16-year-old version of Aubrey could play Caitlin if the role was given to you then, or do you think it’s better now that you know the ins and outs of being a 16-year-old?

AP: Well, I think as far as age wise, I would have been fine either way. But I do think that over time, you grow as an actor, and you have more experience, and you learn more about yourself and are able to bring more about yourself to what you do.

I do think it might have been different if I had done it when I was 16. I might not have acted in the same way or I, maybe, would have had a different process, so I don’t know how it would have turned out. But I think that, age wise, I could have done it, because when you’re 16, you’re 16; you’re going through it.

DW: When Paul begins to search for your character, he calls upon two people he knows to help him out in going after the bad guys. If, hypothetically speaking, you were in this situation, and you had to go after the bad guys for some reason, who would be the two people that you would want to have by your side?

AP: Oh, wow! Oh, that’s a great question. My sister, for one – definitely my sister, because she’s my favorite person, and I hope we always have each other’s backs.

But, hmm, who else? Well, the fictional character Dirty Harry; that’s what I’m going to go with. I’m going to go with that. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] Before this interview, actually, I was thinking, “What if you turned around and asked me that question?” And the first person that came to my mind was Dirty Harry.

AP: Nice! Oh, goodness. We’re getting along just fine. I love that movie. I have this toy gun from the 40s that’s green and says “Marge” on it. I don’t know why I decide to buy these things. But I literally sit in my apartment and practice the “Dirty Harry” monologue.

DW: Nice. Now, aside from “Dirty Harry,” are you a fan of the 70s action flicks and drama flicks like “Taxi Driver” and that kind of stuff?

AP: Oh, yeah, of course.

DW: Nice. Now, for the longest time, I’ve been a huge fan of Nicolas Cage, and to this day, I always find myself defending him when people talk about the bad films he’s done. I’ll admit that not all of his films are great, but he’s had a lot of great performances that I think are overlooked by people. What was your perception of him before this film, and did that perception change after you had worked with him?

AP: Well, I never go into anything judging someone personally for what they do professionally, ever. I think that’s like… I don’t know. I feel like media often likes to bring people’s personal lives into things. And I didn’t know him.

It wasn’t something that I think about, because I don’t think about that kind of thing. But I definitely have a lot of respect for him, just from roles that I had seen and movies that I really respected like “Leaving Las Vegas”; “Raising Arizona”; and “Adaptation” – all of his golden films.

And I also knew that he did these kind of fun roles, so I thought that was fun. I just did “Sharknado,” so I can’t be like, “Oh, he did ‘The Wicker Man,’” or whatever. I feel like it’s just a fun movie; they’re fun, crazy movies, which I think are fun to be a part of. After meeting him, he’s incredible, and he’s so professional, and he’s so nice. And he just is so welcoming that I have nothing bad to say about him; he’s incredible.

DW: Yeah. And I’ve seen him in interviews. He looks like a really calm and down-to-earth guy. I mean, I haven’t met him personally.

AP: He’s so down-to-earth.

DW: Yeah, he seems like a nice guy. Now, going back to “Sharknado,” I finally watched that, maybe, about a month ago.

AP: Oh, awesome.

DW: Because I was prepping for an interview. The guys that do “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” I don’t know if you heard, but they’re bringing it back to do a live-riffing on it. And I got to talk to one of the guys.

AP: Oh, wow.

DW: [“Sharknado”] was interesting to see, but I think it’s better to watch it with a bunch of friends than to watch it by yourself, you know?

AP: [laughs] Yeah, it’s definitely an experience. I think it’s a good time.

DW: I read another interview where you said you’ve been accepted to Harvard twice, but you’ve had to turn them down. The second time was because of your role on “Nashville.” Is Harvard still in your future, or do you think it’s a little too late now?

AP: I would love to go. No, I don’t think it’s too late; look at James Franco. If he can do it later, then I think I can do it later. Although, I’ll probably just go to one school; I don’t think I’d venture going to three. [laughs]

But it’s a huge goal of mine. I really want to go to Harvard’ it’s just a matter of timing. But it’s something I would really like to do within the next few years, or I don’t know; I don’t know what’s going to happen.

With any entertainment business, you sort of have to be OK with just going with it. I’ve learned very much to just go with the flow and see what happens with my life, and what happens happens. But it’s a huge goal, and it is something I really want to do.

DW: Do you think you’ll go while you’re still acting, like how James Franco did it?

AP: That’s what I’d prefer. I don’t want to ever have to quit, but I don’t know what’s going to happen; I have no idea. I don’t really like the idea of taking a whole lot of time off. Maybe, I could Natalie Portman it or James Franco it and shoot during the summer or something. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. It depends on what’s going on in my life at the time.

DW: You had also mentioned that with “Nashville,” it helped you with getting into the music industry. If it hadn’t been for that show, would you try to find some other way to get into the music industry – like, try to release your own album by yourself?

AP: Oh, of course. That’s always been a goal. I mean, I’ve been writing for a while, and I play guitar and piano, and I’ve been singing for a really long time, and it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. But, yeah, that’s definitely something I’m hoping to continue to do, regardless of what happens with that show or anything.

Plus, I love the town; I love the city of Nashville. So, hopefully, I’ll be going back there a lot, regardless of what’s down the line in the future.

DW: Is your character coming back next season, or do you know yet?

AP: Oh, I think that everyone’s going to have to wait and see what happens. [Last season] left off with a pretty big cliffhanger. [laughs]

DW: Oh, OK. Well, to be honest, I haven’t watched it yet – I don’t watch a lot of television in the first place.

AP: Oh, no worries.

DW: But I checked on it here and there, because my roommate watched it.

AP: Oh, cool.

DW: This is my last question for you. With the role of “Nashville,” you’re singing and you’re also acting. Do you think that role served as a huge preparation for you for the role you have in “Jem and the Holograms?”

AP: 100 percent. Well, I think that I had never done a performance scene for film or television before, so learning the mechanics of that was something I brought with me. It’s something that I had already been doing for a year, so I knew how the mechanics of it worked with film and television, and I felt that was really helpful.

I think every role you do prepares you for the next one. Of course, “Nashville” has been, and will continue to be, a huge learning experience for me as an actor. It’s something that I grew a lot doing.

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