Evan Rachel Wooden Is An Abuse Survivor. In Her New Film ‘Attract,’ She Performs An Abuser.

Late final month, Evan Rachel Wooden appeared earlier than the Home Judiciary Committee to publicly element her story of surviving sexual assault, rape and home violence by the hands of two abusers.

“If you happen to can’t hear the entire reality, you’ll by no means know true empathy,” Wooden instructed the congressional committee as she sat alongside advocates from the anti-sexual violence group RISE and the Rape Abuse Incest Nationwide Community (RAINN). “I consider within the saying ‘If we’ve got to reside via it, then you need to have to listen to it.’”

Wooden will seem Friday earlier than a special type of viewers ― and in a starkly completely different function. Because the star of the brand new film “Attract,” which opens March 16, she performs a former survivor turned abuser who turns into obsessive about, seduces and emotionally abuses a teenage lady. 

Wooden stated she selected the darker function of Laura, initially written for a male actor, for “manifestly apparent” causes. “I’m one among these artists the place the flicks that I select mirror what I’m fascinated about or what I’m going via or what I need to talk,” Wooden instructed HuffPost over the cellphone this week. 

“I’ve not seen an abuse story instructed on this method or from this angle,” she added.

Wooden speaks as “an artist, survivor, mom and advocate” who’s confronted the aftermath of maltreatment herself: emotions of disgrace, despair, dependancy, agoraphobia and even suicide makes an attempt.

“I’d be thought-about a fortunate one,” she defined. “I had sources and the means after I wanted it, and thank God I had the attention to say, ‘I’ve to go get assist.’ I used to be afraid to ask for it for a extremely very long time, however ultimately you get to some extent the place you’re like, I’ve to do that, in any other case the choice is dying.” 

For Wooden, taking part in an abuser on display screen was a near-back-breaking expertise ― however a satisfying one, as properly. Wooden’s character, a housekeeper who’s skilled abuse herself, struggles to take care of psychological stability all through Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s thriller as she manipulates and involves depend upon younger Eva, performed by Julia Sarah Stone. The story is, as Wooden describes it, a 360-degree view of trauma.

Under, Wooden discusses “Attract,” her life as an activist and the significance of telling twisted tales. 

“Attract” explores the psychological trauma that impacts survivors of abuse. It’s a darkish movie to tackle, so what made you need to do it? 

I do consider in equal alternatives for girls on movie units, on display screen and behind the scenes. Character-wise, I believe that additionally means not simply being heroic however being flawed. Taking part in the not-likable ones, the darker, extra complicated ones. So I believed, you need equal alternative for girls? That additionally means on this method: wanting on the darkish facet.

I used to be drawn to it as a result of the function was initially written for a person, and I’ve been actually interested in taking over a task that was gender-swapped — I believe it’s an fascinating idea. After which after I learn [the script], it struck so near dwelling and was true. I’ve not seen an abuse story instructed on this method or from this angle. I believe that’s what I liked about this film is, normally, you solely see the story from one facet, and this was a 360-degree view of how this occurs, the way it’s perpetuated and the way it will get handed on to different folks. In that method, it was abuse form of as I do know it, which is as a virus that spreads.

Whether or not you grow to be an abuser otherwise you abuse your self or your life is altered by abuse, it’s one thing that’s set in a seed that’s planted, and also you by no means actually know what it’s going to develop into. If not handled correctly, then you’ve folks like Laura, who’re prisoners of their very own trauma. She lived in poverty, there’s an impression that she’s been gaslit and managed her entire life, and when she does the issues she does, particularly to start with, she doesn’t even suppose that what she’s doing is abuse. It’s the one model of affection that she’s ever identified, and that’s a tragedy in its personal proper. It’s not an excuse, as a result of I do really feel sooner or later adults are chargeable for their very own actions and you may make a alternative, nevertheless it undoubtedly provides us an understanding of the psychology behind an abuser. 

Which we don’t typically see on display screen. 

I believe we’re not going to reply the issue till we ask why anyone is like that and never simply go, “Oh, properly, they’re mentally unwell or they’re a monster.” However why? You already know? I really feel like this film is extra concerning the why, and it was a dialog I needed us to be having. I knew it wasn’t going to be enjoyable. It was going to be bizarre for me to play an abuser contemplating I’ve been abused, however I additionally thought that it could be therapeutic and that I’d have quite a lot of reality to supply this movie, so it appeared like an excellent match.

There’s undoubtedly one thing highly effective about an artist doing one thing that displays what they’re enthusiastic about. 

Completely. There’s an actual primary view of this stuff typically, very black and white, if you’ll, which is why I believe folks don’t perceive abuse and don’t perceive how a girl might return to anyone who abused them over and time and again, or how you can have Stockholm syndrome or how you don’t have any place to go or how manipulative folks could be. There are individuals who don’t have your greatest pursuits at coronary heart, who’re broken, who do need to manipulate you and know precisely what they’re doing. We simply don’t need to consider that that exists. However increasingly more persons are realizing that we will’t ignore it anymore, and now that we all know it’s there, we’ve got to start out asking the onerous questions — abusers are monsters, sure, however they have been a child as soon as. What occurred to the child? 

Do you discover that now, with the Me Too and Time’s Up actions, these tougher conversations are opening up and persons are now not afraid to handle points anymore? 

Oh, yeah. I believe the gloves are off for everybody proper now. We tried it a technique and it’s not working, and, not solely that, I believe it’s the final straw. Once more, I can solely converse from my expertise, as a girl ― and what I’m gathering from different ladies is everyone has a restrict. You will get to some extent the place all of the issues that scare you begin to outline you, after which after a when you’re simply flipping into gear and never really dwelling your life. I really feel like I’m at some extent the place its involuntary to be, safely, as trustworthy and open and as susceptible with folks, whether or not it’s my work or my activism or my writing, as a result of these days it’s this sea of data of black and white.

The factor that shocks folks now could be actual vulnerability and honesty and somebody prepared to go, “Hey, I’m not good and I’m in ache.” It’s not common opinions or opinions we’re all in denial of. It’s humorous to me that each one of us are nonetheless making an attempt to stroll round like we’re not imperfect and making an attempt to be whoever you need to be as an alternative of simply connecting with one another about our imperfections and speaking about it. 

It brings me again to seeing video of you testifying final month alongside different victims of abuse — utilizing your platform to assist others combat the identical combat as you. 

You solely have 5 minutes to sum up your entire life trauma [laughs], and also you’re watching the clock tick down as you’re doing it. On the day of my testimony, they have been asking me, “Are you nervous or intimidated to do that?” Fortunately, it’s my job to stroll into actually surreal, overwhelming, intense conditions and naked my soul — that I’m not nervous about. That’s why I really feel like artwork and politics can meet. We’d like assist making insurance policies, however we additionally want artists to come back in and put their hats within the ring every so often as a result of it’s their life work to indicate the core of humanity and work out why folks do the issues they do, and we might bridge that hole extra and have the dialog.

Your character Laura in “Attract” is bringing ache into another person’s life whereas coping with her personal trauma. You play her fantastically, though it’s not a simple function to tackle. How did you mentally put together? 

Very first thing I do is normally make a playlist. Music is absolutely the place I type of go to vanish right into a world or a vibe. I’m additionally a type of individuals who can really feel sound. I believe that’s why I really like music a lot, as a result of I can simply really feel it in my physique — a violin can simply make me cry, as a result of it feels prefer it’s actually bowing at my coronary heart. So it helps put me in a headspace. After which I used to be actually a recluse throughout this movie. I shut myself away. I needed to be like Laura. I needed to be alone and left with my very own ideas and my very own darkness to discover that.

Fortunately, I’ve completed sufficient work on myself and with my trauma, which continues to be a piece in progress and I’m nonetheless going via it a bit. I used to be at some extent in my life that I felt sturdy sufficient that I might do that and go there however know that I might get again. It was like I had a bit of rope tied round me and I might go in deep and be capable to pull myself again out. It was troublesome however therapeutic, and it did take a second to shake. It was not straightforward. 

Let’s discuss Julia Sarah Stone, who was fantastic as Eva. What sort of prep went into constructing that bond between the 2 of you? 

We checked out so many [actresses], as a result of it was actually vital that we received this proper. As mistaken because it was and is, if the connection didn’t work, you couldn’t consider it or perceive the way it would possibly occur or consider that there was some bizarre model of attraction or love in there. Then, it’s simply “you’re my captive,” and it’s black and white once more. However this was extra difficult. This was psychological and talked about quite a lot of issues we don’t discuss in abusive relationships, which is all this abuse is disguised as love. If you happen to’re already susceptible, in the event you’re already powerless, in the event you’re on the lookout for belonging, in the event you’re on the lookout for love, [it’s there]. Some folks have by no means skilled unconditional love. It’s a international idea to most individuals who know love, however in the event you’ve by no means skilled it, how are you alleged to know?

Proper, the identical goes for Laura. 

She doesn’t understand she’s abusing Eva to start with. She sees herself in that — she thinks she’s saving her. And due to her psychological sicknesses and her traumas, there’s that dichotomy of Laura. I believe there are occasions that Laura is regretful and isn’t answerable for herself and doesn’t know what she’s doing and is petrified of herself, however finally can’t cease this as a result of it’s greater than her now and she or he wants actual fucking assist. If it goes unchecked, it will probably become that. Once more, it was vital to me that you simply empathize along with her. By no means is what she’s doing OK neither is her previous an excuse; it’s undoubtedly a cause and an understanding. The purpose is to not let her off the hook. It’s to color a broader, extra detailed, complicated image of abuse and abusers in order that we will do one thing as an alternative of simply writing it off. 

“Attract” is in theaters and on-demand Friday. 

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