Lilja: How did you start out as an actress?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: There was an ad in our local newspaper for auditions for The Sound of Music and my mom came to me and said, "You think this is something you might want to do?" She created a monster ;-) I went on to study classical voice and theater and worked in those mediums for a long time before venturing into Film/TV 4 years ago.
Lilja: How did you get involved with Cell?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: I did a taped audition. The casting director didn’t even see it initially. They sent a few girls to the producers for the callback, and the producers said, ‘Nope. Start Over.’ Casting went back through their auditions, found mine, sent it to producers, and the rest is history. I was the only actress called back for the role. It was kinda surreal. Oh! And I showed up with broken ribs, but that’s another story.
Lilja: Tell me a bit about Denise?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: She's tough-as-nails. Denise lost her husband and children in "The Pulse" and is killing phoners alongside her partner-in-crime Ray, played by with brilliant Anthony Reynolds. She's also six months pregnant in the film.
Lilja: How did you prepare for the role?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: After I booked it, I did coaching sessions with my coach in Los Angeles, Victor Villar-Hauser. We’d worked together at the studio in New York City where I trained. He is my go-to coach for any big roles that come up. I also researched how to move around as a pregnant woman, that was new to me.
Lilja: Cell is promoted as a kind of Zombie movie but it’s really not correct, right?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: Yes & no. While the humans that were on their cell phones when "The Pulse" happened are turned into zombie-like creatures called Phoners, their physical appearance isn't as dramatic as the zombies on The Walking Dead. The commonalities are they are both beings who are trying to wipe out the human race; their minds, or lack thereof, are also both controlled by another source.
Lilja: The story is pretty open for interpretations? What was your feeling was the reason for what happened in the movie?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: I think it's Stephen King’s idea of what cell phone radiation could do to the human brain. Scientists are conducting more and more studies to see if there is any relation between diseases and cell phones. It’s very fantastical and much exaggerated, but that’s the premise of it.
Lilja: When did you shoot Cell?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: During Atlanta's snowpocalypse 2014.
Lilja: It took like forever for it to be released. What are your thoughts on that?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: We had distribution & lost it, then got it again. I wasn't part of the post-production process, so I'm unsure what the details were with those decisions.
Lilja: Cell is out small now and will premier in theaters on July 8. Have you gotten any reactions on it already?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: Yep! Some fans are frustrated with changes made from the book to the script, but Mr. King did write the screenplay. I think like any movie that's adapted from a book, we have to remember a book that may take you nine hours to read, has to be condensed down to a 90-minute film. There will always be things tweaked and left out, but it's exciting to see the words on the page brought to life on a big screen.
Lilja: Have you read the book?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: Yep. It's part of our job as actors to research our character in every way possible. I was given the gift of this being a Stephen King project, so it was all there ready for me digest ;-)
Lilja: Are you a fan of King?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: Yep. Who isn't?!? ;-)
Lilja: Is there any other King character you’d like to play?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: If they ever did another remake of The Shining, I'd love to play Wendy Torrance and be directed by the great Frank Darabont.
Lilja: Do you know how involved King was in this movie?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: He wrote the screenplay and I believe he may've been involved in the intial post-production, but beyond that I'm unsure.
Lilja: What is your next project?
Erin Elizabeth Burns: I’ll be working on a show called Stan Against Evil on the IFC network next. Currently, I’m on Season 1 of Satisfaction on USA, the feature Bird People (Cannes Film Festival), the YouTube web series The Adventures of Lizzy Belch, and Divergent series film, Allegiant.
Lilja: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.