Celebrity Interview: Florence Hartigan Talks on Her Role in Ridley Scott’s Phoenix Forgotten, Upcoming Projects and Life in the Business

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Florence Hartigan, the New York born and New Zealand-bred actress talks about her starring role in Phoenix Forgotten, the science-fiction independent film produced by Ridley Scott, now streaming on Amazon, the biz and her upcoming projects.

Hartigan, with almost two decades under her belt of active work, recently starred in the sci-fi Roswell style alien independent film, Phoenix Forgotten. The film was projected against a solid box office of securing $2 Million in receipts and respectably closed the weekend at just shy of those estimates. 

Life in The Business

Q. Why movies? What was it about film that had you jumping through fiery hoops to be a part of it?

A. I love movies, and always have.  I even studied film theory in college.  I actually did a class on representations of AI in film, and wrote papers about Blade Runner, so obviously the fact that Ridley Scott was involved in this project made it pretty appealing to me!   I also loved that going into this project I knew the aim was to make it feel like a real documentary, as unscripted as possible, and so there would be a lot of improv.  I trained in improv at UCB and The Groundlings here in LA so it was cool to be able to flex those muscles in a sci fi thriller environment. 

Q. Did you find it relatively easy to break in?

A. I shot my first movie when I was 16, I played a foul-mouthed chain smoking small-town girl in Hokitika, New Zealand so I think starting young helped - even just in giving me the confidence to know I hadn’t just imagined acting was something I not only loved doing, but that I could do well enough to be paid for doing it on a big huge screen.  Coming to LA it’s a pretty different environment though.  There are so many more opportunities, but a lot more competition too.  In the end I think it’s all about doing what you can do to keep feeling inspired and having fun, and keep on keeping on.

Patti Cake$ Review – Raw, Unapologetic, An Early Oscar Favorite

Q. You have to have a thick skin, if you’re working in the business, I imagine. How do you handle the ups, downs, rejections and disparagement that the game brings?

A. Yeah that is hard because as an actor I think one of your main tools is that you do have a certain sensitivity, and that’s definitely been a learning curve for me.  I think honestly what’s helped is that I had the big disappointments you have - getting close to a dream role and then having it go to someone else, that kind of thing - all that stuff happened to me in my teens and so I got that stuff out of the way! 

Now I know I can survive all that stuff and I have tools to deal with it.  I really wanted the part in Phoenix Forgotten,  but I knew if i didn’t get this one there’d be others.  I made a list of all the things that were in my power to do for my career that I would do if I didn’t get the role, and that’s what I always do now.  It’s just good to remember there will always be another audition.

Film, TV,  . . . Independent Films

Q. You clearly like to be involved in all facets of filmmaking – is that why you prefer to get involved in indie projects?

A. Yeah - I love that we live in an age where if you have an idea, there’s really nothing stopping you.  People shoot movies on their phones, I mean, it’s incredible what you can do.  I write - I’ve written plays and short films and sketches (you can see some of my stuff on Funny or Die), and I love being able to make stuff and put it out there with the only barrier being my time and motivation to do it. 

But I don’t necessarily prefer indie projects.  It’s obviously awesome to work on a project with money behind it, and there are some clear advantages to that.  But in the end it’s totally possible to make an amazing film with a few thousand dollars, and it’s totally possible to make a terrible film with $50 Million dollars, it’s all about the idea and what you do with what you have.

Q. Do you feel it’s a little unfair that the big award shows don’t recognize independent films more?

A. I wouldn’t say that statement rings true for me actually - Moonlight was a 1.5 Million dollar indie and it won eight oscars including Best Picture! Sundance and SXSW are now major tastemakers.  I think this is actually a great time for independent films - you don’t need to buy film stock or process it any more, digital filmmaking has made it  just so much cheaper and there are so many more avenues for people to see your work on online platforms.

Q. Even the major press shies away from indie films. Has it become less about what the readers might want to read about and more about who will keep them in business?

A. I don’t really know much about the world of the film press.  but I think we do live in a clickbait culture, so I can see where the point you’re raising comes from.  Personally, I feel like I hear about indie films all the time - maybe that’s because that’s the world I live in and those are my peers - but I think it’s also because social media has the ability to democratize transcend other media outlets in terms of promotion for stuff like that, so maybe the major press matters less if you have an indie on your hands. 

 . . . Or Television

Q. They say ‘TV is where it’s at’ at the moment, do you agree?

A. There’s definitely great TV at the moment.  That’s not to say I haven’t seen some great film this year - I just saw “Ingrid Goes West” which is awesome and frankly terrifying, and we had “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” this year which were probably my top three so far.  But I think we’ve seen some exceptional TV this year too - I think it’s been really interesting to watch the power shift out of the hands of networks and advertisers and watch this subscription model really start to thrive.   I think it allows for riskier and more exciting choices, and for shows with smaller but loyal audiences to survive. 

Polina Review - Breathtaking Magic, A Captivating Masterpiece

I’ve really enjoyed seeing  new seasons of fan favorites that got cancelled - I’m not so secretly hoping there will one day be a final season of an HBO show I loved called Carnivale, which was abruptly cancelled at what I felt was its zenith!  If you haven’t seen it, check it out, it’s a supernatural horror situation but the setting is a circus in the dustbowl during the great depression.  It’s so good.

Q. Would you like to explore television?

A. Yes I’d like to be in the third season of Carnivale, please!  Haha.  But failing that, I’m by no means a purist when it comes to film or television, I love it all.  And there’s such wonderful TV out there, and amazing roles for women - I’m loving the Handmaid’s Tale, and The OA was incredible.  I also have a comedy background so I’d love to do a Veep or Silicon Valley type show.  I love it all.

Q. Box office receipts are down – do you think that’s because of all the great television, or increased theatre prices? Or maybe something else?

A. I think prices go up when attendance goes down so it’s a feedback loop.  And I think we have so much stimulus and stress in our everyday lives I think it’s harder now for people to make the effort to go out and see a film, especially when as we’ve discussed, there are such great TV options. 

And not only TV - let’s not forget we also live in an age where you basically have every movie ever made at your fingertips three clicks away!  But I’ll never stop seeing films in the cinema - there’s nothing to me like going to the movies.

Phoenix Forgotten

Q. Tell readers why they need to seek out your film! What will they get from it?

A. What I like about our movie is that it blends fact and fiction. Our director, Justin Barber, approached it like a documentary in a lot of ways.  There’s real footage in the film, of a real UFO sighting, and we interview real people about their experiences and real jobs.  I think that blurry line between reality and fantasy is fun.  I also think the mystery of the whole thing is engaging, so if you liked Serial or S-Town or if you’re at all a fan of Werner Herzog (who we were very influenced by in making this) I think it will appeal to you.  And it of course also lands in that genre film area, so there are some thrills and spills for you as well.  It’s a really cool little film, in my humble opinion!              

Hartigan's next project, Malevolent, opposite WIlliam Shatner is a Hunger Games type horror film that pitts one sibling against the Gamemaster in order to save her entire family. Malevolent is set to be released in fall 2017.


Haute Tease

  • Andre Mieux A.M.X: World R U Ready

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A.M.X. is a multi-talented R&B artist whose star is rising fast in the music industry with fans starting to take notice of his original sound. A.M.X., also known as Andre Mieux, is a singer, songwriter and music producer who has talent, charm and uniqueness as an artist.

  • Money News: Dow Escapes the Bear; European Markets Down; Asian Split

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, finally escaped the Bear's grasp, salvaging a brutal volatile week across the global markets which saw the international markets continuing to react to the fall out in Greece.

  • 23 Tourists Killed, 44 Wounded, in Tunisia Museum Attack

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nearly two dozen tourists were massacred in a brazen midday preplanned ambush at Bardo National Museum in the capital city of Tunis that left another forty-four injured and the shooters dead in what is being called a terrorist attack.

  • Oscar Week Events at The Academy

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA — Leading up to The Oscars®, the Academy will present a slate of public events celebrating this year’s nominees.  This year’s activities in Los Angeles will include a live concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall highlighting the nominated musical scores and songs. 

  • The Academy Announces Submission Dates For 2013 Oscars®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced category submission deadlines for 86th Academy Awards® consideration.


  • The Academy Announces Naming Of The David Geffen Theater

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it has received a $25 million commitment from The David Geffen Foundation for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The gift was made as part of the Academy Museum's $300 million capital campaign and is the  largest commitment received to date. In recognition of this gift, the Academy will name the Museum's premiere-sized theater The David Geffen Theater.

  • Top 5 Tips for Holiday Entertaining from Event Designer Jung Lee

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Jung Lee, one of the world’s most sought-after event designers, respected for her passion, elegance and ground-breaking creativity understands not everyone has the time, inclination or even desire to tackle the holiday events with what has become her signature style.