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Shay Mitchell Interview: The Possession of Hannah Grace

Shay Mitchell played sporty Emily Fields on Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars for seven seasons.  She also appeared in the star-studded cast of Gary Marshall’s Mother’s Day.  Now, Mitchell stars in The Possession of Hannah Grace as Megan Reed, a former policewoman who encounters the supernatural while working in a morgue.

Screen Rant: So, first I have to ask, why is Megan a magnet for the bad things to happen to her friends? Everybody she cares about.

Shay Mitchell: [LAUGHS] I know.  I feel like she's definitely got something within her that is like, “I'll be the last one.” You know what I mean? Yeah. I wouldn't want to hang out with her.

Screen Rant: Neither would I.

Shay Mitchell No.

Screen Rant: Talk to me about Megan's backstory though, because she's trying to overcome her own personal demons, no pun intended. So, talk to me about what's going on in Megan's life and where she's been.

Shay Mitchell: I found it really interesting. Because, of course, I think a lot of people's questions would be, “Well, why didn't she just leave?” And the reason she didn't leave is because she really did have to combat those own personal demons that were within her.  And they came about because of everything that she had gone through recently. With having a call gone bad, and then turning to drugs, and having anxiety, and dealing with PTSD, and all of that. So, truly, I feel like this was even more so for her to prove it to herself that she could do this. And really just to take on another job.  It was to keep her out of trouble and to prove to herself.

Screen Rant: She ran—

[Possessed body bursts in from an adjacent set of doors].

Shay Mitchell: [SCREAM]

Screen Rant: Jesus Christ…

Shay Mitchell: I’m sorry.  I had to. But I also screamed to amplify it.  You know what I mean?

Screen Rant: You did.  That, that scared me.

Shay Mitchell: It wasn't enough for me to just bring press to the morgue. I really did have to make you remember this.

Screen Rant: Oh, I'm definitely going to remember it now.

Shay Mitchell: I promise there's nothing else.

Screen Rant: I think I just pooped my pants by the way.

Shay Mitchell: We have diapers at the front so don't worry.

Screen Rant: Moving on. I want to ask-- You have me like, lost in thought here.  I do want to ask though, did you research any other possessions, or like demonology, or exorcism movies…

Shay Mitchell: You know, I think it was kind of fascinating with this one. Because this was really about an exorcism gone bad. And I think, in the past, we've seen a lot of movies with the exorcist and all that. And it's everything leading up to that, and then that process, and then that's it.  This was really what takes place after.

And I was fascinated by that. And of course, I've read up on exorcisms in the past and just culturally where it all came from. So, it was fascinating. But they shot that whole scene actually in Amsterdam after. So, I didn't even see it until I went into the screening and watch myself. And I was blown away. It looked awesome. And Kirby Johnson [who plays the possessed Hannah Grace], I mean she’s spectacular.

Screen Rant: I was just going ask about Kirby.  Because Kirby's performance, just like yours is amazing.  How did her performance help inform yours?

Shay Mitchell: Just even being freaked out to be honest. Her and such incredible makeup and then with what she can do with her body. The elevator scene was a little bit more of a challenging one for me because I'm a little claustrophobic.  So, having her climb all over me in that scene… It was interesting to say the least. But she definitely helped out. It was also nice whenever I got to work with somebody else on the set. Because so much of it was just me, myself, and I. So, I enjoyed those moments.

Screen Rant: Were you just confined to one location by the way, as well?

Shay Mitchell: Yes, it was all in one set.  The funny thing is, is people ask like, “Did I take anything from this character to myself?” And I did.  Because, to be honest, I've never really dealt with anxiety personally. But I really did, the first few weeks of shooting this movie. And it was, it was scary for me.  Because I had to also fight personal demons. Ones that were like, “You're leading this movie. This is terrifying. Can you do this?” And it really did go into the character a little bit. I bled into the character. The character bled into me. There was a lot of bleeding into one another. So, yeah, it was interesting.

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The Possession of Hannah Grace opens in theaters November 30, 2018.

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