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Jillian Rose Reed’s friends say she’s nothing like her character Tamara on Awkward but, after talking to her, we learned that’s not 100% true. For starters, they both talk really fast. Jillian has been playing Tamara, best friend to the show’s main star Jenna (Ashley Rickards), for the last four years now, and she’ gotten very close to her character. She discusses how she and Tamara are different (and a little alike), how she feels about Tamara/Jake and Jenna/Matty, and what her favorite scene was to film on the show.
Check out our exclusive interview with the star here:
Is there any slang from the show that you use in real life?
Actually, there’s quite a few that most of the cast actually uses. A lot of them are from season 1. We all use DTR (define the relationship), we still use that one on the show. I feel like that the majority of people use that one. But I also use Big Fail Mary (something that does not go as planned) which is from season 1 in regards to a failed situation. So yeah, we do.
What was your favorite episode to film last season?
Oh gosh. From this past season? I think it would probably have to be just the sequence of episodes where Jake and Tamara broke up. There was one specific one, where Jake and Tamara are fighting in the school quad area. I got to do this really funny bit, where I take Jake’s harmonica and I pound it on a table and I rub a banana all in it. That was really, really, really fun to shoot, because it’s not often, (well that’s not true, I do get to do physical stuff) but it’s been a while since I got to some really out there physical comedy and I love doing that stuff. It’s really fun for me.
That sounds fun. Have you pushed to have any more physical comedy like that on the show in the next season?
I do actually! One of my favorite episodes in this upcoming season I get to a do a little bit, we’ll call it “dancing.”
Actually, speaking of Jake…do you want him and T to get back together? Are you rooting for them to wind up with each other?
I have always loved Jake and Tamara from the beginning of their relationship. In high school, I think it’s so easy to get caught up in boys and all of that stuff. Obviously, in the beginning of their relationship, there was a tricky situation with Jenna and Jake’s past, but I truly feel that Jake is Tamara’s true, real love. I think that they’ll always love each other and always have something really special. So yeah, I definitely root for them. I would definitely want to see them work something out in the future.
What do you like the most about some of the characters on the show? We know there’s a ton, so you can give us your favorite two.
Aside from Tamara, I have to say my two favorite characters are probably Sadie and Valerie. That’s because they are just so funny. You know, I’m a comedic actress and I love comedy and I think both of those characters, and both of the actresses who play them, are just so phenomenal and so on point all the time that if I had to choose another character I could play for the day, it would have to be one of those.
Do you think you’re at all like Tamara or you two totally different?
There are some similarities, but I feel like if you ask my close friends they’d say that there are no similarities at all. But I definitely feel like there are a little bit. Tamara’s been with me for 4 years now, so there’s a little bit of me inside of her. We’ve both talk really fast, I’m a little overdramatic, and Tamara is a little overdramatic, so we have similarities there. As far as differences, she’s a little bit girlier than I am, in the way that she carries herself and the way that she dresses. I tend to be a little bit more edgy, or maybe it’s sloppy. I haven’t figured out the word yet. She goes to high school every day in her perfectly matched outfits and heels. I went to high school in my sweatpants.
We really like some of the fashion choices she’s made, do you envy her closet or is your style a bit more laidback?
There’s definitely moments where she will wear something that is super my style or paired with something that is my style. It’s funny that you mention that, because I took home a bunch of stuff. I went through the wardrobe trailer like “I’m gonna take this, and I’m gonna take this, and I’m gonna take this!” I still have stuff from season 1. Season 1 Tamara wore a lot that I have a lot of as well.
Are any of the actors like their characters on the show?
I would say that there are probably similarities that you can find between all of the actors and their characters. But everyone also has major, major differences. Like for example, Nikki DeLoach plays Lacey. Nikki is a person in my life who has the biggest heart. She is so genuine and you get to see that when she plays Lacey, there’s these really heartfelt moments between her and Jenna, where I’m like “that’s totally Nikki!” But then, in reverse, Lacey is super self-involved and you know, not always the best mom. That is the complete opposite of Nikki, she’s always seeing what she can do for other people. She’s a new mom and she’s the best mom in the world. There’s definitely similarities and differences between all of us.
Check out what she has to say about Jenna and Matty on Page 2...
Getty Images/Michael Buckner
Are there any characters you wish you had more scenes with, like you love them on the show, but there isn’t much of a storyline crossover for Tamara and them?
Yeah, I totally wish I had more scenes with Val! I got a little bit more in this past season, I did in other seasons as well. I think it was season 3, that we explored that Val and Tamara are new BFFs for their trip to Europe. I wish we could have taken that a little bit further, and seen that in the current season. I think that both of the characters are so different and both so dynamic, that when they’re both in Val’s office together, it’s just funny.
Veering off that a bit, do you want Matty and Jenna to get back together?
I am hardcore Team Matty. I always have been. I feel like Jenna and Matty are the Ross and Rachel of our time. So I’m constantly rooting for them. I watch the show like a viewer most of the time, so any time Matty shows up at Jenna’s door, I like freak out. Any time they have a moment. I’m all about it. I want them to wind up together.
Is there anything about this season that you think viewers will be really excited about?
My one of my favorite episodes, is the one I kind of teased earlier with the dancing, the episode is centered on myself and Sadie. We’ve seen in the past that when Sadie and Tamara get together, it’s pretty crazy, but I think fans always really, really enjoy it. It’s an entire episode where they team up together. It was really fun to shoot, Molly is one of my best friends. I think fans will enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed filming it.
Do you and the cast members have viewing parties of the show? Or do you mainly watch with your friends?
Yeah, actually when I’m watching, I’m usually with another cast member. I go to Brett Davern’s (Jake!) a lot to watch the show. Nikki DeLoach always has people over, so we pretty much like to watch the show together as much as we can. We love each other so much, it’s so fun. If I’m not with a cast member, I’m usually with my family.
That’s really cute. Are you best friends with some of the cast outside of the show and hang out a lot?
All the time! We all just got back from a weekend in Kentucky because Desi (Val) got married. I’m literally planning a trip with Molly, as we speak. We hang out all the time.
That’s very sweet. It’s always nice to hear that people are friends behind the scenes.
Yeah! It just makes the job easier.
What can we look forward to seeing you in outside of Awkward?
Outside of Awkward, I have a few things going on! I will be stepping behind the camera for the first time. I will be producing a new movie, called Chained and Bound, which I am starring in. Actually, Nikki DeLoach is as well. It’s a little side project, that’s in the very early development stages. We’re really excited about it. It’s a really gritty and edgy movie that will be really different from what our Awkward viewers have seen us do.
What made you want to get behind the camera?
Well I was approached with this script actually a few years ago to play one of the characters. The woman who wrote it is a really close family friend of mine. As it got developed, I got more and more involved, and she approached me and asked if I wanted to come on as a producer, it just seemed really fun for me. I’ve learned a lot about producing and being behind the scenes. After I started filming Awkward, it was a really good way to learn about that stuff. So I thought, what a better way to do it than practice. I love the entertainment industry. I love all aspects of it, so if there are ways for me to get involved in another way, I liked to do it.
Awkward comes back 9/23 on MTV at 10p.m. Make sure you tune because it’s the bomb-dot-com.
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.