The Call Star Lin Shaye Talks Her Horrifying New Film and Celebrating Halloween

Throughout her illustrious career, actress Lin Shaye has starred in a wide variety of films, including 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street and 1986's Critters, though it was her debut in James Wan's Insidious back in 2010 that entirely reinvented audiences' perception of her. In the years since that opportunity, the actress has gone on to become a beloved staple of a number of genre projects, starring in projects like Ouija, Tales of Halloween, and this year's The Grudge. The actress returns to the world of horror with the new film The Call, which hits theaters and drive-ins on October 2nd.

From the creator of Final Destination, Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell star in this terrifying tale of death from the fall of 1987. After a tragic accident, a group of small-town friends must survive the night in the home of a sinister couple. One by one, their worst nightmares quickly become reality as they enter the realm of THE CALL. Four Friends. One Phone Call. 60 Seconds. Stay Alive. recently caught up with Shaye to talk about the new film and her Halloween traditions.

the call movie lin shaye 2020 movie
(Photo: Cinedigm) I really loved the overall tone of The Call. It definitely felt like a William Castle, Vincent Price, spooky, retro, haunted house adventure. And I'm actually curious since, especially in recent years, you've been involved in so many horror movies, this gore and gruesome stuff takes up so much of your year. When October rolls around, are you a fan of the Halloween season in general? And if you do anything special to get in the mood for it?

Lin Shaye: Not really. I sort of disappoint people when I say that, but the truth is, I was just telling this to Daily News, that I stopped dressing up when I was 11, except to go to Jason Blum's Blumhouse party where I did actually dress up. I'm not a real dresser-upper. I'm a storyteller, I like to pretend I'm other people, which is really fascinating to me, with a real scenario and a good story and a good script. But I've never really been that much of a person who can't wait for Halloween and to decorate.

And when my son was little, we certainly used to go trick-or-treating. Although in California, it's a little weird to begin with.

Because it's 100 degrees in October.

Really! And I grew up in Detroit, where we had real fall and we were really raking leaves, and so there was a whole atmosphere getting ready for the season, pumpkins and, of course, my family and my dad, we used to carve pumpkins and stuff. But as an adult, I lived in New York for a long time, we didn't do much trick-or-treating there, either, in the city. You didn't really want to go into those houses. But I love seeing what everybody comes up with. I think it's fascinating. I know Jason Blum, I sort of got into the spirit because of him. He, all year long, thinks about what he's going to dress up as for Halloween, and has people helping him, and comes up with gorgeous, fantastic costumes.

I'm digressing here, I don't know how much I want to take up your time, but I was going to say real quick, one time I went to a party and I was dancing with somebody that was just dressed up as kind of a farmer, I couldn't see his face. And we started dancing and we had the best time. I hadn't danced with anybody that I really connected to like that. And I thought, "Wow, who is this guy?" And at the end of the party, it was a woman. She took off her mask and I thought, "Oh, my God," I was just about to ask her out.

So costumes are very ... they're a little bit scary when you can't see someone's face. You fantasize who they are under there. So I'm getting ready, because of the movie opening and because everything else is so upside-down right now, it's fun to take something traditional and make it a part of your life for a little while. It's very comforting. So, in an odd way, this Halloween, I will get a pumpkin and carve it because ... it's going to make me cry, just because it's something normal.

This time of year definitely brings up a lot of joyful, nostalgic memories, so I think we're all doing a lot of things to try to find some levity with everything going on.

Totally, totally. And that's why I feel it'll be a slightly different scenario for me this year, too.

You've starred in a number of horror films and people love seeing you show up, though you are rarely in heavy makeup or effects because audiences want to see you. You were in some intense makeup in certain sequences in this film, so did the makeup transform your performance or just heighten what you had already come up with?

Great questions. These are really excellent. Thank you for that. Yes, it really does. And I've never played a part quite like this. Mrs. Dumars in Kingpin was as ugly as I've ever gotten. I mean, I ain't no beauty to begin with, but usually I can pull off a little bit of lipstick and color, and I look okay. And I remember, because I wasn't sure how we were going to do this. And it was no special effects, no CGI, no nothing. Our makeup artist [Ching Tseng] did everything. She did special effects makeup, she did beauty makeup. She did it all. And it was a long process to get into that face. And then, of course, the teeth and the blood, it was a lot of scary latex stuff that we use.

And, looking at yourself, when you got into that makeup, there I was a craft services and I go, "Oh, wait, I can't eat anything." Because I don't want to ruin the stuff all over my mouth, but it definitely provides you with a visceral place to begin. The way you feel ... all my clothes were sticky and covered in all that blood, which is actually corn syrup and food coloring. It is sticky and there's transitions that you make from the fantasy to the reality of what it is you're trying to portray.

It definitely helps. And then it's also funny, because then we also have fun with it besides, you can't help that, because we're still all little kids dressing up and playing a game, a la Tobin Bell. So it was wonderful to have somebody participate in that makeup-wise who really did assist in the place that I was ending up in the film.

You brought up Tobin and you both starred in a number of projects over the years, only to later in your career unlock these huge following among horror fans. What was it like working with him? And are there other horror legends that you've met over the years that you'd like to work with at some point?

I'd never met Tobin. We both have the same godparents, Leigh Whannell and James Wan, because they created Saw, which he was in eight episodes of, and James and Leigh created Insidious, which I've done four things with them. And yet we had never met, and I've always been a fan of his work. I think he's a very beautiful man, very beautiful. He looks wonderful on camera. He's got that great face and we totally hit it off. We didn't talk a lot, but the moment we were introduced to each other, there was, right away, a wonderful chemistry of appreciation and respect, and feel for the characters.

We're actually terrific together. It was an excellent pairing. I feel like we look alike in some weird way. He reminds me of some of my family members, that aquiline nose and long face and he's very handsome, also a very handsome man. And the work on camera, I thought, was really right in the pocket. We both really waited for each other, we really listened to each other and we really committed to our relationship. I love that scene of the two of us right before I really fall apart where we're sitting in chairs across from each other, and he's comforting me. That's one of my favorite scenes in the film actually.

Are there other icons? Not really horror-wise that I can name right off the top of my head. I love good actors who listen and who are really with you and who are ready to move. It's like a dance, it really is. And I've occasionally done a little bit of television at different times, and it's not the same thing. That's one of the reasons I love film is the luxury you have to really move into the scene together. There's time, enough time.

Television is often quite, even though these are wonderful actors, it becomes quite wooden because you got to move on. You got to move fast. And the best of that, for me, was Penny Dreadful, which was television, but exquisite. And Nathan Lane, you can't ask for better than that, really. But, in general, the fact that Tobin and I shared this history together with Leigh and James, and the genre together, and he's a really fine actor. I was really thrilled to be able to work with him and I think the fans will really appreciate the relationship.

I talked to you a few years ago and you said a scene in the new The Grudge was the scariest of your career. I was curious if it was the scene where you cut your fingers off at the cutting board? I've been wondering about what scene it was since you said that.

That was pretty good. That was very close. Also, the one where the demon is drooling into my mouth was a pretty intense one, too. That was a very scary movie. I love that film and [director] Nicolas Pesce is extraordinary. And the fear in that, also, is very primitive. But the finger chopping scene was definitely ... there were real mechanics to it, which took some of the horror out of it when we were doing it. But when I actually saw it, it scared the sh-t out of me and I quickly removed myself from the character, pardon my language.

I just want to say one thing really quick, too, that tickets for The Call can be purchased through and online and the online sites for theater websites. And that is going to have a list later this week of all the theaters where the movie is playing in theaters. So I hope people will go see it and love it. And happy Halloween.



The Call hits theaters and drive-ins on October 2nd.