Paranormal Activity 4 introduces a new family plagued by the demons that have haunted Katie’s family for generations. Kathryn Newton plays Alex, the teenage girl whose boyfriend Ben starts recording her house while she sleeps via webcam. We got to speak with Newtown about all the secrets now being revealed as Paranormal Activity 4 opens. Mild spoilers but don’t worry, you still won’t know when to expect the scare.
CraveOnline: What are the auditions like for these Paranormal Activity movies?
Kathryn Newton: They were so much fun. It was all improv. I had no idea what I was auditioning for. I thought I was auditioning for a movie called Double Decker. After I got it I would tell people it was called Double Decker about a double decker bus and I got it because of my great English accent.
So they really take secrecy very seriously?
Oh yes, definitely. I couldn’t even tell my dad until two months ago.
Once the trailers came out and people could see you were in it?
Yes, and then everybody knew. I just pretended like it was real and it was really happening to me.
When is Double Decker coming out, because that sounds good too?
[Laughs] I know, we’re going to have make a short film. We’re just going to have to write it, aren’t we?
Has this whole found footage movement changed the industry for actors from the inside?
I think it’s inspired a lot of people because people can relate to it so much more. So much of our life is influenced by Facebook and Instagram. This is just another thing to make it seem more real.
As a working actor, does it make auditioning and booking jobs different?
I don't know. This audition was really fun because there was no script, so I got to really say whatever I wanted and be myself.
You are supposed to be a real girl who we haven’t seen before, but you were on TV for two years, right?
I was on a sitcom called “Gary Unmarried” for 37 episodes and then I was in Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake.
Was it difficult to play a “real girl” when you have a background in acting?
No, because it never really changed me. Even still now, at school they don’t know me as Paranormal Activity girl, they know me as golfer girl who won CIF for girl’s golf. I don't think it really made a difference.
How much footage did they get of you sleeping?
Oh, probably enough for a whole movie.
Was that an honor, because it’s Paranormal Activity, of course they’ve got to film you sleeping?
Oh yeah, it’s very important. It makes the movie.
The iconic monumental moment of getting pulled out of the frame, there’s a twist on it in this one, but how did it feel to film that Paranormal Activity moment?
That was a very spontaneous thing that we did on set and that was so much fun because I love how scared everybody was. That was just a really fun thing that we did and it really worked.
Have you seen the movie with an audience yet?
Yes, I saw it on Tuesday. I went to the “Want It” screening with all the amazing fans. I mean, we made the movie for them so I was really happy to see that they liked it.
How gratified were you by any specific moments that got the scare you wanted?
You know what scare still gets me? The cat scare, when the cat jumps from the computer. I get scared every time because I always forget that. But every time somebody gets scared, I sit there hysterically laughing. I mean, I don’t get scared anymore. It’s just like looking at a scrapbook for me because it’s what I did the whole summer. I just love to watch people get scared. It’s like, yes, I accomplished my goal!
How long did it take to do the levitating and how long were you suspended?
Well, they set it up for three days. It was a pretty long process and it was really cool to get to do my own stunts. James Armstrong was the stunt coordinator and he was really great and he showed me how to do everything. It was so much fun.
It was fun, even with harnesses and being hooked up?
Yeah, I felt invincible with the harness on.
Is Katie Featherston like the Godmother on these Paranormal Activity movies?
She’s America’s favorite demon.
What did you learn from her about doing these movies?
She was just really chill. She was fun to watch and she was great to work with. She was very professional and really sweet. She was really, really sweet. You would never think she was a demon. It was a surprise how scary she was in the movie and in real life how sweet she is.
Was it all improvisation or were there points where it was scripted?
It was all improv.They give us an outline. They gave us A to C and we had to fill in B. It was all spontaneous and fresh and so much fun. It was so artistically creative.
Were there any scenes you’re sorry didn’t make it into the film?
You know, we shot enough footage for 14 different movies. So there were so many things that were just great that didn’t go in, but everything in the movie was terrific. Oh, do you know what you guys missed? You missed Ben and Alex’s first kiss that didn’t make it into the final cut. But it made everybody on set really happy.
How did you like the part of the storyline where Alex’s parents don’t believe her and they can’t really help her?
Well, it’s pretty typical. It even reminded me so much of my dad in the way that he’s like, “I can’t even work my cell phone” because it’s so relatable. I mean, what other teenager tries to show their parents how to use Facebook and their parents can’t figure it out? I mean, I feel like teenagers right now going through high school feel like nobody understands them. So Alex’s misunderstanding is just multiplied by 1000 because she really doesn’t even know how to communicate. She’s having some troubles with demons and Katie.
Is it an interesting place to be as an actor where you could watch Paranormal Activity 1 through 3 and then end up in one? By the time you’ve watch three of them, does it occur to you there could be auditions for a fourth?
That never crossed my mind, especially with Paranormal Activity because I always thought it was real. I was one of those people who totally believed it. I had no idea I was auditioning for Paranormal Activity until I got it.
What were your favorite horror movies?
Well, I loved Paranormal Activity. It was one of my favorites before. It was a tradition, my friends and I went every year. We’re going to go tonight. When I was testing it I watched Scream, and I love Drew Barrymore, and I was practicing my scream for the movie.
Where did you practice your scream? Alone in your room so people couldn’t hear?
I practiced it in the car.
While you were driving?
Yeah, because I didn’t want to really hurt everybody’s ears so I would scream and be like, “Okay. Give me a scale of 1 to 10.”
Do you have any Halloween plans, any costume ideas?
I’m in between being Ninja from Die Antwoord or being Honey Boo Boo. My best friend George is going to be Yo-Landi Vi$$er. She’s also in Paranormal Activity. She’s in there in the beginning for a little bit. They hired my best friend George and she’s going to be Yo-Landi. She’s actually my best friend in real life so it was really cool that she got to be in the movie with me.
What’s next for you?
Well, we just basically officially finished wrapping like literally two weeks ago. So on Tuesday after the screening, I went straight into [school] the next day. I woke up at 6 so I was just back to school and back to golf for me.
What was the last scene you shot on Paranormal 4?
Oh, the last scene I shot was the kissing scene with Ben. That was the last scene. It was quick, tiny, the perfect thing. My face turned beet red.
So you’re going to school while you’re acting? Not home school or on set?
I’ve gone to real school my whole life.
Is that really important to you?
It’s very important to me because I also play golf and it keeps really good balance and keeps me focused.
Is golf something you do professionally?
It’s something I could do professionally. I was going to play in the qualifier for the Women’s US Open but then due to conflicting dates I wasn’t able to play in it because of the movie. But I’m looking forward to playing to qualify for it again this year. I played in the Kraft Nabisco and I’ll play in the Kraft Nabisco again. Last year I played and I shot 16 under and I won with Amy Hung. I got to meet Michelle Lee and Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel. It was great.
How are the kids at school reacting to you now that they’re seeing the Paranormal Activity trailers?
Well, they love the franchise. It’s something all teenagers, something I always did. It’s just a really fun thing to do with all your friends so they’re really supportive and super excited. They kept asking me secrets and I’m like, “I can’t say. I don't know.” Honestly, I don’t know because I never saw the movie. There were so many things we shot, I didn’t know what was in the final cut.