LAFF 2011 Interview: HOW TO CHEAT actor Amanda Street

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
June 23rd, 2011

Whenever you hear about a situation where someone has cheated, you typically side with the person being cheated on and not the two participating in the cheating. However in HOW TO CHEAT, Amanda Street turns in a multi-dimensional portrayal of the woman who gets involved with married Mark (Kent Osborne), making her character Louise infuriating, confusing and compelling. There are always two sides to a story, but Louise makes you wonder about the third side and where her character is coming from.

Street took the time to further delve into this character and her approach to Louise’s portrayal as well as shedding light on working with multi-hyphenate actor/writer/director Amber Sealey. And, as I have in both my interviews with Osborne and Sealey, posed the question of what Street would say to someone considering cheating.

You play the part of "the other woman," but in a very non-stereotypical way. What drew you to this role?

Initially I was drawn to the process. Because Amber works in a non scripted way, I had an opportunity to create a character using my own words which is both liberating and really terrifying for an actor. There is a sort of culpability when there isn't the safety of a saying lines that someone else wrote. You can no longer distance yourself by the comfort that someone else created this "screwed up" person so it forces you to confront and then expose those aspects of yourself that could partake in such dark and desperate behavior.  And in that, find the humanity and beauty of such a struggle. And that is exciting work.

Were the subtleties in Louise's behavioral shifts (suggested as she become more inebriated during her first encounter with Mark) written into the script or was that something you developed as a part of her character?

Since it was non scripted I had a lot of freedom to play with the character and her behavior. Having said that, Amber was interested in Louise having a sadistic side. I had already made a choice that Louise had a drinking problem so when I began to incorporate a darker behavior, it felt that it came out of that intoxicated state and the need to feel powerful.

What did you think was Louise's motivation for becoming involved with Mark even after finding out that he was married?

 Actually, I think Mark being married made him more attractive to Louise. It's that old water seeks it's own level thing.  I think Louise wanted to feel something just as much as Mark did but could only allow herself to feel when there was no possibility of any real intimacy happening.

What were some of the benefits to acting alongside the writer and director of the film? What were some of the disadvantages?

Amber created an amazing space that was really intimate - there were rarely more than four people in the room during shooting.  She really encouraged us to unveil the uglier and undefended parts of ourselves. And because there wasn't that normal delineation of actor/ director- I knew that she was acting along with us, exposing herself in the same fearless ways, I felt like I wanted to show everything. That said, (disadvantages?) I was only in one scene with Amber so the technical reality of her playing both actor and director didn't have an impact on me but I'm impressed with how Kent seemed to navigate that so seamlessly.

What advice would you have given Mark if he came to you with his dilemma of wanting to cheat on his wife?

Wouldn't everyone say "don't cheat"?  So, yeah, "don't cheat" - it takes so much more courage and honesty to stay committed.

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