Hayley Kiyoko Talks ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ and Empowering Young fans
The things I do for this job. In order to interview actor Hayley Kiyoko about her role in Insidious: Chapter 3, I had to walk through the “Into the Further 4D Experience,” a jump-scare haunted house on wheels that incorporates Oculus Rift VR technology to make ramp up the scare factor to pants-wetting levels. It was so super spooky it made me behave quite strangely (at one point a guy in a costume grabbed me from behind, and I tried to hug him; he declined, understandably), but it was all worth it once I sat down with the charming Miss Kiyoko at a grilled cheese spot just across the street (ahhh…melted cheesy goodness).
Insidious: Chapter 3 is an origin story that takes place before the events surrounding the Lambert family. It follows psychic Elise Rainier as she uses her abilities to aid a young girl named Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), who’s got an evil entity breathing down her neck. Kiyoko plays Brenner’s friend and confidante, Maggie. The film opens wide today.
Tell me about your character in Insidious: Chapter 3.
I play Maggie, Quinn Brenner’s best friend. She’s the positive support system for her. There’s a tension in the film where you question why she’s so normal, and then something bad happens.
Do you find as an actor that you have to have something in common with your character for it to work?
If you can’t find something you have in common with your character, you utilize your differences to find something in common. The fact that you’re so different makes you almost relate to it because you’re so polar opposite. It’s hard to explain. I also use people from high school [as inspiration]. Mean, shallow girls. But you also have to humanize every character you play. Whether they’re a good or bad person, there’s always this underlying issue that they’re going through which you can relate to. The character can be this crazy monster, but whatever their issue is, it’s going to be very human. You can relate one way or another.
That makes sense. I wasn’t a bully in high school, and I assume you weren’t either, but I’m pretty sure we can use past experiences to understand how bullies behave. We know bullies.
I know a ton of them. And look where they are now! [laughs] When you’re young, your parents go, “Don’t worry, they don’t matter,” but you don’t listen. Then, you’re 23 and you’re going on Facebook and you see all the popular girls that were at one time the shit, and they’re pregnant or divorced or whatever. I root for the underdogs, and I root for my fans to try to learn what I didn’t learn until now: high school doesn’t matter. You have to stick to yourself and the people who are nice to you. The world is so much better and bigger than school.
I listened to your music a bit and thought it was pretty cool. Talk to me about that side of your career.
I released This Side of Paradise back in February and I’m going back on tour soon. I have a music video coming out too, and Stefanie Scott from Insidious: Chapter 3 is going to play the lead in my music video. That’ll be out at the end of June, so check it out.
It’s pretty cool that you’ve got these two careers going on at the same time and you can use resources from one to support the other.
I’m cross-promoting them, totally. I love doing both. My dream life is doing world tours and shooting movies during my breaks.
Seems like you’re pretty much right there!
Well, not yet. [laughs] I’ve still got to do my world tours and play amphitheaters.
It seems like horror movies are being taken more seriously nowadays as legitimate works of art. It used to be sort of a fanboy, B genre, but now these movies are a viable place for A-list actors to do some good work.
I think there’s a difference in the style of horror films. Insidious 3 is more of a drama and a thriller than anything, you know? There’s a good story to it. It’s not just sitting in a chair and getting scared for an hour and a half. I think that’s why people are respecting horror films more and why they’ve been so successful lately. They really connect with a wide audience.
Are you a horror fan?
I don’t seek out horror films because I get scared way too easily, but I’m definitely a fan of the Insidious franchise.
It’s been a very successful franchise. What do you think makes it special?
You care about the characters. A lot of the fans are obsessed with Lin Shaye, the “godmother of horror.” Some horror films have all these random people in it, and you watch it, and it’s cool, but then you forget about the whole thing. People are invested in Lin’s character and what she’s going through, so you want to go back for more.
This is a prequel, correct?
Yeah. It’s an origin story.
I feel like some horror franchises end up going on too long. Is there a danger that Insidious could run too long?
I don’t think there’s a danger if you’re making money and the people want more. It’s about them and what they want. As long as they’re happy, that’s what’s important. Fast and Furious is going really long…
And it’s going strong.
Right. We’ll see how long it goes. Maybe Insidious 8 will be the best one yet. [laughs]
You say you get frightened easily. Do you get scared on the set of a movie like this?
Yeah. It’s scary to walk into the further. The further is so scary. The red elevator door is the worst.
Did you have a good enough time making this movie that you’d be interested in doing more horror?
I would definitely be open to it. I want to do action films most. I like being physical. I’d love to learn how to shoot a gun, ride horses, throw karate chops. Maybe in a cool country. I’d like to be in a big blockbuster. I’ve done martial arts since I was five, so it’d be nice to utilize that down the line.
What do you look for when you read a script?
A challenge. There are a lot of things I haven’t tackled. I’ve only just begun, so there’s a long list of challenges I haven’t faced yet.
The cast in this movie must have been great to be around for a budding actor like yourself.
They’re so cool. Dermot (Mulroney) is the nicest guy ever and Stefanie is super cool. It’s been fun doing all the press stuff together.
Dermot seems like a really down-to-earth kind of guy.
He’s really chill. I love when you meet people and you think they’re going to be nice, and they are.
Have you had it happen the other way, where they’re not so nice?
Yeah. I think we’re all so scared to meet our idols because we don’t know what to expect. It’s always great to find out that they’re cool.
I interview people a lot, and sometimes you leave and you go, “Man, he was kind of a dick.” It’s really disappointing.
Yeah. Then you think, “Maybe I shouldn’t have met them.” [laughs]
You have a lot of young fans. Do you go out of your way to be really nice to them?
Oh yeah, I love my fans. I really try to instill confidence in them. They’re so supportive, and they’re unique people. I could have had really freaky fans, [laughs] but luckily they’re cool to hang out with and really loving and kind.
People who do what you do are forced into the position of role model. Some aren’t comfortable with that role, but you seem very at ease with it.
I think it’s important to put positive things out there. For people who follow me, it’d be shitty if I was a bad person. I enjoy it. It’s cool doing concerts and meeting fans there. A lot of fans feel that you don’t read their tweets, but I see everything. There are a top 20 fans that I feel I’m really close with. When I finally meet them, I’m going to give them the biggest hug because they’re so supportive. I really do care about them.
I like your song “Girls Like Girls.”
That’s the video Stefanie’s playing the lead in. It’s going to be a really powerful, emotional story. I think it’s a great positive message to put out there. I don’t feel like there’s another song that sends that message quite like that, so I’m really excited to put that video out.
What can your fans expect from Insidious: Chapter 3?
Well, it’s really scary! So, if you’re going, you’d better be ready! Don’t go see the movie alone. Stay with your friends.