Ellie Parker Talks About 'Bones and All'
I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Academy alumna Ellie Parker to discuss her appearance in Luca Guadagnino’s new film Bones and All. Parker graduated from The Academy in 2020 and has acted in several short films since then. Based out of Kentucky, she received an audition for a secret project, and, well… I’ll let her tell the story. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. How did this come about? Well, I got the audition not knowing that much about the project. I didn’t know who the director was or who the stars of the movie were. I don’t even know if my representation knew what the project was. I go to my fitting, and again, I have no idea what is going on; I get on the elevator with this man - the fitting is on the fifth floor - the guy is like, ‘what floor’ and I said, ‘the fifth’ and he said, “oh are you with the movie?” I said that I was, and he asked what I was doing for the movie. I started talking about my character Jackie to which he said, ‘oh, you’re an actor? I just saw Luca a few minutes ago.’ I was like, ‘okay… am I supposed to know who that is? Is that another actor in the movie that I don't know about? I just said, “oh cool, dude” (Laughs), and I got off the elevator. I did my whole fitting - my whole costume fitting went on - then afterward, they were like, you have to go to the hair and make-up trailer to do your hair and make-up test, but the lady who was helping me told me to stay in the room while she had to do something. I was just sitting there waiting, and I suddenly realized this big board behind me with the names of all the other actors in the movie. It said Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. (Laughs) Then I thought about the man in the elevator, and I was like, “am I in a Luca Guadagnino movie right now!” Then I went to the hair and makeup trailer, and the lady who did my makeup… it's not in the final cut of the film, but I had to throw up in the scene I was in, which they wanted to do a screen test of first. So my hair and makeup are done; I just found out what was going on while everyone else already knew what was going on, I guess. Then the hair and makeup lady said, “now we are going to go back into the hotel; Luca wants to see you vomit.” I was like… ‘I’m going to meet him right now?’ They said, ‘yeah, he wants to watch you vomit…’ ‘okay….’ So that’s what I did. That’s when I met Luca Guadagnino for the first time… when I vomited for him. When you met him, what was going through your mind? I don’t even remember what I was thinking. I think I was just thinking, ‘oh my gosh, I hope I get this right so he doesn’t fire me.’ Did you meet Timothée Chalamet? I did meet Timothée Chalamet, and that was pretty crazy. I know you’re kind of a fan girl. I was trying to be cool, and I… I don’t think that I was. I think he thought I was a freak or something (laughs). You brought up doing the scene; how were you prepared to be on a big set like that? Honestly, a lot of acting in general, not just on a big set, for me, is about relaxation because I do struggle with getting in my head; as you know, it's something I struggled with at school, and it's something I still struggle with sometimes. So a lot of it was relaxation, doing breathing techniques, but honestly, I didn’t feel nervous. It was a welcoming environment. Everyone was really nice. I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, everyone knows that I’m an amateur, and I don't know what I am doing.’ Also, this scene is written so well. It's how people normally talk anyway and how people normally interact, so it wasn’t hard to prepare for; all I had to do was listen to people in the scene. I also think that is what made my audition so good - that the relationship was very potent, and it was very easy to lead into. I think that was the biggest thing - relaxation and listening to my partner, which is basically what I learned at The Academy, the top two things I learned at school. What surprised you - was there anything you weren’t prepared for? I guess the thing that surprised me the most, because I hadn't had a whole lot of experience with it, was all the props. There was also this scene in the kitchen that was cut, where I was making cinnamon rolls, and I was putting oil in this pan and then putting it in the oven. This props guy had to buy 5 million cans of cinnamon rolls. I kept having to help him remember to take them out of the oven and clean the pan… the continuity of the props kind of stressed me out a little bit but other than that, there was nothing too crazy. Also, the number of people on the crew and in the house. Especially when I was doing my vomit take, it was at the end of the night - that was one moment where I was like, I don't know if I could do this… I’m really nervous. I was just in front of the camera by myself in a room full of a hundred people who were absolutely silent - I remember just telling myself that ‘this isn't the time to be nervous or afraid, and I just have to go for it,’ and that’s what I did. Can you talk a little bit about your character and how she plays a role in the movie? Definitely. The three girls, Kim, Sherry, and Jackie - my character, the whole role of those three girls are to be expositional, and I could see that from the sides when I got the audition, so I really wanted to use that scene to establish the relationships. I think that my character, in particular, is kind of like a flunky, for lack of a better term. Kim, the girl who gets her finger bitten off, is kind of the Regina George, in my opinion. Sherry is kind of the second in command, the Gretchen, and I’m kind of the Karen, I guess, not that Jackie is dumb, but I think that I'm kind of the one who is always changing whose side I’m on. One minute I'm Kim’s best friend; the next, I'm Sherry’s - whoever happens to be working out for me at that moment. I think Kim is - I auditioned originally for Kim, but I never actually read for Jackie. I played Kim as a mean girl - she's rich, but she wants it to seem like her life is hard. There's a scene in the kitchen where Jackie calls Kim out - I think Jackie sees through her bullshit a little bit. However, she is just friends with her for the perks, I guess. And I think my character thinks Maren, played by Taylor Russell, is weird. I don’t think she liked her very much. Lots of juicy character stuff for a three-minute scene. Do you like the film - what does it say to you? How do you feel about it? I really, really liked the film. It was very different from what I expected it to be. In my opinion, it leans more toward romance and relationships. It's marketed as a horror, and it definitely is, but I wouldn't consider it on the level of a Robert Eggers film or an Ari Aster film. It definitely has the Luca Guadagnino raw, real, grounded vibe. It's crazy circumstances, but it's very much set in reality which I found to be very cool. I just love Lee and Maren's relationship. They are outsiders, and all they really have is each other - that’s why they stick together so much. Throughout the film, when I watched it, I thought, ‘why are they so hellbent on sticking together?’ And I guess I realized that they are lonely. It talks a lot about what it means to be lonely and to be an outsider. Mark Rylance’s character is that way as well, and that’s why he comes into play in the film because he is lonesome. The loneliness of being an outsider. The ending, I'm not going to spoil it, really suggests that you think about how far you might go when you really love someone and care about them. Where was the premiere? There was one in LA and one in Cincinnati.
You went to the Cincinnati one? Yes. So you go to the premiere, and you sit down, and you see yourself on the big screen - what feeling did that give you? Cause it's different than seeing yourself on TV, which is still cool, but this is on the big screen! I know what you mean. If you book an episode of a tv show, you watch it in your living room with your friends, and it's like, ‘there I am!’ But, yeah, when it's on the big screen, it is definitely surreal because you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, my face is like ten feet wide!’ It's a very weird feeling. It almost feels sacrilegious to what we were taught at The Academy. You know, don’t watch yourself, don’t act in the mirror, but definitely a surreal feeling. I can’t fully wrap my brain around the fact that so many people are going to see that. You’ve worked with this famous director now in this big movie, and I know it's just being released, but what’s next? You can get your SAG card now, right? Yes, I am SAG eligible, and I think I’ll stay that way for a while because I don’t want to close myself off to non-union work. I do have representation. I am represented in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana by one office - they kind of own me in that region. I’m working on getting an agent in Atlanta, and I think that is going to be happening in the next couple of weeks. Also, I’m really trying to get on Chicago Fire or Chicago PD because that is the main network tv show where I live. That’s where I’m trying to head next - get my first co-star because I don’t really have one. Yeah, you kind of jumped. Haha, yeah, a little bit. I guess that’s what’s next, but as an actor, as you know, you really don’t know what's next.