Erin Cummings, the star of the movie
Bitch Slap and the upcoming Starz series "Spartacus: Blood
and Sand", took time out of her busy schedule to talk to
AUSXIP reporter Lori Boyles. Erin talks about working on
Bitch Slap in front of the camera and behind the camera, how
working with Zoe Bell on Bitch Slap helped her with her role
on Spartacus, working with her co-stars and what's in store
for this very talented actress.
is one lady you don’t want to mess with. What was your
favorite thing about portraying her?
Well, you hit one of the things that I like about Hel
right there - she's not a lady you want to mess with! I love
that we are at a time in history when women are more
accepted than ever before in leadership positions - in the
boardroom, in politics, etc. And women are able to be strong
leaders who command attention and respect without having to
hide our femininity or make ourselves more manly in order to
do so. Hel really exemplifies the strong, intelligent, woman
who is still sexy, but will kick your ass if you cross her.
How hard was it to do the fight scenes
in sand and wearing high heels? What is the hardest thing
for you about doing fight scenes?
Oddly enough, I don't remember much about the heels in
the sand during the fight scenes because I was so focused on
the fight itself. It was harder to just walk in heels in the
sand because I kept sinking with every step and I was trying
to look sexy without breaking an ankle. The hardest thing
about doing the fight scenes is actually the breathing. You
have to work yourself into a state of rage and exhaustion
before each take, but conserve your energy to do the same
piece of the fight over and over for hours in the heat.
Trying to maintain the tone of the scene while protecting
yourself and your fighting partner is actually much harder
than the actual physical stuff - that's the fun part!
You had some crazy flashback scenes as “Hel”, which were
done with green screen. Did you have a favorite?
Yes! Well, I have several - I LOVED the flashbacks in
which I'm dressed in the "Lucile Ball goes to prison" outfit
and the Vegas showgirl, simply because it channelled the
little girl inside of me who likes to play dress-up.
However, my favorite flashback scene is with Kevin Sorbo -
we just had so much fun that day. Kevin is a really fun,
generous guy who came ready for a good time - he totally got
the movie and has been a big supporter of the film and of
You were Julia’s partner for her first “sex scene”. How do
you generally prepare for those scenes? Did you give Julia
any tips about doing those scenes?
I look at sex scenes like I look at any other scene. You
must prepare, you must work from the emotional place of your
character and you must set your boundaries with your co-star
and be aware of his/hers. For this scene, I rented episodes
of The L Word and chose a few scenes that I thought were on
the level of where we were going with our scene. I showed
them to Julia, Rick and Eric to make sure I was in the right
"tone." On the day, Rick gave Julia and I a skeleton of how
he wanted the scene blocked. For example, "Erin, you pin
Julia up against the refrigerator and do some stuff, then
flip her around and prop Julia up on the counter, where you
will then lower your head out of frame." From there, he let
Julia and I fill in the blanks, based on what we were
comfortable with. "Is it okay if I kiss you with tongue? Are
you comfortable with me touching your breast? How about if I
lift your skirt up to here?" Those sorts of things. Once you
know your boundaries and how far you can go, you have the
freedom to just let loose and have fun with the scene,
knowing that everyone is being respected. I did this with
Julian McMahon on Nip/Tuck and Andy Whitfield in Spartacus
(coincidentally, that sex scene was also directed by Rick!).
It just makes for a more passionate scene that is believable
and sexy when you don't have to worry that someone's going
to do something they aren't supposed to!
You’ve worked with the multi-talented Michael Hurst as your
co-star and director. What have you learned from Michael?
Being in the same room with Michael Hurst is like taking
a master class in acting. He and I both have Shakespearean
backgrounds, so we instantly bonded over that during Bitch
Slap. Then, getting to spend time with him in New Zealand
while working on Spartacus was a blessing. He really works
from a place of truth, no matter how ridiculous the dialog
may seem at the time. In Michael, I really saw how being a
good actor is something that translates between every genre
and isn't limited to stage work and one-hour dramas. You
must always work from truth and the humor will come from
You also worked with Greg Lee previously in “Dante’s Cove”.
How did you keep a straight face with his portrayal of “Hot
Wire” and Minae Noji’s as “Kinki”?
Greg Lee was one of the selling points to me doing Bitch
Slap! He and I became such good friends while shooting
Dante's Cove in Hawaii and, aside from being wonderfully
talented, he is a master of disguise. That handsome man is
unrecognizable as Hot Wire! It was very difficult to keep a
straight face, especially when he would improv a few lines
here and there during rehearsals. In fact, the names that he
calls our characters are sometimes things that he blurted
out during the take and were so offensive that they kept
them in! And Minae is always funny - as Kinki and in real
life. She took a character that really didn't have a lot to
do or say and made her one of the more memorable characters
in the film. I really want to know what she's saying in
When will the “BS” DVD be released and what extras will be
Right now, we are looking at a March 2, 2010 DVD release
with FOX. The DVD will have some great additional scenes, as
well as the 1-hr behind the scenes documentary, "Behind
Bitch Slap: Building a Better B-Movie."
You not only acted in “BS”, but you’ve worked behind the
scenes as well helping out. What has the whole “BS”
experience been like for you and what have you learned?
Yes, I've been quite fortunate that Eric Gruendemann has
entrusted certain duties to me during the last year and a
half since we wrapped shooting. I was open with him during
filming about my eventual desire to produce and he has
taught me so much about a side of filmmaking, publicity and
distribution that many actors never take the time to learn
and are never exposed to by producers and directors. Not
only am I running the @BitchSlapMovie Twitter site, but he
also let me run point on all of the coordination of our
Scandinavia press tour with our distributors, Scanbox. This
was a massive learning lesson for me on many points, but
also gave me the chance to develop relationships with
distributors, coordinators and producers in Denmark, Sweden,
Finland and Norway - contacts that I'm sure will be mutually
beneficial as my career continues to develop.
What one word would you use to describe each of your
America - Unpredictable
Julia - Demure
Michael - genius
Greg - unapologetic
Minae - fascinating
Zoe - badass
Kevin – generous
Loved your episode of “Cold Case”. What was it like working
on that show?
I LOVED working on Cold Case! It was one of my favorite
on-set experiences and I still can't watch the "Pin-Up Girl"
episode without smiling and thinking back to how lovely
everyone was to work with on that show. First, it was so
easy to pretend that Chelsea Hobbs was my best friend, Todd
Grinnell was my boyfriend and Patrick Fischler was my
beloved manager because all of those people are just
gorgeous individuals and we had a blast together.
The great thing about guest-starring on
Cold Case, as my director Chris Fisher pointed out, is that
you really get to shoot a mini-movie for 5 days. We were the
stars of that episode in that regard, which is sometimes
really nice when you are working in television and having to
watch out for the egos of the series regulars. Fortunately,
all of the series regulars on Cold Case went out of their
way to make me feel at home.
Katherine Morris would come into the
makeup trailer everyday, wanting to know which cute pinup
outfit I got to wear and would giggle with glee. The scene
in the nightclub where I am singing and dancing was just
magical - we were shooting out at the racetrack, in the
bar/ballroom area, which has vintage architecture and I was
wearing the most delicious green dress that really made me
feel like a princess. Chris let me do all of my own
choreography for the number and all of the background actors
looked amazing. That was a day that I thought, "wow - I have
the best job on the planet."
What’s your favorite TV show that you would love to have a
Mad Men. I'm obsessed with the show, with Joan, with
Roger Sterling, with the language, the clothing, the
cigarettes... all of it! I'm setting my sites on Season 4!
You've played a variety of Shakespearean roles including
Gertrude and Lady Macbeth. What's your favorite Shakespeare
play/role? Are there any other Shakespearean parts you would
like to play? What do you bring from your theater background
that helps you in your film work?
My favorite Shakespearean role is certainly Lady Macbeth.
She was my first Shakespearean character and I was offered
the role based on a previous non-Shakespeare show I had done
with that theater company. It was also my first Equity job
and got me my Equity card and a nice paycheck (getting paid
to do theater? I'd never heard of such a thing!
It was an incredible challenge and one of
the most difficult jobs to date. I am really looking forward
to getting into my 40s and 50s so I can play Margaret in
Richard III. She's just a strong, powerful woman who
commands a presence and is, like Lady M, one of
Shakespeare's best female roles. My preparation for theater
has greatly prepared my work ethic for film and television.
I just go about my research in a more meticulous,
detail-oriented way than I think I would without the
theater, which feeds my characters and gives them more depth
and greater weight.
are now working on “Spartacus”. What can you tell us about
your “Spartacus” character, “Sura”?
Sura is the wife of Spartacus, taken from him before he
is put into slavery. She is the source of his strength and
the beating heart that keeps him alive. She is a strong
Thracian village woman who knows how to fight and is madly
in love with her husband. She visits him in his dreams, in
visions, in flashbacks while he fights to bring her back to
Did all the training you did with Zoe
Bell for “Bitch Slap” help you prepare for the fight scenes
Working with Zoe absolutely helped me with my fight
scenes for Spartacus! After all of the things Zoe made me do
that I didn't think I would have been able to do (kick her
over my head, flip back over her and punch her in the face),
I was ready and excited for whatever Al Poppleton (Spartacus
stunt coordinator) threw my way. Also, having worked with
Rick really helped because we developed a shorthand way of
speaking with one another that made it so easy to knock out
fight scenes in Spartacus when we were on a time crunch.
“Spartacus” films in New Zealand and you’ve been doing
international promotional tours with “Bitch Slap”. What’s it
like going to a foreign country to work on a project?
Working in a foreign country is great! I am lucky to
have a strong support system around me - my family visited
me in New Zealand, as did my three best friends while I was
there. Travelling to other countries has allowed me to have
more of an understanding of international cultures and has
introduced me to some amazing people who have taught me a
great deal. It also makes it really easy to go back and
visit these countries once you've established a relationship
with people there.
You and Julia were a big hit at the Xena ’09 con. What was
that experience like for you? Were you surprised at the
reaction you got?
Xena '09 con was a blast. The audience was so receptive
to the trailer for Bitch Slap and had some great questions
which allowed us to have a fun time on the panel. When we
were asked to sign a few autographs on our way out and ended
up staying for 2 hours, we were thrilled! Luckily, neither
of us had to run off anywhere so we were more than happy to
meet people, take pictures and hang out. the attendees of
Xena Con are our audience and are (mostly) women who get the
joke we're telling - those are people we like!
Any other projects you would like to mention?
AUSXIP.com always does
a great job of letting fans know about my upcoming projects
like Nip/Tuck and Spartacus. For more updates, people can
follow me at
@ErinLCummings on Twitter and join the
Erin Cummings fan page on Facebook!
Many thanks to Erin Cummings for taking the time out of her
busy schedule to speak to AUSXIP and we wish her all the
very best. Bitch Slap is released on DVD on 2 March 2010 and
Spartacus Blood and Sand premieres on Starz on 22 January
▪ Photos of Erin for this interview are courtesy of Erin
▪ Photos of Hel (Bitch Slap) are courtesy of Epic Slap, LLC
▪ Photos of Sura (Spartacus Blood and Sand) are courtesy of
▪ Official Erin
Official Erin Cummings Facebook Page
Bitch Slap Facebook Page
▪ Official Erin
Cummings Twitter Page
▪ Official Bitch
Official Spartacus Blood and Sand Site
▪ AUSXIP Spartacus
Blood and Sand
▪ AUSXIP Erin
Cummings News & Multimedia
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