Film & Video
3 min

Giving legendary face in She Stoops to Conquer

Director Zack Russell and actor Kayla Lorette borrow famous face for short film

Kayla Lorette and Julian Richings star in She Stoops to Conquer. Credit: Zack Russell

Julian Richings just has one of those faces. Maybe you recognize him as Hard Core Logo’s Bucky Haight or as the embodiment of death on Supernatural, but chances are you just know the veteran Canadian character actor as “that guy who’s in everything.”

When director Zack Russell and performer Kayla Lorette began developing the short film She Stoops to Conquer, in which a drag king (played by Lorette) meets a man who looks exactly like the older man character she just performed as, they knew Richings’s face was the one they needed. To woo the much sought-after actor to the project, Lorette and Russell filmed a trailer — without Richings’s knowledge or permission — in which Lorette dons facial prosthetics based on an actual cast of Richings’s head.

Xtra chatted with Lorette and Russell about their new project, their unique crowd-funding campaign and, of course, that unforgettable face.

Xtra: How were you able to make prosthetics of Julian’s face before asking him?

Kayla Lorette: We met with this prosthetics/special-effects artist, and he was like, “I think I know a guy who did a pull of his face for this thing.” And then through a series of four text messages was like, “Yeah, I’ve got his face.” When we met with Julian, he was like, “Oh yeah, I’m sure there’s tons of those floating around because I’ve been beheaded so many times.”

It is a very distinctive face.

KL: We wanted him to be older and really specific so that it could read through on a really technical level. But we also really wanted this dark, mysterious sexiness, which I think he occupies in a nice way.

Zack Russell: And the magic of, you know, you just happen to be doing this character that you’ve never seen and it’s that guy that’s so familiar, but what’s he from?

So, how does the whole Julian Richings’s face-on-your-face thing work?

KL: We had a pull of his face ready. And then I went in and had a full cast done of my head. And then to build the prosthetics, they pulled his nose — that was the first piece. In the trailer that we shot, it looks a bit more witchy or goblin-y, because it’s his face proportions on my face, which is much smaller than his and rounder. So it’s literally his nose on my nose.

In your short, Kayla plays a drag king and Julian plays a drag queen?

ZR: He used to be a drag queen, and now he’s just bumming around, watching the younger drag queens do their thing.

KL: He’s become a little invisible with age. And I think when he sees this drag-king version of himself, there’s kind of this spark.

Kayla, anyone who’s seen you in the play Feint of Hart or the web series Space Riders knows you have a bit of a thing for playing older men. What’s that all about?

KL: It started with Feint of Hart. I think the short answer is that it’s a bit of a novelty. But, I think that there’s some different sense of control I can have when I play anything that’s so other, that has nothing to do with my appearance or age and the weight that gets put on being a young, female actress.

ZR: What I’ve noticed about all these old men that Kayla plays is that they always have a very serious sex drive. I think it’s a really fun way to be sexual and have some kind of sex drive without being sexualized as a woman and as a “young pretty thing.”

Will any Toronto drag queens be making cameos in the film?

KL: We’ve talked with them about it very loosely, but House of Filth, which is Nancy Bocock, and Judy Virago and Alyson Chains and Igby Lizzard? I want them. I want a proper house to do it. We’ll save on wardrobe and makeup with them, ’cause they’ll just come looking great.

You’re running a crowd-funding campaign for the project. Any sweet perks?

ZR: You can own a piece of the face!

Presumably, you’d want the nose.

ZR: Everyone’s gonna want the nose.

KL: Well, the jawline is really what, for me, sells the face.

ZR: I’m interested in the detail of the wrinkly forehead. We’ll have so many noses, though, because they’re always disposable. Every time you put it on, you need a new nose.