After acting in several recent highly acclaimed films like Baby Driver and Midnight Special and appearing in many hit television shows over the years, Allison King’s talent has not gone unnoticed. Now, she can be seen playing Linda Sanders in the film Thank You for Your Service and soon as Marcha Spencer in 12 Strong, alongside Michael Shannon. Here, we chat with King about her most fulfilling roles and what we can expect from her next.
Cliché: You’ve been in films like Baby Driver and Midnight Special, as well as several hit television shows. What was your most impressionable moment and what did you learn from it?
Allison King: I think my most impressionable moment as an actor was walking on to the set of Midnight Special. I was so nervous and really wasn’t sure what to expect from Adam Driver, who I only knew from Girls at the time, and Jeff Nichols, who I was such a fan of. I just didn’t know what to expect from these two, who I looked up to artistically. Of course, they were about as lovely as can be and incredibly generous and kind. And so, during filming, I learned a big lesson, which is that every single person on a set is lucky to be there and should feel a great sense of gratitude and should work to set a tone of diligence and creativity. They work hard and long hours, all in the name of creating something meaningful and memorable. So, now, when I walk on to a set, I make sure to check my fear and allow myself to remember it’s a big band of creative people who just want to do good work.
You’ve worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Have any of them taught you anything you’ll never forget?
Yeah, of course! I’ll speak generally here and this is hard to articulate, so bear with me: I never realized how powerful a lead actor is in the filming process in setting the overall tone of a set. Now, I’m a believer that film is a director’s medium and working on a film is essentially stepping into the mind of the director. But, a lead actor is the center of the project and it’s almost like you’re in their home when you’re on set. Imagine they’re hosting a party and you’re invited. The way they behave affects every other person on that set and how engaged and enthusiastic people are about that project long after shooting is wrapped. It’s my feeling that the lead actors we admire have an innate sense of this and set a tone that’s generous and creative and invites every single person on that set to their party. I can’t really overstate this. It’s like the special sauce. It has the power to make a good project great.
You play Linda Sanders in Thank You for Your Service. Can you tell us a little about your character? What drew you to this role?
I’d read The Good Soldiers by David Finkle and been moved by these people he followed and sketched so beautifully. What excited me about this project was that it was about the unseen side of war. In movies, we tend to focus on the battle and glory of it all, rather than the inherent cost of putting your life at risk and the cost on the families back home. It’s a harder story to tell and I found Jason Hall’s script incredibly powerful in its simplicity and humanness. I was deeply moved by it and just wanted any little thing to do with it.
Did you get a chance to work with Miles Teller and Amy Schumer, who have leading roles in Thank You for Your Service?
I really only worked with Beulah Koale, who is wonderful in this movie. He pulls off an incredibly complex role of someone battling inner demons that he never gets the opportunity to verbalize because he physically cannot. He pulls off the emotional center of this movie beautifully and in a way a lot of soldiers will identify with. I think this is the power of movie-making. When people get to see themselves and their struggles reflected in a positive way, a real conversation can be had and real healing can begin.
What do you hope viewers take away from the film? Does the film have a special meaning for you?
It does. I hope that we begin to see that mental health is physical health, that telling people to toughen up, man up, or shake it off just doesn’t cut it. I hope families can see themselves in this film and begin real conversations around getting better and getting help. Not just soldiers, but anyone who’s struggled with PTSD, depression, or any sort of mental health issue. There is help available to everyone.
You also have a role in the upcoming film 12 Strong, starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, and Michael Shannon. Can you give us some insight into your character?
12 Strong is based on a non-fiction book called Horse Soldiers, which follows a group of special forces into Taliban controlled territory just after September 11. I play the wife of one of the soldiers, sending her husband, played by Michael Shannon, off to an unknown place doing unknown things. Family is never told where special forces are going to protect them. It was challenging to get back into the mindset of post-September 11. It was such a scary time.
What was it like working with Michael Shannon in 12 Strong?
Our scene is very emotional and he gave me a lot of space and was incredibly generous. He’s one of the people I was talking about earlier. He’s a theater guy and understands the ensemble work ethic and sets a lovely, diligent, and creative tone for the set. I loved every minute of working with him. Fingers crossed I get another opportunity.
You are also a passionate philanthropist. Can you tell us about the some of the organizations you support and why they are important to you?
My husband and I always Adopt-a-Family instead of exchanging gifts for Christmas. We really enjoy the feeling of being Scrooge after the ghosts visit him, shopping and wrapping gifts for our community instead of just for each other. We find it really connects us to the true meaning of the holiday and keeps us away from the consumerism this holiday has come to mean. And, this sounds very Martha Stewart, but I also usually clean out our linen closet and coat closet and we donate our old linens and blankets to local animal shelters and coats to Goodwill. Everyone needs a little extra warmth this time of year. We keep it local in our community!
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BY MEGAN PORTORREAL
Allison King Talks Her Roles in ‘Thank You for Your Service’ and ’12 Strong’: Photographer: Birdie Thompson, MUA: Anton Khachaturian, Hair: Matilde Campos