As we continue this weeks “The Hunted” spotlight we talk with Jessica Cail who plays, surprisingly enough, a research scientist called Jessica. Jessica is currently finishing her dissertation in behavioral pharmacology. She has recently ghost written a book on alcoholism and addiction with the owner of an exclusive Malibu drug rehab center-to-the-stars, and served as scientific consultant on an upcoming sci-fi feature called, “Light Years Away”. In her off-time she practices stunts, gymnastics and circus work. She can be seen doing these things in the background of the next Jack Black film “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” – if you have very keen eyes.
FAN FILM FOLLIES (through Christopher Moshier): How did you find “The Hunted” and Robert Chapin or how did he find you? I can’t tell, but I am pretty certain. I was looking through the link you sent with all the pictures. Is that Robert Chapin in all those pictures?
JESSICA CAIL: Yes, that’s Bob. We’ve been dating for a few years. I had seen Ring of Steel long before I moved to LA, so I was familiar with his work before we met. After we starting hanging out, he introduced me to The Hunted. Campy humor with lots of stunts and fights. I loved it. Eventually I made the mistake that many of his friends have made: I asked if there was anything I could do to “help” with an episode. His usual tack on those offers is to use whatever unique skills, locations or contacts that a person has.
FFF: The current webisode online is “Breakthrough” where we get the explanation of the Vampire Virus that you came up with.
JC: As a scientist, I said that I thought it would be cool to write up a scientifically plausible theory of vamprism. Since Bob had already set up the themes of blood addiction and a viral transmission (making an interesting AIDS parallel), I decided that if there were a virus for vampirism, it would likely be similar to rabies. Rabies transmits itself to others by infecting the saliva and triggering aggression in the brain. The animal bites another, and the virus is passed along. But this only accounts for the biting. What could account for the need to drink blood? I decided that, as the infection spreads, it might interfere with the creation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. There is already a disease like this called Thalassemia, where patients require a lifelong transfusions of healthy blood to replace their own. Based on these “facts”, I named the virus Sanguinofamia Mordens, which is loosely translated from the latin: sanguine=blood, famia=starved and mordens=bites.
Bob was apparently impressed with the work I’d done, and mentioned that it might be nice to work it into an episode. Another unique thing I had to offer was my lab. so I grabbed some “stock footage” of my research: rats, syringes, injections and such. Conveniently, my rats already had red eyes…
I had hoped he would take all this and run with it (because I hate speaking in public or on camera) but it seemed that I should be the one who gets this information out. Who else could say that scientific mumbo-jumbo with a straight face? I agreed, on the condition that it be a very “Run Lola Run” episode: a lot of stunts and running, with as little dialogue as possible. With that in mind, he wrote a script where I am trying to get this information out, but I am constantly interupted by running, fighting and stunts. Worked for me.
FFF: Let’s talk twinkies!
JC: As for the twinkie bit, when he reached to point of the script where I am to reveal the cure for vampirism, he asked for some help. He said, it should be something rediculously common, like apple juice or something. I thought, penicilin comes from bread mold. A twinkie is a bread product that never dies. Ergo, if you could grow mold on a twinkie, you would have something that would kill an immortal (or the virus underlying it). It was late, I was tired and I was just kidding, but he loved the suggestion, and so it was.
FFF: You’re a part-time stuntwoman and a Neuroscience Professor. That is a hell of combination! Which direction do you see yourself going once you’ve earn your doctorate? Will you be a consultant on the tenth CSI series CSI: Punxsutawney?
JC: When I was six my grandfather asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I replied, “A fireman, an archeologist, an astronaut and a ballerina.” He expressed concern that perhaps that was too many professions, to which I replied, “I’ve decided that if I do each one for 15 minutes each day…”. My family still teases me about that one, but it is I who am having the last (albeit tired and frequently bruised) laugh.
FFF: Way fan film, fanboy, geekdom off base, but being in Neuroscience what do you feel about the current stem cell debate with frozen embryo to cure many neural conditions? How is it different using an embryo rather than say stem cells from me to find cures for these conditions? Without writing your thesis where do you stand on this debate?
JC: I have to teach this controversy to my students. I believe that stem cells are going to be the medical development of the century. As you know, stem cells are cells from so early in cell development that that haven’t turned into anything yet. So you can encourage them to become any type of cell the body needs. You can get stem cells from adults (from the nose, for example) but they are much harder to turn into anything you want. Fetal ones have much more potential. They can turn into new heart, liver, kidney, blood cells, neurons…so many things. The controversy seems more about the sources of the cells, than the uses of them. Everyone is OK with using the stem cells found in umbilical cord blood, since it’s a waste product. But then you can get them from post-abortion tissue, or donated fertility clinic fetuses, which also would be ordinarily thrown away, and people get upset. I look at it like this: I’ve got a donor sticker on my driver’s license. It would suck to die tomorrow, but at least somebody would be saved by my organs. The abortion or fertilizatiion has already been done at that point. That tissue is going to be discarded – it might as well save a life. That’s my $.02.
FFF: OK! I think I used every brain cell I have for that last question so back to geekdom. I did some research on you as I am an internet stalker. Let me throw these questions out there…The World Stunt Awards? I never heard of such a thing. That is interesting. How is it to have so many crazy people at one event?
JC: The World Stunt Awards are a blast! Since they keep refusing to include stunts in the academy awards, stuntpeople decided to have their own awards, to recognize excellence in various catagories. There are usually numerous stunts within the show (ex…people delivering the winner’s envelope in a full burn, or crashing a car through the stage), and with hundreds of stunt guys and gals taking over the Paramount Studios backlot, you can imagine what the after-party is like!
FFF: Miss Castaway!?! This is really bizarre. I never heard of this one. Michael Jackson as Agent MJ!?! You’ve got to explain this movie!
JC: It’s an unholy creation combining Castaway and Miss Congeniality. A plane load of beauty contestants goes down on a deserted island, and “Naked Gun” like zaneyness ensues. Bob was special effects supervisor on the show, and I was helping him on set. When the director needed somebody to get into ape prosthetics, and ride a bicycle on a wire rig to simulate the wicked witch of the west in a tornado, I jumped in. It’s wider release was delayed due to the unfortunate timing of MJ’s pedophilia charges.
FFF: Soldier of God!?! Just FYI…They spelled your name wrong on IMDB (my bible!) just FYI.
JC: Funny, I just emailed IMDB about that last week. Can’t have them misspelling my first official listing! Bob got called in toward the end of SOG as a fight coordinator for the big Muslim/Christian Crusaders battle at the Horns of Hattin. They wanted a Braveheart-like battlefield with costumed warriors as far as the eye could see. But they would only be able to pay the leads. So Bob called everyone he trusted with some fight skills who would be willing to work for free. I rehearsed a few fights, they wrapped me in a turban to disguise the fact that I was blue eyed and female, and I was again happily in the background, fighting with swords and spears with no lines. The film has been winning awards on the festival circuit. Perhaps it will go into wide release someday.
FFF: Light Years Away or as IMDB has it Worlds Apart. Peter Brady is in it from “Growing Up Brady” and that other show from the 70’s…The Brady something…gang…group…I forget. Anywho? What is this movie about?
JC: The director is changing the name I guess. The movie is about an astronomer who discovers a “parallel” extrasolar planet, and on it, an alien woman who has been visiting his dreams since they were children. His dream girl. The movie is part Ghost, part Starman. The director is the same guy that did Miss Castaway, and wanted to work with Bob again for special effects. He didn’t have a lot of scientific background, so I started sending him ideas and scientific facts that could try to give his script a little more plausibility. He eventually took me on officially as a scientific consultant, and I got to tweak the script a bit. It’s still a low-budget alien romance. But when the lovely full-breasted alien woman lands on earth, she at least points to the correct constellation when she says where she’s from.
FFF: What can we expect for the rest of 2006 year from Jessica Cail?
JC: I’m going to keep doing all the things I love to do, each for 15 minutes each day. I will finish my PhD and hopefully keep teaching at my local university. If a job comes along where I can use my scientific background to help write a script or a book, I’m there. On the other hand, if somebody needs a 5’8” redhead to climb a rope or take a fall, I’m there too. You’ve got to keep life interesting.