Interview: Rachel Hendrix of “77 Chances”
Posted on August 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm
Rachel Hendrix plays Mac in the faith-based romantic film “77 Chances.” It’s a “Groundhog Day”-style story about a young man who feels lost after the death of his mother. He meets a pretty girl and they have a wonderful evening together until a tragic accident. He keeps repeating the same day, 77 times, until he can figure out a way to keep her safe.
I can’t think of a bigger challenge for an actor than essentially doing the same scene so many different ways. Tell me a little bit about how you kept that straight.
They paid somebody to keep that straight so I don’t have to worry about it. The writer Tracy Trost, who also directed, did a good job of showing how every day can be different if you make different choices. And so it was really fun to see how he examined that and how no matter what, never do you more than once have the same day which was interesting. It kind of makes you think about how you live your life and the little nuanced things that we do to affect the people we encounter. It was challenging because you are in the same clothes and you don’t really get a lot of exploration with your character as things happen over time, but you do get to explore your character in different scenarios and that was different. I’ve never done anything like that before.
In the scene where you have your first conversation while you are standing in line to get lunch, your character reacted very differently to different overtures that he tried each day.
I think in the beginning she’s curious about this guy. She wants to know who he is and what he is doing and what his story is and so she is kind of initiating a conversation. I guess you would call that a move. And you see him respond to that in very kind of awkward he doesn’t know what to do with it kind of way. But I feel like it was a realistic depiction of what a first conversation might look like in a scenario like that and it was neat to let that be warm and friendly and natural and organic and see how we messed it up so often when he tried to repeat it. And I think that’s a big statement on humanity in general when we try to force something or we try to be artificial or re-create something that’s already been created, it often times surprises us how far away we are from that, how it’s not really possible to re-create it. So that was fun to kind of jump into that first. We shot all of those pieces all on the same night so that was a really repetitive night but a whole lot of fun and we did that scene first before all of the other ones in sequential order which you typically don’t do on film. It was fun. It was kind of fun to be thrust into – hey this is what the relationship could be like if you didn’t keep messing it up.
One of the scenes that is very affecting in the film is when your character talks about the broach. Do you have a memento like that that’s very meaningful to you?
If I had to grab one thing because my house was burning down, it would be my journal for sure. I don’t think I’ve got a memento or like an actual physical object that was given to me. Other than right now, I am wearing a necklace that somebody gave to me that says “brave” on it and I love it. It’s probably one of the only things that I have that is like a tangible object that I have held on to. But in terms of the value of the written word and the recording of history or recording of stories, experiences, that’s something I would always go back to as a memento for life, my life. So I created them myself, they haven’t been given to me. All the stories were given to me by other people and all my experiences were given to me by other people so I guess that kind of counts.
How did you come to this movie?
I was reading over the script and it looked like a really great story. And I think what attracted me the most to the opportunity was that this is would be like a student film shooting at a university. The the students were all part of a program where they were required to jump right in and crew a professional movie with little to no experience. Really the only experience they have is what they are learning in their classrooms. So it was an opportunity to come in and offer up whatever I could in terms of my experience or my education in acting, which is limited, but to really just like reach out and teach which is something I don’t do very often but I enjoy. So we worked it out and I flew out.
Did you enjoy having a part that was lighter in tone than your previous work?
I enjoyed that and I think I told someone soon after I finished shooting that that was the most natural casting to who I really am of anything that I have done and it was easy because of that. And I enjoyed it just kind of playing myself, not afraid to be vulnerable but kind of hesitant with a new person, somebody with a story, somebody with a painful back history. And it was really enjoyable to explore that with the character that is opposite that. And Andrew Cheney did a fantastic job. He was really magnetic and just easy to spend time with on screen. I so appreciated his energy and his work. I enjoyed working with him and I hope he took away something as well from just hanging out with me and how much I was like that character. And I think the students being on set every day, being sponges and willing to go the extra mile to serve and do great work because their degree depended on it. It was quite surprising how much I enjoyed that, that whole thing just felt really like home and it just continued affirming for me that this is what I want to do and every film I have done since then has just reiterated that.
What is it that really captured you about acting?
I think it boils down to the possibility of when you are an actor, you’re trying to tell a powerful story. You have an opportunity to reach a broad audience, to touch a broad audience, to inspire a broad audience, to have an audience empathize with what you are feeling. That is one thing that cinema does which is so beautiful, is the human experience that happens when a person is sitting in a chair watching another person on screen in empathy. It can invoke empathy and I can’t think of a lot of tools of the pillars of our country, the pillars, the things that this world stands on other than art media, film being in that category that really move people to empathy. If you want to have influence that make people feel, you get involved in the arts. A
You studied photography in college. What did that teach you about being on the other side of the camera?
Being on the other side of camera has taught me a lot. It has taught me a lot about lights and not just the technical aspect of the camera but what ultimately the camera is used for; to frame something, to tell a story or to capture a beautiful image or to paint something with light. I really think that the two inform each other and by having had so much experience behind the camera, that might be why it was easy for me in my first short film to just stand there and be myself and not act, not do anything, just be. Hopefully that is what acting is, it’s just being and listening and responding. So it’s been very helpful and I continue to learn photography. I think I always will. And I will always have my camera with me, I will always bring it with me. It’s just a part of what I do, it’s part of my process and I have enjoyed the freedom to return to it in between when the acting jobs that are coming and going but it’s always a part of seeing it. I do feel like they inform each other in a way that grows me wherever I am behind or in front.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
I have so many. This is not my favorite but it is one that I really like. “Do not forget to entertain strangers for by doing so you may have entertained angels without knowing it.”