Interview: Allee-Sutton Hethcoat / The Stolen Valley (2022)

Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) was delighted to chat with Allee-Sutton Heathcoat, actress from The Stolen Valley (2022), available digitally from April 17th in Australia and New Zealand thanks to Lightbulb Film Distribution.

Let’s break the ice with a fun question: do you have an all-time favourite film and why?

I love Rear Window.  I love everything about it.  The writing, performances, costumes, set and music are all incredibly intentional but also easy.  Comedy, romance, suspense and more.  

Let’s break the ice some more: You play Maddy, who is tough in the film. Do you personally have any strange or weird fears, such as Spiders or horror movies?

Critters don’t both me, but I can’t even watch trailers for horror films without getting scared.  I don’t like to watch anything that is too violent or disturbing. Outside of that, I like to do things that push me out of my comfort zone and scare me a bit, which is a big part of why I wanted to do this movie.  Riding a motorcycle, a horse, shooting guns and more. 

What was the biggest attraction to working on this film?

I guess I just spoiled that a bit, but truly, everything about this was a dream for me.  The challenge of the role’s physicality and learning all those new skills with the incredible trainers on our film was incredibly exciting to me.  Maddy also just had so much to offer emotionally that it was challenging and delicate.  I had never been to Utah, but I was eager to go and work on location.  Truthfully, I had worked with Jesse multiple times before and saw what he and his team were capable of and what it is like to be on set with them day to day, and I wanted to be a part of something that they were all so excited about.

Was any preparation required to play the role of Maddy? Learning to ride or shoot, etc.

I worked for about a month and a half leading up to the shoot.  I practised shooting here in Nashville with a friend who is a safety instructor.  Juliene Joyner (my stunt double in the film and our stunt coordinator) taught me to ride the bike and with all of our hand-to-hand combat.  Cavin Mohr was on set and worked with me on horseback.  I owe a massive debt of gratitude to everyone who helped teach and train me; they elevated my performance and the film far beyond my own capability

Was there any inspiration for the role of Maddy? I can’t lie; I got vibes from The Quick and the Dead (1995), which starred Sharon Stone upon my first watch.

Oh, thank you so much. I take that as a massive compliment.  Maddy is actually largely inspired by both of my grandparents on my Mother’s side.  My family is from a small town in rural West Tennessee and were incredibly strong.  They had the toughness and hot-headedness that comes from circumstances typical of the time and region, but the incongruous yet earnest heart and tenderness beneath looking for the opportunity to be shared.  

Your character, Maddy, is more playful and determined, brightening the film’s tone whenever she appears. What character trait did you like the most about Maddy?

Thank you so much for saying that. You actually hit on it: I love her determination. It can sometimes manifest as frustrating stubbornness, but at its best, I love her determination to find love and belonging, to find the humour in the moment, and not to give up. I always love a character who reinforces the triumph of the human spirit.  

Was it like working with the Director, Producer and Writer Jesse Edwards?

I love working with Jesse.  He is like family to me at this point.  He doesn’t micromanage anyone on set and really trusts everyone to do their job and encourages collaboration.  I think that the environment is most conducive to great art. We have a similar process in that we like to prep extensively to work quickly and intuitively.  He is massively talented, and I hope to work together again and again.

While making The Stolen Valley, what was your biggest challenge while playing as Maddy?

The physical demands were difficult. I went back to the hotel every day, bruised, sore, and exhausted.  We were up at five, shooting in the freezing cold and burning heat and doing very physical work. Tracking and executing her emotional evolution was more difficult.  Knowing what was happening internally versus how she interprets and displays that and when.  

What was your most enjoyable moment while working on this film?

On a day off, we took out an ATV and went nuts, driving them in dunes, then drove them up to a gorgeous hiking spot.  We had a late-night wrap party in the lobby of the Holiday Inn that I’ll never forget.  I loved our Taco Tuesday shooting days.  Those two really stand out.  Truthfully, we had such a wonderful team that we had a great time all day every day.  

What advice or encouragement would you give to upcoming actors?

This work can be so full of rejection, difficulty and isolation. Your community is everything.  Having people around who understand, believe in, love and support you is absolutely invaluable.  Don’t let this eat you up, either.  Get out and do other things.  It gives you a better perspective as a person and an artist. And don’t be afraid to have fun in acting.  Don’t buy into the common belief that great art is only born out of great suffering.  Acting can be great fun, and you don’t have to play the part of the tortured artist to be serious or good. “You can receive your ideas with respect and curiosity, not with drama and dread.” -Elizabeth Gilbert   

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can reveal? If you could work with any actor, who would it be?

Not at the moment, but I am hoping that changes.  I’d love to work with Briza again.  She’s a phenomenal actor; we had the time of our lives.  I’d LOVE to work with one of your own as well-Margot Robbie!  I’d love to do a fun film where we play sisters.  

As our interview ends, why should the people of Australia check out The Stolen Valley on Digital from April 17th?

The film has a bit of everything.  Action, humour, heart, meaning, and all set against the stunning vistas of the American West captured in a way only our team could.  

12th April 2024
Written by Peter Walkden

THANK YOU FOR VISITING!

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