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Aya Cash wasn't looking to headline a horror movie. When the You're The Worst star said she was hoping to play "something very different" after the critically acclaimed comedy series drew to close, she was thinking "a sort of period piece." However, when friend and colleague Josh Ruben came to her with the script of Scare Me, it seemed a different worth doing.
Scare Me has Cash playing Fanny, a world-renowned horror author plotting out her next book in a remote cabin in the Catskills. There, she crosses paths with Fred (Ruben, who also writes and directs), an aspiring writer awestruck and envious of her success and creativity. So in the dark of the night, these two come together before a roaring fire to see who can tell the scariest story.
This frightening and funny horror-comedy is coming soon to Shudder. So, SYFY FANGRRLS spoke with Cash about Scare Me, its challenges, big choices, and coveted fashion — plus what it's meant to see fans' reactions to her role as the devious superhero Stormfront on Amazon's The Boys.
Speaking via Zoom, Cash admitted she's never been much of a horror fan, though if she had to pick a fave of the genre, it'd be Wes Craven's supremely scary The People Under the Stairs. "I like sci-fi and fantasy," Cash explained. "But horror has never been my bag. I don't avoid it, but it's not something I seek out."
It wasn't the horror aspect that made her nervous about starring in Scare Me. It was the sketch-comedy style required, as Fanny and Fred don't just tell spooky tales. They act them out, breaking into kooky characters who do physical comedy and creepy voices. A veteran of College Humor, first-time feature filmmaker Ruben was well-versed in all that. "Josh is both a mimic and a character creator," Cash said. "He comes out of that world. So to try to play on his level was terrifying, but also really fun… Mostly I was like, 'I just don't want to f*ck up his baby!"
Cash had no reason to worry. She's hilarious in Scare Me, delivering her signature take-no-nonsense attitude with smirking charm and killer comedic-timing.
While she didn't have the sketch comedy background, Cash found her theater training proved a big help. "This dialogue-heavy movie in one location is almost like doing a play," she said. "At times, there were incredibly long takes where I'm doing a monologue. And God, I haven't done monologues in years. When you're in acting school, you're taught you're supposed to have multiple contrasting monologues for auditions. And then you get into the real world and they're like, 'Nobody wants to see that.' So in some ways, it was about doing that and having to make choices to really change up character. It was like being back in acting school for theater."
Cash reflected further, "I took a clown class a couple of years ago and it's like that. You're like, 'I don't know if this is going to work or be funny, but I got to make some big choices and make them fully because that's all I can do.'" Among the big choices she brought to Scare Me was a punchline about the dance workout form Zumba. "That's me," she shared. "Because I do Zumba." Ruben encouraged improvisation on set. Cash noted, "So we just all added our own flavors."
Speaking of flavor, Cash brought her personal style to Scare Me by providing her own wardrobe. "The clothes are my own because on these low-budget movies, there's really just such a small budget for clothes. And I love clothes, so I often will bring stuff and let them choose from that." A particular point of pride is a black sweater sprinkled in graphic white hands that is sure to have freaky fashionistas frothing in envy.
It proves not only striking on-screen but also a creepy omen of the scares to come. Cash said of this terrific top, "That sweater is actually from a local Brooklyn designer called MegShops. I don't know if [shop founder Megan Kinney] makes them anymore. I bought it many years ago." Still, Cash encouraged the stylish not to fret, suggesting maybe showing some interest might urge the shop to do a new run of the spooky sweater. "Small businesses are struggling right now," she said, "[So support] a female-owned small business in Brooklyn. Maybe she'll start making them again if she gets enough requests."
Finally, we asked Cash what it's been like to see the response to her role on The Boys. "It's both terrifying and very cool to be a part of something that people are talking about in that way," she said, noting of Stormfront, "She's a vile, horrible, disgusting person. So it's very intense, because people hate me, as they should as that character. I would be more suspicious if they were loving her."
Cash said she hopes people mull over Stormfront's story, which involves manipulating the masses through online propaganda, buzzwords, and memes. "I just watched [the documentary] The Social Dilemma on Netflix, and it's a pretty horrifying takedown of how social media and technology are working these days. There are people who understand that and are using it very pointedly, including hate groups. And it's a really dangerous thing. So the algorithms are now deciding what we think and feel, and that's terrifying. And [that power] in the hands of — not even direct hate groups — in the hands of anyone unqualified or not thoughtful, it's a really a horrible world that we're building."
Without revealing spoilers, both Scare Me and The Boys carry political subtext, garnished by genre spectacle. Cash is glad to be a part of both because of how they urge audiences to take a closer look at how these extreme scenarios might relate to their day-to-day lives. "The facts are under attack because nobody understands what truth [is] anymore," she said. "So it's pretty scary. But I'm actually very proud to be a part of that conversation within the context of The Boys, which could just be a fun distraction. And I think the writers really challenged themselves to take on real-world issues and satirize them and reflect them back in order to keep us talking about them."
Scare Me is available on Shudder. The Boys Season 2 is currently airing on Amazon Prime.