SPOILER WARNING: Mild spoilers for the film Lowlife below!
Lowlife is the kind of wild ride that defies genre norms. It's told in pieces, kind of like Rashomon; there is a lot of violence and crime, kind of like Pulp Fiction; and there's a luchador. Every movie needs a luchador.
In the film, Kaylee, the adoptive daughter of a man who runs a sex-trafficking ring, is pregnant with the child of a luchador, El Monstruo, who believes in an almost mythical power of the mask. Kaylee's birth mother, Crystal, gave her away as a baby, but now Crystal's husband needs a liver transplant, and she plans to get the necessary organ from Kaylee.
Confused? Don't be. Nicki Micheaux, who plays Crystal, will help clear things up. We recently spoke to the actress about the craziness of this script, and where it might lead for her character.
Tell me about your role in Lowlife.
Nicki Micheaux: I play Crystal, who is a recovering addict. She made the mistake of selling her daughter into the wrong situation -- or giving her daughter away into the wrong situation when she was a baby. Now she is trying to get a kidney from her daughter, only to find out that the place she gave her daughter to is a sex-trafficking ring. So she grabs a shotgun and hooks up with a luchador and some felons to break her daughter out of this situation.
It's such a crazy premise! What was your reaction when you first read the script?
I had the same reaction. I don't even know how to pitch this. What genre is this? This is a lot of stuff. But what I loved was that every time I got to the end of a "chapter," I just had to know what was going to happen next. It was really great, how it ropes you into the story. I also wondered how we were going to pull this off. That is what made it fun: It was a bit crazy.
What was one of the craziest or most fun scenes for you to shoot?
There were two. First, that fight scene at the end, when he beats me up and I get to come back at him, was fun, because there was fighting and blood and CGI effects. We had to shoot all these different elements to get it right. That was really, really cool. Then, the part where I first hook up with the luchador, El Monstruo, and come running across the parking lot with the shotgun, then I run in and shoot the shotgun ... that scene was crazy. Just the visual of me in this green smock with a shotgun and highwater pants and white shoes, and the Mexican luchador with the mask and the blue suit ... [laughs]. We're standing on the side of the street in Los Angeles, in Studio City, and people were looking!
Several different storylines going on in this film. Which was your favorite, besides your own?
I liked the ones with Randy and Keith. One of my favorite bits was the part with Nessa on the phone. You never see her, but she is on the phone, berating her husband. It's really funny. I also loved the El Monstruo stuff because he's like, "I am not like my father!" He's trying so hard and failing at every moment. I like all [the scenes].
Did you get to have much interaction with the rest of the cast?
Yeah, we all come together. All the stories come together midway through the film. They all start to merge together into one. So we worked together quite a bit. We spent a lot of time driving together in that van and getting bloody.
Do you think this film lends itself to having a sequel? Maybe one to follow up on your character and her daughter's story?
Yeah, you could totally keep going with this. We talked about the idea of like, maybe I would go around breaking up sex-trafficking rings around Los Angeles! But we think there is definitely more life for these characters. They are great characters, and it's a great world. There is a lot of room left for stories.
How did you identify with your character?
I think everyone knows what it's like not to feel valuable, have their own insecurities. I just focused on mine and let them become the dominating factor. Her lack of belief in herself is what she had to overcome to fight for her daughter. I really view [her fight for her daughter] as my way into the character. If you have a semblance of what the psychology is, you can work your way into some of the behavior of the character.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Coming up there is a movie we just wrapped on called Lazarus, it should be out pretty soon. I think it's headed to Netflix. I'm not sure. I play an ambulance driver and I find out about this superhero and I try to put the pieces together and figure out if this is a real person, because he can come back from the dead. My character kind of helps unfold the character for the movie. Lazarus is the main character; he's the hero. It's an action movie.