The Outsider: Sasha Grey on Would You Rather

The co-star of the new horror thriller reveals her character's secret backstory, and what she really thinks of Linda Lovelace.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

There are eight characters invited to an evil game of Would You Rather at Shepard Lambrick’s house, and there can only be one winner. Sasha Grey plays Amy, a volatile character who’s always eager to take the violent choice against her competitors. The film is now on VOD and digital download, and opens in select theaters February 15. We got to chat with Grey by phone, while we could hear her dog scampering in the background, and she laughed about her dark turn and sexy status in Hollywood. We removed the spoilers about the movie’s twists, but still issue a spoiler warning since she refers to other tortures in the film.

Read CraveOnline's review of Would You Rather.

Read CraveOnline's interview with Would You Rather star Jeffrey Combs.

CraveOnline: Did you know or come up with a backstory for what Amy is playing the game for?

Sasha Grey: Yes. There’s a small hint of that at the end of the film where Shepard Lambrick says to her, “Now you know it felt for your daughter when [SPOILER].” That was something David [Guy Levy] a lot obviously because that’s her only motivation for even being there, just to kind of get out. She’s still probably stuck in this relationship with [SPOILER] so she’s doing this based out of fear, a way to get out and out of a huge loss in her life.

That’s pretty dark. Did you like that?

Yeah, it was great. [Laughs] Honestly, I was attracted to this character because she was the outsider of the group and because I was ready to play a character to that. I wanted to make her as vile and unlikeable as possible.

Do you feel you succeeded? Because she’s kind of cool.

She is, but it’s always something to be questioned. Obviously there’s always things as an actor I wish I could’ve done better or changed after the fact, but overall I’m pretty happy.

Are you normally really self-critical?

Of course. Who isn’t? Who isn’t in this world?

What are some things you wish you would have done differently with Amy?

I mean, I don’t want to point it out: Hey, these are my flaws! I just always think there’s room to improve. It’s all a learning experience and that’s what I’m most grateful for.

When you were reading the script, did each twist of the game surprise you?

Oh yes, for sure. It’s horrifying on the page. The thing I loved about David’s vision for this is that he wanted to keep that tension that was on the page, on the screen as well and not necessarily show you every twist and turn but rather make you think about it and feel it and experience it rather than just shock you.

If you really played Would You Rather with Shepard Lambrick, would you win?

[Laughs] Oh God, that’s a scary question. That’s tough, man. I definitely couldn’t hold my breath underwater for four minutes. I could probably cut my eyeball. Yeah, it’s all a question of survival and I don’t think you really can answer something like that until you’re in that seat because adrenaline plays a big factor in decision making.

Does Hollywood see you as Sasha Grey, actor now?

I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask Hollywood. [Laughs] Obviously, I’m still building a name and reputation for myself. The stigmas that come with my past will remain there for quite some time but I’m not afraid to challenge those things and I never have been. I’m willing to work hard, no pun intended, and fight my way up and prove that I can play diverse characters and not just play one-dimensional sexpots, which I don’t really think I ever embodied a sexpot anyways.

I don’t think that’s what you’ve done so far.

Well, thank you.

What are the sort of roles you’re fighting for now?

Maybe not so much now, but in the past year and a half or so, most of the things that come to me are to play, obviously, characters that kind of just appear naked and there’s essentially no character. They just want a hot girl to sit around and look good, and I’m interested in actually taking on roles that require work and dedication. Whether that’s an action film or a comedy or a drama or anything in between, I’m willing to prove that I can play with the big boys.

How important was “Entourage” in this career path?

That was huge. “Entourage” really opened up my fan base to an entire different demographic, to people that know about pop culture but maybe aren’t necessarily the biggest porn fans, but are in the same age range as the biggest porn fans. So it was really interesting. It just opened up my audience and people would always ask, “Well, is it something you want to do? You have to play a version of yourself.” But it’s “Entourage.” Everybody plays a version of themselves. It’s not a downside to being on that show whatsoever. It only helps.

What did you think when they suggested the story where Vince wanted you to leave adult films?

I thought it was great because that’s a very real thing. That’s something that happens all the time. A girl will be in the industry and they fall in love or they get a new boyfriend who wants them to quit performing because jealousy and all the crazy emotions we have get involved. I thought it was the perfect arc in our story.

Is the Inferno Linda Lovelace movie you’re attached to still happening?

I have no idea. I would love to know.

How important was Linda Lovelace’s story to you?

That’s a whole bag of mess right there. I did not know Linda Lovelace but I can say, in my opinion, she represents the cliché naive woman who later on in life regretted her past and decided to blame it on other people. And I think that’s, excuse my French, a real sh*tty thing. I don’t doubt that she had an abusive husband but the porn industry isn’t filled with villains and criminals who force women into doing things they don’t want to do. She painted a picture like that and that’s too bad, and people went to jail because of that.

That’s interesting. It’ll be a different take than the Lovelace movie that just played at Sundance.

Yeah, and I think this film that I was supposed to be in, and I obviously was not playing Linda Lovelace, this script kind of favored with her view on things.

What do you play in The Scribbler?

I play the bunny, the rabbit, this schizophrenic character. I can’t really say much else because it’s quite a small role and I don’t want to ruin it but the film is really cool and fun, so I look forward to seeing it. I haven’t seen a final cut.

And the Nacho Vigalondo film Open Windows?

I wrapped the second week of December right before the holidays. It was an amazing experience. Nacho’s an incredibly talented filmmaker. Working with Elijah Wood and Neil Maskell was wonderful. It’s a film that asks a lot of questions but is also very light and entertaining at the same time. It’s going to have loads of visual effects that haven’t been done before hopefully, so it’ll be cool to see. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.