Ashley Bell returns as Nell in The Last Exorcism Part II later this week, so it was a good opportunity to catch up with the actress to talk about the differences between this new sequel and the film we originally thought would be The Last Exorcism. Bell discussed where Nell is in her life, the temptations of New Orleans, sympathizing with the Devil and a potential third film in the franchise.
In theaters this Friday, March 1st from director Ed Gass-Donnelly, the sequel continues where the first film left off. “Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found alone and terrified in the woods. Back in the relative safety of civilization, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean herlast exorcism was just the beginning.”
Andrew Sensenig, Spencer Treat Clark, Muse Watson, David Jensen, Judd Lormand, Joe Chrest, Julia Garner, Louis Herthum, Tarra Riggs, Ashlynn Ross, Cristina Franco, Raeden Greer, E. Roger Mitchell and Boyana Balta also star. The film is once again produced by Eli Roth.
It picks up right where the last film left off. We don’t know what state she’s in, we don’t know if she’s in shock or if she’s got traumatic stress or how broken she is. This film is Nell’s story and it was so much fun to continue telling that story and to see the world through her eyes. She’s been so sheltered she does’t even know what an iPod is and she’s thrown right into the middle of New Orleans right in the middle of Mardis Gras. There’s temptation everywhere and she has to pick between good and evil.
Mardis Gras certainly seems like an apt way to establish that contrast.
Yeah, and what was really cool about that is we actually filmed in Mardis Gras. There was a skeleton crew, it was Ed [Gass-Donnelly], the cameraman and myself and I went out in costume to experience it as Nell. There’s such a childlike quality to Nell, like she’s seeing everything for the first time and it was fun to smell all those smells and touch all those costumes [as her]. What would she get scared of? What would she perceive as dangerous? There’s temptation everywhere.
Not only do you have to think about Nell’s internal life, I imagine you’d have to think about the internal life of the entity that is possessing her.
With all the roles I play, a big thing is that I love all of the characters I play. I use the word “love” because I need to get behind them. I need to understand where they’re coming from and sympathize with what they feel. Nell is cracked and shattered from the first film and I had to pick up the pieces and put them back together and that’s where the Devil slips in. That’s where the doubt slips in. That’s where the fear slips in and she really has to pick between holding onto herself or getting tempted to go against her nature.
How else did New Orleans influence the film?
A big part of it is the voodoo culture that exists in New Orleans. A lot of that has crept its way into the exorcisms. And there’s a big difference in what a voodoo exorcism elicits as opposed to anything done in the previous film. What comes out of the voodoo powers in this film is… well… when the devil decides to get revenge, you’ve got to see it.
Depending on how well this film performs, are there plans for a third?
There’s a wait and see approach, but yeah there have been [discussions]. There’s a twist at the end [of Part 2] that is literally so shocking! I would love to step back into my Doc Martens for a third time.