Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Alexis Carra is best known for her roles as Cynthia McDermott in the TV Series Recovery Road and as Jessica in Mixology. She has also appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, The Mentalist and Anger Management. In The Answer, Carra is Charlotte Parker, a smart, sassy office worker who helps introvert and mysteriously gifted co-worker Bridd Cole (Austin Hébert) figure out who is hunting him and the secret to his true identity. The award winning film helmed by newcomer Iqbal Ahmed unites mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and romance into a nail biting thriller. In this one-on-one interview, Alexis reveals the joys and challenges she faced in bringing Charlotte to life.
What attracted you to the role of Charlotte?
Alexis Carra: I liked that she was more than just a love interest for Bridd. To be more than just the sexy vixen that makes Bridd look good. I liked that she had a complicated past, which enabled her to help Bridd get out of his own way to see the things that he needed to see. It was a real partnership. Their love story was really the C story that evolved. I liked that she was a badass.
Without giving away the ending, when you first read the script, did you race ahead to see what was going on with Bridd?
Alexis: I actually didn’t because I’m a writer as well, and I love watching, reading and that feeling of suspense. I was excited to see how the story would slowly unveil. I kind of knew what was going to happen because I had read the plot breakdowns of my role as well as Bridd’s during the auditions. I was curious to see how it would unfold because I didn’t want to do just another cheapie sci-fi or horror film. Austin was also a friend so we got through the audition process together.
The film had its share of chase and fight scenes. Did your background in dance and physical fitness come in handy?
Alexis: I think it did. We had a scene where we had to do a long run, but I didn’t get to do the massive fight scene at the end. My dream role had always been to be a Bond girl, but now that I’m a bit older, I don’t know if I’d be happy with that. I think Charlotte sort of fulfilled that need, in that she was more layered than your typical Bond girl storyline. We had a fight coordinator on set, and as a dancer, I’m used to working with choreography. It just helps you think through those elements of movement.
What did you find most challenging about playing Charlotte?
Alexis: As an actor, I think it was trusting what works. There was this long monologue that ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s something I realized wasn’t needed to portray Charlotte’s troubled past. The monologue detailed why Charlotte kept running and why she was so guarded. I think just trusting that those layers were there in the moments of the film that were about the Bridd-Charlotte relationship. And trusting my performance during those moments was enough to communicate what she was about.
Were there subtle things you added to Charlotte that were not in the script?
Alexis: The script gives you the dialog but Iqbal (Ahmed) always gave us room to make changes. I loved working with him. He was so good at making sure it made sense to us. There were times when I asked him if I could change a line or say it differently and he was always open to that. A script is a template and a good script gives actors enough room to fill in the nuanced facial expressions and poses. A script won’t tell you how to feel. In real life, emotions just take us. They’re not just black and white. I also added things like her body language, how she stood, and even the wardrobe—like the boots I wore—helped define the character.
There’s a boldness and take-charge optimism to Charlotte. Is that something you like to imbue in all your characters?
Alexis: I love that you put it that way because that’s something that every actor does—bring pieces of themselves to the role and you find places where you intersect with the role and where you diverge. I think I tend to be a bold, take charge woman in life and that played into how I chose to play Charlotte. There were moments when Bridd needed that and times where they were conflicted. The montage of me helping Bridd get ready and teaching him how to take a shot revealed that. Also, what I did at the lake house, getting him ready and being playful about it. It’s a kind of playful leadership that I use when I teach dance.
How are you like Charlotte and how area you different from her?
Alexis: I think Charlotte likes to be a leader, she likes to have a say. I think she likes to have fun and when she’s not in the mood for fun, she’s not open to change. I think she’s a little more stubborn than I am. We all have stuff in our past, and I think I’ve worked to let go of some of my angst. Part of what’s so cool about Charlotte is that in The Answer part 2, I’d be curious to see if she started to do that work in their relationship with Bridd. Charlotte was a loner and I’m a people person.
So what’s next for you? Will there be a sequel?
Alexis: It was a long process to get the film made, so I don’t know if Iqbal wants to take that on. I know he’s got other projects. I think it would be super cool to do it. I did a couple of series after The Answer, but right now, I’m in audition mode. I’m pitching a period drama that I wrote with a friend. I spent six years on Broadway and I recently co-founded Broadway Arts Camp with a friend, which is here in L.A. and Seattle.
View the trailer here