Based on true events, If Looks Could Kill follows Faith (Stefanie Estes), a rookie cop eager to prove herself in law enforcement. She joins old flame Paul (Tomek Kosalka) on the force, but is soon crestfallen and grows increasingly troubled when Paul becomes romantically involved with Jessica (Summer Spiro). A lethal beauty obsessed with stardom, Jessica harbors a criminal past and a future sure to leave dead lovers in her wake. It’s classic good vs. evil in a twist and turn nail biter as Faith struggles to build a case against Jessica—before the body count reaches Paul. In this one-on-one interview, Stefanie reveals the challenges she faced in portraying a rookie cop and how she brought the character of Faith to life.
What attracted you to the role of Faith?
Stefanie: I really liked that she was sort of a tough cookie. I’d never played a woman of the law before. I also liked that she was sort of the moral compass of the story. The relationship she had with Paul was fun to explore as an actor. And it was an opportunity to, once again, work with the director James (Cullen Bressack).
Did you audition for the role? If so, what was that like?
Stefanie: James had reached out to me to do the part, but he had to run it past the producers. I taped a couple of auditions: an interrogation scene that didn’t end up in the movie and another scene where I’m trying to revive Paul. I also did a read for the Jessica role, but I was so glad they chose Summer Spiro. She was just phenomenal in a Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity sort of way.
Had you done some research about the life of a rookie cop?
Stefanie: I did. Prior to booking the film, I was in an acting class and working on Lobby Hero, a play by Kenneth Lonergan, where one of the main characters is a rookie cop. I also talked to someone at the police academy just to get a sense of what the training was like leading up to getting your badge. I did some reading for how intensive the process it is, especially for a woman. I watched a number of documentaries about women cops. James thought that Faith was similar to the Francis McDormand character in Fargo, which I don’t think I could compare to that performance. She was amazing in that. In If Looks Could Kill, no one believes Faith, and the same is true of McDormand’s Marge, who was regarded in the film as just a pregnant, emotional woman, when in fact, she was really on to something.
You came across as a tough cop, someone I’d hate to get a traffic ticket from.
Stefanie: I read a lot about cops assuming a powerful posture. How women cops, in particular, will stand with their arms in their belt to make their shoulders appear bigger and make them seem stronger.
What did you find most challenging about the role?
Stefanie: Some of the emotional scenes toward the end, and the final confrontation with Jessica. It’s challenging to stay in that heightened emotional place for many hours while you’re filming multiple setups of a scene. And some of the minor stunt work was a bit challenging for me. Like where Jessica and I have a tussle.
The scene where you’re struck by Jessica’s car. How was that choreographed?
Stefanie: We had a stunt coordinator on set. It was all body movements and reactions. The car did come very close to me but they gave me body padding underneath my uniform, which I’m surprised you can’t see. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought everyone is going to see this. That was difficult for me because I had not done many of my own stunts before.
There seem to be more “clueless boyfriends” like Paul in these love triangle dramas. Do you see this as a trend?
Stefanie: Now that you mention it, that is something I’ve been noticing pretty frequently in movies. Maybe that means that us ladies are not getting the clueless girlfriend roles for a change.
You’ve done shorts, TV and features. Which would you like to do more of?
Stefanie: I like anything that has a strong story and compelling characters.
What’s next for you?
Stefanie: I just finished a horror film called Bethany with James. It also stars Shannen Doherty and comedian Tom Green. I’ll also be in an indie called Nothing Like the Sun, a period drama set in the 1950s, and then Identity, a sci-fi sort of Hitchcockian thriller.