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Born and raised in Tennessee, Rachel Boston is best known as Detective Abigail Chaffee in the TV series “In Plain Sight” and as Daphne Bloom in “The Ex List.” Her long and varied TV credits also include Erin Sinclaire in “Mad Love,” Tanya Leterre in “Scoundrels,” Beth Mason in “American Dreams” and appearances in such hit shows as “NCIS” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” More recently, Boston starred in 500 Days of Summer, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Pill.
In the upcoming It’s a Disaster, Boston joins Julia Stiles, Erinn Hayes, David Cross, America Ferrera, Todd Berger, Jesse Draper and Jeff Grace in an end-of-world satire. The film centers around four couples who meet for Sunday brunch only to discover they’re stuck in a house together as the world is about to end. In this one-on-one interview, Boston reveals her insights into this quirky disaster-comedy and her varied, successful acting career.
Defining a character is always difficult. How did you approach your role of Lexi?
Rachel Boston: When I talked to Todd about the film, I learned that each character was in a stage of grief. Once Lexi got the news, she was in denial. The way she handles hearing about the end of the world is to keep living life to the fullest; that this isn’t real, that it’s not happing, and that she’s just going to enjoy every single day of her life the way she always does. It was so much fun to play a character that was so “in the present” and not concerned with the past or the future. She was just right in the moment.
What attracted you to the role?
RB: I saw grace. I saw forgiveness. And I liked that she’s not judgmental. I saw that she had been through enough in her own life. She’s very different.
Did you audition for the role?
RB: I didn’t, actually. Todd had worked with some people that I had just worked with. He knew what I was doing in comedy, so I was very lucky. Todd sent me the script and we had an hour-long conversation about the character, and I was on board.
How would you define Lexi’s relationship with Buck (Kevin Brennan)?
RB: He’s wonderful. He’s extraordinary—both in real life and in the film. He has such a big heart and he cares so deeply about people. His friends mean the world to him. Kevin and I went to dinner before filming began. We started talking about Buck and Lexi, and we brought the idea of having a band to Todd. We started talking about music, that Kevin is a musician and how I just started playing the glockenspiel. Kevin just thought we should have a band together. So we added the whole musical number. And that was a testament to Todd embracing everyone’s ideas and being able to bring their personality and heart to the film.
What do you think people will like about this film?
RB: I think it’s very human. It’s very authentic to the way we get caught up in our own problems. And not truly living every day as if it were our last. So I think seeing these people struggle with their own personal dramas, even when the world is ending, is what will attract people to this film. It just makes a very strong statement about being human, showing that everyone is going through this experience in an extreme way. People will be able to see themselves in each of these characters. The scenes around the dinner table were so gratifying. Everyone brought so much to these scenes. I just couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning.
This was a low-budget film; was that a challenge for you?
RB: The film was made on a very small budget. We only had 15 days to shoot, 15 days to create and entire world. We all had to bring out best for each take.
It was all shot in one house. That must’ve been cramped.
RB: We were all together in most of the movie. We set up a sort of base camp and spent 12 hours together. No one had their own room, just their own corner. It was like a dorm. But it was nice. We were with our friends all day long. My corner was right next to David’s. We ate lunch together every day. No one had much time alone, which was really interesting.
What was it like working with Todd Berger?
RB: He’s so wonderful. He has such a great group of friends around him. He understands the nature of very extreme personalities. He embraced everyone’s ideas. He was just so encouraging in letting each of us bring our own essence to our character.
In your next film, Black Marigolds, you play Kate, the wife of a writer who deals with mental illness. How did you adjust, prepare for that?
RB:It was an intense movie dealing with death. My character’s husband gets ill in the film and I stay by his side throughout his ordeal. It was emotionally draining in that it reminded me of my grandparents. They were married for 56 years and my grandmother was holding my grandfather’s hand when he died. So I’d seen that depth of love. But to go through it as a young woman and to lose your husband when you’re 29 can be devastating.
You’ve done lots of TV. Are you shifting gears? Do you prefer film over TV?
RB: I feel so fortunate to have a balance of both. I love exploring a character over a year of time, which TV allows you to do. We just wrapped an indie film two days ago that we made in 16 days under a very “indie” budget. I like the community aspect of indie films, where everyone comes together to create something for very little money and we just make it happen. I’m looking forward to doing more indie films because I love working with new filmmakers.
What were you like in high school?
RB: Actually, the movie I just finished is about a girl returning to high school. So I’ve been going through all of my high school yearbooks. It was interesting to find all these love letters from my high school sweethearts. I was a hopeless romantic in high school. So starting in 9th grade, I was reading these letters about looking up at the moon and feeling like we were just so connected. I had my crushes, but I was also into theater. I grew up in a mountain town with one traffic light. We didn’t have a high school there. But I was very fortunate to be able to go to a performing arts school away from where I grew up. That’s where I really got into theater and comedy. I moved to New York when I was 17, to a theater company in Manhattan, and that led me out to Los Angeles.
What was your first paid job in Los Angeles?
RB: A TV show called “American Dreams.” I was on that when I was 19. It was a family drama set in the ‘60s.
It’s a Disaster recently premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival to excellent reviews. The It’s a Disaster production team of Vacationeers Productions will be conducting a sneak preview/panel at Comic-con on Friday July 13th from 8-9 p.m. in room 6BCF. It will feature writer/director Todd Berger along with actors Jeff Grace, Kevin M. Brennan, Blaise Miller, and Erinn Hayes.