Interview with Sam Keeley- Star of the New After-the-Apocalypse Zombie Film ‘The Cured’

THE CURED is out today, Feb 23rd in select theaters and VOD

Do you suffer from anxiety, depression, nightmares? You might be one of the infected!

In The Cured we find a world ravaged for years by the MAZE virus. A horrible disease that turns those infected into zombie-like cannibals. When a cure is at last found, the almost impossible process of reintegrating those cured of the virus, back into society, begins. Among the formerly afflicted is Senan, (Sam Keeley) a young man haunted by the horrific acts he committed while infected. Welcomed back into the family of his widowed sister-in-law, (Ellen Page) Senan attempts to restart his life-but is society ready to forgive him and those like him? Will fear and prejudice once again tear the world apart? Filled with numerous parallels to our troubled times, The Cured is a smart, scary, sensitive and hauntingly human tale of guilt and redemption. Not just a horror movie, but something much more thought-provoking.

The Cured was such an amazing movie. I love this take on the zombie genre. What happens if after the apocalypse, the undead return to life? Moving back into your neighborhoods, living next door? The Cured is truly different and that made it a fantastic and heart-breaking watch for me! It is a compelling tale, especially under our current world political state.

I was so excited to talk to one of the stars of the film, (my favorite) Sam Keeley, who plays Senan, one of the cured zombies trying to live some semblance of a normal life again. Sam was in Iceland buying a house but took the time to talk about The Cured with me. Our reception was terrible, but what a great guy to talk to! Just so you know, if you haven’t seen the film – there are possible spoilers ahead.


Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Hi Sam! Thanks so much for talking to me! I just watched The Cured, it was amazing, I loved it!

Sam Keeley: “I’m so glad you liked it! I really am.”

LAZG: Since I live in the U.S. I, unfortunately, haven’t gotten to watch any of your work, so can you share a little bit about your journey becoming an actor in Ireland?

SK: “Sure! I was in my final year of high school and I failed all my exams, which isn’t very conducive for going to college. I hated school, so I’m afraid I’m not a very good role model. I was a singer/songwriter and was working on a demo album, so I was spending more time playing music than I was in school. My school guidance counselor, Teresa, a very special lady, got hold of me and she was like ‘heh if you’re gonna do this you need some sort of back up plan.’ I sat down in her office and we went through various classes that I could do, and I didn’t want to do any of them.

Eventually she said, ‘What about a drama degree? You could study sound, be a film critic or teach drama’, so I said yeah. I loved the idea because I was always into films. I have a massive DVD collection and I follow various actors’ careers that I like. So, I said I’d give it a go. I had to audition, and I got in, even though I had never auditioned for anything in my life. Once I was there I got bitten by the bug, fell in love with it, read every book, watched everything I could. I was there for about 8 months and I booked a lead in a feature film at an open audition. The college wouldn’t let me and was going to fail me if I went, so of course, I did the film, I got signed by an agent, and that was that. I kept working ever since. That was about 7 years ago.”

LAZG: Sound’s like it was meant to be! Do you have any actors that have inspired you?

SK: “I am a huge Heath Ledger fan. When a person in the public eye’s death affects you, when someone has been there that is special to you for whatever reason, and then they’re gone, it’s hard to take. I remember his death hit me hard. It was bizarre because I didn’t think it would, but it did. Mads Mikkelsen is a really incredible Danish actor that I love. I like any actors that do independent gritty films, exploring the dark side of society; the stuff that people don’t want to talk about!”

LAZG: I agree! Me too. Well, that brings us to The Cured. I feel like it’s truly a fresh take on the overdone zombie genre. It doesn’t feel like a traditional zombie film. How would you categorize it?

SK: “I’d say it’s a psychological drama. There are so many horror aspects to it, and the zombie genre is so famous, and we love it so much, but I think it’s more of a character study. Ours is the zombie film, after the other zombie films. We are addressing the questions: ‘What happens after it all calms down? What happens if there is a cure for the infection? Will the public be able to forgive people after they are cured? How will society handle it?’ I really appreciate that you think that it’s a fresh take. We certainly thought that when we were filming.”

LAZG: The character of Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) who was also one of the cured alongside yourself, was the leader of an extremist underground political movement. I understand this was obvious retaliation to the people who wanted them exterminated, but his tactics seemed very terrorist. Was that a political statement in any way referring to the state of Ireland’s troubled history?

SK: “I think there are probably certain references to that, but in terms of it being terrorist, I’d be less inclined to call it that, because I think what makes good bad guys and great evil characters, is the fact that they’re not really evil, they just see the world from a different point of view. To them, their values are right. I think that Ireland as a nation, our history is very turbulent. In terms of our past, we have had a lot of freedom fighters that were labeled terrorists in various countries. But what I love about these characters in the film is that as far as they’re concerned they are the ones being discriminated against, they’re the good guys. And so do the others they are at the mercy of; the opposition feels the same way. I love that conflict, both sides absolutely believe they are right. But yes, when you see people throwing Molotov cocktails or petrol bombs, it looks like something from our past.” (laughs)

LAZG: Who were really the bad guys? Right? Had the population that didn’t get infected, who lived through the apocalypse, become the evil ones now?

SK: “In a way, yeah, they were worse than the infected. They were scared. They lost so much and wanted someone to pay for it. I think it’s very cleverly addressed in the writing the fact that we have these cured, who are just people. Yes, they’ve done horrible stuff, but they are cured and still not being excepted. In my eyes, I think Conor’s dilemma was, in relation to my character Senan, was that I had a place to go. He wanted to just pick up where he left off. He wanted to go back to being a lawyer, in his nice upper-class neighborhood, with his new car and his nice suits, and the system said no. His character really came into play then, kind of like a spoiled kid. It didn’t really sit well with him.”

LAZG: Your character, Senan, has a hard time living with the guilt of what he did while he was infected. He’s a very sensitive guy and wasn’t moving forward well. What did you do to prepare for such an emotional role?

SK: “I wanted to take the fantastical elements and really root them in something we all recognize. A guilty person is a guilty person, regardless of the circumstances. I tried to think about these cured people, who have been eating people for four years and that’s about as horrible as it gets. How do they feel? In my own head I kind of thought, well what do we have in the world? We have sex offenders, we have murderers. We have all these kinds of characters, that in certain systems can get a second chance and possibly be integrated back into society. I didn’t want to sympathize with that, because I think a crime is a crime and if you’ve done something horrible, you did it. But I wanted to see the side of that, that was human. I wanted to humanize it in a way I could understand it for the character. So, I watched a lot of documentaries and interviews. I read a lot about various characters that have been in institutions and then released back into the world. So, I had that in my mind every day. Keeping the thought, you’ve done this to these people, as a constant thing till it wears you down to a nib, you know. It was tough to come home after getting into that mindset every day, especially after an intense day of shooting.”

LAZG: Why did Senan seem to have more guilt and worse nightmares than most of the other cured? Many of them did not seem to have any remorse. Is that just who they were before?

SK: “Different people have different opinions on how they feel it went down. I think it was hard for Senan to come back to the house where his brother used to live, and I don’t think he felt like he had a choice, it was taken away from him. If he had a choice, he would have done things differently. But I think what happens to a lot of these people like Conor, is that they begin to like the power, and then I guess it’s like superheroes or supervillains: If you get power, some people head to the dark and some head towards the light. Senan was one of those, he really regrets what he’s done. I dare say he would have chosen death over the stuff that he’s done to people. He’s just that kind of person. I know for me, working on him, it’s an individual characteristic thing, it’s very personal. So, I’d imagine it’s the same for the others too.”

LAZG: What was it like working with Ellen Page?

SK: “It was a dream! I’ve known Ellen from her work obviously, and I couldn’t believe when she signed on to do this film. She was wonderful. These scenes were very delicate, and we needed someone to play Abbie with humanity and femininity, but also with strength. I think Ellen really brought that. I think she did a wonderful job and she’s amazing. She’s such a lovely person and a wonderful actor. It was all easy and I’d love to work with her again. She’s brilliant.”

LAZG: Do you have a behind-the-scenes story you can share?

SK: “I dislocated my hand during one of the scenes and it’s in the film! During a fight scene, towards the end of the film, I’m wrestling with a guy and I felt my thumb pop. I said to myself, ‘Ok, I’m hurt for sure’ but we were stuck for time and I decided to press on and keep going. It was on a Friday and I was in Dublin. I’m from Ireland originally and I hadn’t been home in a while, so I was going to go have a couple of beers with some buddies. So, I went home, and my thumb was about an inch and a half from where it should be. So, I had a big shot of whiskey, bit down on a rag and popped it back into place. I went back to work the following day with my hand very swollen and looking somewhat like a Mickey Mouse glove. So maybe people can try to spot in the movie where my hand is twice the size that it usually is!”

LAZG: The ending of the film left me crazy! I know you can’t know the future, to see if there is a sequel. But could Senan keep the boy safe and try to find him a cure?

SK: “I hope we get to see the story. I don’t know what Dave’s got up his sleeve, but I think Senan would do his best. I want to know too! I want to see him out in the wilderness, fighting to stay alive and actually going into hiding, with a very dangerous weapon hidden under his coat. Then you’d have to address the fact that, does the kid grow up? If the kid is infected, does he grow up infected? I guess he would. I guess he would age like a normal kid would, but as an infected kid, and what would that be like? What I love about the ending is the unanswered questions, and that we have no idea where they will go. I hope everyone else will want to see a sequel too.”

The Cured is out today, Feb 23rd, in select theaters and VOD. For more info check out their Facebook Page


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