After an early start in commercials, actor-director-producer Augie Duke transitioned into film through a handful of horror and comic-book-inspired roles, including Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012) and Spring (2014). When asked about her regular forays into the world of genre, Duke notes, “I’m not sure how that stumbled upon me, but it did. Somehow I started out as these dark, moody characters that I would be cast as. Is it my Jack Nicholson eyebrows? What is it that makes people want to cast me as the outcast?”
Over the years, there’s been a shift in the roles offered, allowing Duke to stretch her range. “Now, it’s all over the place, I get to play a lot of different characters, which I’m very thankful for. It started out as the gothic role and now it’s mother roles, sweet girls, misunderstood girls, which is great.”
Most recently, Duke starred in the thriller 6:45 with her real-life partner Michael Reed under the direction of Craig Singer. The Robert Dean Klein written script features the two playing a doomed couple named Jules and Bobby. Told from Bobby’s perspective, the film shows them boarding a ferry to visit an idyllic island for vacation only to realize that the place is nearly deserted.
Despite the beauty of their surroundings, tensions show through almost immediately. The couple is killed at 6:45, but then they awaken at the start of the day once more, with only Bobby aware that they are reliving a nightmare without end. Pushed into a reality where they will always be murdered by 6:45 regardless of how he tries to change things, the edges of his reality begin to fray.
6:45’s POV would imply that the film is about Bobby’s journey, however, all signs point to Jules being the hero of the story. There are a number of scenes in which the audience is let in on the fact that Jules has been putting up with Bobby’s explosive temper and philandering since well before the opening credits roll, putting her shifting mood throughout the first part of the film in context.
Taking a character that easily could have been one-dimensional and adding depth is a major part of why the film succeeds. Duke notes, “As a woman, you don’t want her to just be like ‘ok, whatever you want, Bobby!’ You want her to fight through this, and you want her to have substance.”
When asked why making Jules a more fleshed-out character was important to the story, Duke explains, “It’s like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, where the focus is on one character so the other characters aren’t as central to the story. However, I spoke with the writer and director and we made sure this character was just as important because it’s not just about either of them, about their relationship,” she says.
“I think Jules is misunderstood. She’s going through this wild ride with this guy who is losing his effing mind. So what does she do? How would any woman deal with that? Would she leave this person, would she fight through this? And I think she struggles with that.”
To that end, viewers will note that she arguably goes through a wider emotional range than other characters in the film. When asked how she tapped into the many moods of Jules, Duke says, “We’re doing out-of-order shooting, so you’re going from take 42 to 2. Now we’re going backward, now we’re going forward. Now you’re sad, now you’re happy. I think that shooting like that helped my emotions go a little haywire. Shooting so quickly, and the way that we did, you’re pulled through the emotional waves.”
We Have the Same Dream
The film required a lot of its cast on an emotional level, but then there is the physical aspect of being repeatedly murdered onscreen. With her brutal demise played on a loop, the need to be covered with an abundance of blood meant that the novelty wore off fast. “It was so much fun…not…at all,” she laughs. “We called it blood week. By the end of the week, I was like, this has got to stop. I never need blood on me again in my life. Can I get murdered, but with no blood?”
Not only did Reed and Duke co-star in the film, but they are also listed as co-producers.
Duke says, “Craig Singer, the amazing director, (he) did a lot of big-budget films in the late 90s. Nowadays, you can do films for much lower, but it’s much harder, so I think he needed to trust that we could do it. So I said, we can do this, and let’s get amazing filmmaker friends, and make it like a camp, like we’re a little family, and we can make this movie. That’s how me and Michael started producing it with him. We connected the dots in that way. He introduced us to two people, we introduced him to two people, and we sort of intertwined our group and became producers in that way.”
As far as her interest in pursuing further behind-the-camera work, Duke explains, “I started directing a couple of short films two years ago, and I love working behind-the-scenes. My heart is in acting, but I appreciate that it takes a village to make a movie. You can’t just say, here’s a director, an actor, and a cameraman. Pre-production is wild, post-production is maybe even more wild, and I think that as an actor, you need to know all of the parts. It only helps your career to know and appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.”
Having recently been cast in a recurring role on Mayans MC, as well as the recent dark fantasy film Moon Garden and the upcoming action-thriller Bellmount, Duke has no shortage of appearances ahead. 6:45 is currently available for rent or purchase.
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: Birds Fly Dogs Bark Wind Blows Productions.
Sara is a horror writer, a critic, a reporter, a filmmaker, and an artist that has written for many publications and platforms. She is the co-host of the Bitches On Comics podcast as well as the co-founder and editor of the Decoded Pride anthology which focuses on works of queer speculative fiction.