BY: GIBSON JOHNS
"I usually play these uptight, tightly-wound, bitchy women," Anna Camp says bluntly. "Bless their hearts."
Camp is most likely alluding to Aubrey, her character in the hugely popular "Pitch Perfect" franchise, who is very different from Dorothy, who she plays in National Geographic Channel's "Saints & Strangers." The two-night film event tells the untold story of the first Thanksgiving in dramatic and often hard-to-swallow detail. Speaking exclusively to AOL, she tells us about the experience of working on such a project.
"This was something I've never done," she explains. "Dorothy is British, and it's a period piece -- which I love doing, but I don't have that much experience doing. It's a challenge."
Vincent Kartheiser, who played Pete Campbell on "Mad Men," also stars in the film and echoes Camp's feelings -- coming off of such a high-visibility, culturally-impactful project, it was refreshing to do something new.
"I was honored, it's rare in this industry for someone to give you an opportunity to do something different from what you've been doing for the last couple years," Kartheiser divulges. "It give you faith! You kind of go, 'People still have some balls out there and they're willing to take a chance.'"
For Kartheiser, being a part of such a realistic period piece was a blessing and he credits producers Grant Scharbo, Gina Matthews, and Teri Weinberg's passion for the film's success in telling the story.
"They had all of this energy and passion for the project, so I thought if you're shooting this amount of work in this amount of time, you have to have producers that are passionate about it. And they did, so I said, "What the fuck? Let's give it a go.'"
Photos from the "Saints & Strangers" Thanksgiving luncheon:
As for Camp, she credits work she did with a certain Harry Potter-actor for helping her come prepared to "Saints & Strangers."
"I had done Equis with Dan Radcliffe on Broadway, so I had the British accent down and the prep. But I still needed to tune that," she recalls. "There were also a lot of British actors on set, and I told them, 'Please call me on it!' I wanted people to tell me if I was saying something wrong. I'm not an actor that gets really uptight and thinks I do everything right -- I'm very open to learning and getting called out on my bullshit."
Working on a project with such rich material like "Saints & Strangers" proved rewarding for both Camp and Kartheiser, especially considering its commentary on such a family-oriented holiday like Thanksgiving. Camp points to her characters struggle, bravery, and willingness to leave her son and family behind as qualities that gave her an increased appreciation for her own family -- even if she doesn't have a child of her own.
"Especially around Thanksgiving you get very thankful for the people that are closest to you. Dorothy was so distraught -- I don't have a child, but I have a puppy -- and I can't imagine not knowing where he is. I got a new respect for my mother and father, and what it takes to have a child. It really opened my eyes to being thankful for the people around you."
Though "Saints & Strangers" tells a centuries-old story, its ability to shed light on themes still prevalent to our lives today is telling of its effective storytelling. From his perspective, Kartheiser sees that as the National Geographic Channel's insistence on backing up the facts and refusal to shy away from the truth -- regardless of how ugly it may be.
"Saints & Strangers" airs on National Geographic Channel on November 22 & 23.
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