‘Collapse’ actors say movie doesn’t stereotype Iowa by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · October 14, 2009
There’s a swingset in the front yard of the lonely farmhouse and barns and sheds in the back.
The windows are boarded up and small bells are strung around the porch on fishing line.
Through gaps in the boards, one can see only candlelight coming from the kitchen.
Sitting around the table are Robert and Molly Morgan, hoping the boards hold if the zombies outside happen to see the only light they dare to use.
Played by real-life couple Chris Mulkey and Karen Landry, the Morgans had plenty of other problems to worry about before the zombies showed up. Their daughter has died. Their son is having trouble in school. Molly is sick. Their farmhand quit when there are still 100 acres of crops to harvest. The family may lose the farm due to financial troubles. The world is collapsing in around them.
“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse,” Mulkey said, “the zombies show up. It’s Murphy’s Law squared.”
Mulkey, who was born and reared in Spirit Lake, Iowa, said the filming of “Collapse” in West Branch is the first time he has acted in Iowa.
He filmed one horror movie, “Dark Moon Rising,” before “Collapse” began shooting.
“I was attracted to the writing,” Mulkey said of the zombie film. “It’s a clever script with a great turn. (Co-writer) Mike (Saunders) did a great job.”
Landry said the script does not try to stereotype small-town Iowa.
“Only ... When you expect life to be sweet,” she said. “We portray it as an idyllic place to live.”
Sitting around a small table in their on-set trailer with a West Branch Times reporter, the couple said they like to take “meditative walks” and took a stroll through downtown West Branch and Hoover Park.
“West Branch citizens are so proud of their town and its history,” Landry said. “They know all kinds of facts about Hoover’s life.”
Mulkey called the Statue of Isis “amazing,” and Landry said she would like to put it in one of her paintings. Landry said she was struck by the beauty of the trees turning to their fall colors.
“People in (Los Angeles) have no idea how beautiful it is in Iowa,” she said.
The couple have homes in Venice Beach, Calif., and St. Paul, Minn., the latter of which is where Mulkey attended seventh-grade and up.
“When you live in the Midwest, it’s hard to shake,” Landry said.
The two have been impressed with the “crackerjack crew,” Mulkey said.
“They have a passion for filmmaking that’s refreshing,” Landry said.
Mulkey said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of the local teenagers who served as extras when shooting a track meet scene at the football field on Oliphant Street.
“I talked to a ton of them and they were so great, they looked great and were excited about it,” despite the cold weather that day, he said.
Mulkey and Landry used a break in the filming schedule last week to fly back to L.A. do Mulkey could film his recurring role in “Saving Grace,” which stars Holly Hunter.
Landry will produce a version of A Christmas Carol next and Mulkey has a role as a singer-songwriter before producing a NASCAR film called Whiskey Beginnings.
Collapse continues shooting this week and the downtown may see some zombies this weekend.