Interview – ‘The Stolen Valley’ star Allee Sutton Hethcoat about the excitement of her characters bold opening scene

A Navajo girl (Briza Covarrubias) and an outlaw (Allee Sutton Hethcoat) rob a pawn shop and, in order to reach Alta Valley, must outrun the men tracking them down.

With The Stolen Valley launching on various VOD platforms in Australian on April 17, Nick L’Barrow had the chance to chat with the film’s star Allee Sutton Hethcoat about the confidence she’s grown over her career, and her character’s awesome introduction to the film!

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: I can’t believe it’s 5:30am there! I would cry!

Nick: Don’t even worry, I was up at 4am to chat with Briza [Covarrubias] yesterday, and it was absolutely worth it! She was a fantastic chat!

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: I’m incredibly lucky that I got to work with Briza. We spent a lot of time together, we did a lot of tough stuff together. And if I had been stuck with somebody who I didn’t like, it would have been a long project!

Nick: It’s so funny you mention that because I’m so curious to find out about how you both collaborated on these characters together. Because there is a far bit of tension between Maddy and Lupe to begin with. So how did you both find that chemistry for both the tension and the friendship?

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: Briza and I got on from go. We met out at Utah, just before we started shooting, and we hit it off immediately! The first day, we hung out for like four hours, talking, immediately cutting up. And I thought, “Okay, we’re going to be fine!” We were going to have a good time!

I’ll also say, and she might have said this to you, she’s my Gemini sister! She’s very much into astrology, you know? And that really worked in our favour because we’re both a little bit short tempered. We’re both fiery, have strong personalities. But that goes both ways, right? Like, we fight hard, we love hard!

And she is an incredible performer. I mean, she’s amazing in the movie, she really is. That’s because she preps extensively and she shows up every day and is ready to commit 110%. We have really similar working styles. We both want to rehearse a lot, discuss things a lot. We wanted to talk about each other’s character and know where they were tracking, and what that meant when we came together.

It was a really collaborative experience. I’ve learned a lot working with her. And I found that for me, I never really talk about things. Briza is very emotionally intelligent. She wanted to talk about my character as much as hers, and I learned the importance of that because she was so open. I think it really helped both of us.

Every time we get a comment about the chemistry, I really love that because we worked really hard at it, and I think that her openness is what really blew the door wide open for that to happen.

Nick: You can definitely see that on screen! I want to talk about Maddy’s introduction to the film, because it’s bold! It’s a great introduction to the character and who Maddy is. I’m curious to find out what impact a strong introduction to a character like this can do for you as an actor, and what did the filming of that scene look like?

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: It is incredible that you caught on to that because that was actually the very first night I shot! As much as we could, we shot the film chronologically, which I also think helped Briza and I as our friendship bond developed in real life, we were able to do that on screen.

And the same thing happened with Maddy. I experienced her arc and her journey in real time. And opening in that environment was incredible because as you can see, she is not my every day! But getting out there in the gorgeous vistas of Southern Utah, being at that actual rodeo, getting the wardrobe for the first time. Hair, makeup, hat, chaps, buckle, holster, everything, you start feeling everything coming together and this energy building.

Korie Ford was my double for that bronc ride. She’s a champion bronc rider. She’s like a real life Maddy Monroe! And meeting her on the first night was super informative for me. I learned about rodeo culture, the women in rodeo culture, what it’s like, and that was incredibly valuable from the get go for Maddy.

There was a lot I was nervous to do in the film, and that very first night they were like, “You’re going to sit on this bronc and shoot the close ups”! And I had to be so careful not to hit the bronc with my spurs. You want to sit in a certain way. You have to be very calm. You need to be very quiet. I was sweating bullets! When we were filming, it started banging it’s body against the gate with my leg there!

But having the bronc under you, being in the wardrobe, and actually doing that in the moment and being in that experience was like, “If I can do this, I can do anything they’re going to ask me to do for the rest of the shoot”.

And watching Korie, she was amazing. She did that live bronc ride that they filmed. We look so much alike, it’s crazy! And they cut it together so seamlessly. I was amazed the first time I saw it, and then they got me on a mechanical bull for my close ups! And I felt pretty proud just riding that mechanical bull [laughs]!

Nick: As much as this is a Western film, with those big set pieces, it’s also a very personal story that explores themes like racism, sexism, societal power dynamics, Indigenous cultures. How important is it to you to highlight and explore these themes in your work?

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: I want to look for purpose and meaning in the work that I do. And I think that manifests in different ways, because I really enjoy comedy. It has value because people need levity and just reprieve from life, and you can find that in different ways.

But this particularly offered so much about things we need to talk about how we need to treat one another. I think the way this film does it is so approachable for people. It’s done in a way that I hadn’t seen before, and that really resonated with me. I think that helps. It lets people drop their guard a little more.

It’s beautiful writing, and seeing and hearing from these communities that have watched it, and knowing how they feel about it is the best part of this whole experience. Because that’s the most important part, did they like it? Did we represent you? Did you feel we did you justice in this? That’s definitely been the best part of all of this.

Life is heavy. It can be hard enough without having to go and pick entertainment that’s also difficult. More power to the people that can do that. But I love that this is entertaining at times. It’s comedic and light. It’s action packed. It’s everything all in one. It’s a fun watch!

Nick: I want to go back a little bit in your career. Can you take me back to 2011, to your first role in The Vampire Diaries. What was that first day on set like? And, what has been the one thing that’s been either consistent or has changed the most for you to become the actor you are today?

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: That’s a really great question! And to be honest, I’ve not really thought that much about it. I think that I’ve always tried to approach acting with a purity and earnestness of wanting to learn. I think that’s maybe something that’s stayed the same.

But I think that since then, I’ve that’s okay to have fun doing it! It’s okay for you to have to be like a suffering artist. Just look around and enjoy the moment. When you do that, you learn a lot more when you’re open to the moment and the experience, looking for something good to come of it. I think you become a better performer. You’re more able to learn from those around you.

I was thrilled to do The Vampire Diaries, but the whole time I was shell-shocked. I didn’t want to mess it up, it was so big! I was just so shocked by the whole experience. I still did when I was in Utah. I was like that with this movie! I kept being like, “This is a real movie”! I’m glad I haven’t lost that earnestness. But maybe I’ve settled in my confidence and let myself feel like I deserve to belong there.

Nick: Without spoiling anything major, the ending of The Stolen Valley alludes to the fact that Maddy and Lupe could go on more adventures together. Is their story something you’re interested in continuing?

Allee Sutton Hethcoat: Oh, absolutely! Our director and writer Jesse Edwards, I’m relentless to him. “There’s a sequel, right?” I said that when we first read the script. And then when we started showing the film, and doing these Q+A’s and people asked when the sequel is coming! All he has to do is make the call, and I’m there. I’d love nothing more than to be reunited with this team and continue the story.

Thank you so much to Allee for her time, and to Lightbulb Films and Walkden Publicity for organising the interview. The Stolen Valley is available on various VOD platforms from April 17.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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