October 24, 2014 / 12:47 AM / 3 years ago

From 'Bates Motel' to 'Ouija,' Olivia Cooke finds breakout in horror

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sitting in a palm-tree lined cemetery in Hollywood promoting her latest film, “Bates Motel” actress Olivia Cooke says the impact of working in the horror genre has left her emotions on edge.

Cast member Olivia Cooke poses at a press line for "Bates Motel" during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, California July 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“Recently I did a scene on ‘Bates’ where I just cried, and the director was able to tap into something where my emotions just came flooding out,” the British actress said in her native Manchester accent.

“My emotions are very readily available, which is weird. I’ve never had that, but that means I can cry at anything now. I’ll cry at toilet paper.”

Cooke, 20, may be best known for her role as Emma, a teen cystic fibrosis sufferer in A&E television’s hit horror drama “Bates Motel,” but she’s capping off 2014 with her third horror movie, “Ouija,” in theaters on Friday, just ahead of Halloween festivities on Oct. 31.

Cooke plays teenager Laine, who decides to seek answers from the spirit world with the help of an Ouija board after her best friend dies mysteriously, but Laine summons up something far more sinister in the process.

“Ouija,” co-produced and distributed by Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, was made for $5 million, according to IMDB.com. It is also produced by Hasbro Inc, the makers of the Ouija board game.

The film is expected to top the U.S. box office this weekend with $28 million, according to Boxoffice.com.

The film follows Cooke’s roles in “The Quiet Ones,” where she played a disturbed young woman haunted by a demon, and sci-fi horror “The Signal,” where a group of friends are abducted on a road trip.

“It’s just really strong female characters that I‘m drawn to, it doesn’t really matter what the genre is,” Cooke said.

“I don’t think I have taken horror to rise up the ranks of Hollywood, but I know people do - when I think of girls trying to rise up the ranks with horror, I always think of the hot naked girl that gets slashed first.”

As Emma on “Bates Motel,” Cooke said she has managed to showcase her acting range in the gritty drama that serves as a prequel inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”

“It’s quite psychological,” she said. “I just get to challenge myself and stretch my emotions. Emma, she’s not necessarily a psychotic or evil character, she’s very light.”

For her next role, Cooke found herself moving away from horror to explore a more intimate story, playing a cancer patient in the coming-of-age film “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.”

The actress said she found herself facing an unexpected challenge after shaving off her long auburn locks for the role.

“Ever since I’ve cut my hair, it’s harder going into auditions. It’s really bizarre, and I didn’t realize how much it relied on the way I looked,” she said.

“But I realized that it’s more about looks, and that’s quite a hard thing to deal with.”

Editing by Eric Kelsey and G Crosse

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