There are actors and actresses that upon first exposure, one can immediately recognize that these certain few have an indefinable charisma and allure about them. Audiences are immediately drawn to their qualities that go beyond physical appearance. It is one such actress that this tapeunit.com columnist had the pleasure of interviewing about the many projects she has been involved with. The wonderfully candid and enthusiastically outspoken actress, Augie Duke spent a morning at the Universal Hilton talking about her career up to this point.
This reporter first noticed Augie Duke in the riotous horror comedy, Bad Kids go to Hell. Duke’s performance was an eye opening experiencing among all of the fine performances the film displayed throughout its running time. Augie portrayed bad girl, Veronica Harmon with enthusiastic conviction and with such an edge that would slice the most microscopic of razor blades that I dare say her performance arguably stole the film. Augie Duke’s character in the film turns out to be the subtle heroine and that adds to the fine and complex interpretation Duke accomplished with what is essentially a breakout role. Stepping out of the fantasy that was filmed for Bad Kids go to Hell, the first item that one notes about Augie Duke is how petite she truly is! It is truly a surprise and a testament to her acting abilities that she appeared so much larger than life in the film. Augie Duke is wonderfully cute in the classic sense of the word and there can be no doubt that she can capture anyone’s heart from her appearance alone.
Augie Duke began the interview with an overview of her background and interest in becoming an actress. Augie smiles and begins, “I have a divorced family as a lot of people in L.A. do. One side is in the film business and the other side are doctors. I grew up in an eclectic family with lots of brothers and my Mom was an actress in the 70’s and made a lot of commercials.” It was at this point that this columnist knew I would be in for a most memorable and hilarious morning with this wonderfully irreverent actress. Duke continues, “my Mom’s Dad produced the worst movies ever made. One of them was Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla! I basically was raised in this crazy family and on my Dad’s side-doctors. I took interest in acting when I was a kid talking to myself a lot. I would take my dolls, talk to them and act out whole scenes. I knew right away that I was a weirdo and I needed to do something about this!” Augie expands her comments, “I really took it seriously after high school. It is not easy and you have to get focused. I started getting into commercials first, because I knew I needed to slowly maneuver myself into audition land. Here is the funny part, I was cut out of every commercial I did except for one which was for AGF Insurance which was French insurance company! I got paid for them, but in commercials they usually cast about ten people and a lot of them get cut out-which is sh***y! I finally started getting into the acting world and booked my first movie which was A Lure: Teen Fight Club which is a horror movie and that got my confidence up and I thought I could do this.”
Augie Duke is remarkably candid about acting and the ability to secure roles. Is there a method to being noticed or a particular ladder you have to climb? She reveals, “first off it is luck to get booked on things. Sometimes it is meeting a person at the right time! I think Jennifer Lawrence even said that when she won the Oscar. It’s that and really taking your craft and yourself seriously.” This lead to her discussing her scene stealing role in Bad Kids go to Hell. Duke comments, “Veronica is far from who I am, but even Meryl Streep said that you can use what is in you somewhere. I can take that anger that I have had growing up and use that! I know that girl, Veronica and I can say she is a vulnerable and insecure girl.” Her candid responses continue, “it is a vulnerable place being an actress! You are out there and you are the one everybody is watching. They are not going to blame the director or the writer. They are going to blame the actor when you get right down to it! They don’t know what happened on the set and they don’t know if that is what the director told you to do. It is a complicated place to be!”
Augie Duke was cast in Bad Kids go to Hell with the help of the social network, Facebook. Augie explains, “so Chanel Ryan randomly knew somebody I knew. She saw a picture of me on Facebook and she called and asked me if I wanted to read for this movie she was doing. I did a taped audition because they were all in Texas. The director, Matthew Spradlin loved me and said I was the one. The producers wanted a bigger name, but I know for a fact that Matthew fought for me in the beginning, so I put myself on tape for a second time for a different scene so they could took a chance on me which was really cool and so that’s how I was cast.”
The interview began to further shed light not only on the character Augie Duke portrayed, but Duke’s wonderfully eccentric personality. Duke laughs at herself and displayed a wonderful infectious energy throughout the morning and that was especially evident as both Augie and this interviewer were doubling over with laughter when discussing the differences between her look in the film and her everyday appearance and the illusion that she appeared quite tall in the film. Augie exclaims, “it’s called the Napoleon complex-when you are small you really want to be f*****g loud! She’s little, but she’s crazy!” After much laughter, Augie Duke discussed the back story of her character, Veronica Harmon. Augie reveals, “they didn’t really have a back story and I made that up on my own. My brother was Gothic in high school so I really looked to him. He was really introverted and didn’t have many friends. He was different and a little off. I kind of took that from my brother. I can use that and I felt like she always wanted to be liked and wanted. She couldn’t quite get there. I felt like she wasn’t the cutest girl growing up.”
Augie Duke continues her climb as an actress to be noticed and celebrated. One of her current projects is the independent film called, The Badger Game. Duke reveals her role and the story of the film. Augie speaks, “the story is that I fall in love with this guy and I find out he is married with kids. I find out he is having sex with a lot of women. I go to the restaurant and go to where he was having sex with this other girl and decide to team-up and do something to him.” She continues, “I get my brother involved who is crazy and we decide to kidnap him because we are going to get his money. I get my friend involved to use as bait and everything becomes a mess! It is a dark comedy.”
One of the most remarkable traits Augie displayed was the fact that she unabashedly champions the independent film scene and she is very quick to credit those around her in the industry. Duke enthusiastically waxes about The Badger Game, “it has been such a cool rough indie film where everybody was such a team and I am just happy to be part of this. The cast is awesome. We’ve got Jillian Lee, Patrick Cronen, Sam Boxleitner and Sasha Higgins and they are newbies, but they’ve done indie films before. The directors are two new guys. Tom Zambeck and Joshua Wagner kind of team-up and direct at the same time.”
For those who have seen Bad Kids go to Hell, there is news of a sequel that is planned which should excite fans of the film. Duke confirms the news, “I think they are doing the comic book right now. I think Matthew Spradlin is writing the script. I don’t know what they are going to do, but maybe it is going to be similar to the first one with more girls or more guys.”
As more and more people are exposed to Bad Kids go to Hell, there is that fascinating and unpredictable phenomenon that the film may be part of and that is that the movie is rapidly becoming a cult film. Augie comments, “I am getting such nice fan email. It has gotten in the hands of so many people all over world. People in Germany and people in Australia have emailed me and that is so cool!”
Above all, Augie Duke is one of the most honest and disarming actresses that this columnist has had the pleasure of interviewing. She has many admirable traits that one hopes the business will not alter and her parting comments gave me the most insight into who Augie Duke truly is and Duke explains, “I want to work with anybody that makes a dope film that’s true, honest and real! There is not just one director or actor that I am in love with because I appreciate them all. I appreciate art, I love a good film, I appreciate beautiful shots and I love scoring in films which changes the whole concept and depth of a film.” Words that truly reflect the rare depth and beauty this actress exhibits in her work and her life!