A mother-daughter creative partnership is rare in cinema. Marie Laurin and Clara Gabrielle are taking Hollywood by storm with their new psychological horror movie, Uncanny.
After a life shattering trauma, an art therapist seeks to escape her past by moving to new surroundings. As she attempts to focus on her fledgling career as a painter, she soon realizes you can’t outrun memories. Amidst a world where reality has become indistinguishable from make-believe, a symbiotic relationship with an enigmatic child emerges. Will that friendship create an opportunity for Zouzou to redeem herself – or be the force that pushes her over the edge?
Clara Gabrielle is an American – Canadian filmmaker who has been performing ever since she was cast in the role of Julia Roberts’ baby boy in STEEL MAGNOLIAS. To conform to a world of make believe, her gender was kept secret from director Herbert Ross by the cast and crew.
Throughout her childhood, Clara studied at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and, as a teen, honed her acting skills by majoring in drama at the distinguished Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACHSA). Upon graduation, Clara played the lead in three award winning shorts, COONS, GUIGNOL and THE YELLOW RIBBON.
After portraying an underage sex trafficking victim in the Off-Broadway production of the social justice play INNOCENT FLESH, Clara pivoted her career trajectory to pursue storytelling from behind the camera.
In 2017, she teamed with award-winning Brazilian director, Stefania Vasconcellos to co-write THE FRENCH TEACHER, a feature film that went on to win Best Artistic Direction at the Edera Film Festival in Italy.
According to her mother, Clara is an aspiring keyboard warrior. Marie Laurin is originally from Quebec City, Marie’s passion for the arts manifested at an early age when she convinced her family to binge on Jello Pudding in order to purchase a mail order puppet theater. Despite the woefully inadequate production values of that early foray into show business, she set out for Hollywood in the 80’s where she fine tuned her propensity for drama, under the guidance of highly regarded acting coach Peggy Feury. Marie quickly found herself in demand, cast alongside the likes of luminaries such as John Ritter, Steve Railsback, Klaus Kinski, Burt Reynolds and, memorably, Harry Dean Stanton in a David Lynch production. After a flurry of roles, Marie, now a single mother in search of a reliable payday, took a break from acting and spent the next twenty years as a mental health counselor for abused children. Her experience in the trenches gave her a new outlook on humanity and a heart full of stories to share. In 2015, upon returning from her father’s funeral, she was struck by a moment of truth, resigned from her work and enrolled in a filmmaking master class under the guidance of James Franco. The goal was for students to write, produce, direct and act in a feature film taking place in a 19th century asylum. The result was Dark Hours: Roxana.
In 2017, under the direction of Brazilian filmmaker Stefania Vasconcellos, Marie played the lead in the French Teacher which was awarded Best Artistic Direction in 2019, at the Edera film festival, Italy. In 2018, Marie and her daughter Clara Gabrielle teamed up to write The Uncanny, a personal story inspired by Marie’s passion for anything old and dusty, years of work in residential treatment facilities and the quirky neighborhoods she’s lived in. Over buckets of spilled blood, sweat and tears, this supernatural psychological thriller has finally spread its otherworldly wings, while garnering awards in International film festivals. In between travels, Marie still enjoys putting up puppet shows, to the annoyance of her relatives.
Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?
Marie: I was an only child and a little bit of an outcast, a loner marching to my own drum. At an early age, I created an imaginary world which filled the void I lived in. My favorite childhood memory involved visits to Grand-Maman who lived in La Malbaie, an enchanting village located in Charlevoix county. Her closet was an endless source of inspiration where I found faded frocks to dress up for shows. She was my biggest fan. Once I moved to Los Angeles and started interacting in drama classes with other kindred spirits, I finally found my tribe and thrived.
Clara: The world used to come down so much harder on people who were different. It still can and does but the overall messaging is very different. There’s been so many societal shifts, even within the last few years – that really give people the space to be themselves and for conversations to occur. It’s been the most beautiful thing to witness – and to be a part of.
Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?
Marie: For years, I sat on that gym bench at school, feeling dejected and humiliated since no one wanted to pick me up on their team. As a result, I hate sports and having to watch a football game equates to getting a root canal. Like everyone else, I got my heart broken many times but that is part of growing up. I got through two divorces and as a single mom, I financially struggled. There were months where I had to choose which utility bill would get interrupted but I have no regrets… what does not break you makes you stronger.
Clara: I vividly remember having utility cut off when I was growing up – having to use restrooms at Target or fast-food places!
In the middle of first grade, I made an abrupt transition from this sort of avant-garde program where the curriculum was very different, to a regular public school. I was a newcomer not having been taught to read yet, so everyday, I was taken aside from the rest of my classmates to attend special ed. This led to a lot of bullying that took years to recover from. Even after I started to surpass my classmates academically, my confidence had taken a beating. To be honest, my mental health was my biggest challenge after that, and is something I still contend with. It’s vindicating to see bullying in schools finally getting the attention it deserves – I know how detrimental it can be to a child’s development.
What do people usually not know about you?
Marie: I am one of the original Scream Queens. If you’re lucky, you might find my trading card up for bid on eBay. Off screen, I constantly stress and ruminate over everything. My mind is like a pinball machine and there are plenty of times where I can’t stand my own company and feel a bit overwhelmed by my neuroses….oh and I am addicted to Peep
Clara: I don’t usually tell people this because it used to embarrass me when I was younger, but I was Julia Robert’s baby boy in Steel Magnolia’s – and it was a big secret on set that I was actually a girl. Eventually everyone found out but the director, Herbert Ross, and it was a concerted effort amongst the entire cast and crew to maintain the illusion!
What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?
Marie: I am resilient, fearless and stubborn to the point of foolishness. From working with abused children, I learned to stand my ground and not be a push over.
Clara: Hollywood has the reputation of being shallow and superficial, both the people and the projects that come out of it. That’s not something I’ve ever related to – authenticity has always been one of the most important things to me – and I couldn’t hide that if I tried.
What are your upcoming major events – Unforgettable Moments or products/services that you want to promote/inform?
We are thrilled to announce that our feature The Uncanny will screen at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, October 1-9 and then at The Show Low Film Festival in Arizona, October 20-22.
The Uncanny had its world premiere at the Paris International Film Festival and we have been traveling ever since, gathering awards, the latest being Best Female Protagonist at the Nevada Women’s Film Festival. Our journey’s fondest memories are the interactions with the public and finding out how The Uncanny touched so many audience members.
What are your food preferences and physical attributes?
Marie : I have a weakness for the “all you can eat sushi” restaurants. I can get a bit out of control with the sashimi. I also have a fondness for a dessert I bake on special occasions. It is called a Pavlova, which is a huge meringue filled with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream… if you could eat a cloud, that would be it.
Clara: I used to have a stomach of steel and never had to worry about what I ate – so I was a big foodie. I still love food – but I’m much more cautious of what I eat now, and how it makes me feel. I eat the same thing everyday after my coffee – avocado, cayenne pepper and goat cheese on Wasa crackers. I never get tired of it.
Your love life, relationships and family?
Marie: I have been with a wonderfully cantankerous, brilliant man for the last fifteen years, Mike Schulte. He used to be an editor back in the 90s and I had to drag him out of semi retirement to work on The Uncanny. I must have been incredibly annoying, hanging out in his man cave, relentlessly peering over his neck, being a backseat driver even if I was clueless about the editing process. I also twisted his arm and forced him to make his screen debut as my “hook up” in The Uncanny. A shameless casting coup but he was quite the scene stealer.
Clara: Between making The Uncanny and the pandemic, my love life was relegated to the back burner!
What expert advice would you like to give?
Marie: I am not an expert on anything in particular, I have still so much to learn about life. But since you asked, my little piece of advice is whatever you dreamed about when you were a kid is still very much there. You might have buried it deep inside while life was happening but acknowledge that five-year-old and help him reach that dream.
Clara: The best advice I was ever given was not to wait on anyone’s permission. You have to write your own slip.