Elisha Cuthbert Returns to Horror in ‘The Cellar’: ‘I’m Embracing’ the Mom Role

Elisha Cuthbert Returns Horror The Cellar Mind Blowing

Elisha Cuthbert has returned to horror — but now as a mom. The 24 alum plays Keira Woods in The Cellar, who desperately tries to save her daughter who mysteriously vanishes in the basement of their new home.

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“There was a lot of reasons why I took the role,” Cuthbert, 39, exclusively told Us Weekly. “But I think the No. 1 reason was sort of where I’m at. You know, as an actor in my life with my own children, I have two children and reading the script and feeling like I could relate to the journey that Keira takes and that she would sort of go to the ends of the earth and put herself in any sort of danger to save her children. And so I really thought, wow, this is something really interesting to play with because a lot of horror films you’re kind of racking your brain going, ‘Why are these characters going into these dangerous situations?’ But for me, I felt like there was something so honest about the fact that, of course, this woman would do anything and put herself into any situation to save her daughter.”

Cuthbert shares two children with her husband, former hockey player Dion Phaneuf, whom she married in 2013. Her role as the matriarch of the family in the Brendan Muldowney-directed film is a new concept for the actress.

Elisha Cuthbert Returns Horror The Cellar Mind Blowing

“It’s great. I think you bring something to the table that I’ve never gotten to bring to the table prior to having children. I’m embracing it. I love it. I love that I’m here still doing it and working and getting to play new versions of myself in that way,” she explained. “You could do it without children too, and kind of find ways to get there as an actor, but I mean, to have children, it is remarkable because it does shape things and change things for you.”

Cuthbert is used to starring in thrillers, however. Before The Cellar, she appeared in 2005’s House of Wax and 2007’s Captivity.

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“I do like horror films, but I’m much better at making them than I am watching them. I will say for people that are nervous about watching horror films, this is a really great middle ground where this isn’t really gore,” she told Us. “There’s a sophistication to this. There’s a psychological side to it where it builds. It’s gonna scare you, but I think there’s something really beautiful about the film also.”

Elisha Cuthbert Returns Horror The Cellar Mind Blowing

The ending took the Happy Endings alum by surprise. “The one thing that really blew my mind was sort of where it takes you and how it ends. It’s mind-blowing for me because I didn’t see it coming,” she explained. “As a movie lover, I thought this is so great. It got me. Nothing gets me. That was really compelling, for sure. And I think a lot of people will find it interesting. I think people are either gonna like the idea of that ending or not. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what people think of it.”

The cast, which also includes Eoin Macken, Abby Fitz and Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady, actually resided in the haunted mansion that the fictional Woods family moved into in the film. “That added an element of sort of creepiness,” Cuthbert told Us. “Also being able to film in the Irish countryside where they have that sort of misty rain and the atmosphere definitely set the tone for the film, but when you’re making them, is it scary? Not necessarily, but physically demanding and intense. I’ll say that. So going into House of Wax, going into Captivity, going into now The Cellar, all those experiences were all very, very intense.”

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The location proved to be a relaxing change for the actress, but maybe not exactly like a rom-com. “I did enjoy the peace and quiet. I’m not gonna lie. It really felt like the movie The Holiday. I felt like Cameron Diaz. I just didn’t have Jude Law knocking at my door,” she joked, “which was fine.”

The Cellar made its world premiere at SXSW. It’s currently streaming on Shudder and in theaters.

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