Hi everybody at reddit!

My latest movie, After The Fall, is available on December 12 on VOD and in select theaters. Victoria's helping me out. Looking forward to taking your questions.

Proof: http://imgur.com/GpPsxQv

EDIT: Thanks everyone for your amazing questions. You really did your research! I'm very impressed. And if you want to see a real thinking man's movie, check out After the Fall. And I appreciate you all. Thanks for chatting with me.

Comments: 104 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

jonemillard10 karma

Hi Vinessa,

Do you have any funny stories about filming Hocus Pocus?

Thank you!

VinessaShaw27 karma


The one story I have is when Dani (Thora's character) says "A virgin lit the black flame candle" - I could NOT stop laughing, because she kept pulling her witch's hat over her eyes, and couldn't see anything, and I was off-camera having to be, you know, so she could look at us off-camera. So that was one funny story.

Originally, my character Alison was supposed to go through the entire night fighting off the witches in her costume that was the 17th Century costume from her parent's party. So the costume designer, as well as myself, we were both thinking "This is impossible - how am I going to go through dirt, and climbing things, and falling, and scrambling away from the witches in this fancy dress?!" So thankfully, the producers were willing to change their ideas and have me change my clothes. So that's some behind-the-scenes trivia.

VinessaShaw30 karma

Another funny story - most people don't know that the black cat was MANY black cats. There were actually 100 cats that were with the animal wrangler, because a cat can apparently only learn one trick. A dog can learn many tricks, and remember them. A cat can only learn one. So all the things we had to do, there was a different cat for each trick! So if a cat had to jump on you, there was a cat trained to jump, if a cat had to sleep in your arms, the cat had to be trained to do that... we were laughing every time we had to learn a new cat's name. We don't even know who the real Binx was !

I apologize that there is no "haha" laugh out loud situation. Most of it is just interesting or fun.

jonemillard8 karma

What has been your oddest fan encounter?

VinessaShaw45 karma

Oddest fan encounter?

I think my oddest fan encounter's actually really interesting.

Back in the day, when Macaulay Culkin was a HOME ALONE phenomenon, I got invited to his HOME ALONE 2 wrap party by Michael Jackson, who was going to be hosting. And somehow, my agent told me, "This is MIchael Jackson's phone, he wants to personally invite you to something."

And as I went through this phone call, there were myriad assistants, people who were answering the phones, being transferred to him, and as I get on the phone with Michael Jackson, I'm like "Hi... is this Michael?" I was so awkward, how do I address him?

So he says "is this Vanessa?" and I say "Yeah, I'm kind of nervous," and he says "No, I'M the one who's nervous." and I was like, I lost it! I was like "That's crazy, how are YOU nervous?" and he laughed very shyly and so he said "You know" - I think he had seen HOCUS POCUS and really enjoyed that movie and was a huge fan! And I'm like This is crazy. I grew up listening to his music, and was one of HIS hugest fans, and the fact that he was MY fan just blew me out of the water.

So the wrap party didn't happen, because the L.A. Riots happened. So I never got to meet Michael in person. But that story is enough to tide me over.

therealbettyt7 karma

Hi Vinessa! I was lucky enough to see a preview of After the Fall and thought it was, and you were, terrific. I'm a long-time fan of Saar Klein's editing work as well (Thin Red Line, Almost Famous, etc.). What was it like working with a first-time director? And what was your favorite moment on set?

VinessaShaw7 karma

I think the best part of working with Saar is that he already understood how to shape a director's vision because of his background in editing. And he was very humble, and asked Wes Bentley and I for guidance at times because he'd never done this sort of thing before, so we had a lot of dialogue before getting in front of the cameras to execute a scene. So that helped a lot. We were able to hash it out beforehand, and really look at the characters closely, and create a backstory for Wes' character and mine as husband and wife. And I think that was all due to Saar's humility. Because you can easily be in that position, and feel, you know, the overwhelming responsibility of being a director and maybe take it out on the actors, or withhold information, many people react in very different ways on their first movie. And I was lucky enough that Saar laid it out, and was open to hearing what I felt would be important for a scene.

My favorite moment on the set was when - this was another great idea of Saar's - we had one day of us just swimming in the pool of our character's home, and surprisingly, that really worked in the respect that we were able to get to know each other very quickly. And if you're splashing water in someone's eye, it really makes you vulnerable, or if you're a kid and hanging out on a float alligator, it makes them feel like they know how to be brothers. It brings out your playful side, and that was a great mode to get into filming such a dark movie - an icebreaker, if you will, before the cameras really got rolling.

jasonmm19796 karma

Hey Vinessa! Big fan here :)

I actually just watched Cold in July. Pretty good movie!

I also watched an interview with you on Youtube where you were talking about how you would get nervous and have anxiety problems before auditioning. Have you gotten over that? Or do you still get uncomfortable at times?

Also - out of all the movies you've been in, which did you enjoy the most?


VinessaShaw13 karma

I am less nervous than I was when I first started out. But apparently people say that if you're nervous that means that you care. So I'll take that, haha.

This is a tough one. I've enjoyed so many, hmm.

I'd have to say EYES WIDE SHUT because it was the movie that transitioned me into a more mature actor. Before then, I didn't really understand how to delve deep into character, or to really do any backstory on a character? For me that experience (I think I've said this many times) but that experience really felt like doing a play and going to acting class at the same time, and then to have Kubrick tell you you're really good, and I can't wait to see where you'll go- seals the deal for me. And it's the reason why I'm still around. Otherwise, I think I would've done something different in school, and gone on to be a social worker or something. But it goes to show - if you have someone who cares about you - like how Kubrick cared for me - then you can have the courage and confidence to pursue your path. And of course my parents and loved ones supported me, but to have someone who really cared and wanted me to succeed made all the difference. And it wasn't too bad that it was Stanley Kubrick.

The_Collector46 karma

Hi Vinessa! Thank you for deciding to do an AMA.

My question is, how did you get in contact with Saar Klein, and how did After The Fall come about?

VinessaShaw9 karma

Actually, it's not that interesting of a story. I auditioned, and was in the running for the character. What's more interesting is what happened after that. I actually wrote a letter to Saar saying that he may be going in a different direction - because he was, he was thinking of using another actress - and I said in this letter all the reasons why he should hire me, and really told him how much I enjoyed his script. And interestingly, when we were in production, the first week, I asked Saar what he thought of my letter and he said "What letter?!" and apparently he never GOT that letter, but it goes to show that if you take initiative and have the courage to do something and extend yourself to a person you feel has talent, and feel you could work well together, it's worth a shot because maybe psychically he was able to read my intention of working with him.

NorbitGorbit5 karma

What was the food/craft service like on Eyes Wide Shut? Any weird actor requests for specific foods?

VinessaShaw13 karma


Um... that's a very interesting question.

At the time, most sandwiches in England had butter, then mayonnaise, then the rest of the meats that were included. The one time I ordered a tunafish sandwich, it had butter, mayonnaise, and then the tuna and lettuce, and I asked craft services "Could you do no butter please?" Because being American, it was unusual... and they looked at me, shocked and they said "that's not going to taste very good!" and I said "I'll take the risk" and apparently Tom Cruise overheard this and the next day, his chef made me and my mother (who was visiting) a special dish for us. And it was quite delicious, so I thanked him for being so thoughtful, and he proceeded to do that every day afterwards. I didn't mean to complain, but apparently he overheard, and there was this nice surprise every day afterward.

So that was nice.

opentheboxes5 karma

What is the strangest thing a director has ever asked you to do?

VinessaShaw20 karma


Um... let me think about this.

I did this movie called THE WEIGHT OF WATER. It was one of Kathryn Bigelow's movies. In the movie, I was playing a Norwegian immigrant in 1871, and one of the scenes called for me having to run out of my house in the middle of the night in only a nightgown. Now, this isn't a skimpy nightgown, thankfully, it was an 1871 nightgown, so there was a little bit of coverage, but not nearly the amount you'd need to stay warm.

So... we were shooting in Nova Scotia, which is in Canada, during the dead of winter, and I had no shoes, nor socks on. And it was below freezing, I'm not sure how much below freezing, but it was below freezing, and I had to run out in the middle of the night, and escape - I won't ruin the story, but escape - and I was in the middle of it, feeling really in the mood and very excited, but after a while, I realized I couldn't feel my feet, and I told the director and she said "Oh my god, we have to do something about that!" so they threw me into one of the set beds, which had real fur and real animal skins, and they threw hot water bottles with me, and even the producer got in the bed with me and blew on my feet because she realized if we didn't stop, I could've gotten frostbite. Kathryn apologized afterwards and said "I should've stopped you earlier" but again, when you're acting, there's a moment when you forget what you're experiencing and you feel like you're the character and you don't even feel cold until it's almost too late.

GetThoseNailBreakers5 karma

Hi Vinessa! Big fan! Thanks for doing an AMA!

What is your favorite movie you’ve done and why is it Ladybugs?

Also, is Liev Schreiber as handsome in person as he is onscreen?

VinessaShaw10 karma


You are hilarious.

I guess LADYBUGS is apparently my favorite movie, and I would have to say it was my FIRST movie. So therefore, I had to appreciate it greatly. That movie was really fun to do as well. I spent the whole summer with all these girls and Jonathan Brandis, it was like camp. We were all in one hotel wrecking havoc, I think it was the Hyatt in Downtown Denver. I celebrated my birthday on-set, we even got together at the end and created a rap for the wrap party. I wish the video was out somewhere! Each of us said something about our character in the wrap. It was so sweet - to end the wrap party with a rap.


ryansadler5 karma

What was your most interesting (weird/funny) moment working with Tom Cruise?

VinessaShaw9 karma

Well, there was a real funny moment when we were doing the scene where Domino first meets Bill, and I'm in that fur hat and fur coat. And people know in retrospect that Stanley Kubrick loved to do take after take after take after take, and at one point, we did 69 takes for one scene. So I don't know how many takes we were in doing this one particular entrance scene, but we're at this point very giddy and Tom started to make fun of my hat and my coat, and started doing a Russian dance, because it kind of looked like a Dr. Zhivago hat. So he started doing a Russian jig, which was hilarious, he would punctuate everything with a "HEY!" - and so it kept me laughing and also kept me warm too, because we were very cold on that street! Which, by the way, was a fake street, but we were outside nonetheless.

KillYourHeroesAndFly4 karma

Was there anything in your childhood that you feel you didn't get to experience because of working as a child actress? What was the best part of being a child actress?

VinessaShaw6 karma

Actually, there was one experience I recall where I was doing a network test, for an NBC TV show, Johnny Galeckie was going to be my brother on the show...on a Robert Wagner TV show, and my friend Michelle had asked me to come over and spend the night, it was a Friday. And my mom picked me up from school and said "You have a network test, and we have to go to Hollywood for that." And I was 14 at the time, maybe? And I kind of got really slumped over in the backseat, and my mom asked me what was wrong, and I said "I just really wanted to spend the night at Michelle's house" and my mom said "I'll take you to Michelle's, don't worry - but you have to choose between that or your TV test." And I ultimately went to the TV test. But it was a turning point in my life - it was almost at that point I turned back on my childhood and became a true professional, because I realized I had to sacrifice some fun for doing my work. Which, of course, is also fun too. But that was highly unusual for a child, I know I was a unique child, having to be in a position to make that kind of a decision. But again, the best part of being a child actress was being able to meet all the other child actors at the time and go travel the world - I saw New Zealand at the age of 16 for a TV pilot I did, I went to Europe, I've been to many exotic places where most people as a young kid would not have gone. And I've worked with all kinds of people who have really influenced my life, and I remember all of them and am grateful for them. And I'm able to do what I love because of it!


If you had to make a sandwich with peanut butter and vegetable what vegetable would you use?

VinessaShaw10 karma


Pikey74 karma

How are you today?

VinessaShaw7 karma

I'm doing GREAT! I'm drinking some peppermint tea right now. It's very cloudy out in LA, a rarity.

jonemillard4 karma

When you read the script for Side Effects were you shocked by all of the twists?

VinessaShaw7 karma


SIDE EFFECTS is one of the best scripts I've read, and as far as I know, had pretty much NO rewrites. Scott Burns is a major talent, and I think understands the depths of these characters very well, and I think it's great. It's a classic noir tale with all the twists and turns that any classic noir has. And I'm just surprised that somebody wanted to make it in this day & age. But now, there are more and more thrillers like this that are coming about, and I love it. I love the thriller genre. And I love the noir take on the thriller. I just saw... WHIPLASH, and even though that movie was about a musician, it's a classic thriller and I love that movies are taking that turn, because I don't know if anybody else feels this way, but it feels like thrillers were gone for a long time out of moviemaking, there was just plain old horror, but I'm liking that thrillers are coming back.

Eloquentdyslexic3 karma

Hi Vinessa, do you still keep in touch with Josh Hartnett? What's he like to work with?

VinessaShaw5 karma

I do not, sadly. But i have seen him since we worked together all those years ago. And he's still just the same. He's a nice guy from the Midwest. And I think he's really polite and very sweet. And at the time, he had a lot of movies that had come out, he was a big star at that time, but he never changed his demeanor, he was always a courteous, kind, soft-spoken dude. And actually, I introduced him to Mos Def, he said he didn't like much hiphop at that time, but I broke him in. Haha!

Ray_ofsunshine3 karma

Do you still use salt?

VinessaShaw5 karma

Hahah! Yes, any salt will do, not just Morton's. Maybe some nice Himalayan sea salt.

robinsky13 karma

What was it like working on Hocus Pocus?

VinessaShaw12 karma

HOCUS POCUS was the second movie I had ever done. I was 16, and had the best time. I grew up watching Disney movies - Julie Andrews movies, Hayley Mills movies - and this was like a dream come true. And I had nothing but fun every single day I was onset. I seriously enjoyed every minute of it. Thora and Amri were like my best buds on that movie. And the director, Kenny Ortega, was like, just imagine your favorite teacher in school or, you know, your favorite uncle that showed you magic tricks - he actually created the mood by which we navigated through that film. So we were super-excited and super-scared - it was a magical story that we as the kid actors in the movie were experiencing, just as the kids we were playing. And it became a real magical experience in every sense of the word.

I even got to keep my earrings from HOCUS POCUS, and I got a box, a painted box at the end of filming - I think the other kids got it too- of a witch flying over a magical scenery, and it just really depicted by experience on that film.

beernerd3 karma

What was it like working with your mother in Coyote Summer?

VinessaShaw8 karma

Haha! Oh my god! Well, fortunately my mother wasn't directing me, otherwise I would've rebelled... and it would be a mess on-set. Don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate my mother, and felt like it was fun to do that one scene with her. I didn't really have to prepare too much because I was a cranky teenager who was annoyed with her mother. Of course, I've outgrown it NOW, haha!

Thereminz3 karma

what's something about yourself that no one knows?

VinessaShaw14 karma


No one knows that one of my cousins is Doris the Lunch Lady on the Simpsons. She was actually a script supervisor for the Simpsons, and apparently everyone on the show loved her voice and created the character Doris for her. She's passed away now, but she was my second cousin and was exactly like her character.

Ribelin20003 karma

I've heard that, aside from being lucky enough to have the privilege of working with Kubrick and Allen (not to mention Soderbergh and Bigelow), you also auditioned for the female lead in Scorsese's "Gangs of New York". Which other big movies have you been considered for in the past but didn't get?

VinessaShaw6 karma

Oh gosh...

There's a lot of them.

I auditioned for the original X-Men movie as Rogue, but of course wasn't right for it. I auditioned for Enchanted, and Amy Adams was amazing in that movie, hilarious and so sweet.

dandex2003 karma

Do you play any video games? If so, what games?

VinessaShaw9 karma

Oh my gosh. I'm like a granny, haha! The last video game I played was WORDS WITH FRIENDS but that's hardly a video game. The one video game that I believe would be my worst addiction would be Guitar Hero. Nobody ever give me that as a gift because you'll never see me again. I have a problem, I get obsessed.

Frajer3 karma

What was it like filming Side Effects?

VinessaShaw6 karma

It was the second time I worked with Steven Soderbergh. I worked with him as a kid on a film noir anthology called FALLEN ANGELS for Showtime. And this was before Showtime did any original programming, back in the 90's - pre-Showtime Showtime.

And I remember, back then, really understanding that Steven was very fast and kind of, really, expected you to keep up with him. He's very smart, and knew what he wanted, and so it saved me when I had to work for him many years later in SIDE EFFECTS, I knew I had to have all my lines memorized and really bring any ideas to the table and just jump in and go. So anyway, it isn't any surprise that Steven is now doing TV, because he really works well in that kind of fast-paced medium. And i think it brings a real sense of authenticity because you have to truly be in the moment and just go for it. So I enjoyed working with him. And I also liked working with Jude Law, who is really a well-trained actor, so we were able to do really long takes without any stopping, it was really fun to be able to go almost do the scenes like it was a play. And I really enjoyed delving into the characters.

[deleted]2 karma


VinessaShaw4 karma

I'd say both!

Tripleberst2 karma

I'm surprised that you didn't reference Ray Donovan. You're really good in that.

For my question - Do you watch Hocus Pocus every Halloween like I do? I've done it for probably 20 years now.

VinessaShaw7 karma

Haha! No, sadly. But when I have kids, I probably will.

AmblinFan262 karma

Hi Vinessa! I'm such a fan of yours and I still have a massive crush on you from your Ladybugs and Hocus Pocus days!

You got really risky when you did Ray Donovan last summer! Do you think you'll take more risks like that again on TV?

VinessaShaw5 karma

Which kind of risks do you mean, wink wink?

Anyway, yes. I hope to take more risks in every sense of the word. Ray was such a wonderfully written role. And I hope i can play more characters like her who are strong and smart and sexy all at the same time.

goodguyromney2 karma

What was it like to work With James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix on Two Lovers?

VinessaShaw7 karma

James Gray was amazing. I think he's one of the greatest directors of, you know, this generation. He really knows how to write story and character well. And he's hilarious too. He can name any director - if you name ANY movie before the year 1990, he can name the director. Talk about strange talents, but he's pretty dead-on. And he's a classic cinephile. He really loves movies and loves actors too.

Joaquin was - people who know him know he's a method actor, so mostly the person I was dealing with was Leonard. So I thinK I have yet to really know Joaquin for who he is! But Leonard was very sweet.

Cheatahh2 karma

Who do you think is gonna win the super bowl?

VinessaShaw5 karma

Yikes! Who are the teams?!!

kdk12k2k122 karma

Hi Vinessa! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley’s last film - and a very powerful one at that. It seems like that would be a very treasured memory of a very special time.

Could you tell us how you got the role of Domino? And possibly, how was your experience working with Stanley?

VinessaShaw9 karma

Thanks for that question. Actually, this particular moment in time, working with Stanley, was a very impactful one. I truly learned so much from this legendary filmmaker. So much so that I decided to quit school and really do acting for real. At that point, I was in college, and was thinking maybe I'd find something else to do with my life - I didn't know whether acting would be profitable, nor something that I'd want to do the rest of my life, and working with him, he really encouraged me to continue to do so, and he couldn't wait to see me grow as an actor. So as you can imagine, it influenced me greatly, and I continued acting and continue to do so to this day.

I was in school at the time, and drove an hour and a half to LA to audition. At that time, the casting director had no idea what the film was about, and actually was embarrassed about being unable to give me any direction. Stanley was very secretive about his movies - in fact, I think he was the first director to not allow any scripts to be released before someone was heavily involved in the movie - so here I am, going in, with an actual fake scene (it turns out) that is not anything anywhere near what was in the movie that I ended up doing, and the casting director was Denise Chamian, she just looked at me, I looked at her, we shrugged our shoulders and said "I guess that's good" - we had no idea what he was looking for or not. And then I learned that all information on the movie was being withheld from her. So it was very difficult to know whether or not I did well. And literally, I think, maybe a month later, during finals, I was asleep cuz I'd stayed up all night for my last final - it was around 10 AM - and my mom called me in my dorm room, and said " you got the part" and I was half asleep so I said "Great" and went back to sleep. And then at my official morning, probably 2 hours later, I woke up and wondered if it was a dream. And it wasn't, and actually was one of the most life-changing experiences I had ever had - it came true.

[deleted]1 karma

Have you ever read Misquoting Jesus by Dr. Bart Ehrman - (it's a great read)?

VinessaShaw3 karma

I have not. I will check it out. Thanks!

duckmunch1 karma

Hi Vinessa. I just wanted to say that you were my first crush. Ladybugs stayed on repeat at my house. Loved you in The Hills Have Eyes. Uhhh, I guess I need to ask a question..... Do people ever confuse you with Ali Larter?

VinessaShaw3 karma

Haha! Uh... no, they don't. However, I have known Ali over the years, since we were about 18 years old.

Perhaps it's because we have similar bone structure? She's a very nice, nice girl.

juicycunts1 karma

40 Days and 40 Nights is probably one of my favorite romantic comedies. Any good stories working with Josh Hartnett or Shannyn Sossamon?

VinessaShaw4 karma

Well, I already mentioned about Josh... but we all were in Canada, filming that movie, even though it takes place in San Fran. And all the cast, after we were done shooting, would have a dance party - either in Shannyn or Josh's room at the hotel. We all had, like really great music playing, because as many people may know, subsequently (and maybe during the time) Shannyn is a DJ, so we would just dance and dance until the wee hours of the morning. I think Shannyn was the cutest DJ i ever met, a sweet little pixie-like DJ. She had the best music too!

mazzzley1 karma

Hi Vinessa! Thanks for doing this AMA! My question is do you have an acting ritual you do before getting in front of the camera? Something to calm the nerves?

Thanks a lot! :)

VinessaShaw6 karma

Well, I practice Buddhism, and that certainly helps to calm me down. And I feel like working out consistently helps as well. And maybe singing in the car is pretty good too, especially if it's a song you can sing really loudly, haha!

ajleeispurty1 karma

Vinessa, you're one of those actors who is always the best thing about the movies they're in. You're a professional scene-stealer. Thanks so much for doing this AMA.

Two Lovers is one of my top five favourite movies of all-time. It's full of so many perfect tiny moments and details.

What are your thoughts on the way the movie ends? Where do you think your character and Leonard would be today? Still together?

VinessaShaw3 karma

Thank you so much. TWO LOVERS is one of my favorite movies too. It's interesting you ask about the ending. When the film premiered at Cannes, there was a gathering of people afterwards, the premiere party, and there was a french woman talking to me, as well as an American woman, talking to me about the film and how they LOVED it, but when it came to the end, they had differing views- the American woman said "I can't believe this, what a TERRIBLE ending, he's such a two-timing ass! he doesn't deserve your character!" and the french lady raised her eyebrow and said "You must not get it, the movie is called TWO LOVERS!" and I just laughed, because it's exactly those two sentiments are a very American sentiment from an American woman and a french sentiment from a French woman - how two people can watch the same movie and have very different feelings about the ending.

I fall somewhere in the middle.

I feel that Leonard and Sandra are two lost souls who kind of crashed into each other, and I think she's a wounded bird, and so's he, and so if the story were about Sandra, you would see as many flaws in her as you do Leonard, but because it's about Leonard you just see his flaws and she's perfect. I don't know how they would end up after the movie is done, but I'm assuming they would have to go to a LOT of therapy, because she clearly has the role of the caretaker in the relationship, and he's pretty much a mess. But a beautiful mess at that.

Toomanylostpasswords0 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA Vinessa.

I would only like to know what you like to do in your free time, if you have any hobbies or what kinda of sports you might enjoy playing? :)

VinessaShaw7 karma

I love hiking, because in LA, the sun pretty much shines all the time (except for today, that is). And I love doing yoga. But my secret talent is hula-hooping! I actually won a talent contest in NYC with my sister, who is just as good as me. The judge finally just said "Can you guys just stop, because clearly you're the winners."