Exclusive Interview with Allison Crowe[June 2013]
By Steve Younis
Musical wonder-woman Allison Crowe, who made her Hollywood screen debut in "Man of Steel", spoke exclusively with the Superman Homepage about her experience filming her cameo appearance, her thoughts on the movie, and where you can hear her music.
Q: In your own words, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your music, your career, etc...?
A: I'm a singer-songwriter-musician - originally from Nanaimo, BC Canada, and now living in Corner Brook, NL. I've been doing this essentially since my 16th birthday! (I'm 31) Basically, I travel and play music for a living!
Q: You appear in "Man of Steel" during a bar scene, where you're in the background singing. How did this come about? Who contacted you?
A: Zack contacted us a few years ago - there was a possibility of my version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah being in Watchmen. Originally, it was in a scene with Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II on board the Owl Ship. Zack wanted their interaction and all to be obviously ridiculous, and not sexy. So, in the end he said my performance of the song was too beautiful for the scene! (which is pretty awesome in its own way) Next, there was also the possibility of having a song in Sucker Punch. Instead, they decided to have Emily Browning, who's in the movie, perform the music as well which was really cool. Then, a couple of years ago now, Zack asked me to do a song for Man of Steel - and actually physically be in the movie!
Q: What was your reaction when you found out you were going to actually be in the film?
A: If I remember correctly, I pretty much freaked out with excitement when I found out I was going to be in the film. I was SO EXCITED!! I've been able to relive the excitement multiple times because first you're told it's happening, then you film, and then you wait to learn if you've made "the edit"!
Q: You're singing the classic Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire". Who chose the song? Did you have a say in that decision-making process?
A: Zack knew he wanted a Johnny Cash song - and from the inception, that was the inspiration. From that point we went through the whole process - listening to all the songs he recorded, and discussing things by email and phone. Listening to other classics, and lesser known songs, and, Hurt, the Trent Reznor song which Johnny Cash covered... and, through this musical exploration, and the scene ideas and setting in the deep, north, woods, it all combined to confirm Zack's original idea, and, so he decided on Ring of Fire as the ideal choice. The next steps were figuring out which was the right instrument, (piano or guitar, we chose guitar), and picking from different versions of the song I recorded on guitar. It was a lot of fun!
I record in my home, so we were able to simply send audio files back-and-forth and decide from there - from Newfoundland to Australia and Hollywood or wherever people were at the time. Later, when it was near time for filming, I flew to Canada's west coast and recorded a version of the song at Turtle Studios in White Rock, BC - with my good friend Larry Anschell at the board. Larry's originally from just across the border, in the US Pacific Northwest, and he's recorded Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and so many other PNW greats.
Q: The bar scene is filmed at the Cassidy Inn - an historic miners-to-bikers bar located on Vancouver Island, just about ten minutes drive south of where you were born. Is the Cassidy Inn a place you were familiar with or a place you've frequented before?
A: I'd actually never been inside the Cassidy Inn before "Man of Steel" filming there - but I have been past it more times than you could ever count! :) It's a pretty tough place - and the movie scene inside the bar-room is very realistic to its character, and to gigs I've had!
Q: How long did it take to film the scene you were involved in?
A: I'd guess that it took about 12 or 13 hours to shoot the scene I'm in - we shot it in one day, early morning to early evening. At the end of the shooting day, Zack and Debbie asked me to perform a song or two for everyone, and, so, we had a super-mini-concert before everyone went off to new locations!
A: Zack is fantastic! He was so much fun to work with, and so positive and energetic. Everyone there really was wonderful - and obviously so amazing at what they do! Anything they asked of me was clear and pretty natural overall. There were different shots and angles and things to cover.
For my part I basically just kind of got to be me - playing and singing in a bar - which is definitely something I'm familiar with! I remember at one point I crossed my eyes (I have a lazy eye, so , it happens sometimes... my other eye must have been focused on the microphone or something) during a shot - so, that was pretty funny...
There was one shot we did where I got to look at Henry, (that part you don't see in the film), and that made me pretty nervous at first, but it was SO COOL (actually come to think of it, that may have been roughly around the part where I crossed my eyes... haha)
He's beautiful. I mean, come on. Best day ever!
Q: What was it like filming with Henry Cavill? While you don't get to interact with him in the scene as such, did you get to spend much time with him on location?
I also at one point ducked out of the way of a microphone as though it could see me, thinking that somehow it was a camera. He laughed, so he's alright in my books.
Anyways all silliness aside, Henry is really a lovely man - down to earth and kind. He's able to make the superhuman so human which makes him just right for Clark Kent and Superman.
Q: You attended the World Premiere of "Man of Steel" in New York on June 10. Was that the first time you'd seen the movie? What did you think?
A: The New York premiere was the first time I'd seen the movie! I love it. It's epic, and exciting, and heart-wrenching all at the same time.
I've since seen it again here in Corner Brook NL with my friends - they cheered (quietly) when I came on screen [Laughs]. I then, sort of, um, made them wait to leave until my name came up in the credits... wouldn't you?!?! I'm not sure I should have admitted that.
A: Well, meeting you was pretty awesome! It's always nice to put a face to a name! I think that whole night was a giant highlight, really. I had a blast - and got to see Zack and Debbie and Henry again which was great, and met Hans Zimmer, (we took a selfie!), which, as a musician, was just so cool, and Michael Kelly and his wife Karyn and they are both just fantastic people and a lot of fun - and I got to say hi to Amy Adams and Kevin Costner which was pretty exciting too! So many highlights of that night, really. I got to take off my shoes and just have fun and celebrate!
Q: Will your version of "Ring of Fire" be available to purchase or listen to online?
A: [Adrian, Allison's manager steps in to answer this question]: The full recording of Allison's performance of the song is, of course, in the hands of Warner Bros. and partners. There's also more footage of that scene and the song performance by Allison that exists. Right now, we don't know if any of this will make it onto the "Man of Steel" DVD, Blu Ray or other editions. The possibility of an audio/music-release-only exists, too. The WB team, understandably, has so much on the go with "Man of Steel" right now, I'm hopeful we'll learn more about Ring of Fire once the movie is launched everywhere on the planet.
A: "Songbook" is basically a collection of songs, originals, and covers, of mine going all the way back to 2001 up until now! I think it's a great introduction to my music for anyone who has no idea who I am and has never heard of me, and for people who like to kind of have all the songs in one place!
[Adrian steps in once again with more details]:
I have fun with some of the conceptual and visual aspects of Allison's music releases. As often happens with us, serendipity plays a big part in the creative process. Over the past year or more, I'd been working with Alix Whitmire, our friend and graphic artist who's designed cover art and websites for Alley for 10 years now! The idea was to find an image for a series of music albums that could encompass more than 100, very diverse, songs Allison's recorded. Using some drawings of dolphins and lettering Allison had made for a lyrics book, Alix came up with a cover - and it waited for a time to release a set of songs. When the movie release was nearing, the way we know to celebrate is with music, and it all just crystallized. To Allison, music is music. It's visceral and soulful. Don't over-think it or over-talk it. I'm one who tends to analyze things, and, for me, this is a playlist of music that takes us on an epic journey. "Man of Steel" covers a lot of emotional and cerebral and physical as well as spiritual terrain, and, that's also how I feel about Allison's "Songbook". The number of songs coincides, too, with the 22 ancestral Houses of Krypton - including the Houses of El - Superman's family - and Zod - and that we picked up from the very cool graphic you pieced together for Superman Homepage - of the glyphs put out by WB.
Q: Were you a Superman fan before "Man of Steel"?
A: I got a ring from my Grandmother for my 16th birthday, and it's my birthstone and looks like the S glyph of Superman!
I've always been a superhero movie fan! I love movies. I just love them! I haven't read all the comics, but I always get so excited when the movies come out. I saw "Batman Begins" in the theatre probably 5 times (including one at IMAX).
(I also love horror movies, and Zack's 'Dawn of the Dead' - so the first time he contacted us I thought "NO WAY THAT IS AMAZING!!" - that scene where they are on the roof, targeting zombie versions of everybody is so wicked.)
(As a random aside, my friend Sarah got me hooked on a series called "Fables" - which I would love to see Zack make into movies!) (just putting that out there... [Laughs])
I also play a lot of video games. (I played World of Warcraft for years - (Human Warlock, for what it's worth) and Elder Scrolls Skyrim and Oblivion... I love the Sims games... I just finished playing through all the Mass Effect series (SO AMAZING... I was really sad when it was over) ... also Bioshock Infinite is awesome as is the new Tomb Raider - I hope to start playing the Last of Us soon!)
Anyways, I've clearly gone off on a tangent.
Q: Thanks again for talking to the Superman Homepage!
A: All the best Steve, and thank you!
You can watch a TV interview Allison did with Canadian Chek News after the movie's World Premiere.
This interview is Copyright © 2013 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author. Images used with Allison Crowe's permission.