Sarah Nicklin

Actress who became an unintentional Scream Queen

With October here and the Halloween season now in full swing, it’s fitting to start out this month with an actress who’s appeared in over 60 horror movies. With films like The Disco Exorcist, The Black Dahlia Haunting, and The Sins of Dracula to her credits, Sarah Nicklin has truly earned the title of Scream Queen. As this goes to press, she’s preparing to start filming Jordan Pacheco’s Blood Pi this month and fans will be able to catch her on Halloween and November 1st at IFCON (Island Fantasy Convention) in Victoria, Canada.

A New England native and Emerson College alumna, Sarah made the move to Los Angeles in 2011. She tells me she didn’t set out to become a horror actress, per se, but gravitated toward horror, due to it being the genre in indie films that has the most opportunities and draws the most attention from distributors. She has since made quite a name for herself in the indie horror industry. In my recent interview with Sarah, she revealed to me that besides acting, she also writes, paints, loves the outdoors, is a cat person, and has finally gotten over Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Above photo courtesy of Sarah, herself.

Sarah Nicklin
At the Sins of Dracula DVD signing in Los Angeles, earlier this year
CHRIS CHARLES: It’s a pleasure to feature you here, Sarah. I assume with with all the horror films you’re known for and Halloween about five weeks away, this is sort of your busy season?
SARAH NICKLIN: This is a super busy time for me. Workwise, there’s a lot going on, but also I love Halloween actives! I try to make it to as many haunted houses and events as possible this time of year. Since I’m going to be on the East Coast for much of October, I’m excited to try to go to Sleep No More, which I’ve heard amazing things about but have never had a chance to check out.
CHRIS: When you started acting in elementary school, did you have dreams of becoming a professional actress?
SARAH: Yes, absolutely. I was in it all the way from the beginning. The whole reason I started acting was because I wanted to become a famous actress so that I could meet Jonathan Taylor Thomas and marry him (laughs). In my little child brain, becoming a famous actress was the best way I could think of to meet him, so I set that as a goal and started to do theater in school thinking that I needed to get started acting as soon as possible so that I could work my way up. I was really shy as a child. My first role was “the shy girl” in a play. So at first, it was really nerve wracking and very hard for me to do, but I kept telling myself that if I wanted to meet Jonathan Taylor Thomas, that I had to work through it, so I did and eventually I fell in love with acting more so than JTT.
Sarah Nicklin
As Cassandra in the 2009 short Mismatch
CHRIS: I understand you sort of fell into becoming a Scream Queen since you started doing indie films and so many are horror?
SARAH: Exactly. I’ve always loved watching horror films, but they were never something that I sought out to work on as an actress. I just wanted to work, period, and horror films provided that opportunity. At first, I was actually doing more non-horror films than horror films, but the horror films were the ones getting attention and getting distributed, so those were the ones that people knew me for. Work begets work, so the more work I did in horror, the more I got, and I just continued to grow in the genre.
CHRIS: Who have been some of your favorite actresses to work with?
SARAH: Debbie Rochon is absolutely lovely and talented. She’s a lot of fun to play off of on set and also is just a wonderful person to be around. I also really like working with Jessica Sonneborn, both as an actress and as a director. She’s also very talented and is a super cool, fun chick and we get along very well together.
CHRIS: I see you have several films currently in pre-production. As this goes to press, which one or ones are you now working on?
SARAH: This October, I’m going to be shooting Blood Pi, which is sort of Mean Girls meets Sleepaway Camp, meets She’s All That/Carrie. It takes place in a sorority where the sorority members are pretending to be nice to the new girl, me, give her a make over, etc., just to backstab her and take advantage of her. While this is happening, one of the other students, played by Anna Rizzo, has becomes obsessed with the new girl and is killing off the sorority sisters as they do mean things. It’s going to be a really fun blood bath! (Laughs). I’m also committed to Bleed, which is a wonderfully written story about a twisted family and how far a mother is willing to go for her son, and to Little Magdalene, which is a romantic drama about a separated mother and father and trying to make their relationship work for their daughter. Neither of those projects have a set shoot date yet, though.
Nun of That
Gracing the retro-look poster for 2009’s Nun of That
CHRIS: I assume that, since becoming established in the industry, you’ve been offered parts you’ve turned down. What percentage of parts you’ve been offered, would you say you’ve turned down?
SARAH: I take the majority of the parts that I’m offered if I’m available and if it’s a good project. I like to always be working. I get really antsy when I don’t have a project that I’m working on, so I’ll take small things like short films or small parts if I’m available. And you never know where that kind of work is going to lead. You work on something small, you meet some people, make some connections, and then they’re recommending you to someone else for another project. That’s how the industry works. I always try to put myself out there as much as possible. I will turn down projects based on the quality of the project, though. I’m trying to focus more on quality over quantity and yet also work as much as possible. So, if I’m offered something where the production seems like it’s going to be a mess or the director’s previous work isn’t that good, or the script is really bad, or there’s a lot of gratuitous nudity, then I’ll turn the project down.
CHRIS: Ever turn down a part you later regretted turning down?
SARAH: Thankfully no. I’m usually pretty scrupulous before signing on or auditioning for a project. I’ll research the production company or the director as much as I can and I have turned down auditions from doing that research, which I later regretted turning down. It’s really hard to get an idea of if the project is going to be good or not if there’s not a lot out there from the director or producer. And I put a lot of time and effort into preparing for auditions, so I want to make sure that what I’m auditioning for is going to be worth it before putting in the commitment.
Sarah Nicklin
At the 2014 Zed Fest Film Festival in Burbank
CHRIS: I’ll name a few of the films you’ve done and I’d like you to tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when you recall shooting each of them: Blood Pigs.
SARAH: Really amazing FX work and I have yet to see the final version of this, even though I know it’s out there!
CHRIS: The Disco Exorcist.
SARAH: Cocaine, oral sex chairs, BDSM nuns, demonic possession, the 1970s, and a really fun time making a film with some really good friends.
CHRIS: The Black Dahlia Haunting.
SARAH: First time working with Devanny Pinn and Brandon Slage and first time playing a cop. This film won lots of awards and got into a bunch of festivals and is a great retelling of a very scary true story.
CHRIS: The Sins of Dracula.
SARAH: Vampires, theater nerds, spring in New England, the 80s, a 5-minute monologue talking to God about sex performed by Jamie Dufault, meeting Carmine Capobianco, Michael Thurber as Dracula, and our fearless leader Richard Griffin.
CHRIS: A Darker Fifty Shades: The Fetish Set.
SARAH: Filmed in Texas, deserts, nudity, three really cool fun actresses to work with, first time working with Bill Oberst Jr., sounds stages, and kink.
CHRIS: So, what’s your stand on doing nude scenes?
Sarah Nicklin
As Kristi Phoenix on the set of the 2011 TV series Chase Belafonte’s Working Title
SARAH: I rarely do nudity, but I’m not opposed to it. If it’s important to the story or the character or would be distracting and take you out of the film by not doing it, then I’ll do it. I just don’t want to be known as someone who “does nudity.” I have no issues showing the human body on screen. The main issue that I have with it is the stigma that other people put on actresses who do it and the way they are perceived. Obviously if you’re doing nudity in a high-budget professional project like Game of Thrones, no one is going to think twice about it, but for some reason, if you do it in an indie horror film, there are some people who will loose respect for you as an actor as a result of that and I want to avoid that from happening.
CHRIS: Did you have experience with firearms before shooting Nun of That or did you first train with them for that role?
SARAH: My dad had taught me about guns and how to handle guns before that film. My dad grew up on a farm and would go hunting with his cousins, so he is very good with rifles and shotguns. One day he took my sister and me to our grandparent’s where he grew up and we went in the woods with some of his guns and he set up bottles as targets for us and taught us how to shoot and how to be safe around guns. All of the guns that were used in Nun of That were airsoft guns that had been disabled, so there was no real threat, but it was really good to have the knowledge of how to properly handle real guns.
CHRIS: I see you did your very first photo shoot in and around a cemetery. Did you choose that location?
Sarah Nicklin
From A Darker Fifty Shades: The Fetish Set
SARAH: No, that was the photographer’s idea. The photographer was actually the guy that did most of the senior yearbook photos for the school and after I graduated, he asked me if I’d be interested in doing more of an alternative photo shoot for fun. He picked a few different locations around town, one of which was the cemetery. One of the photos that we took at an abandoned factory won a photography award a few years later.
CHRIS: You appear at a lot of of horror conventions and events. Where will fans be able to catch you this Halloween season?
SARAH: I’m going to be working on a film for most of October and I’m going to be at the premiere of my latest Scorpio Film Releasing film Flesh For The Inferno, October 25th in Massachusetts (Tickets are available from Scorpio Film Releasing). I’m also going to be in Victoria, Canada at IFCON (Island Fantasy Convention) for Halloween and November 1st.
CHRIS: Great! So fans can take note. Shifting gears here, I understand you’re a cat person?
SARAH: Yes! I have two cats; Sayer and Mr. Echo, named after Lost characters, that live with me in LA, that I found in the woods back home in New England. They were little baby kittens that someone had dumped out in the woods and they were covered in ticks and fleas and mites. I surprised my husband by showing up with them at our front door one day and we’ve kept them ever since! I also grew up with cats. My family got Mittens the same year I was born, but he died around 10 years ago. Then we cat-sat for my best friend’s silver chinchilla Persian while her family was in Europe for a few years. After giving Snowball back, my sister and I both got kittens of our own: Pumpkin and Pudding. Pudding died a few years ago, but Pumpkin is still alive at my parent’s house and I visit him every time I’m home. He’s 19 and deaf and has arthritis, but he’s still my baby!
Sarah Nicklin
At the premiere of the 2013 film The Boogeyman
CHRIS: Do you have any interests or hobbies most people don’t know about?
SARAH: I use to have way more, but I’ve run out of time for a lot of them. I use to make my own clothes and jewelry, do scrapbooking or painting for fun. I have several novels and scripts I started writing but never finished. I also really love doing pretty much anything outdoors. I love camping, hiking, traveling. I would live in a tree house in the woods away from all technology if I could. I also love to read, mostly fantasy novels that involve some sort of magical element. Pretty much anything artsy or nature related is going to be right up my alley.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you again for doing this Sarah. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
SARAH: I guess just a shout out to my fans! Thank you so much for all of your support over the years and for watching my films and coming out to the conventions. You guys are so valuable to indie film and we need more of you!
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question: Do you still have a crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas?
SARAH: (Laughing) I really did, but I don’t anymore.

As Sister Kelly Wrath with her crucifix and AR-15 in Nun of That

Sarah with her Black Dahlia Haunting co-stars during a 2013 Gore magazine photo shoot. From
left: Sarah, Devanny Pinn (of Incomplete Interview fame), Alexis Iacono, and Jessica Cameron.

Sarah’s most recent dramatic demo reel

See more of Sarah at:

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at // Website // See more articles

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.

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