Sarasotan stars in 'The Conjuring'
Sarasota native Shanley Caswell still wants to return to the Asolo Repertory Theatre. She really does. But for now, Sarasotans, like everyone else, will have to settle for watching the 21-year-old Caswell on the big screen when the “The Conjuring” opens nationwide July 19.
Boasting an impressive Metacritic score of 77 (read our review), the movie finds paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) trying to help the Perron family, which is being terrorized in their secluded farmhouse. Caswell plays Andrea, the oldest of five siblings.
“They moved to this house in the country and she doesn't like it because she’s a teenager and wants to be near malls and stuff,” Caswell says by phone from her Los Angeles home. “She hates it but when stuff starts happening, she’s really a big help to the younger children; she's mother's little helper.”
Lili Taylor, who was here in April to be honored by the Sarasota Film Festival with its Career Achievement in Acting Award, plays Caswell’s mom. She was about Caswell’s age when she made her film debut in John Hughes’ 1988 romantic comedy “She’s Having a Baby.” After earning critical acclaim for her work in numerous indie films, Taylor played Lisa Fisher on “Six Feet Under” from 2002 to 2005, earning a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
“She’s a great, a pro, an amazing actor,” Caswell says of Taylor. “And she really made an effort to make us all feel like a family on set and off; making those connections so we didn't have to force it on set.”
Caswell adds, “Just watching her on screen is so different than Lili off screen. I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but she gets pretty scary in the film. She’s an amazing actress.”
Shanley Caswell, the daughter of Sarasota locals Patricia and Chris Caswell, was a student at Pine View School and Riverview before heading to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at Santa Monica College at age 16 before transferring to UCLA, where she graduated from last month.
Caswell’s breakthrough role came in the 2009 Hallmark movie “Mending Fences,” with Angie Dickinson (“Police Woman”) and Laura Lieighton (“Melrose Place”). Her next big role came in “Detention,” a 2011 American comedy-horror film that stars Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook and Spencer Locke.
Locally, Caswell is perhaps best known for her stage work, which includes playing Scout in the Asolo Repertory Theatres 2006 production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Would the movie star ever consider returning to the Asolo Rep?
“I love theater,” Caswell says. “It’s my first passion and the Asolo is such an amazing theater. I would love to come back and do a show - if they would hire me. It’s been a while since I did theater.”
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joe King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver.
Running time: 111 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (for violence)