Aya Cash Is the Perfect Actor for Our Complicated Times
How the star of “Scare Me,” “You’re the Worst” and “The Boys” tackles funny and flawed
“I love being scared.”
It’s a bit of exposition early on for Aya Cash in Scare Me, a hilarious yet disturbing new film debuting on Shudder on October 1st. It’s a metatextual thriller that plays a bit like an indie Scream, but with plenty of subtle jabs at toxic masculinity and a few throwaway lines (including a random one aimed at Stanley Tucci) that are laugh-out-loud funny.
Writer/director/star Josh Ruben sets an appropriately ominous tone in a remote cabin — he’s also great playing a rather unsympathetic, struggling writer named Fred. As well, Chris Redd is memorable as third-act comic relief.
But it’s Cash, as the rather biting (no pun intended) horror novelist Fanny, who truly shines. With each character in the film tasked with telling different scary stories during a blackout, Cash as Fanny inhabits multiple identities … all while continually undermining and keeping tabs on an increasingly hostile housemate in Fred.
As with most of her roles, Cash is acerbic, dry-witted, charming and complex; you’ll certainly see those traits in Cash standout roles in the late, great FX comedy You’re the Worst and Prime Video’s dark superhero series The Boys, where she plays a fascist but media-savvy “hero” named Stormfront.
Thankfully, the actress herself is less than scary and rather gracious; she’s also self-deprecating and can talk all things geek, as we discovered during our phone conversation.
InsideHook: How is COVID life treating you?
Aya Cash: Ah, you know, just peachy. I’m kind of just waiting for filming to start and doing a lot of press.
What about Scare Me was tempting? You haven’t done horror before.
[Writer/director] Josh Ruben is a good friend of mine. He’s like, “Want to go make a movie in the woods?” I was actually terrified because I had to do all these characters within the movie.
Your character makes a ton of pop culture and horror references, including a dead-on impression of the Cryptkeeper — were you a fan of this stuff?
I did love The People Under the Stairs when I was growing up. I think I stopped sleeping after that one. But my tastes are more Beetlejuice, not Saw or Freddy Krueger. And those references my character makes … I’m still learning some of them.
You trash Stephen King [a line about Silver Bullet] in the film. Are you acutally a fan?
I read It and Needful Things as a kid. By the way, Needful Things is a very intense read when you’re 12. I’m going through puberty and there’s lots of sex in there. But I was really more of a sci-fi/fantasy girl. I liked things like Michael Crichton and Ender’s Game.
One thing about all the characters you play — they tend to be funny, very flawed, outspoken and yet interesting. But not necessarily people you’d want to spend time with in real life.
I like playing cool, fun and interesting characters, but I don’t necessarily connect with them. I’m much less interesting in real life! I was actually talking with Gillian Jacobs (Community) about this — we get similar roles. Self destructive, addictive, all that. I think you’ll find that I often play the opposite of who I am. Though I do have a dry sense of humor.
Stormfront from The Boys is going to open up a whole new fanbase for you. It might not be good.
Well, I haven’t had any interactions yet, because everything’s been virtual and I’m wearing a mask out. So I’m not recognized. But yeah, Stormfront is disgusting! That said, I’m really proud of that show and the conversations it’s having. That’s a role I had to audition for — and I wanted to talk to [producer] Eric Kripke beforehand, because it’s a really complicated role.
But fan interaction, yeah, that’s unknown and scary right now.
You said you liked sci-fi and fantasy — did you ever read comics?
I did read X-Men, and I collected a lot of their comic cards. Probably the ones released ‘93 or ‘94.
You posted a great shot from your teenage years on Instagram, where you’re giving the middle finger.
I have no idea where it’s from! It was sent to me last year. It was kind of appropriate because it’s like the imagery for The Boys. But also, I was clearly a dark child.
Speaking of Instagram and dark, Marilyn Manson follows you.
Wow, that’s news to me! Really? [Quoting Manson] We’re all stars in the dope show. Yeah, I was an ultimate ‘90s alt-rock girl.
You’re the Worst was a really amazing and underappreciated show. I liked that it ended after five seasons — it felt like an ideal stopping point. Do you agree?
Oh, I could have done that show for another 10 years, until everyone hated us. It was a dream job. I was doing things on there that I had never been allowed to do.
Gretchen’s a great character. Did anyone ever consider here inspiring, even though she was really flawed?
Yeah, totally! The funny thing is that I did a proposal for someone as Gretchen. Really? This person you’re asking should say, “No.”
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