Acting in Horror Films: Why You Need It And How to Pull It Off


Grant Johnson

Grant Johnson

·4 min read

If you have a taste for all things scary, you’ve probably seen your fair share of horror films. And for a good reason - horror movies can send a chill down your spine, take you off on a twisted journey, or simply provide some fun thrills on a Friday night. But for actors, a role in a horror film can sometimes feel like a more limited display of your performative skills. Here’s why you shouldn’t overlook what scary flicks have to offer:

Horror Films Can Be Career Launchers You might be surprised to learn how many actors got their start in horror movies. Jennifer Aniston entered the scene with a role in Leprechaun, a very young Leonardo DiCaprio starred in Critters 3, and teenage Johnny Depp had a supporting part in A Nightmare on Elm Street. For these stars, scary films offered early opportunities to showcase their talents for later roles. Elm Street in particular ended up being a huge critical and commercial success.

The Horror Genre is No Longer Just “Disposable” Entertainment Let’s be honest - for years, scary films were looked down upon by film snobs. Franchises like Scream and Friday the 13th have avid fans and lots of box office success, but they rarely earned critical acclaim or Rotten Tomatoes approval. In just the last several years, the landscape has completely changed. Jordan Peele’s brillant socio-political horror film Get Out won “Best Screenplay” at the 2018 Oscars. This past winter, horror-thriller Parasite won “Best Picture.” The horror genre has become a fantastic medium for exploring complex political and moral issues. Which leads us to our next point:

  • All the Stars Are Doing It: Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o starred in "Us", Peele’s sophomore horror production. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski helmed the heart-pounding thriller "A Quiet Place". And, most recently, Emmy-nominated Elisabeth Moss starred in The Invisible Man, another great, scary film. These days, if you have a shot at acting in a horror film, you’ll be in some pretty impressive company.
If You Think Horror Acting is Just “Being Scared,” You’re Doing It Wrong Acting for horror is like any other dramatic performance - you need to find authenticity, immediacy, and truth in your character. What are your character’s wants and needs in the scene? If a killer is about to jump out, you can’t play the part expecting it. Stay in the moment of the scene, feel the shock, fear, and terror along with the audience, and you might surprise yourself with what a compelling performance you give.

And there you have it. A part in a horror movie can be an incredible opportunity to launch your career, star in a great film, or simply explore a unique and interesting character. If you’ve been avoiding scary parts, you shouldn’t be. There’s never been a better time to dive into some sinister stories.

Looking to book these kinds of roles? Head to - www.castingdepot.com/login to get started.