Cortney Palm: Acting with Animal Passion

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to the wonderful Cortney Palm….please enjoy.


You are a still, deep pool. So much more than just a “Scream Queen.” I love it.

Thank you 🙂

You have a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology. How do you use that in your roles?

The degree has helped me figure out archetypes, personalities, and understanding of criminal offenders as well. All in turn assist me in breaking down specific scripts and characters in any genre.

You’ve also studied theater with Michael Caine and Joshua Finkle. Did you learn the dramatic side of acting from that? You even won awards from your peers at the school for you acting…Best Actress and Best supporting Actress. That has to be a super honor coming from your peers. You’ve also studied classical acting around the globe. What drew you away from drama and to the horror genre?

What was great was that I had a vast educational background having gone to school for acting. But I did acting for the stage and was in several theater productions. I learned film by doing background work in TV shows and movies. Then I studied under Ivanna Chubbuck and Rick Walters for film and character study. I love the stage and drama. I have done many dramatic roles; however, I am more known for my horror films. Once you get into a specific genre in the indie world, you’re kind of pigeonholed there. I love horror, it’s a super fun genre to be a part of. 

Most classical performers look down on the horror industry…what do you have to say to them?

All the world is a stage. wink wink.

You’ve done a lot of indie films…what drew you to the indie films, when you could have clearly gone into “mainstream” horror?

Casting directors and producers are probably what kept me out of “mainstream” media. Trust me, I tried.  My pr would kill me for saying that, but it’s true, so why lie and pretend it’s all rainbows and butterflies.  But there is something about indie films that you won’t find elsewhere and that is pure love and hard work, with people wearing multiple hats, and have a drive to do good work when they’re getting paid nothing.

“Zombeavers” was a fun little film…did you have a handler for the live beavers? Were they good co-stars?

Our beavers were animatronics and were created by the same FX team that was behind the creatures in I am Legend. The beavers were puppets and were meant to be reminiscent of older films like Gremlins. The bear, deer and dog were all actors. Which I frown upon having learned how animal actors are treated. Granted it seemed as though our actors were well-treated, but the bear was being fed a crap load of marshmallows to perform the scenes and that’s just not cool.

How was it working with the real animals, and their zombie counterparts?

JJ, the dog, was great. He was such a sweet heart. The bear, if I remember correctly, was Cody and the deer was Holly, I believe. I could be totally wrong about their names, but both were beautiful creatures, kept in cages until they performed… so…

We must talk about “Sushi Girl.” You got to not only work with greats like Tony Todd, Mark Hamil, Noah Hathaway, but you also got to be semi-naked, covered in sushi. This is one of my fave movies. How were you able to lay so still for so long? What was the most fun on the set, who was the joker? How great was it to work with Tony Todd?

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I was fully naked and my cooch was basically in Noah’s face! haha. Great cast. Really dynamic actors. Jimmy and Mark were definitely the jokers, they always made me laugh and then they would tell me to stop laughing because the sushi was bouncing around. (it was fake, plastic replicas) I kept having to have the leaves brushed with water by one of our props team and it was always cold, but kept my boobs nice and firm! Tony Todd is a talented man who didn’t like to break character and Sony Chiba would always sing boisterously before a scene. The location was dark and cold, but it was interesting and I loved everyone involved. The cast and crew were just awesome!

You do alot of your own Martial arts-based stunts. You have a great gymnastics background…do you always do your own stunts? Have you ever thought about becoming a stunt woman vs an actress?

I do stunts that wont risk my body. Doing your own stunts puts you at risk and can jeopardize the film. So most movies will have a double for you. I did get injured doing a stunt on Zombeavers and I am super glad nothing seriously happened, or we would have had to hold production. I got injured prepping for a film where I do a lot of stunts and due to the injury, I got let go from the movie. So that’s why it’s good to have a double, or just don’t get hurt. I love doing gymnastics, and my martial arts skills are so so. The technique for stunts is different than real life movements and to modify them takes special training.

You’re a risk taker…I’m guessing on your days off, you can be found bungee jumping, skydiving, or another athletic activity. What’s your favorite thing to do on off days?

I love doing all of the above. However, I am coaching Parkour and Gymnastics right now, so my days off include playing around and trying to avoid injuries! But you can most definitely find me hiking or kayaking, cliff jumping or the like.

For your age, you have an impressive movie resume. You seem to constantly working. What are your latest projects?

Movies that just came out: The Dark Tapes and Tourbillon and Female Fight Squad.  Movies in festivals this summer: Your Own Road, Sunflower and Dazed. Movies that got distribution for fall: The Reunion and Death House. I am currently still shooting Bond Kizuna.

CGI or practical effects?

It really depends on the scene and style. I prefer practical, but it’s costly and can waste a lot of materials. CGI can do amazing things, but practical is what filmmaking’s history is all about.

Any more plans to work with Harrison Smith? He seems to be the Scream Queen hub lol.

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Death House should have a sequel and I just read another screenplay by him that chilled me and I loved every minute. I love Harrison, he is a team player, has a strong vision and is a damn good mediator and friend.

Do you plan to move into the writing-directing aspect of films, since you’re getting the experience of being an associate producer?

My partner James Furlong and I started a production company called Sky Castle Pictures and we just put together a teaser trailer for a film we hope to get financed. I have written a few scripts and I directed a few plays in college. It’s just a tough industry and I want to let the writers and directors have their way before I budge in. I will stick to acting for the moment.

You seem to love indie film (and it loves you tons!!), do you think you’ll ever go “mainstream”?

I doubt it. Not by choice. I may seem like I am being a cry baby. But the industry is tough and I clearly haven’t broken through. As long as I have the chance, I am grateful regardless.

How do you feel being labeled a Scream Queen?

I don’t think that I am. But to be next to Radha Mitchell, Jessica Cameron, Felissa Rose and Virgina Madsen, I’ll take it!

Thank you for the interview and for being an awesome supporter! Stay True!