Troian Bellisario and Cheryl Nichols Talk About Their Work on Doula and More – Exclusive Interview

It’s been a few years since “Pretty Little Liars” was canceled, and Troian Bellisario, who played Spencer Hastings on the Freeform series, has once again proven that her acting isn’t limited to a teen being harassed by an anonymous assailant under the hood. pseudonym A. Since the show’s end, Bellisario has starred in ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’, ‘Ways & Means’ and ‘Clara’ (via IMDb), and now she’s back with ‘Doula’. (However, we’ll never forget the time Bellisario starred in an episode of “NCIS”.)

“Doula” comes from director Cheryl Nichols, who previously directed the films “Cortez” and “The Living Worst.” Her latest project follows Bellisario’s Deb, a woman whose pregnancy is nearing its end. The film is about the struggle between her and her partner (played by Arron Shiver) as they navigate with a young male doula after the death of the older doula they had hired. (Oh yes, and she died at their home.)

The film is an introspective examination of the cast of characters, a character study full of comedy and charm. We sat down with Nichols and Bellisario for the film’s premiere, and they discussed with us all the things about “Doula,” including how they brought it to life, how motherhood affected Bellisario’s approach to the film, and what the future for them. after this video.

Troian Bellisario And Cheryl Nichols Tease Doula

What can you both tease our readers about “Doula”?

Troian Bellisario: My God, so much.

Cheryl Nichols: Okay, tease.

Bellisario: We’re really good at teasing. What you have with “Doula” is a very, very unique take on a woman’s pregnancy that is actually much more universal than I’ve made it all sound. But it’s a beautiful way to portray a very, very important time in the lives of many women and people. I don’t think it’s ever been shown this way, so I’m very excited for the world to see it. Many women will empathize with Deb’s character, and in general it will be a very good experience to watch the film.

Nichols: Also pregnant ladies who smoke weed.

Bellisario: Yes. Have you been bullied?

I love it. I know you have kids, Troian – how has that experience helped you in this role?

Bellisario: It has helped me immensely. I was also pregnant when I played a pregnant woman, so it helped that I had a real bun in the oven all the time when I was playing someone with a bun in the oven. It grounded me and it was an amazing experience because I was able to be myself during this filming, namely that I didn’t feel like a radiant goddess of fertility during both of my pregnancies. I felt much more body, shall we say.

Nichols: For real.

Bellisario: For real. The best thing about Cheryl – who is not only a fantastic director, but also a fantastic friend – was at the helm of this movie was that she was so encouraging to let me be the way I felt in this movie, as long as it was. real, truthful, authentic. She said, “Let’s not make this shiny and pretty. Let’s show them how it really is.” So that’s what we did.

Nichols: It’s true. But you are always very beautiful. It was a bit annoying.

Bellisario: Oh thanks.

Nichols: We had to work around it. I thought, “Can we… let’s take her down.”

Bellisario: Get her down.

Nichols: Yes. No make-up. Then you would come and be…

Bellisario: Get rid of her. That’s what we had to do.

Cheryl Nichols on Bringing Doula to Life

Cheryl, much of your work, including this film, is about the cerebral experience of being human. Is that something you’ve thought about as a common thread running through your work?

Nichols: That’s such a cool take on my work. Thanks for saying that. I’m usually a cerebral person who hates being in their head all the time, and I’m constantly trying to do things to get out of my head. That’s why I went to drama school and stuff. I can’t help it, but it’s who I am. I think that’s reflected in what I’m working on.

I also think that’s how I want to portray women. It’s how I see myself. I like characters who are rambunctious, but struggle against it. It’s something that… I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it too much, to be honest, but I totally understand what you’re saying. It’s very cerebral, but it’s also a weird, funny little body movie. Both things are true.

What is your approach as a director to bringing that human experience to life on screen?

Nichols: I like actors, and I like watching actors come to little, little decisions that they’ve made, little choices. I love watching actors create a character. I let them do that, and then we form — we do things to get it where it needs to be. But for the most part, I like having the story, putting the actors in there and saying, “Let’s work this out together.” That lends itself to a more real, but also interesting and fun scene.

That was such a good answer.

Bellisario: I totally agree.

Nichols: Thank you.

Troian Bellisario on her evolution from Pretty Little Liars to Doula

Troian, I’m a little impressed. I was a big fan of “Pretty Little Liars” throughout the series.

Bellisario: Thank you!

Judging by that show where you played a teenager for so many years, what was your experience like in this movie, playing someone in a completely different phase of her life?

Bellisario: It was a real pleasure, especially because once you… I was very fortunate to be on a show that was loved and embodied a character that was much loved. The world experienced me in a very specific way, like Spencer, but they were really my friends – like Cheryl and like Will [Greenberg] and Arron [Shiver] and Chris [Pine] and Ian [Gotler] – all the people who were the village that made this movie… They know who I am, and they saw me become a mother the first time, and they saw me become a woman in the world.

The best part was… While I didn’t really have that opportunity in the industry because people still see me as Spencer, as a high school student, as this youngster [version] Of myself, the people in my group of friends were just supportive by saying, “Oh no, you can absolutely do this. This is much closer to who you are. This is much closer to how we experience you.” Any fear I had of taking another step or embodying a different character was completely thrown out the window because every step of the way I had the support of one of my best friends behind the camera saying, “You’ve got this and lift and support me all the time.

That is amazing. I love hearing how close these relationships are behind the screen too. That is amazing.

Nichols: Troian actually marries me and my fiancé. She becomes the spiritual guide.

Bellisario: I become their spiritual guide. It’s not a throuple.

Nichols: No, don’t marry each other.

Bellisario: I have to explain that to people because I keep saying I’m going to marry Cheryl and Arron.

Nichols: And they say, “Congratulations.”

Bellisario: I’m like, “It’s new,” but…

Nichols: We’re doing something. We are modern.

Bellisario: Yes, we are very modern. No – they asked me to lead the wedding, to be a spiritual guide. Look, ever since I created “Doula”, I’ve put myself in their love life, so it only feels right.

Nichols: It’s true. It’s uncomfortable. We have an interdependence.

Bellisario: It’s deep.

Nichols: It’s very deep.

How Chris Pine Influenced Doula

Chris Pine is producing this movie and is in it, so you’ve both worked quite closely with him. What was that experience like and what uniquely did he bring to the film?

Nichols: For a long time I had the impression that it was Chris Pratt.

Bellisario: That was an awkward first day when he showed up.

Nichols: When that hunk showed up, I was like, “Dang”… No.

Bellisario: No, we need to level up.

Nichols: We’ve been friends with Chris for a long time – maybe 10, 15 years or something like that? But separately.

It was cool. Chris is the funniest, most down to earth, interesting… He is a very intelligent person who is easy to get along with. He was really excited about this movie, and when he came to the set, everyone knew he was excited about this movie, and it was great to see everyone light up when he got there. He had supported us throughout this whole thing – he and his production partner, Ian Gotler. It was very cool. He is a great person to have around.

Bellisario: It’s also very special because we were friends with him first, and he’s in so many huge productions and he’s such an A-list… He’s a movie star, and if you know him as a person… I was like that excited to get to the set to see what it was like to see Chris at work as honestly I had never seen him on set before. I had only seen him in his backyard or in my backyard. It’s been wonderful to work with someone you feel such a connection with and have such trust and rapport with, and yet you know they perform at such a wonderful, professional level . That was a very exciting day when he finally got the set, for sure.

Nichols: It was cool. We love him very much.

Bellisario: Yes, we do.

What’s next for Troian Bellisario and Cheryl Nichols?

Nichols: They are doing their first feature film about this woman, directed by this woman.

Bellisario: So distraught.

Nichols: It’s pretty cool.

Those relationships are shown on the screen, so I like that… What can you all tell us about what’s next for you?

Nichols: I’m currently working on a documentary that will premiere on Freeform sometime this summer called “Dear Pony: Keep This Between Us”. It’s not funny.

Bellisario: No. It’s very, very different.

Nichols: It’s very serious, very different. But that’s next for me. And you, T?

Bellisario: I’m working on a podcast with Ian [Gotler] and Chris [Pine], Barry Linen, and our good friend Josh Close. We’re making a narrative podcast to share with the world, which is going to be a lot of fun. It’s like going to some kind of radio play. I’m having a lot of fun writing that, and then we’ll deal with that later as well.

Nichols: That’s so cool. I like that you did it as a podcast.

Bellisario: I’m really excited about it. It is different.

“Doula” is now On Demand and available digitally.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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