“I was so ecstatic when I got that call,” Valorie Curry recalls of the day she learned she’d been cast in Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, “American Pastoral,” which screened Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival. That would haven been reason enough to be on cloud nine, but Curry was already on an adrenaline rush. “My husband [actor Sam Underwood] had proposed, like, 24 hours earlier,” she says.
The wedding planning (they tied the knot two months ago) had to wait as Curry, 30, tackled the role of Rita Cohen, the polarizing character from Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. “I loved the script. I was also completely repulsed by it. It’s really disturbing, so is the role,” she says of playing a dangerous misfit who terrorizes McGregor’s character Seymour ‘The Swede’ Levov. Still, Curry felt safe in McGregor’s hands. “He facilitated an environment where everyone felt safe to go to extreme places,” she says.
Curry’s husband proved equally supportive. “He’s an actor as well, so he’s very much aware that if I’m going to go on a project like this, I’m not going to discuss wedding planning.” Even so, before shooting began in Pittsburgh, Curry stopped by Jenny Packham’s boutique in London to pick out her wedding dress. The pit stop fit perfectly into her schedule since she and her husband were producing a play together at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Fans with keen eyes may remember Curry from her roles in “Veronica Mars,” “House of Lies,” or “The Following.” When asked if she keeps in touch with her co-stars, Curry laughs, “Well, I married one. Does that count? I talk to him now and then.”
Unlike most actresses, Curry took a brief hiatus in her early twenties. “I had never allowed myself the opportunity to see if I wanted something else,” remembers the Orange County native. “I was hesitant about the industry. As a young woman, it can be an intimating and sometimes, a dangerous place creatively and personally.” While soul searching, Curry tried nannying, waitressing, and plenty of jobs in between, but nothing stuck. It wasn’t until she worked on a non-union short film that she realized it was time to re-enter the game. “Six months later, I was doing ‘Twilight,’ in a series of events that were incredibly serendipitous. Then I wasn’t waiting tables anymore.”
With the highly-anticipated “Blair Witch” reboot also debuting at TIFF and slated for theatrical release this week, Curry can hardly believe her luck. “I obviously knock on wood, but truly I can’t put any expectation on it,” she says. At the time she auditioned she didn’t realize she was up for the franchise. It wasn’t until she was offered the role that she was allowed to read the script.
Her budding career, which also includes a role in Amazon’s new pilot “The Tick” and the upcoming sci-fi drama “After Darkness” with Kyra Sedgwick, calls for her to have hair looks ranging from short, long brunette, blonde, purple, or pink. “My colorist really wishes I would stop because it’s going to fall out,” she says of her ever-changing tresses. “I’m unrecognizable from one job to the next. I love being a chameleon. I think of myself as a character actor and that allows me to be one.” In her natural state, she looks like a cross between Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts, and like them, she craves challenging roles. “I never found myself playing the sexy love interest. And that’s fine. I like being the psychotic sidekick.”