By Tony Sokol
Ashley Park is frighteningly attractive. Beautiful enough to win Miss Asia USA, she has now set her artificial intelligence on the overthrow of humanity as Rhianna, a pleasure bot, in Neil Johnson’s futuristic thriller Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter.
Park will also go head to head with The Sledgehammer when she plays Alisha Harding, a video store clerk who gave her last rewind-the-tapes-before-you-return-this warning in the “Radical Video” segment in Terror Tales. The anthology horror movie flick stars one of the icons of the genre, Lynn Lowry.
Park, a Days of Our Lives 2012 alum, recently signed to headline the upcoming horror pic Trapdoor. This year’s Miss Asia USA was last year’s Miss Korea USA 2014-2015. Park’s awards as a swimmer and top long-distance runner pushed her across the finish line as an All-SEC Academic Athlete before she caught the acting bug. She slowed down long enough to talk with Entertainment 2morrow exclusively about the horror movies she can’t run away from.
“I am so frightened when I watch horror films,” Park told us when we asked about her favorite creature features, “so it’s difficult to say if I actually have a favorite. I generally won’t watch them over and over again, but some films that stand out to me are: The Ring, The Grudge, Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring and Insidious.”
She had to reexamine the cult of video horrors for her role in Terror Tales, where she learned that people used to get really hung up on the top picks of the week.
“My character in Terror Tales is Alisha Harding,” Park said. “One of the stories revolves around her abduction, and Detective Stephens is determined to solve the case. We went back to the 80s for this segment, which was a lot of fun. I don’t watch movies regularly these days because of my hectic schedule, but I love to watch romantic comedies when I do. I can’t get enough of them.”
Park thinks suspenseful cinema is good fun and games until someone loses and eye.
“I wouldn’t say that I have a specific interest in horror,” Park said. “I love a good supernatural film, but I tend to stay away from watching gore. However, I do think that getting to play a character in a horror film is such a blast. I love to suspend reality, so I find horror, sci-fi and fantasy films particularly fun.”
The actress prefers her fears to be filmed fantasies. Park has no true trauma to draw on as part of the method to her madness.
“I can’t think of anything specifically, but like I said earlier, I love to suspend reality,” Park said. “I can generally take any horror film that I’ve watched throughout my life and use it to help fuel a scene. The Ring is always one that sticks with me.”
When asked where she fell in the monster hierarchy of vampire vs werewolf, the pageant winner sees herself more seductively sanguine than howling-at-the-moon monstrous.
“I’d definitely have to say a vampire,” she exclaimed. “I feel like we are talking about Twilight, and I think I was always Team Edward, so definitely a vampire. I also absolutely adore the show True Blood, so I certainly did jump on the vampire train.”
There are a lot of horror anthologies all of a sudden. Park offered a frightening explanation as to why this is a rising genre.
“I think it might have a lot to do with our attention span as an audience,” she said. “Having more than one story wrapped into one can make for more interesting twists and turns, and can keep one’s attention for longer, I believe.”
Park knows the importance of concentration from long-distance running days. That sporty persistence came in handy in the futuristic Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter.
“I actually did not have to take any fight training for Rogue Warrior,” Park said. “There was a lot of running in heavy boots, which is right up my alley. Having been a competitive runner since I was 12 years old, I love it when I get to run on screen. We filmed out at Salton Sea, so it was grueling, but more so because of the intense heat.
“My co-star Tim McGrath and I had a blast, though, since most of our scenes were together. It’s always the best when you have great chemistry and rapport with fellow actors. It makes the hardest days worth it. I did have to do fight/stunt training and choreography for the web series Last Life.”
Park comes from a very exclusive clique. One of the actors who played Catwoman on the original Batman series, Lee Meriwether, who also starred on Star Trek, started out as a beauty pageant winner.
“Yes, I was aware of that,” Park said. “I know that Lee has been quoted calling herself a lucky one. I’m a believer that luck usually comes to those who work hard, so I know she must have incredible drive. I personally live by the quote: `The one way to the top is by persistent, intelligent, hard work.’”
The beauty queen doesn’t think she’s been tagged by her pageant experience.
“Not at all,” she said. “I saw the pageant as an opportunity to grow and transform as both a performer and a person. Preparing for the pageant and competing on stage taught me so much about myself, and I am very grateful that I will be able to carry what I learned with me for the rest of my life.”
She also says that she never felt in danger of being professionally objectified, even after making All American Bikini Car Wash.
“All American Bikini Car Wash was actually my first real feature film, so it was such a great learning experience for me,” she said. “The cast and crew were so much fun to work with, and I am still good friends with quite a few people from that set. In fact, two of my co-stars, JR Ritcherson and Dora Pereli, came out to support me at the pageant, along with our director and producer, Nimrod Zalmanowitz. It was definitely a different atmosphere, but I never felt as though I was being objectified. My character Brittany was intended to be the voice of reason throughout the film, so I took that on and just had fun with it.”
While she will still reign as America’s most beautiful Asian woman for the rest of the year, Park’s inner scream queen would be willing to ugly herself up for a role.
“Of course! Getting to play with SFX makeup is such a blast,” Park said and Entertainment 2morrow might be able to make that happen. Stay tuned.