Parkite Ally Ioannides lands her first lead role in an independent horror film
‘The Nameless Days’ is now playing
When Park City residents go see “The Nameless Days,” a new horror film from Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon, they will see the familiar face of Ally Ioannides in the lead role of Nicole.
The film is now playing all over the country and can be seen at the Megaplex Theaters at the Valley Fair Mall and Jordan Commons.
The film takes place in a little area on the border between the United States and Mexico where ancient Mayan gods descend to earth to reap human souls.
Ioannides first heard about the film from her agent, Domina Holbeck, at A3 Artist Agency in Los Angeles.
It so happens that Holbeck and the film’s casting director Cate Praggastis are from Utah, Ioannides said.
“Cate contacted Domina, and Domina thought of me,” she said. “I made an audition tape and they offered the role to me.”
The script intrigued Ioannides, who has made a name for herself in the “Parenthood” and “Into the Badlands” TV series.
“I thought it was unique, and I don’t think there has been a horror movie about this subject matter,” she said. “Nicole seemed like a fun and relatable character, because she is determined, strong and loyal. I also liked that the film was going to be really scary.”
While there are some supernatural elements in “The Nameless Days,” Ioannides was also drawn to supplemental storylines that dealt with family secrets, illegal immigration and the vulnerability of the powerless.
“Everything in the film really pulls at your heartstrings, which is unique for a horror film,” she said. “I think that is very effective, because sometimes the scariest things out there can be found in real life.”
Principal photography took one month, and filming wrapped up in December 2019, Ioannides said.
“We filmed in really remote locations in Utah around Eureka, where there was this mine,” she said. “We stayed in Provo but would drive 45 minutes to an hour to our location. And this wasn’t a cozy set, by any means. It was cold, muddy and pretty much all night shoots.”
The first time Ioannides met the filmmakers was on set, but she had done some preliminary preparation for the role.
“Since Nicole is a long-distance runner, I did a lot of running and got into a bit of shape,” she said with a laugh. “When I got on set, I talked with Matt, who has done long-distance running.”
Ioannides talked with Mecham and the other cast members that included Charles Halford, who plays Nicole’s father, Charlie, and Alejandro Akara, who plays a young immigrant named Rahui.
“We would talk about the relationship Nicole has with the other roles,” she said. “I think something that makes this movie special is how real these relationships feel, because it was all of us as a team of directors and actors working together and being open.”
Some of those relationships extended from the set and script, Ioannides said.
“I have a lot of emotions in me that relate to what Nicole is going through, and the situation between Nicole and her dad made me kind of sad,” she said. “I do feel like I owe everything to Alejandro and Charles. I mean I would look at Charles and just lose it. He’s so sensitive, and one of the most incredible actors I’ve ever worked with.”
Ioannides also felt a special bond between her and Akara.
“Alejandro and I immediately got along so well,” she said. “I felt like he was my brother, and since this was his first movie, I wanted to help make it a good experience.”
Nicole’s strength comes from her determination, loyalty, perseverance and sensitivity, Ioannides said.
“Those characteristics also overlap into weaknesses,” she said. “Because she is so loyal, she can be too agreeable, and doesn’t really stand up for herself. And being insanely determined does get her into trouble.”
Ioannides’ prior role of Tilda the assassin in “Into the Badlands” prepared her for the physical demands needed to bring Nicole to the big screen.
“After doing ‘Badlands’ I feel like there is nothing I can’t do,” she said with another laugh. “When I was in Ireland for ‘Badlands’ I was fighting on set every day, and the shoots were eight or nine months at a time. With (“The Nameless Days”) the shoot was only a month.”
Ioannides enjoys the physical aspect of acting.
“To me it’s one of the most important ways of telling a story and creating a character, especially if one of the attributes is being a long-distance runner,” she said. “I also love doing stunts.”
Nicole is Ioannides’ first lead role, and while she was a little nervous and excited to wear that mantle, she reflected on what the lead actors on her other projects taught her.
“I’ve had the privilege to work with so many incredible people and saw the way Daniel Wu led us in ‘Badlands,’” she said. “More recently I was able to work with Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan, and I just watched how they led and tried to learn as much as I could.”
Ioannides hopes she can film more movies in Utah.
“I love filming in Utah, because I get to see my family,” she said. “I had a really good time making this, and I hope the other people did.”
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