A one-time dancer for the likes of Lady GaGa and Avril Lavigne, who makes her feature starring debut in the new chiller The Pact, Caity Lotz is a name we should be hearing a lot more of in the years ahead. Harry Guerin talked to her about the movie.

Harry Guerin: The Pact has its share of jumps. Are you a fan of scary movies?
Caity Lotz: I like a very certain type of scary movie. I'm not into the slasher films or the really gory ones; I prefer the classic horrors. The Shining is my favourite scary movie - the whole psychological aspect of it, a thriller kind of feel [rather] than just going around killing everyone!

Nicholas McCarthy, the director of The Pact, said that when you walked in to the casting session, he knew you were the one to play the lead role. Did you know that before you began work on the movie?
He didn't tell me until later, until we were actually filming. He was like, 'Yeah, I knew as soon as you walked in there. You just had this toughness about you that we'd been looking for'. And I was like, 'Perfect!'

In terms of carrying a film, it's you on-screen by yourself for most of The Pact. Did you feel a lot of pressure with that?
No, not really. They say that over here in showbiz the whole time - 'Oh, but can this person carry a film?' I don't do anything different in one scene or in every scene - I'm doing the same thing. It's not like you can make yourself any more interesting or try to be anything other than who and what you are as that character. For me, it wasn't really any more pressure. I wasn't trying to be anything more because it's like, 'Oh, I'm in every scene' or 'I'm alone in this scene. I have to be super-fascinating'. You just have to be real and it comes off or it doesn't.

The Pact

Caity Lotz in The Pact

Did you take acting classes as a kid?
No. I didn't start acting until I was 21. I started as a dancer. I started dancing when I was seven-years-old. I never really thought I would be a professional dancer; I never really wanted to be a professional dancer - I just loved dancing and I had a lot of fun doing it. So basically I just followed my curiosities and my passions and one thing would keep moving me to all these different things. I don't think I could've started acting any earlier. I don't have regrets like, 'I wish I started younger' or anything like that. Timing-wise, too, acting is a hard thing - hard on your soul. It can mess with your mind and stuff. I think at the time [21] I was ready for it and ready to explore these different parts of me. Acting's all about being fearless and able to go to dark places and really be vulnerable.

So you started classes with a career plan in mind?
I started classes and it wasn't because I was like, 'I want to be an actor!' - I was really interested in the theory of what acting can be and what it's about. It's all about living in the moment and kind of being present, which is something that at that time in my life I really wanted to explore. I wanted to feel more - I think sometimes in our life we can really go flat line with, 'Oh, this is cool. It's not too bad. Yeah, it seems nice'. I wanted to go to the dark depths and I wanted to get super-happy! I wanted to feel all those emotions and acting was a place to experience it in a safe atmosphere.

When you say it's tough on the soul, do you mean the level of concentration?
No, I mean it's a lot of self-exploration. You're opening Pandora's Box, because to play those things... [My character] Annie in The Pact was abused by her mother when she was younger and she's gone through a lot of **** in her life and her sister was a drug addict and all this stuff. You have to be truthful and give an accurate representation of these things. When you're playing the character you have to experience it, you have to put yourself through it. You do that with your imagination, but when you're going through those things it's not just imagination - all those feelings, everything is real. Even if the situation never really happened, it still feels like it did. Sometimes it can bleed into your real life and it's hard to shake things off.

You played Stephanie in Mad Men. Was it an education being on that set every day?
For sure. I learned a lot doing it. Working with Jon Hamm was super-fun because he's a brilliant actor and he's very kind. I would hang around sets for scenes that I wasn't even in because I wanted to watch how he worked. There's so many other aspects - how he speaks with the director, how they collaborate, how he comes up with his stuff and how he basically works on set was really interesting to watch. Even all the other aspects of everyone else's job - cameras, marks, script supervisors. It was a good learning experience because on that show there's a lot of attention to detail and it's no shortcuts - they do it the proper way.

So what's coming up for you next?
I have another movie that will be coming out in January. It's called Battle of the Year. It's going to be a big film, a 3D breakdancing movie. A lot of fun.

Will there be a sequel to The Pact?
I have no idea. [Laughs]

That sounds like a knowing laugh...
No, honestly I have no idea! The movie ends so it doesn't leave it where's it like, 'Oh, we have to do a sequel'. The movie is a very standalone film, good on its own. But, you never know...

The twist in The Pact is something that people are either going to love or hate.
That's exactly what it is, which I think is a sign of good art. If people are talking about your movie and they're like, 'Yeah, it was ok' - that's the last reaction I would want! I would rather people would say, 'Oh, I hated it!' or 'I loved it!' rather than 'Oh, it's ok'. I think we definitely get that reaction. I read a lot of reviews on the film and most of them are great reviews, but, of course, there's always going to be some bad reviews. A lot of the time I found on the bad reviews the person just didn't get it; they missed stuff. The movie doesn't spoon-feed you all the answers, it doesn't just give everything away. I think that's better. It makes the viewer really have to earn [it]. If you don't pay attention or really look to it you'll miss stuff. There are a lot of, I think, rewards in the film for people who take the time and get it, which makes it even better because you've figured it out for yourself.

The Pact is in cinemas now.