‘Monster High: The Movie’: Jy Prishkulnik Interview
Cape and Castle got the opportunity to speak with the dazzling Jy Prishkulnik! You may know her for her role as Cleo De Nile in the new movie, Monster High! So keep reading to discover all the cool things we were able to speak with her about!
Cape & Castle: What were you feeling when you found out you were going to be playing Cleo?
Jy: “Wow, well I mean from the moment I got the audition it was kind of a whirlwind. Because I just read and the only thing going through my head was this is me. Cleo is me, I am Cleo. There is no differentiation. So, by the time I finally got the role I had already done three auditions including a work session with the director and producer. I was kind of on pins and needles just waiting to hear the news. And when I got the call I’ll never forget I was in the middle of babysitting. So when I saw my manager was calling I was like oh my god this is it. Okay, kids, color! I have to take this! My manager is a big jokester and he said Jy you have your manager and two of your agents on the line here. So, either you’re getting fired or you booked something. It was so surreal. I couldn’t even process it in the moment.”
CC: What was it like playing this iconic character that’s such a big part of this huge franchise?
Jy: “Definitely a lot of pressure. Because I recognized immediately that this is a huge fanbase. All over the world, there are so many people who love these characters. And with our reboot, it’s intrinsic that we’re going to be doing something a little bit different. But despite that, I just really wanted to stay true to who Cleo is at heart. And so I did as much research as possible into all the preexisting material as well as the life of the real Cleopatra which Cleo De Nile is based. I like to really deep dive into as much as I can when preparing for a character. So I was really grateful that there was so much available on Cleo already. And with that plus what our team gave us on the page for the script, I think I was able to work with them to create something that’s recognizable as Cleo. But also brings in a fresh perspective for this new generation of Monster High.”
CC: So obviously these characters are all about fashion! Was there a favorite outfit you had?
Jy: “Oh, I actually haven’t been asked that yet! It’s so hard to choose because as amazing as the outfits that we actually see in the movie are, there were so many other choices I got to try on that didn’t make it into the final cut. And I loved everything that was pulled. But I’m going to pick three because I can’t pick just one. I loved the outfit that Cleo makes her arrival at school. A lot of thought went into that piece. And the skirt was actually custom-made by one of the tailors we had on set. They had to reinforce the seams because every time we did dance rehearsals the seams would split. So they had to put a little bit of handiwork in there to make sure I could dance in it. But I also love the “No Apologies” look, which is the final outfit that we see Cleo in. That bandage dress in that scene as well as the other bandage dresses that Cleo wears throughout the film. Those were all vintage pieces. So there was no way for them to duplicate them. Off and on set they like to have at least one double for each look just in case something happens. But for those, because they were vintage it was just the one. So no pressure. And then my other favorite would have to be the pajamas. But only because that’s the one and only time Cleo wears pants and I love that she wears them to bed.”
Cape & Castle: Speaking of the dancing and having to dance in them, how was the process for doing that?
Jy: “Wow! It was very exciting. Equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking I would say. When we arrived in Vancouver, the first thing we did was a two-week boot camp. So this is where we learned all of the dances, tried on all the clothes, figured out what we were wearing, cut the wigs, and did the screentests. But our choreographers were so fantastic. I cannot speak more highly of them. They were just so enthusiastic and patient. Their energy every day made you want to match them. So if it weren’t for them I don’t think I would have made it through. Because at first, the dances seemed very daunting and at the end of the first day I was like oh my god and I have to do these in heels too! But they made it seem easy and they took one on one sessions with us to break things down. And they sent us home with videos. So basically every single day after shooting I was rehearsing and rehearsing. And the wardrobe department let me bring home the heels that I was going to wear so I could practice in them. That is how I ended up dancing in 8-inch platforms in Vancouver!”
CC: Have you had a chance to watch the final film and see it all come together?
Jy: “I think I’ve seen it three or four times now. My very first viewing of it was actually a private screening at the director’s house with our producer and our three amazing leads Miia, Nayah, and Ceci who play Clawdeen, Draculaura, and Frankie. The four of us are the only four cast members who live in LA. So we all got to see the film for the first time together in their living room with their kids. Their kids actually did some voice dubbing during the skateboarding scene so they were very proud of that. And it was really emotional to be watching it all together. It’s a different experience than watching a film you’re not a part of because when I watch the movie I’m watching the plot and thinking oh yeah I remember that day and filming that scene. It was just amazing seeing it all coming together. And I really think the final piece carries the vision that Todd, our director, was pushing through the entire filming process. I can’t speak for my other castmates but I think that the Cleo I created really translated well to the final film. So I’m really proud of that.”
CC: Do you think there will be a sequel?
Jy: “Oooh great question! Let’s manifest it. I can’t say one way or the other. But I’m for sure manifesting that.”
Cape & Castle: If there is a sequel, what would you want to see from your character?
Jy: “Hmmm. I think I really admire the redemption arc that our writers put into this film . But I think there are multiple other layers that our mummy has to show. So I would love to see her continuing to explore her vulnerabilities and insecurities and becoming more confident with that. I would love to see her have her own singing solo. That would be pretty cool. A lot of people have been asking about her sister Nefera, and again I really don’t have any news on a sequel, but I think it would be fun to see their dynamic play out. There is a lot of sibling rivalry between them according to the current IP so I would be interested in seeing how that played out in our version.”
CC: Is there a character from the original franchise that you would like to see in the sequel if there is one?
Jy: “I really like Toralei. It would be cool to see her. Moanica is also a favorite of mine, I love her attitude and sass. Maybe Gil to get some more monster guy energy in there.”
CC: What scene was the hardest, or most difficult to film?
Jy: “I would have to say there were a few that were pretty challenging. Just because we were working really long hours. So by the end of the day, we were just exhausted. I would have to say the hardest would be the graveyard scene toward the end of the film. Because we were shooting on a sound stage and the ground was covered in moss so it was very uneven. And I was wearing these amazing gold boots. But they basically had no support. So I had to run on and off doing so many takes. By the end, my feet were killing me. That one also took a long time to shoot because I think it’s one of the only scenes where we’re all together. So they have to get coverage for each actor. It took quite a while and my feet were just dead by the end.”
Cape & Castle: What was your favorite scene to film?
Jy: “We filmed No Apologies over the course of two days. On the first day, we shot the end of the song where we’re on the staircase. That was actually filmed outdoors on the steps of the Vancouver art gallery. I think that one would have to be my favorite because it’s always fun when there are extras on set. There’s so much more energy and, especially for this project, everyone was in costume and was a different kind of monster. So it was really fun between takes to see what the wardrobe and makeup department did to make all of our extras different monsters. That was really cool. But also, No Apologies is my favorite song. I just love the energy of it and that dance was really fun to film. But toward the end of it, everyone was so tired. And it was freezing. It was like the beginning of December in Vancouver and I was not wearing pants. I was just wearing a dress. And it was so cold, there were foot warmers in my shoes. But at the end, Todd jumped on the megaphone and was like, ok guys one more take. Let’s see you do this one as if you’re talking back to every single person who ever told you no, any person who ever tried to crush your dreams, and all the haters. This is you saying no apologies. Love it or hate it, I’m gonna just be me. And it sounds kind of cheesy, but we really felt that one and it was amazing being in a group of people who were all chanting the same thing. It was really fun.”
CC: Is Cleo your favorite character, or do you have a different favorite?
Jy: “Of course, Cleo is my favorite! How could she not be? But, honestly, I have a love for all of the characters. Especially because of the actors who portrayed them in our film. We would just look around between takes at each other and be like wow, everyone really fits their characters. But Cleo is really my favorite. Just because I know her the best. I really had to get into her shoes. Literally! So I have a lot of love for her.”
CC: Was there a process you went through to get yourself into the character?
Jy: “Yeah! I do different things for different roles. For Cleo, I kept a diary that I would try to write in every day as Cleo. Just put my secrets about what I really thought of the other Monster High students. And I decorated the inside of my trailer with art I thought Cleo would admire. Stuff that would speak to her. And then there’s actually a trick that I learned from my acting instructor, Howard Fine, that one of his other students does. Which is when you take the clothes off at the end of the day and you say goodbye to the character. So then the character stays on set and you can go home and live your life as you. I tried to do that too because it can become really consuming. And Cleo definitely has a little bit of an attitude. So I didn’t want to carry that home with me every day.”
Cape & Castle: Did you get really close with your castmates? Do you feel like you’ve made some lasting friendships?
Jy: “Yes! Absolutely! Honestly, and I cannot say this about every project, but for this one, every person on that set was so excited to show up for work every day. Everyone was so enthusiastic about the world we were creating that it was so easy to get along with everyone. We definitely keep in touch and I think we’re each other’s biggest fans. So, I definitely made some lifelong friendships. And I was nervous about it at first because this was really an ensemble cast. So if one person doesn’t get along, it’s going to spoil the whole bunch. But that was not the case at all. Everyone did such an incredible job and I respect them all as people and as artists so much. I really hope we get to do another movie because going to work with them every day was such a gift.”
CC: Are there any other projects on the horizon for you? Or that you’ve worked on recently?
Jy: “Actually yes. I recently did a video game that’s supposed to be coming out at the beginning of 2023. But, unfortunately, I’m not allowed to share any more details about that. Also unfortunately I don’t know that many will recognize my voice since my character has a very thick Israeli accent. But that was a lot of fun!”
CC: Wow! How was that? Was that a lot different, doing a voiceover?
Jy: “Oh, it’s very different than film. There is no getting into wardrobe or doing makeup. You’re just sitting with the character. So in a lot of ways, that extra energy can be put into bringing that character to life. For this character specifically, I was able to pull from my own heritage. Fortunately, I have a lot of family members with very thick Israeli accents. So I just jumped on a phone call and was like hey would you mind saying these lines for me? But it was so much fun and everyone on the project was so fun and sweet. I’m so excited to see it.”
CC: Are there any scenes that got cut out of the film that you wish would have stayed?
Jy: “There actually were several scenes that got cut. And I know they were cut because the film had a very specific time limit that it had to be per Nickelodeon standards. There were a few that I think were in service to develop and build more tension around Clawdeen’s secret. But they ultimately didn’t make it in.”
We are so thankful that Jy took the time to meet with us! She was incredible to talk to and we had so much fun speaking about this movie with her. And her role as Cleo De Nile! Have you checked out Monster High yet? Is it on your watchlist? Find and follow us on Twitter @capeandcastle to chat with us! You can find me on Twitter @Sarah_Jeanne17! Also, be sure to check out our site for more content on all things Disney and beyond!