If You're Gone Cast Interview: Susan Willis

Susan Willis plays the loving and distressed mother of Lillian White in If You’re Gone. In this interview, she speaks about her past and future in the film industry, and how her experiences in the Air Force and being a mother mother have influenced her career.

How did you prepare for the role of Lillian’s mom, Jennifer?

I’m also a mom of a daughter and son.  I could really get into this role by putting on my MOM hat and heart.

Susan Willis with her husband at the “If You’re Gone” Red Carpet Premiere at the Park Theater in McMinnville, TN.

Susan Willis with her husband at the “If You’re Gone” Red Carpet Premiere at the Park Theater in McMinnville, TN.

What was the most challenging or exciting about this role?  

The only challenge really was my day 1 of filming hoping I’d fit in with the cast and crew that had already bonded to be playing the mom of the lead character played by Masey McLain! After that things went smooth and I felt more comfortable.

Do you have a favorite memory or story from the set of If You’re Gone?

Filming with Burgess Jenkins (Detective Padron) the night of the scene where his character is talking with Masey as “Lillian”.  Also filming in the minivan as Brittany was directing the kids through the scene and I’m driving the minivan with a camera mounted to the hood! Yikes!

Cast and crew of “If You’re Gone” from left to right: Jiayao Chen, Tripp Green, Michael Huang, Jacob Briggs, Matthew Hayes Hunter, Richard Chilton, Brittany Goodwin, Burgess Jenkins, Susan Willis, Masey McLain, Katie Hahn, Mark Dixon, Susan Fulkerson, and Stephanie Cardel. Photo by John Goodwin.

Cast and crew of “If You’re Gone” from left to right: Jiayao Chen, Tripp Green, Michael Huang, Jacob Briggs, Matthew Hayes Hunter, Richard Chilton, Brittany Goodwin, Burgess Jenkins, Susan Willis, Masey McLain, Katie Hahn, Mark Dixon, Susan Fulkerson, and Stephanie Cardel. Photo by John Goodwin.

You’ve acted in a wide variety of films from action adventure to horror, etc. Is there a particular genre you enjoy the most?

Although there is a fun element to films with special effects,  I really enjoy family friendly films and ones that tell a compelling story.  I LONG to do a good comedy role!

 I really enjoy family friendly films and ones that tell a compelling story.

You’ve also participated in all aspects of filmmaking, including acting, directing, producing, and others. What draws you to partake in such different roles, and is there a position you enjoy the most out of all your experience?

I really enjoying Directing and Casting.  I feel I work well with people having been in the food service industry (coffee business) I consider myself an “actor’s Director” and really hope to do more directing.

I read that you were in the Air Force for a period of time. Has that experience shaped or inspired your work?

Growing up a Navy brat and being Active Duty Air Force has given me a sense of discipline and attention to detail that I have also passed onto my kids.  I feel that I’m very detail-oriented to a certain respect and it has helped shape the actor I am and is very helpful when I’m in a casting position.

Is there a position in filmmaking you haven’t tried that you’d like to in the future?

Honestly I’d love to work with a Foley Artist one day,  That seems like such fun!

What advice would you give to young, up and coming actors/actresses?

Learn as much as you can about the industry that doesn’t always include just the “craft of acting”  Pace yourself and enjoy every moment! Don’t try to rush through the journey trying to be “famous” Learn from the rejections in this industry because there are A LOT of them.  You actually learn more from a “No” than getting a “Yes” all the time.