Cassidy Gifford hopes to prove acting chops in 'The Gallows'

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — From Johnny Depp in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" to Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween," horror films have been a good way for actors to cut their teeth in Hollywood.

"The Gallows," opening Friday, features a cast of relatively unknown actors hoping to make their mark, including Cassidy Gifford, the 21-year-old daughter of TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford and former football player Frank Gifford.

Gifford says she's known since she was a young child that she wanted to perform.

"I did the 'Three Little Pigs' when I was in first grade, and I was the pig with the brick house, so I technically was the smart pig, not to toot my own horn," she joked in a recent interview.

"The Gallows" is set at a high school where a student died in a horrific accident during a school play in 1993. Twenty years later, the school tries to resurrect the production. The night before the play is to open, a few students break in to trash the set, but find themselves trapped inside the school. The movie is presented like footage recorded by one of the students.

Gifford says the film was largely improvised with the actors playing characters who share their first names.

"They wouldn't tell us what we were going to shoot until the morning we got there, sometimes the night before if we were lucky, but they would give us the outline and say, 'These are the points that we want to hit,'" she said. "There were a few things that needed to be said for plot (points) that would come out later in the movie, but ultimately it kind of came down to us kind of playing off one another."

Made on a small budget, Gifford said getting studio backing and a summer opening makes the film "an underdog story."