We caught up with Chantelle Albers who stars opposite Cam Gigandet (Violent Night, Twilight) and Hannah James (Outlander, Mercy Street) in the new in the Lionsgate Western film Two Sinners and a Mule. The film had a limited theatrical release on April 21, and is now available on VOD and digital platforms.
It follows two female prostitutes (Albers and James) kicked out of a small town and head to Virginia City to pursue new dreams. On their journey, they come across an injured bounty hunter named Elden (Gigandet) and help him “stalk his prey, Grimes. But as Nora and Alice both develop feelings for Elden, no one notices that Grimes is now on their tail, and the hunters become the hunted.” We asked Chantelle about preparing for her role, what drew her towards this film, and more.
Check out our conversation below.
What can you tell us about your audition process for Two Sinners and a Mule?
Chantelle Albers (CA): The audition process was done in two steps. I first sent in a tape for the role of Alice that I taped with my friend Jessica Morris. After that, I was flown to Albuquerque for a live callback/table read that lasted a full weekend. The live audition got pretty emotional, and after that I was offered the role. So I definitely had to earn it, but that’s what makes things worthwhile.
Was there a particular aspect (or aspects) that initially drew you towards this project?
CA: Yes, the aspect of the script and the character of Alice enticed me because there are elements of the story that make it a true western such as heartache and adventure with gun fights, and comedic moments like we see in Bonanza, but it also has an element of faith that I really like. Alice is a very dynamic character who has quite a journey in this story and experiences a lot of heartache and tribulations throughout the film, but we also get a backstory on her and find out how she became a “sinner.” It’s not something she is not necessarily proud of, and it is something she wants to change in her life. She mentions God, forgiveness, and faith, and I think that’s something that you don’t see too often in film. I was drawn to the trio aspect of the characters, and having a female heroine, which is also something you don’t see too often in westerns.
You grew up on a ranch and learned how to ride horses from an early age; did this make filming some of the scenes on horseback easier for you?
CA: Definitely, growing up on a ranch I started riding horses at about 4 years old. My dad was able to get a pony and we named him Rider. I had another one named Midnight when I was a little older. Growing up we sometimes would have to move cattle to another pasture and we did it on horseback; I always thought it was fun! It can be hard riding sometimes and you have to be quick on your feet, but I think that helped me in being confident to ride new horses on camera.
You have worked in a variety of genres including comedy, horror, drama and westerns. Does your preparation process for each project change, or do you have a routine you stick with? What was your preparation like for Two Sinners and A Mule?
CA: As far as developing a character, I like to get really close to the script and study the language they are using. Studying their words and the way they speak helps develop a rhythm you can create for that character. Everyone speaks in a certain pentameter, and it can even be incorporated into your movements and gestures. Reading the character’s story and studying it helps me to make certain choices about the character that isn’t necessarily laid out in the script. It’s a choice you get to make as an actor and artist. For instance, when Alice is talking about her wealthy ‘husband to be’ and how he was killed before they could be married, she mentions his kin and how they didn’t approve of the marriage. Alice then goes on to explain how her fiancé died and it seems very suspicious to me: he was riding his horse one night, the horse spooked and bucked him off and he hit his head on a rock and it seems to me like we are missing some details on purpose. So I made the choice to interpret her dialogue that this wasn’t an accident.
When you study the story and the words of the character, you can make specific choices about that character. As far as preparing for different genres of movies, some films require different things than others. I have had to do fight choreography training for some films, but with Two Sinners and a Mule, we had rehearsal days where we worked with the horses so that we could get used to each other and develop a bond. I also had firearms training and learned in about a week how to do the one hand spin cock that John Wayne made famous.
How would you describe your character, Alice?
CA: Alice is a very honest and earnest woman who is put in a compromising position in life, but has an awakening of wanting to change. She is a woman who wants out of her situation and to take the high road and be made a new, or born again. I think that is something that a lot of us can relate to as people are generally good on the inside, even though they might be put in a position that makes them a “sinner.” She’s a woman who can overcome and she does it by relying on faith.
Were there new learning experiences you gained from your role in this film?
CA: Oh yes, I learned a lot from this film. You always learn from every film, but this one in particular I learned some things that I didn’t know would actually happen. I think what we can all learn from the story of this movie is that forgiveness leads to freedom and reinventing yourself can happen at any stage in life. When you see the end of the movie, Alice is nowhere near the person she was when she started.
Rent or purchase Two Sinners and a Mule here.