Dreama Walker is best known for her recurring roles on "Gossip Girl" (as Hazel Williams), "The Good Wife" (as Becca, the devious girlfriend of Juliana Margulies' son) and the hit sitcom "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" (as June, the nice roommate). But with "Compliance," opening Friday, she takes a giant career leap forward. Based on a real incident in which a prank caller claimed to be a police officer, the film features the 26-year-old Walker as a fast-food employee who is accused of robbery, held captive in a storage room and forced to comply with an increasingly unnerving series of demands. She spoke with Newsday.
"Compliance" is really well done, but also very creepy and hard to watch. What attracted you to it?
I remember the incident when it happened, and it really resonated because the victim and I were the same age. And I felt that could have happened to anybody; it struck a chord with me. When I was approached about the script,
I felt this was always important to me, always something I wanted to have a discussion about.
Why do you think your character puts up with so much abuse?
This man who does the calls, I think he subconsciously took over, and she thought she was going to get in big trouble, and there was no way out of it. It was so gradual, by the time the rape happened, she was so resigned, and so overwhelmed, she couldn't look at the situation clearly.
The film really caused a commotion at the Sundance Film Festival, where there were a number of walkouts during the screening, and a contentious Q and A afterward.
I took this movie because I thought it would be very well done. At Sundance, the film ended, and throughout there were people getting up. And then we had the Q and A, there was this one woman saying it's the year of women, the film was misogynistic, it was degrading to women. I didn't know the movie was going to have that kind of reaction. I knew it would be difficult to watch, but not that it would be degrading to women. I don't think we should ignore events that happened to women just because it's the year of women. Not every movie you see is supposed to make you cuddle with your family at Christmas. It's supposed to ask what would you do if you were in this situation.
Well, if nothing else, this movie gets you away from those parts where you played utterly devious cuties. And in "Apartment 23" you get to show a much softer side.
Yes, it was a relief in a sense, I get to show off my comedic side, I don't say mean things with a smile, which I had been doing. I think has something to do with the fact that the way I look is easy to camouflage being a total [witch]. It's a lot more interesting playing someone with layers, and I enjoy that, at this point in my career, I haven't been typecast.
You're from Tampa. How did you get into acting?
I started doing community theater when I was younger. I loved to do different voices, being someone else, escaping my boring life in suburban Tampa. Whenever there was a girl in a movie or TV show, I wanted to be her. When "Waterworld" came out, I wanted to draw a giant map on my back. I was a very weird kid. I've been fascinated with Diane Keaton since I remember; "Annie Hall" is one of my favorite movies. I love comedy, but I also wanted to be known as a dramatic actress.
You have a pretty unusual name. Where did it come from?
My mom always told me my name was inspired by a dream she had. Then, later, I found out she knew someone in her life named Dreama. It's kind of a crazy name, but it's a real name, and because I'm in show business, people assume it's a stage name.
Do you ever worry that your very youthful looks could hold you back, career-wise?
I think I look kind of young, I have big, giant eyes, and I could play the same character over and over again. But I know I'm all over the place and can do a lot of things. Besides, facial reconstruction would be very expensive.