By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Two young women go on a rock climbing holiday in “The Ledge,” but their dream vacation in the Alps turns into a nightmare when they run into a group of male climbers, led by one particularly psychotic Alpha male with a penchant for violence.
British actress Brittany Ashworth (“Hostile,” “Accident Man”) stars in this action-packed suspense thriller in which she has to escape her tormentors after she captures on camera the murder of her best friend at their hands. The only way out of this remote mountainous location is skyward. Kelly (Ashworth) begins a treacherous journey up the side of a mountain cliff—free solo—utilizing all the instinctive survival skills she can conjure to outfox and escape her would-be killers. Her escape path is blocked when she becomes trapped on a ledge with the killers just 20 feet above her on the summit. That’s when Kelly’s strategy must change course from escape to counterattack. The action film also stars Ben Lamb, Louis Boyer, Nathan Welsh, Anaïs Parello, David Wayman. Howard J. Ford (“Never Let Go”) directs from a screenplay by Tom Boyle (“Nature Unleased: Volcano”).
Saban Films’ “The Ledge” arrives in theaters, and will be available on Digital and On Demand Friday Feb. 18.
Front Row Features spoke with Ashworth via phone about preparing for the role and shooting the action-packed film in Serbia.
Front Row Features: Are you a rock climber in real life?
Brittany Ashworth: I like mountaineering and I like hiking and things like that. I’d love to try something that combines the two but free soloing is a very particular thing, isn’t it?
FRF: “The Ledge” is your first starring role in a feature film. Was that the appeal for you?
Ashworth: I loved playing Kelly. She was a lot of fun. I loved the physical challenge of getting to play someone who was quite different from myself. One of the great things about being an actress is getting to take a part of whatever you learn from you job, and I learned a lot from this one. It was a great team. We had a lot of fun making it, as well, which I think you can see as you’re watching it.
For me, the most delicious thing about Kelly was this combination of her physical, emotional and psychological challenges. She’s a girl who’s been through quite a lot of trauma—both throughout the climb but also before that. She’s also quite flawed and has to overcome the fears within herself as well as dealing with the danger she’s in with Joshua (played by Lamb).
FRF: Joshua is really a ruthless adversary, isn’t he?
Ashworth: He is. This movie kind of reminded me of those high-octane films of the 1990s, where the characters play a game of wits, strategy and cat-and-mouse, and how they struggle with it.
FRF: Not only is Kelly physically capable of outwitting Josh, she’s also resilient and resourceful. As she loses access to supplies to fend him off, the more she uses her cunning to devise new tools to stay alive.
Ashworth: Yeah, she has her resources removed one-by-one and the only thing she can rely on is what’s inside her, which is kind of like what climbing is all about. Obviously, it’s a sport that requires a huge degree of strength, flexibility and all those physical elements but you’re often quite surprised that the most difficult routes are the ones in which these climbers succeed because they have a successful strategy. They consider the problem and then figure out their strategy, such as what foot goes where.
These guys—Josh, and all the rest of them—they come in with all the best equipment and flashy watches, all the tangible objects requirements to defeat her but, ultimately, she uses her resilience and ambition to defeat them. Her desire to survive comes from within her towards the end. It’s cerebral.
FRF: This is quite an empowering movie for women. You’re kind of like Ripley from “Alien,” and the creature is Josh.
Ashworth: Oh, I love that comparison. The relish and the revenge at the end is not only for Kelly but for Sophie (played by Parello) as well. I also like that these girls set out on their own for this camping trip without needing the “protection” of guys around.
FRF: What would you say are essentials to bring along on a camping trip?
Ashworth: I haven’t done a lot of camping but having gone to quite a lot of music festivals, I’d say bring a lot of wet-wipes for everything—to stay clean and wash up. For camping, I’d say it usually gets cold at night, particularly if you’re in the mountains, so I recommend bringing a lot of layers (of clothing) and lots of snacks.
FRF: You shot this in Serbia during the pandemic, right?
Ashworth: Yeah, we were in Belgrade. It was a magical place. Very cool. We were there for about six weeks, which included training and preparing. I highly recommend visiting there. It’s quite an amazing, booming metropolis, and the film industry is pretty well set up there too, particularly for independent films.
We shot this during the second lockdown. I had just finished making a film in Bulgaria and then I had to quarantine for a week. But it was great. I was so excited to play this character and knowing we’d be out there actually doing it. It was the first time I’d been in a room with so many people (for a long time).
It’s an action movie with lots of dramatic stuff and there’s a lot of technical choreography. Of course, our crew wore masks and we were regularly tested.
FRF: Did you do a lot of physical preparation for this role?
Ashworth: I’m quite sporty anyway. I do a lot of running and things like that but one of the things that was most exciting and one of the things I was most determined to get right was ensuring that I could convey the kind of power and chaos in every sense of her. She’s a fantastic character who’s got her own strength in every way. She has to endure a lot of the action and the climbing. It involved a lot of preparing mentally so I devoured a lot of books on the subject. I’m a pretty big reader anyway. Going back to what I would bring in a backpack—I’d say something to read. Books are pretty heavy but maybe bring a Kindle. Anyhow, I read a lot of memoirs and stories about mountaineering disasters and those who had to confront those events to stay alive. Some of them had to do unimaginable, unspeakable things to make it back home.
FRF: You wonder, for Kelly, what happens after a traumatic experience like this?
Ashworth: For sure. One of my friends is a guide in Germany and we did some hiking in the Alps. You see helicopters having to be rescue people every day. It really brings the danger of (climbing) home.
FRF: What are you working on now?
Ashworth: I just finished shooting the second season of HBO’s “Industry.” I have another film coming out called “The Valley of Love.” It’s been pretty good, actually.