Run Sweetheart Run Star Ella Balinska On Making 'A Really Awesome Horror Movie' [Exclusive Interview]

When you hear the premise to the new Prime Video and Blumhouse film "Run Sweetheart Run," you probably don't think of romance. However, that is apparently what sparked on its set during filming back in 2019 — at least, according to star Ella Balinska. We recently spoke to her about her new horror film, which is now streaming, and she revealed that her best friend being on set helped her prepare for the exhaustive role.

"[Here's] a behind-the-scenes thing," she told me. "Whilst I was running for my life on set, she actually now met her fiancé from shooting this movie."

This is a far cry from the encounter Balinska's character, Cherie, has in "Run Sweetheart Run." When she takes her boss's place in a client meeting, she eventually becomes the target of the mysterious Ethan (Pilou Asbæk), forcing her to travel on foot throughout Los Angeles. In her escape, she'll find that Ethan is far from who he appears to be. Check out our full interview with Balinska below.

'Hey, I need to meet the creator behind this'

This film is unique, even in this burgeoning social thriller sub-genre. How were you offered this role and why did you agree to take it on?

I was offered this role after I did a couple of auditions after a back-and-forth with Shana [Feste, the director of "Run Sweetheart Run"]. I read the script during a lunch break on something else I was working on, and I flew through it. So I immediately was like, "Hey, I need to meet the creator behind this." Honestly, it was a real collaborative effort to get to the state that the film is in now.

Although the film deals with some intense subject matter, there's a palpable energy of collaboration. It felt like the effort of everybody involved, not just a few people.

Absolutely. I think the film touches on themes that are relevant to many people, no matter how few or many things you've been through that the film touches on. Everyone on set definitely created a very trusting environment to explore that and to be really truthful and authentic to everything that happens without glorifying them. But at the same time, keeping the balance between it being just a really awesome horror movie.

'There was definitely a period of two weeks afterward where I could not sleep very well'

Your character Cherie, unfortunately, represents a lot of women who have experienced this misogynistic violence that has permeated our culture. Obviously, that can kind of get in your head, so how did you mentally prepare for the mental toll it could take? More importantly, how did you deal with it during shooting?

I think it was a matter of really sitting myself down and being very truthful to myself and being like, "Okay, where can I really draw on personal experience in this situation?" so I can bring the most amount of truth to what she was going through.

That, and — she can speak on it better than I can, but I know Shana wrote this from a place of experience herself. So knowing that I had her as an ally to come to for coaching through certain situations and equally keeping the dialogue open, where I was like, "As a woman, I wouldn't even do this." Just making sure we had those conversations. There was definitely a period of two weeks afterward where I could not sleep very well after all the running and the traumatic experiences that my character went through.

'I was already in a place of being quite fit'

This role seems not only mentally demanding, but physically as well. They're not high-scale, Marvel-level fight scenes, but you have to do a lot in order to eventually get to the finish line. So can you describe the training that you had to do in order to prepare for this experience?

Yeah, funnily enough, it was less so physical training. We shot this in January 2019, which is pretty much coming off of the back of "Charlie's Angels." I was already in a place of being quite fit, but then I think it was more the emotional strain that this film took for it to get to the place that it was in. That was exhausting. I was lucky enough to have one of my best friends with me whilst I was filming, and having that support on set was wonderful. It was hilarious to know — a behind-the-scenes thing: Whilst I was running for my life on set, she actually now met her fiancé from shooting this movie.

Congratulations to them! Nothing like a bunch of running in blood to –

To get the romance going! [laughs]

Your character is supposed to be the quintessential final girl: She's being chased by this maniacal killer and she needs to be able to fight her way to safety. Did you draw on any specific horror characters in order to develop Cherie?

It was actually interesting, because it was hard for me to find a character that was like Cherie in the essence of the fact that she goes through such a vast character arc in such a short amount of time. This film isn't one of the movies where it's like, "There's something bad that happens at the nighttime and then we all wake up and talk about ghosts, and it goes again." It's not quite like that.

It's a sequential movie. It happens over one night. I think that was when we really just had to fall on our own devices. I'm sure there are films out there [like this]; I just haven't seen them yet. We really had to just trust our instincts and go off our own devices in terms of really being true to that and almost establishing a new sort of character archetype in that sense.

'She's doing all this to protect her daughter'

Yeah, that does make a lot of sense, especially considering so many archetypes are admittedly kind of outdated and they need to be updated for modern times and modern sensibilities.

Yes. Cherie's got gut instincts. At the beginning, she doesn't listen to them, and I think a lot of people can relate to that. Towards the end of the film, she really does learn how to. She really starts to begin to get a grasp on her power and reach her full capability and her capacity to trust her voice and how she feels and how she thinks.

Because at the end of the day, she's doing all of this to protect her daughter. I'm sure if it was for someone else, she could have the same and equal fight in her, but there really is a strong raison d'être there.

"Run Sweetheart Run" is now streaming on Prime Video.