Corey Fogelmanis | From Disney to Horror
Corey Fogelmanis is a 19-year-old rising star in the film industry. Originally known for his role as Farkle on Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World”, Corey has made his first major movie appearance in Ma, a psychological horror flick. He may be a fresh face on the silver screen, but he’s far from unknown; Corey already has 2.7 million followers on Instagram and his fan base is rapidly growing.
In Ma, Corey plays Andy, one of a few teenagers enticed by the titular Sue Ann “Ma” Ellington to party and drink in her basement. As the teens familiarize themselves with Ma, they soon become unsettled by her odd, erratic behavior. Ma is directed by the acclaimed Tate Taylor of The Help and Get on Up fame. Already the film has enjoyed financial success, earning back its budget of $5 million over eight times over. FLAUNT had the pleasure of talking to Corey about Ma, his transition from T.V. to film, and what’s next in his young career.
I want to jump right into Ma. You play Andy. What’s he like, and what’s his role?
Andy is the designated driver of the group. I always like to start with that, it says a lot about him. He’s super sweet and responsible, and he cares about his friends. Once Maggie, played by Diana Silvers, comes to town he takes a liking to her, and that makes it interesting when they start partying at Ma’s because Sue Ann, played by Octavia Spencer, gets a little jealous. It’s fun.
I know Andy’s father has a pretty big role in the movie. What’s their relationship like?
It’s interesting. Luke Evans plays my dad in the film, and we never get to explore that relationship on-screen. I was a little disappointed about that, but what we can pull is that they don’t have the communication that would make for a good father-son relationship, especially after Andy’s mom died.
Between Luke, Octavia Spencer, and Juliette Lewis, there are a lot of experienced, veteran actors on this cast. What did you learn from working with all of them?
I learned so much. Like you said, they are so experienced and they’ve been doing this for so long, so they are so set in their own ways of working. That’s one of the things I took away from this experience, watching so many processes. For example, Juliette Lewis, who I had a couple scenes with in the film. That was really cool because she has a really technical way of working. On our rehearsal days, or even when we were shooting, she would be having conversations with Tate, our director, about every single beat and motivation, every moment and little bit of blocking. She liked to have it all planned out. That’s not typically the way I work, bit I might start doing that because when you see her in this movie you are going to be blown away. She’s so good.
Octavia was our number-one and also executive-produced the film. She was so focused. She was great at communicating with not only the crew, but us kids about what she needed and how we could show up for her and allow her to do her best work. I’m going to take that with me for the rest of my career.
This was your first major role in a major movie, right? Did the filming meet your expectations?
It’s so weird. I’ve mostly done TV so far in my life. Doing this whole press cycle for a movie that’s getting a theatrical release has been a completely new experience for me. It has been challenging stamina-wise. Figuring out how I want to talk about the movie and present myself has been hard. But at the same time it has been a learning experience. In terms of filming it was honestly a dream. I don’t know if I’ll ever have an experience like that again. Tate is such a fantastic director. We shot the film in Mississippi, so after filming we would all hang out after work, the cast and crew.
Have you gone to the South before, or is that new to you?
It was new. We would go to his house and he would make gumbo for everybody, and we’d have dance parties—it felt like summer camp. It was so incredible.
Going back to the cast—Ma’s really intense. What’s it like when the camera stops rolling? I know Heath Ledger, when he was filming The Dark Knight, right when the camera stopped rolling he would start cracking jokes and getting lighthearted. Was it like that on Ma, or not?
It really depended on the day. There were days were we’d all be together, and other days where she’d stay alone and we left the room to let her be by herself. There were lots of days where it didn’t matter. Learning what days to do what is something Octavia taught us. I don’t think there’s any real way of learning that other than experiencing it.
Speaking of Octavia, what’s her relationship like with Tate? She’s been in all but one of his movies.
They’ve known each other for twenty years, so it was cool to experience their dynamic on set. They’re like best friends and their banter is full of life experiences that they’ve shared together. Every once in a while, Tate would bring something up that happened in their lives, and that would get Octavia angry—he would drop a bomb and call action. They have a way of working as director and actor that you wouldn’t have unless you were best friends. I’m sure it made her feel really safe that she was in good hands with him. I loved watching them together.
Were you already familiar with Tate’s work when you started auditioning for Ma, or did you get into it afterwards?
I was vaguely. I had heard of The Help but I had not seen it yet. I had seen Girl on the Train. Once I had my director’s session and had my chemistry read with Octavia, within a couple days I watched The Help with my mom and my sister. I loved it. While I was watching it I actually got the call that I was offered a role in the movie. I feel like watching his work was manifesting it...but no, I wasn’t familiar [with Tate’s films], so it was fun to go back and familiarize myself with them. He’s had such a diverse career, everything he has done is so different. From Get on Up to now this horror movie, I’m proud that I’ve been a part of this for him.
Yeah, Tate is known more for dramatic stuff. Were you surprised that you were going to be directed for a horror movie by a “dramatic” director?
I wouldn’t say I was surprised. I had taken note that he had never done it before, and that he had never done anything twice. Because of that I was like, “Oh, he does everything.” What makes him such a good director in any genre is that he does a really good job of making his actors comfortable and respected. It’s all about character with him...that’s why he’s been able to do everything, because he has such good characters.
Preparing for this film, did you watch a lot of horror movies?
I don’t think I did. I didn’t do a ton of pre-production prep for this. I know with Tate, he wanted this to be as real as possible, especially for the kids. The main thing I was worried about was being able to come in and relax on set, because this was my first feature. I was a little bit freaked out. So, no, I didn’t watch a ton of horror movies. But I do love horror movies, and it’s been cool to make one.
Do you get scared easily?
As I get older I don’t get scared as easily. But there are still some things that get me.
There’s a new wave of horror movies coming out right now that are more psychological and human, with a lot of social commentary. That’s not to say they all lack supernatural elements, but if you take Jordan Peele’s movies, or even Split, they all have psychotic people as antagonists. I think Ma fits that bill. Why do you think these types of movies are doing so well right now?
I can’t speak for why they are doing so well with everybody, but for me personally, I find stories about people and their issues the most interesting—and scary. The human-on-human violence aspect of the movies you listed, and Ma as well, is scary because that’s more likely to happen than anything supernatural. You hear all the time in the news about human-on-human violence. I think psychological elements of these movies, that weren’t initially horror but are blended with horror, bring in not only horror audiences but drama audiences.
Along with all of that recent success comes competition. What makes Ma stand out above the rest?
How real it feels. It’s so raw, and it feels like it is actually happening to these kids. I didn’t realize this until I watched the movie for the first time, but the way Tate directed this and had it cut together, it plays so naturally and so grounded. I think it’s going to resonate with people, especially people in small towns. It’s so unsuspecting. This could be happening right next door and you’d never know. You don't expect it from the sweet woman who works at the vet clinic.
Moving away from Ma, what’s next for you? I heard you just got cast for a new T.V. series.
It’s an anthology series on Hulu called “Into the Dark”. I did an episode of that. They do a feature length episode once a month that has to do with the holiday that takes place during that month. Mine is the August episode, and it’s “back to school”—if you’d call that a holiday. I feel like most kids wouldn’t. It’s best described as Breakfast Club meets Blumhouse. It takes place in a Saturday detention and the kids are facing what they suspect is a supernatural element. It’s super crazy. That’s what I love about the show, how crazy it is. They are taking risks and telling weird, unconventional stories. And they are very character-driven as well.
What’s your character like in it?
My character is Brett, and as the Saturday detention starts off he is very quiet and kinda on the outside. He doesn’t fit with the other four kids in detention. As the episode goes along, more information is revealed about him and the other kids, and it escalates very quickly. I got to really challenge myself with this role, and that’s one of the only things I really want when I’m filming. I’m excited to see it, and for everyone else to see it.
“Into the Dark” is a horror series. Do you like filming thrillers and horror most? Do you have a preference? It seems like you are starting to carve out a little bit of a niche.
I love it. Before Ma, I did a miniseries that I shot in London called Prank Me. It was on a streaming service called Fullscreen that shut down unfortunately, so there’s no way to watch it. That is also a thriller. I got to play a deranged, narcissistic YouTube prankster. That was really crazy. It’s interesting that most of the projects I have had since wrapping up my time on Disney have been very dark. But I’m not really complaining either because what I love so much about the genre is that there’s no boundaries.
Do you have any non-film activities coming up? I heard you like photography.
Not really. I do love photography, but that’s taken a side place in my life right now. I’m going through a lot of personal growth though. Just moved into a house for the first time—not really what you asked but I’ve been taking a lot more responsibility figuring out adulthood. But it’s been good, and I feel great.
Anything else you want to tell the world?
Go see Ma!
Ma is in theaters now. He will next be seen on the HULU series “Into The Dark” coming out Aug. 2