Sophie Monk for “The Hills Run Red”

Beautiful, blonde Australian actress Sophie Monk seemed just a tad overwhelmed facing the press during San Diego’s Comic Con where she was busy promoting her starring role in the intense new horror flick, The Hills Run Red, that heads straight to unrated DVD early next year.

The Gold Coast-born and raised Monk found fame in her native homeland in the reality TV series Pop Stars, a kind of American Idol. Securing a base as a singer, she says she didn’t quite expect doors to open for her “while working as a singer.” We’re sitting in a corner table in one of the many rooms above San Diego’s Convention Centre, in which the young actress/singer reflects on her journey from Pop Stars to Comic Con.

“When I was working, it was just so hard work, you didn’t have time to even think about it,” she recalls, recalling her earliest days post-Pop Stars. “But what I knew is, that all I’ve ever known is how to sing, dance and act, so I definitely knew I wanted to stay in that area.” Monk began by pursuing a singing career in Australia. “I released my own album in Australia and then I just came over here to try acting, just to change it up a bit, because I’d had three albums out there. I thought I’d get back into it.”

Monk has been singing since age 5, and eventually began singing opera, of all things. Switching from opera to pop was no easy transition. “It’s completely different. You have to retrain yourself and recording is a lot different. It’s more quiet, and intimate and you’re used to projecting your voice. It comes from a different place and the huskier and worse things you do to your voice sometimes sound better. It’s just a completely different ball game.”

Like most aspiring actors trying to find their way in the City of Angels, Monk remembers her initial impressions were “how lonely it is. I think a lot of people are there without their families, because the reason you move there is for auditions, and for the industry, so unless you can bring your family with you, it’s tough.” Despite LA containing its own community of Australian actors, Monk avoided that scene. “I’ve got my own little mafia of Australians, like my hair and makeup artist, my stylist and my hairdresser.”

Monk’s Hollywood career took off in the movie parody Date Movie, virtually stealing the comedy as Andy. Hollywood took notice, and she was soon appearing in such comedies as Click, Sex and Death 101 and an episode of the hit series Entourage. She also appeared alongside Parker Posey and Amy Poeller in the as yet unreleased Spring Breakdown and the upcoming Spring Break ’83. The Hills Run Red marks her foray into true dramatic work, which is precisely how she likes it. “I want to try everything, to tell you the truth, but I enjoy doing comedy. I think for me, naturally, comedy’s easier, but this role was so intense, and quite schizophrenic, so it was a really, really cool character for me to play.”

The film centres on a film fanatic whose obsession with finding a complete print of an infamous slasher movie leads him and two friends into the backwoods where the film was shot. They realize too late that filming never ended — and now they must survive a nightmarish onslaught or become part of the movie forever. The film is part of a new strategy by Warner and Dark Castle to make films specifically for the DVD market, which means the films, can be far more intense and graphic than their theatrical counterparts.

Hills Run Red, shot in Bulgaria, is certain to be an intense experience, with its graphic depiction of sex and violence, but none of this concerned Monk once she signed up thanks to director Dave Parker “I think he made us feel so comfortable with it and it fits the movie. If it didn’t fit the movie, and it was in there for the sake of it, fair enough, but there’s a lot of twisted things my character does, but it comes out of her childhood. So she had a bad childhood, and you can see where it came from, so it kind of was necessary to show how messed up she was, from her childhood.”

Monk is establishing herself in Los Angeles and says she doesn’t see herself returning to her singing career back in Australia. “I think for me, I’ve come this far, for three years and I really started from scratch here. I had some success in Australia, and then I just came here from scratch, with a suitcase. No one knew who I was and what I did and I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am at the moment, that I’ve got to keep going.” She doesn’t think trying to break into the American music industry is much of an option either at this point. “Music is hard. It’s timing, and – it comes down to so many things. I’d say music is random. All it takes is another artist to come out with a brilliant song at the same time your song comes out, and you’re done.”

Monk currently lives in the vibrant West Hollywood area and says she’s finally used to most aspects of the LA lifestyle. “I love the work, and it’s consistent, with auditions everywhere. I love doing what I do, but when I’m not working, I don’t enjoy it.” Coy about her personal life, Monk does know one thing about her future: “I don’t plan on marrying anyone in LA, because everyone here is too industry-obsessed.” She doesn’t think it likely she’ll meet anyone outside of the industry.