Director Ron Krauss On 'Gimme Shelter,' Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson
Director Ron Krauss came to the idea of making Gimme Shelter, a movie about a New Jersey women’s shelter, by chance when a friend told him about the shelter’s founder, Kathleen DiFiore. Curiosity and appreciation, not his hunger for a new film idea, brought him to the shelter. Before long, Krauss knew the story of DiFiore and her girls needed to reach a broader audience.
Ron Krauss Interview On 'Gimme Shelter'
On one of his visits to the shelter, Krauss met a young girl named Darlesha. When he returned one day, he learned that she’d been admitted to the hospital. “She had walked 30 miles to get to that shelter, 30 miles, walking, for days, not eating, with no jacket on, freezing cold. She was three months pregnant. So her baby was traumatized, but anyway it was alright. So I got inspired by this,” Krauss told Uinterview exclusively. “I said, I'm a filmmaker. I can do something here. It was right in front of me. It was like a calling.”
Ron Krauss Talks Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson
Vanessa Hudgens, the former High School Musical star who’s been breaking out of the Disney mold with movies like Spring Breakers, wouldn’t seem like an obvious choice for the role of Apple. Krauss wouldn’t have thought Hudgens fit the bill either, but the girls at the shelter believed she was the one to represent them.
“Someone called me, and said, 'Vanessa wants to meet with you.' And I didn't know who she was, which was in her favor. I never saw High School Musical, which is good because I wasn't judging her,” Krauss admitted, adding that he had her audition with a number of other hopefuls. “Kathy and I listened as [the girls] watched each one of [the audition tapes]. They had no idea who any of these people are, they don't watch movies. And when they got to Vanessa, after her audition, they said, 'This is the girl. This is the girl that needs to play us.' Unanimous. And that was the confirmation. After I heard that, I said, 'I'm hiring this girl.’”
Her face looking pockmarked and worn, her teeth yellow, and her voice an intense growl, Rosario Dawson gives a more than convincing performace as Apple’s drug-addled mother June in Gimme Shelter. Dawson – who grew up in an environment not entirely dissimilar to Apple's in 1990s New York City – couldn’t have been better in Gimme Shelter, according to Krauss.
“This is the best thing I've seen her in,” said Krauss, referring to Dawson. “She just connected with this character. She understands poverty and struggle and grew up in challenged childhood. And she just exploded in this movie. She just understood. It was like letting a tiger out of the cage.”
Gimme Shelter chronicles the story of Apple, a 15-year-old who escapes her mother's crack den for the antiseptic suburbia of her estranged father. Once there, she realizes she’s pregnant. Disregarding the advice of her father and his wife, she refuses to seek an abortion and ultimately finds herself in the care of the shelter.
Gimme Shelter is currently in limited release.
– Chelsea Regan