Helmed by first-time feature film writer/director Aimee Lagos, 96 Minutes (which opens in limited release this Friday) tells the true story of a traumatic car-jacking that results in the destruction of four teenagers' lives. Among the flick's promising young cast that includes Christian Serratos, J. Michael Trautmann, and SXSW "Breakthrough Performance" award-winner Evan Ross, Brittany Snow is the film's marquee star.

Snow, whose most recognizable mainstream hits include the film-adaptation of the Broadway musical Hairspray and the teen revenge romp John Tucker Must Die, stars in 96 Minutes as Carley, a college senior who struggles to escape her kidnapping by a pair of short-fused, juvenile gangsters. Complex recently chatted with the 26-year-old actress about her emotional experience making the film, her empowering movement known as Love is Louder, and what to look forward to next from the young starlet.

Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)

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Given the traumatic subject matter of 96 Minutes, what was your experience like filming?
Well, I first got the script for it a long time ago, probably like three or four years ago. I followed the script for a really long time because I really wanted to do it. I met with Aimee Lagos, the director, right when I got it and told her that I needed to do this movie because I felt like the subject matter was really important. It was a story that really needed to be told, and I loved her take on it. It’s a story that’s based on true events, so these sorts of things happen everyday and all over the world; it’s a very powerful story and it’s really intense.

Filming it was very intense, as well, because we had to be in that mindset for most of the film, and kind of putting ourselves in that situation is always a little difficult. But I found that really rewarding, because getting to see what we created and how realistic the situation turned out was really rewarding to see it all kind of come together.

Since it's based on true events, did you feel like that added any more pressure to get the character right?
Yeah, definitely, I feel like that added a lot to my take on the character, knowing that it was based on a girl that Amy knew and also that these things have happened and you can read about them in the news and its happened a lot. I think that it give me a sense of pressure to make it that realistic and wanting the viewer to actually feel like they were in the car with us. It kind of was probably a good thing because I think all of my choices, I hope, were based just in an honest place of how I would feel in that situation.

You shot the film in only 18 days. Did time constraints lend itself to the intensity and the emotionality of the film?
Yes, definitely. I think that that actually helped us in a way because we had to really come into each day knowing exactly what we wanted to do and having a very strong choice about how the scene was going to play out. And you know, we couldn’t do that many takes of things, and so I think the urgency there definitely added to the intensity of the movie and ultimately the scene work.

I think that it was actually probably a better way of shooting it, though we didn’t notice that at the time. Everything was done in such a guerrilla style sort of way with the hand held camera inside the car. We were basically trapped in this car shooting it for like six days and we couldn’t really get out and we were in there covered in blood. I think that that added to the anxiety that we all felt. If it was more of a big budget movie I think that we would have time to relax and maybe be out of the scene a little bit. But this actually helped a lot.

I heard that some of the cast members even got sick while shooting, because of the intensity.
It was strange! For some reason there was like a curse over the movie where everyone got sick, except for Evan Ross. I think that even a couple of the producers went to the hospital. I went to the hospital at one point and so did Jay and so did Christian. It was just one of those weird things where I think because we were working so hard and so much, and it was so intense, and we were shooting basically all night there, that I think that we all just kind of overdid it. But we got it done and it turned out really well so we were happy about that.

This seems a lot heavier than the previous movies you’ve become known for, like Hairspray and John Tucker Must Die. Are these more dramatic roles something you’re gravitating towards?
Pretty much everything that I pick, when it comes to choosing roles, is just based on things and materials that grabs me. It’s pretty much the subject matter that I gravitate towards. Whether it’s a comedy and it’s really light, I feel like sometimes I need to do something like that. If it’s something that’s a little bit darker or more intense, if it’s a really great story, then I gravitate towards that. 

It’s definitely not me kind of pushing myself to be taken more darker or something like that; it’s really just the type of material I get. I’ve done a lot of independent movies that are a little bit darker, but just luckily this one is the one that has come out. [Laughs.] There are a couple of them that haven’t.

Last year, you had a really good run on Harry’s Law. Is TV something you’re still looking to do more of?
Yeah, I definitely want to do TV and I think that it definitely has to be the right thing. TV is one of those things that people view nowadays because there is such great quality on TV, as well as in movies. You can be a TV star and you can be a movie star at the same time and it’s kind of about bringing those two gaps together nowadays. It’s really just based on how great the part is and what the story line is. So, I would love to do TV if the right part comes along.

In addition to 96 Minutes, you’re keeping busy with a few more movies coming out this year, such as Pitch Perfect and Syrup.
Yeah! Syrup, I think, comes out later this year. That’s the movie I did with Kellan Lutz, Shiloh Fernandez, and Amber Heard. It’s a really, really great movie and I’m really proud to be a part of that one, as well. It’s about a bunch of twentysomethings in the marketing world and the allure and the fast-paced nature of the marketing world in New York City. It’s really sexy and fun.

And then Pitch Perfect comes out, I think, in either October or November, hopefully. That’s a Universal movie that I did with Anna Kendrick and it’s produced by Elizabeth Banks. It’s a movie about the a capella world of singing. It’s a really fun, fun movie that was written by Kay Canon, who writes for 30 Rock. So it’s really, really funny and I had the best time doing that movie, so I’m really excited to see that.

Do you do your own singing in the movie?
I do! I got to sing a lot, which was great. I hadn’t really been singing since Hairspray so it was really fun to get to sing and dance again. There was a lot of dance choreography and lots of rehearsing with singing and dancing, and that was really fun to get to do again.

You're also working with Love Is Louder. 
Yeah, it's a movement/charity I created a year and a half ago. People can go to it at LoveIsLouder.com. It’s a charity based on bringing down the negative voices that people create either with themselves or other people. It all started because of the recent suicide that happened to Corey Haim. It's about supporting the mistreated and those who feel alone. I created it with the Jet Foundation and its going really well so it’s a really great movement that I’m really proud of, and I think it's helping people, so it's great.

Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)

Follow @ComplexPopCult