Movies & TV / Columns

Meredith Van Cuyk On Her New Film Woman in the Maze, Photo Doubling On Thor: Love and Thunder, More

September 7, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Woman in the Maze Image Credit: Mitesh Kumar Pater/Stonecutter Media

The 411 Interview: Meredith Van Cuyk

Image Credit: Meredith Van Cuyk

Meredith Van Cuyk is an actress who, according to imdb, has been appearing in movies and TV shows since at least 2019. Van Cuyk has appeared on such TV shows as Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, The Offer, Westworld, and Criminal Minds, and in movies like Nope, The Fablemans, and Outsiders. Van Cuyk’s latest effort is the horror thriller Woman in the Maze, directed by Mitesh Kumar Patel and set to hit theaters on October 6th, 2023, followed by a digital release on October 12th, 2023. In this interview, Van Cuyk talks with this writer about making Woman in the Maze, working with director Mitesh Kumar Patel, her career, and more.


Image Credit: Applied Art Productions

Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved with Woman in the Maze?

Meredith Van Cuyk: I submitted for the project on a casting site and received a request to audition. I remember I was in Ohio at the time (I grew up in Columbus but live in LA) and I had a flight that day from Columbus to LA. I had my bags packed and ready to go in the car and I had the audition down solid. I was in the Zoom meeting queue and the auditions were running behind, and I waited as long as I possibly could until I had to leave for the airport. I started panicking. There was no way I’d be able to make my flight if I waited any longer, so I switched gears and did a self-tape audition – I believe I just did one take- then ran out the door and emailed the audition to the casting director on my way to the airport. I received a call back at the CD’s casting studio in Hollywood a day or two after I sent in the audition, but it was the same day I had a booking in a beach town about 2 hours away. With the grace of God I wrapped on set and made it to the casting studio JUST. IN. TIME. I then received a director’s callback with the whole production team, and had a chemistry read with Joey Heyworth (who plays Owen in Woman in The Maze).

BK: How did you approach your character Gabbi Reynolds?

MVC: I adored Gabbi, and I approached her with a completely open mind and zero judgement. Gabbi was eager, optimistic and trying to do her best for herself. She became a go-getter, self-sufficient, one hell of a badass. Not to spoil anything, but the way I interpreted the story, she was transitioning from her past self into who she truly and deeply was; a force to be reckoned with, almost killing off who she was and stepped into her full potential and being. She stepped out into the world a stronger person.

BK: What was it like working with director Mitesh Kumar Patel?

MVC: I loved that the director, Mitesh and I, could freely bounce around creative ideas and expand on the character more. Mitesh also has a fantastic cinematographic eye, and he and the DP, Bernie Tarin, worked so well together to create a beautiful film.

BK: What was it like working with Joey Heyworth, who plays “Owen Bannister?” You have tremendous chemistry with one another.

MVC: Joey was such a joy to work with! We chatted on the phone a few times before we met in person on set, but we instantly hit it off. We had great banter and he is fantastic to play around with while filming, and we went with the flow, of whatever we threw at each other. He’s overall a genuinely awesome person and incredibly talented, and I am so fortunate to have been able to work with a talent like him.

BK: What was it like making a movie where you’re essentially in every scene?

MVC: If I said there wasn’t pressure, I’d be lying. I felt a HUGE responsibility – to the production, to the other cast members, to the whole crew, to my team, to myself, to every part of it. I think I felt every emotion that was humanly possible. I was scared, anxious, thrilled, giddy and, honestly, doubtful that I could pull everything off but I trusted myself to do so. It was an interesting juxtaposition. But let me tell you, having the luxury of being in almost every scene made fighting for my overall objective pretty seamless. Every scene I am in has to funnel into my overall objective. I find out what I’m fighting for throughout the entire script, and each scene has to align to that fight, and have a fight within the scene that I win. Having so many opportunities to fight and win was incredibly beneficial to both Gabbi and myself.

Image Credit: Mitesh Kumar Patel/Stonecutter Media

BK: What was the hardest part of making Woman in the Maze for you as an actor? What was the easiest?

MVC: The hardest part was the emotional background and inner work I put into it. 1000% worth it, but still a challenge. There was a moment in the film where I was going to put an exercise into play, and it was very daunting for a few reasons; one, being able to pull it off; two, putting myself in the mental state to do it, and three, dealing with the aftermath of it. I have been trained to do a “fear of dying” exercise where you basically manipulate your mind to put your body in the physical and emotional state of feeling like you are about to die. Let me tell you, it’s very effective. There is a fine line between having the reaction and still being in control, and having the reaction and your mind believing that you are in danger. I went all out and crossed the line while filming, and had to deal getting myself out of that state after we finished the scene. That, to me, was the biggest challenge of not only this film, but method acting in general.

The easiest parts were the scenes with Joey. Like I mentioned earlier, we hit it off and worked great with each other, and our scenes were as natural as scenes can be.

BK: Is the house we see in Woman in the Maze a real house and if so what was your favorite room in the house?

MVC: Yes it is 100% real! The basement scenes were filmed at a studio a few hours away, but the house scenes were all done in that beautiful house. The “office” that had the bookshelf door was pretty cool! That led to the actual basement. But there were some funky staircases and doorways throughout the whole mansion, like there was a secret door that led to an upstairs nursery, and the “doorknob” was a candle light fixture.

BK: What’s it like making a movie in Arizona?

MVC: I loved it! I’ve never been to AZ and I loved the change of environment to fully immerse myself into this film. That does wonders to keep you in the appropriate mental state for filming. I also loved that we filmed all over AZ- Chatsworth, Prescott and Jerome, so I was able to explore and experience very different parts of the state.

BK: Is it appropriate to call Woman in the Maze a “haunted house” movie or is it more appropriate to call it an “evil spirit” movie?

MVC: Evil spirit. The house is the host of the evil spirit, and ultimately I am escaping the house, but it’s all about the spirit within the walls of the house.

BK: According to imdb you’ve worked as a “photo double” in both Fast X and Thor: Love and Thunder. What does a photo double do on such large Hollywood movies?

MVC: I did different things for both productions. I was on Thor: Love and Thunder for 2 years at both Warner Bros Studios and Disney Studios. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) turns into the “Mighty Thor” character, who is a Viking God, and they needed me for my stature and presence to be the “Mighty Thor”. Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Chris Hemsworth would film their scenes, and I would go in, fully dressed as Mighty Thor, and re-simulate the scenes with the VFX team so they could mesh me and Natalie’s performances. There were several scenes in the film where it is just me on screen and not Natalie, for example the scene where Ghor (Christian Bale) is in Eternity and Mighty Thor is dying in the background. All me, no VFX! And we shot that in a huge outdoor pool in the back of a parking lot. I was also Charlize Theron’s character “Cypher” in Fast X. She was away filming Old Guard 2 and I filmed full scenes as Cypher in her place. It is a huge deal to be the double, because you are the glue that brings that film together when the main actress is not needed/not able to film.

BK: According to imdb you’ve worked in both movies and television. Which do you prefer, movies or television, or is it more about the material?

MVC: Movies, for sure. I love TV series and appreciate them, but I find my place in film.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

MVC: Love Spielberg. He is fantastic. I actually worked with him on The Fabelmans and he is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met in the industry. Actor-wise, I love Hugh Jackman and Johnny Depp’s work.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

MVC: I have several exciting upcoming releases! I had a small part in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, which I’m beyond excited for, a another television film Love’s Second Act with Jodie Sweetin, and an action thriller Wages of Sin where I am one of the lead assassins. Filming is very slow right now due to the strikes, but hopefully everything I was filming prior to the strikes will resume production when they are through.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Woman in the Maze?

MVC: To reflect on your own life and see what is keeping you from stepping into your full potential. It’s done in a thriller/suspense way, but I believe it’s all about fighting whatever is holding you back in your life from becoming great, and stepping out into the world as your capable self.

BK: What sort of sports car does your character Gabbi use in the movie and did you get to actually drive it?

MVC: A yellow Corvette, and you bet I did!!! Mitesh, the director, and I went to pick up the car and he threw me the keys like “it’s all yours”. I was sooo nervous to drive it, but I ate my fear and just did it. I drove it all over Arizona, too. We went from Chatsworth to Jerome to Prescott, and I was at the wheel at all times. Wish I could’ve taken her home…

BK: Would you ever willingly spend a night alone in a haunted house?

MVC: Great question. The house I grew up in was very haunted. I could go on for hours with the stories. Right now, I’d prefer not to, but that didn’t stop me from going to horror escape rooms around Hollywood and LA to get the feel for feeling terror. I went to all of them by myself, and several of them had rules against solo entries, but after explaining why I was doing it alone, they all let me in. I’m willing to do simulations, but when it comes to the real-deal I’d think twice.

Image Credit: Mitesh Kumar Patel/Stonecutter Media


A very special thanks to Meredith Van Cuyk for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Check out my review of Woman in the Maze here!

Check out Meredith Van Cuyk’s official website here, official Instagram page here, and imdb page here!

Check out the official Applied Art Productions website here and official Facebook page here!

Meredith Van Cuyk headshot courtesy of Meredith Van Cuyk. Woman in the Maze poster courtesy of Applied Art Productions. All other images courtesy of Mitesh Kumar Patel and Stonecutter Media.