Chelan Simmons is an actress and former model. Known for her roles as Ashley Freund in Final Destination 3, Helen Shyres in 2002 television film Carrie, and Chloe in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, spanning 33 years, Simmons has had a long and successful career in entertainment.
Early Life and Career
Growing up in Vancouver, Simmon’s parents wanted her to pursue a career in acting since she was a young child, with her first appearing in commercials starting at age five. After establishing herself in the advertising world, in 1990, at the age of eight, she made her acting debut in the two-part ABC miniseries It, as Laurie Anne Winterbarger, Pennywise’s first victim. This would be marked as her first audition for a production that wasn’t a commercial, and a role that has defined her career. After appearing in It, Simmons scored roles in several television shows as a child star and appeared as Cindy Thompson in 1991 American family comedy film Bingo, her first theatrical release.
Simmons has always loved acting, idolizing Shirley Temple in particular, telling Blast Magazine that as a child she always believed that having a drink named after you meant that you’d made it as an actress. She didn’t believe until she was much older that acting was a job she was being paid for. In addition, after every role that she booked, her parents would buy her a Barbie. So, instead of feeling like a job, she has said that for her, acting felt more like an exciting pastime that she had so much fun partaking in.
After giving up modelling at the age of 14, Simmons began acting full-time, with her first major role as Crystal in the 2000 television series, Edgemont. The series followed the lives of students at McKinley High School and had a total of 5 seasons, with Simmons appearing in the first 3. After that, she appeared in other horror films, such as Monster Island, which cemented herself within the genre.
In 2006, Simmons appeared in Final Destination 3, as Ashley Freund, one of two best friends who are burnt alive after their tanning beds malfunction. Glen Morgan, co-writer and co-producer of the film, got the idea for the scene from his wife.
Using burn gel that was created by stunt performer Dustin Brooks, Simmons was actually set on fire for the scene. Despite everyone involved being completely unharmed, Morgan said in an interview with Slate, that the stress of filming made him pledge at the time to never film another scene with fire again. Regardless, the film was hugely successful, and this is often cited as Simmons’ most well-known role to date.
After this, Simmons landed her next big role as Hillary in Kyle XY, in a recurring role from 2006-2009. The show centres around a young man who wakes up in the middle of the forest with no memory of his life.
She also played a role in the Dane Cook and Jessica Alba film, Good Luck Chuck, and made an appearance as a lotus eater in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. While a small role, this film is the highest-grossing film that she has appeared in to date.
More recently she landed a role as Alicia Rowe in television series, The LA Complex, about actors struggling to find their way in Hollywood. While the show was short-lived, Simmons was still able to shine as a regular cast member, before moving to a guest role for the final season.
A modern-day scream queen, one would think that Simmons must have been a huge horror movie fan growing up. However, she has admitted that she never watched horror films, including the ones that she’s been in.
In fact, to this day she has never seen It, nor read the book, and when she was on set, she never acted with Tim Curry, finding her scene partner in director Tommy Lee Wallace instead. Standing behind a clothesline, Wallace gave her directions on how to react, and while she did briefly glimpse Curry in costume as Pennywise, Simmons left before the filming of any of the really scary scenes actually started.
However, she has said that she loves acting in horror films, she’s very proud of her horror scream, and in an interview with dread central, said “I love the prosthetics, the blood, the dirt and just scaring other people. I think horror fans are the absolute best and my horror fans in particular have been so incredibly loyal—they are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.”
Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer