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Happiness with horror: Mass. actor relishes killer role in 'One Missed Call.'

Bob Tremblay

Working as a server at the grand opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan served Sarah Jean Kubik quite well.

The Holliston actress parlayed a conversation with a television network executive at the soiree into garnering the role of the killer in the horror film, "One Missed Call."

The PG-13 movie, which opened Friday, earned more than $12 million over the weekend, good enough for fifth place at the box office, while only four other films - "Juno," "Atonement," "The Orphanage" and "There Will Be Blood" - averaged more receipts per location in the Top 20.

For the 25-year-old Kubik, landing the role only six months after graduating from college in 2006 fulfilled a lifelong dream. It also showed how talent, persistence and a positive attitude can overcome physical hardships.

While growing up, Kubik underwent nine operations on her hips, back, neck and legs as a result of a disease that affected the growth of cartilage in her bones. She spent a total of six months in three different body casts and had to learn how to walk after each cast was removed.

"She was always able to find the good in a bad situation," says her father, Joseph. "Throughout that time, she somehow stay focused. She never took 'no' for an answer, stayed positive and stayed on course. And that led to this (role)."

At Holliston High School, Kubik became a varsity cheerleader and swimmer. She also played softball in the town league. "My activities have never been restricted by the surgeries," she says. "My parents raised me to be independent."

Kubik's upbeat demeanor must be contagious. "When she walked into the classroom on her first day of school (at Holliston High School), a mother who was there told me that everyone's face lit up, smiling," recalls Sarah's mother, Robin.

That Kubik has established a coterie of friends was proved last week when they took the actress on her own Hollywood-style movie premiere at the AMC theater in Framingham, complete with limousine service and a red carpet.

"It was great," says Kubik.

In "One Missed Call," the actress plays a 13-year-old girl with an unpleasant sadistic streak. Anyone who picks up a cell phone and hears a distinctive ring tone isn't long for this world. Monster Ellie, as Kubik's character is known, dispatches her victims in a number of grisly ways, including a knife in the eye.

She also tosses a woman off a train platform. Bad girl, bad girl.

"Every time I go on an audition, they ask about 'One Missed Call,"' says Kubik. "I tell them I play a killer and they say, 'You have blonde hair and blue eyes. How are you a killer?' I tell them, 'You won't recognize me."'

To transform the attractive Kubik into a gruesome-looking maniac required 2 1/2 hours of makeup and prosthetics. The film's poster of a hideous face represents a composite of characters with the white face belonging to Monster Ellie.

Months after the Hard Rock Cafe encounter, the executive called the restaurant looking to get in touch with Kubik on an urgent matter.

"I told him I was an actor and I was trying to make it in the world and he said, 'If I hear of anything...I'd love to help you out,' " Kubik recalls.

The urgent matter was the role of Monster Ellie. The executive put the actress in contact with Molly Franken, assistant to the producer on "One Missed Call."

Kubik isn't sure how many actresses tried out for the part, but she is sure it was the last part cast.

"Molly called me and I e-mailed her my head shots and my resume," says Kubik. "I spoke with her on the phone constantly. Then all of the sudden I didn't hear a thing. I thought that was the end of it. Then in the beginning of July, I was heading back up here to spend July 4th weekend with family and friends. I was on a train, I got a call and Molly told me I got the part."

Kubik's reaction? "I was ecstatic."

Her first professional acting gig would be in a Hollywood movie. Tipping the scales in her favor? "Honestly, partially I think it was my height. I'm (4 feet, 8 inches) and they needed a certain height," she says. They also needed someone who could tolerate the makeup madness.

Once Kubik arrived in Boston, she was flown to Los Angeles where she met with the makeup team. "There was a lot of makeup and a lot of prosthetics needed for my face," she says. "For the molding on my head, I had to keep my eyes closed. They put my hair up in a net and poured gook all over me. They had to wait until it hardened and then they suctioned it off so the prosthetic would fit my face."

After returning to New York, Kubik flew down to Atlanta where the movie was filmed.

"This is all I've dreamed of doing," says the actress. "When I was little, I used to watch horror films with my best friend Kim (Meredith). It was always something like, 'Wouldn't it be cool to be in a horror film?' Sure enough, my first role is in a horror film."

Kubik caught the acting bug early. "I wanted to be on 'Saturday Night Live,"' she says. "That was my dream. Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Cheri Oteri, those were all idols of mine.

"Back then it was either acting or becoming a surgeon. Then I realized I could act as a surgeon on TV. ... My father said, 'What are you going to fall back on?' I said, 'I'm going to make it. I won't need to fall back on anything.'

"When I was younger, I used to tell everybody I wanted the world to know who I was."

In Holliston, Kubik acted in high school plays and community theater. After graduating from Holliston High School in 2001, she went to Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., and then transferred to Pace University in Manhattan, where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater with a concentration on acting and an in-depth sequence in musical theater.

With "One Missed Call" now in theaters, Kubik has returned to New York where she continues to work at the Hard Rock Cafe. She also continues to audition for theater and film roles, and hopes to go to Los Angeles next month for the start of the television pilot season. The writers strike could hamper those plans. Then there's always the possibility of reprising her role as Monster Ellie. "One Missed Call" is a remake of a Japanese movie which spawned sequels. Perhaps the American version could also.

Before returning to Manhattan, where she now lives, Kubik discovered she is already building a fan base. Two eighth-grade girls knocked on the door of her family's home in Holliston after seeing the film Saturday. They asked if they could meet Kubik. The actress met the girls and then gave them her autograph.

Monster Ellie apparently has a sweet side.

Bob Tremblay can be reached at btremblay@cnc.com or 508-626-4409.

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