Is it too obvious to note that in person, this star of the horror film Oculus is easy on the eyes?
If you’re a fan of Katee Sackhoff, you already know that she can be tough. But you may never have seen her get so downright deranged as she does in this terror tale of a mirror that drives people mad, then reincarnates them as undead apparitions. Poor Karen Gillan may have thought the Doctor was a little mad, but her new onscreen mother redefines the term.
Fortunately, the real Sackhoff spared my life, and we had a nice conversation.
Luke Y. Thompson: So what was your first reaction when they said you were playing Karen Gillan’s mom?
Katee Sackhoff: Well, I didn’t know who Karen was, but I thought, as soon as I saw a picture of her, I went home, and I have to dye my hair red! And then I kind of went over the script. It completely makes sense to me.
LYT: Last year at Comic-Con, at the Women in Action panel, I’m paraphrasing, but you made a comment that casting agents couldn’t see you as anything but a blonde, that they wouldn’t consider you for brunette roles.
LYT: Now that you’ve been a redhead, is that changing?
KS: [laughs]Hopefully. I think I meant it more metaphorically, in the sense that stereotypically, blondes in films are stupid, and we play airheads all the time. So I think I meant it more in that sense, and that to play against type. I remember when they said, “Well, Starbuck can’t have long hair!” And I said, “Why?” They said, “Because that’s not tough.” I was like, why? I don’t understand. I don’t understand why everyone’s hair on this show changes but Starbuck’s. So it’s just – that’s what I meant. It was more of a metaphorical thing.
LYT: I don’t think you’ve ever played an airhead, though, have you?
KS: I did, at first. Early in my career I did, for sure. And then I kind of went more against type and started playing rebellious teenagers, and then segued right into Battlestar, so I never really got typecast into that. But I did, in the beginning of my career, start there, for sure.
LYT: Is it freeing, and presumably very different – late in this movie your character transforms and you get kind of grotesque. Is it freeing to not have to worry about looking good and just focus on a crazy performance?
KS: Yeah, for sure! You know, it was definitely one of the things that I wanted to do with this character, absolutely, was make her as ugly as possible was my goal. I think part of the interesting thing about this script is that there’s a parallel – parallel opinions as to what happened, going on between the two children.
So if you’re going with that kind of idea, where one child thinks it was paranormal, and the other child just thinks that their parents abused each other, then there’s two completely different things that you kind of `want to play, because that’s what you’re toying with, with the audience. So I wanted to, if this is a woman that physically maybe did hurt her children, I wanted her to be ugly to represent that break at the end.
LYT: When you’re biting on the crockery, how was that achieved? Was that breakaway or was that achieved through sound?
KS: A little bit of both. It’s achieved through sound, but the plate is – I would have the actual ceramic plate, and then they would bring in a foam piece.
LYT: How did you come to this project originally?
KS: The script was sent to me – Mike Flanagan was a fan of Battlestar Galactica. They were casting the role, and they sent the script over, and I had been familiar with Mike Flanagan’s work, because I read a script that he had done, or had written, a few years before, that I absolutely loved and had previously attached myself to. So as soon as I saw his name on the script and then read it, I immediately said I’ll do this.
LYT: Abstract connection, but this was picked up by WWE films, and you just recently starred opposite Dave Bautista. Are we going to see you at WrestleMania this weekend?
KS: I’m working this weekend, so no. [chuckles]Big fan of Dave Bautista. Love him! I think that he’s incredibly talented. He was fantastic in Riddick. I think that he’s going to have a long career ahead of himself, and he’s a really great guy, and he deserves it.
LYT: Did you sign up for more than one Riddick movie, because I know Vin’s talking about doing another one?
KS: Right. I didn’t sign up for more than one, but there’s definitely talks about more than one.
LYT: And did he manage to get you into D&D while you were shooting?
LYT: Apparently he got Judi Dench into it on the previous one.
KS: Really, did he? Yeah, no. I know that Dungeons and Dragons exists, but I’ve never played it.
LYT: I don’t know how often you read the fan sites on the Internet, but there’s been a real sort of groundswell of interest in the idea of you playing a Marvel superhero.
LYT: Marvel actually listens to the fans sometimes. Have there been any conversations about that at all?
KS: I’m sure there have been conversations, but none that I’ve actually been privy to.
LYT: Damn, that’s going to disappoint a lot of people.
LYT: Do you like doing the genre stuff? Do you ever wish you were in a Merchant-Ivory costume movie, or is this really the stuff you’re into, as much as we are into seeing you in it?
KS: Right, no, it’s definitely the stuff I enjoy doing. I grew up watching action movies. I grew up idolizing Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger and Stallone and Chuck Norris – these guys that were physically tough and beat the shit out of guys in movies, and loved it. And then science fiction movies – loved Predator, loved Alien, loved Forbidden Planet. I loved these movies growing up, so for me, it’s very fun to take part in them, because I feel kind of like I’m bringing my childhood to life.
But at the same time, I absolutely would love to do period piece, I’d love to do romantic comedy, I’d love to do musical theater. I think that there’s definitely more to do, to possibly do at some point with different types of genre work. But, you know, we’ll see.
LYT: What would be your dream role?
KS: Oh, god, so many. I don’t know. So many. I’d love to do a musical – a movie musical – at some point. I’d love to do Broadway. I’d love to do an actual film musical at some point. That would be fun.
LYT: When people talk about you as an ideal choice for playing Ms. Marvel, is that a character that you’re familiar with and are a fan of? Is that something that you would want to do?
KS: I’m definitely aware of Ms. Marvel – definitely a fan. But I’m also a fan of Harley Quinn, you know, so you can definitely – there’s definitely a wide range of action movies, or these kinds of villains and heroes that I’m a fan of.
LYT: You also do voice-over work as well.
LYT: Is that something you were drawn to originally, or is that something that came about because you became a genre star first?
KS: It came about because of that, because of genre work, for sure. But it’s something that I enjoy doing. One of the reasons that I first originally did it is because I had done – I have nephews that are – well, now they are 14 and 12. But at the time, I had never really done anything that they could watch. So I really started getting into to cartoons and action and movies and television and also video games primarily so they could actually watch something that I did. Because they didn’t understand what it meant to do what I do, so it was kind of fun to be able to do those things – Futurama and stuff like that – for them.
LYT: When you watch a movie like Oculus, does it have any power to scare you, or are you just like, “Oh, yeah, that was corn syrup”?
KS: It does scare me, yeah. I definitely jumped in the movie a few times. Probably not as much as the average viewer, just because I know what’s coming, but definitely. I think that it still has the power to scare you.
LYT: The mirror eyes – was that purely post-production, or did you have contacts, maybe bright green contacts?
KS: Yeah, no – it was purely post. I did have contacts in for blood in my eyes, but we ultimately realized that I couldn’t wear contacts. We had a really hard time getting those in my eyes. A REALLY hard time.
LYT: I feel you – I was a zombie once.
KS: Yeah. I’ve never had contacts or anything, and I’ve never worn them, ever. And they were the big ones, they were the size of my eye, because they have to go into the white, so they were massive contacts, and we couldn’t get them on. We got them in one or two days, and it was really painful, actually.
LYT: Did they just try to splash corn syrup in your eyes as much as possible?
KS: Oh, god, no. No, at that point, it’s all about – listen, you only get two. I’m not giving anyone one. It’s never going to happen.
LYT: What can you tell us about the upcoming season of Longmire?
KS: More of the same. People really love the show, and I think it’s kind of a nice mix of procedural and some serialization so that people understand who the characters are a bit. You know, we’re only on episode two.
LYT: As far as future film projects, what’s coming up for you?
KS: A few things. Nothing I can talk about yet, because there’s no paperwork signed, but there’s definitely a few things coming up. Definitely some action, possibly some singing, maybe some serial killer stuff. We’ll see.
LYT: So the musical desire may come true a lot sooner rather than later?
KS: Maybe! Yeah, yeah, it’s right around the corner, maybe, so we’ll see.
LYT: Are there more serious talks about the next Riddick materializing, or is it just talk?
KS: As far as I know, no. As far as I know, it’s literally at this point just that I know there probably will be another one, and the fact that I didn’t die lends myself to potentially be in the next one. I think that’s about as far as it goes. And I’m still friendly with Vin, so I didn’t piss him off or anything.
LYT: [chuckles]Do people piss him off?
KS: Oh, god, no! No, no, I was being facetious. He’s a hard person to upset. He’s always smiling.
Oculus opens in theaters next Friday.