Perhaps you haven’t heard of ocean-hopping actress Katrena Rochell yet, but you will… with her star rising and an appearance in the new blockbuster “Kick Ass”, things can only get brighter. Gavin Schmitt had the pleasure of chatting with Katrena, and their conversation appears below.
We cover her background in film, discuss the casting preferences of the BBC, chat about “Kick Ass” (of course!) and try yet again to find that dirt on Hasselhoff… that slippery bastard just keeps escaping.
GS: Normally before an interview, I prepare by reading and watching other interviews. I wasn’t able to find many… is this a relatively new experience for you?
KR: Yes, this is a very, very new and exciting time for me. Although I have been acting for many years in small things here and there…. (i.e., regional theatre, internet shows, commercials, and low budget films), it’s only been in the last year things have really taken off for me. Which is funny because it was when I got frustrated with the whole process and started creating my own projects that other people started to take notice. I think I am one of those people that is hard to pigeon hole, so lots of time it was unclear to the industry where I would or could fit in. I feel like I’m a walking contradiction. Anyways, back to the point… Yes, it is all very new. You are actually only my third interview!!
GS: Killer Reviews tends to focus on science fiction and horror… the dorky genres. How do you feel about these genres and what is your background in them?
KR: I think its funny you say “dorky” genres. I was trying to explain to a male friend of mine that women now go more for the “dork” then the “popular athlete type”. I know I do… I obviously grew up with the old slasher films like “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween” and I just love the horror, goth style. I love the feel of everything Tim Burton does… is that considered horror???
GS: I think many of his films have a horror or goth feel to them, yeah.
KR: I love how my friends and I watched the horror films late at night and drank wine and then went up to the graveyard… It gives you that extra heightened sense of the unknown. You get the chills down your spine and the images really frighten me. I’m still scared of the dark and I tend to be a bit of a “scaredy cat”. I’ve always been drawn more to the horror but I have to say now I’ve opened myself up to science fiction a lot more and I’m really starting to “get it”. I always felt left out because I thought that the average science fiction fan was much more intelligent than me or something… they just got it. But now I see, it’s not some secret highly intelligent society, it’s just being able to let your imagination run wild… What’s freaky is that everything these film makers envision is probably going to happen! Wasn’t it Einstein that said “if you can imagine it, it can be”?
GS: Maybe you’re thinking of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who said, “Don’t dream it, be it.”
KR: It was something like that.
GS: Your film career seems to start out with two versions of a little-known film called “Joy Division”. The plot seems very intriguing, with World War II and the KGB. What was your involvement in these projects?
KR: I had worked with the director, Reg Traviss, on a short film and he was already involved in the making of Joy Division. Him and I got on very well and have now collaborated on two projects and have one more in the pipeline. “Joy Division” ended up being big in Europe. Reg wrote me in the part of an American beatnik girl named Cherry and I was one of the people who threw all the parties around London. It was a small part but again it was a nice start of a collaboration between the two of us. I am now involved with his film company, Kings Way Films (www.kingswayfilms.co.uk). This was his first feature and it was an enormous and very ambitious project for him to begin his career with and I think that is why I have gravitated to him… He has guts. He is certainly one of a kind and it’s fun to watch how both ours careers have progressed from that project. From day one, he has always been supportive of me.
GS: In “The Last Days of Lehman Brothers”, you’re credited with the great James Cromwell. Did you work with him much, and is he as amazing as he comes across?
KR: I love James Cromwell, but unfortunately, because of the nature of the project, I was only playing to the camera. I act as the narrator to the audience. That production had some major British actors and, of course, James Cromwell. Everybody on set just loved him! This was my first job for the BBC, which is difficult to get into.
GS: Hmmm… “difficult to get into”. Can you elaborate on that?
KR: The BBC tend to use the same people over and over and those people generally seem to be British drama school alumni… I had been knocking on doors there for a very long time, just to get in and audition… They have since called me back several times and I’m waiting to hear back regarding a new project… so fingers crossed.
GS: You appear in “Kick Ass”, coming out this month, which I think is going to explode! You’re credited as “female junkie”… what exactly does that entail?
KR: Yeah, I noticed I was credited as female junkie. In the comic book her name is Big Tits. This film is going to be great! Basically, you have a not-so-popular high school kid, played by Aaron Johnson, who decides to become a superhero even though he has no powers. I play the “lady of the crack house” of the first baddie he decides to go and give a warning to. I was on set for two weeks and the stunt guys on this were super badass… We all had a great time and it was one of the funnest sets I have been on. Because Aaron’s character is going through puberty, he’s thrown off track when he sees my character because I’m the sexy junkie female who’s teasing him.
GS: We have to ask… it stars Nic Cage and is produced by Brad Pitt… any quality time spent with either of them?
KR: Unfortunately, I didn’t work with Nicolas Cage. I was with Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz, who are both exceptional actors.
GS: Yes, personally, the actress whose appearance caught my attention is Chloe Moretz, the Dakota Fanning of the horror genre. She plays “Hit-Girl”. Am I wrong to think she’s part of the next generation of big stars?
KR: Oh yes, Chloe will be part of the next generation of big stars. The girl can certainly act. Also, Aaron Johnson as well. He’s getting loads of publicity here in the UK.
GS: Share a story behind the scenes of “Kick-Ass”. Anything crazy happen on set or in the hotels?
KR: Behind the scenes… I don’t really have any exciting stories… I came in when they where filming at L Street for two weeks and worked with Chloe, who I adore, and Aaron… it was close to the end of the shoot and it was a very serious set. Also, working with all the stunt men… they don’t mess about. They are absolutely unbelievable to watch. I couldn’t believe humans were capable of doing things like they were doing… Even though we were pressed for time, Matthew would take the time needed to perfect even the smallest detail… for instance, in my scenes, we filmed and filmed until he was completely satisfied and did not compromise with people saying we have to move on… He made sure it worked… I thought he was very, very cool… The film has already opened here in England and it is brilliant!!!
GS: I’m already hearing word of a sequel (Kick-Ass 2). Without giving away any spoilers, is it possible we’ll see you in there?
KR: I wish I could say that I was, but no. I got murdered by Hit-Girl!
GS: Um, I think that was a spoiler. Coming down the pipeline is “Psychosis”, in which you both act and produce, and it’s written/directed by Reg Traviss, the creative force behind “Joy Division”. I watched the trailer, and this looks like pure, terrorizing horror. Give us a taste of this picture.
KR: Psychosis is inspired by a Hammer horror short written by Michael Armstrong in the 70s. It stars Charisma Carpenter. It’s about an America woman who’s married to an Englishman played by Paul Sculfor, who decides to come to England to clear her head and finish her new book. She is a crime writer and while in the west country her mind is free to go mad. I play the girlfriend to Paul Sculfor’s character. I did executive produce the project and helped edit the script. This film will probably be available in the USA next year. I would say it’s not only horror, it’s also very much a psychological thriller. We just signed a deal with Lion’s Gate to distribute in the UK… which we are ecstatic about!!! This was my first time involved with the creation of a project and I definitely see myself doing this again many times in the future… It is funny how horror is pretty much guaranteed distribution… people love it. We have Imagination Worldwide handling the sales of the picture worldwide. We have already sold many territories and we are confident we will in America as well..
GS: I’ve heard you speak about tax benefits for making films… can you be tricked into filming in Wisconsin? (see
KR: Wisconsin, huh??? Well, I’m certainly not opposed to it. We are starting a film now about an epidemic that’s pounding middle America… crystal meth. Again, it’s a low budget feature and we are looking to film this summer. I’ve never been to Wisconsin… is that the cheese state?
GS: It’s the dairy state, yeah. We have our fair share of cheese.
KR: I will check that website out when we’re finished.
GS: I ask this of all my interviewees: do you have any dirt you can share on David Hasselhoff?
KR: Unfortunately, I don’t have any dirt on him… but I adore him. They love him over here… my girlfriend is German and she especially loves him…. He’s one of a kind!
GS: What is next for Katrena Rochell?
KR: Well, I’m about to produce and co-star in that project about crystal meth and we are filming this summer in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m very excited about that and it is taking most of my time at the moment… I have a few pet projects that I will be starting work on next year and that’s really what keeps me going at the moment…
GS: Thank you, Katrena. We wish you the best of luck, are can’t wait to see what is on the horizon. But first, I have to get my opening day ticket for “Kick Ass”!