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KaDee Strickland

KaDee: "I still can't get over how
tightly he ran his ship".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
November 12th, 2004

KaDee Strickland is a lovely lady with lots to celebrate at the moment. Her latest movie The Grudge just took the number one spot here in the UK, and we can see her in another terrifying predicament today when Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid hits UK cinemas.

Read on for all the news on giant snakes and Japanese ghosts, as I chat to the genre's newest Scream Queen.

How did you first get into acting?
I did a one-act play on a whim in high school and fell in love with it.

Your first film role was a small part in The Sixth Sense. How did you land the part, and what was M. Night Shyamalan like to work with?
I was in school in Philadelphia where he shot the film. I was waiting tables and helped a fellow waiter out by picking up a lunch shift. I'd never worked one until that day. Night and 3 other men came in for lunch this particular day. 3 of the 4 ordered the same thing, and the last guy ordered a turkey sandwich. Night cracked a joke about breaking continuity, so I ribbed him and asked if he was in film. Turns out he was. I was also interning at the local casting agency that helped find smaller roles and day players. I was a reader for the actors auditioning and ended up getting cast myself. He is a lovely man, and one of the most focused I've been around. He so knows what he wants, and was so courageous for such a young guy. It was definitely his set. So much respect and humor on set. I still can't get over how tightly he ran his ship.

You worked continuously after that on a number of high profile projects, before landing the female lead in Anacondas. How did you get the part?
Doug Belgrad, an executive at Sony, saw dailies of Something's Gotta Give and had the script sent to me. I was beside myself that one scene can actually get you a lead. I didn't think I'd follow up Woody Allen with running from giant snakes, but I got the script and loved it. Thought it was such good fun. I'd never done anything like it and was on a plane the next day to meet Dwight Little and Verna Herrah. Fell in love with their ideas and genuine desire to make a good film for this genre and read like anyone else. They went for what I did, and the rest is history.

The film was shot in Fiji. How did you enjoy your time there?
Fiji is beautiful and tortured. Perfect for the film. I enjoyed my time there and was constantly challenged by it. I feel like I learned so much about work ethic. We had 28 days of night shoots. That was rough on my body clock, but in truth, it made doing the required work easier. Not hard to be scared in the jungle at 4:00 am when you have a fear of heights and they are about to drop you from a log in a harness. The hardest part was being frightened 12 hours a day and not do the same version of that emotion over and over again. All in all, I loved it. Really. Fiji also has the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen.

KaDee: "Couldn't ask for better leading men".

The cast consists of many new rising stars. How did you get on with your co-stars?
I loved the cast. I was in good hands. Sally and Morris felt like big brother and big sister to me. They are such pros. I was kind of the baby on set and was constantly in good hands. Gene is so like his character in that he is constantly making everyone howl with laughter. Nick and Karl couldn't be more lovely. Johnny and Matthew were wonderful. Both very different creatures, but so there for you as actors. They always did the work with me. Couldn't ask for better leading men.

I have to ask how difficult it is to appear to be terrified of a giant snake, when you have nothing to act against?
That wasn't so bad. It was much harder to be inventive and honest about seeing another mangled body. Dwight really helped us craft our levels of fear and that helped tremendously. The same kind of work is required in every other film. For me, it is all about using my imagination. The same tools apply to seeing snakes that aren't there as they apply to being in love with a total stranger.

Dwight Little is best known to genre fans for directing Halloween 4. What was he like to work with?
Dwight is truly a dream. He is specific about what is required of each actor in telling the story. He doesn't miss a beat and is beyond generous with his time on set. I adore him as a person and as a director. He has more patience than damn near any person I've ever met.

You followed up Anacondas by appearing in another genre film, The Grudge. How did you learn about the project and what attracted you to it?
I came back from Fiji and read tons of scripts. This one spoke to me so much. I knew the "dangers" of doing another genre picture, but this was so special. Also, completely different. I saw the original and loved it and went for it. I have always been fascinated with Japan, and the way filmmakers tell stories through the action rather than relying on dialogue. I just wanted to be a part of that world.

I know that Sarah feels that genre films contain meatier roles for women, would you agree?
In my experience, absolutely. In both films, I never felt like the conventional victim. I got to take such a journey with Sam. With Susan, I was able to explore being in the wrong place at the wrong time without being a sex object/damsel in distress. The roles gave me an opportunity to explore different facets of myself in my work as an actor. You don't always get to do that.

KaDee: "That experience changed my life
in so many profound ways".

Psychological horror movies have become very popular of late. Do you feel that this is because what we imagine is far greater than what we see?
That is one of the reasons, and audiences have different expectations now. The filmmakers have to be much more on their toes with storytelling. Audiences have seen it all at this point. We need more than a typical blood and guts slasher. Story and characters have to be much more clearly drawn for an audience to enjoy the ride. Otherwise, what's the point.

Watching the film, it seemed as though you all truly cared for each other. Did you bond well with the rest of the cast?
Thank you for saying that. Yes, we bonded very closely. Part of that was the circumstance of being so foreign, but most of it was being with a bunch of incredible people. I learned so much from each person I met there. That experience changed my life in so many profound ways.

I have to ask if you had any sleepless nights after being involved in that now infamous scene under the covers?
Sleepless from too much sake! Takako Fuji is a lovely actress and quite sweet. We had fun. Seeing it with an audience made the experience much scarier for me. I don't think I realized how scary it was until I had that experience.

I saw the film at a preview and everyone was terrified. The guy next to me was screaming instructions at your character. Did you have any idea that people would react in this way when shooting, and were you ever scared on set??
Thank you again. I sat by a guy doing the same thing who had no idea that I was sitting next to him. I loved it. I wasn't comfortable with my performance until seeing it with an audience and knowing what we did worked. No, I wasn't any more scared than was required for the character. Going in that zone was the challenge. I watched Klute several times, because I felt that was what we were going for. As an actor, you can't hold on to that kind of emotion or you will go nuts after a few days.

Horror fans have reacted very positively to you and have named you our newest scream queen. Would you make us happy by doing more horror movies?
Thank you again. Gosh. My head is suddenly swelling. Just kidding. If a script is well done, I'd love to. That is all it is really about for me. Good characters, scripts, and directors don't come around that often. So when they do, I like to go for it. The right thing is always welcome.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview KaDee.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is released nationwide in the UK on the 12th November. More information about the movie can be found here.

You can catch The Grudge which is on general release across the UK and the US. You can read a review here.

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