Interview with Actress and Producer Katrena Rochell

Katrena Rochell co-stars in the much anticipated comic book adapted film Kick-Ass starring Nicholas Cage and Mark Strong. Katrena plays a sexy junkie in the Matthew Vaughn directed film, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Production Company, which was recently released in the US from Lionsgate. Also in 2010, Katrena stars in the, Psychosis opposite Charisma Carpenter and Paul Sculfor. She plays “Helena” in the psychological thriller that she co-wrote and executive produced.

On the small screen in her native Untied Kingdom, Katrena will be seen this year in the made for TV movie, Casting Nina a British mockumentary about the absurdities that surround the world of the entertainment industry. She is best known for her role in television film currently airing on the BBC The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, where she plays “Ezzy” opposite esteemed actor, James Cromwell.

Katrena was just cast opposite Michelle Morrow in an untitled sci-fi thriller about the end of times directed by Michael Shelton. She also just signed on to produce and star in a new untitled film that deals with a small town family’s struggles with crystal meth addicts. Her other film credits include the independent film, Joy Division and the video short  JD Pilot.

Katrena is co-director of the British production company Kingsway Films that produced Psychosis and Joy Division. She began her acting studies at Mesa Conservatory and continues to study at the Impulse Theatre Company when in the UK. She divides her time between London and Los Angeles. In her free time she enjoys reading, painting, hiking, tennis and cooking.

Fatally Yours: What are your first memories of the horror genre and what drew you to it?

Katrena Rochell:  Friday the 13th was my first memory… I was a little girl and having a slumber party. We somehow got one without my parents knowing. I remember I felt so  terrified…and alive! Then we would all go outside in the dark and walk…Terrified.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Katrena Rochell: Fear of the unknown

Fatally Yours: What made you want to pursue acting as a career and how did you get your start in the entertainment industry?

Katrena Rochell: I love the stage and performing on it. I fell into it by accident really at university. I was terribly shy and when it was my turn to go on stage, I would just die….But it made me feel so alive! It also made me curious and question things….look at things differently. I did what everyone else trying to be an actor did. Moved to LA and auditioned and did as many plays and films as I could. I have been doing it for awhile, it’s just lately things have started taking off for me.

Fatally Yours: What made you want to create your own production company and what kind of films are you hoping to produce? 

Katrena Rochell: I was frustrated being in London and never being “right” for the part. I’ve always been told I’m very hard to pinpoint. I decided if I was ever going to do anything I would have to do it myself. I was lucky because I was surrounded by people who make things happen as opposed to waiting for things to come…I guess it rubbed off on me…When I started doing my own things, that is, when I started booking. What type films would I want to produce? Anything dark with shock value! I also want my films to be honest and explore the dark side to our humanity.

Fatally Yours: You are in the comic-book adaptation of Kick-Ass, a film that everyone seems to be buzzing about! Tell us about your experience working on the film with the cast and crew and your overall thoughts on the film itself. 

Katrena Rochell: The film is great! Matthew Vaughn was a dream to work for. He is so creative and willing to play to create something that fits. I also worked the two weeks with the stunt guys, which are so amazing.  It was the biggest film set I have ever been on and it was absolutely fabulous…I didn’t want it to end.

Fatally Yours: You will also be starring in the upcoming Psychosis, alongside Charisma Carpenter. You not only star in the film, but also executive produced as well as co-wrote Psychosis. Tell us what it was it like acting and producing simultaneously, as well as being a writer on the film. 

Katrena Rochell:  Reg Traviss and I had wrote Charisma’s part for me and we were only making a short. It just continued to grow and we gained amazing support along the way. I ended up playing a smaller role. It was not anymore difficult than just acting because Reg was so on top of everything. I consider that film my “film school”  as it is where I educated myself on the ways of making a film from start to finish.

Fatally Yours: Speaking of being a writer, do you wish to pursue that career more along with acting and producing? Are there any scripts, etc. you are working on now?

Katrena Rochell: I don’t consider my self a writer. I could not do it alone. I am currently working on a film about crystal meth set in Tennessee that I developed along with my partner Andrew Docker. We are also producing it and plan on shooting at the end of summer. I also have an idea that I am going to do next which is something I have wanted to do for a very long time….

Fatally Yours: We celebrated Women in Horror Month here on Fatally Yours back in February, so now I’d like to ask you a few female-centric questions. Do you think female roles in horror films have shown improvement and that there are more strong female characters being featured in films nowadays? 

Katrena Rochell: I think it is better but still has room for improvements…

Fatally Yours: Have there been any roles that you’ve turned down because you found them too stereotypical, offensive, exploitative, etc.?

Katrena Rochell:   Yes.

Fatally Yours: Do you ever get annoyed by the stereotypical “bimbo in distress” who always seems to end up naked for no apparent reason in some horror movies?

Katrena Rochell:  It has its place… but that is it…

Fatally Yours: Do you think there is a horror movie that is equally fair in terms of men being objectified or at least losing the same amount of clothes?

Katrena Rochell: Nothing comes to mind

Fatally Yours: What are your overall thoughts on how women are portrayed in horror films (or in films in general)?

Katrena Rochell:  Obviously women do not get the same opportunities as men…which is totally unfair. Now more women are moving into other aspects of film making (myself for instance) so I believe they have a responsibility to create change. Saying that, generally, women do not care so much if you have a hot man taking off his clothes…we find it cheesy… or at least I do…I suppose that is the difference in men and women.

Fatally Yours: Behind the scenes, do you think more and more women are getting involved in directing, producing, writing, etc.? Why do you think that traditionally more men have been involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking than women? 

Katrena Rochell: I’m not sure why men have been more behind the scenes in the past, but I certainly know that is not the case anymore. I produce and act and have occasionally tried writing…anybody these days can create anything.

Fatally Yours: And now, back to some fun questions! What has been your favorite character you’ve portrayed? The most challenging? 

Katrena Rochell: I loved playing Desserick in Finding Nina. She is absolutely a lunatic…crazy alive character. We did mostly improv for that  show.

Fatally Yours: If you could play or go up against any fictional horror villain in a film, who would it be and why?

Katrena Rochell: I’ve I always wanted to play a serial killer… It is fascinating to see what makes them tick. I’d love to explore that.

Fatally Yours: What women in the entertainment business, specifically the horror genre, do you admire and look up to?

Katrena Rochell: I honestly look up to any woman who manages to have a career. It is so difficult and even more so the women who manage to keep working once they get a hand in the door. It’s easy for people to sit around and criticize and judge. I try to see the good in all.

Fatally Yours: What would be your dream role/project?

Katrena Rochell: I’m working on that one at the moment. We have just commissioned a writer to write it and as soon as I’m finished with the crystal meth project, I will focus on “my baby”.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to pursue a career in the entertainment business?

Katrena Rochell: Do it. It’s the time now… it’s just like the revolution of the 70′s. People can do it themselves now… and women have already started leading the way… [like] The Hurt Locker [Kathryn Bigelow was the first female director to win the Best Director Academy Award].

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?

Katrena Rochell: Psychosis will be out in July!  And Kick-Ass opens this Friday [since this interview was conducted, Kick-Ass has opened in theaters across the country].