Known as the Acting Outlaws, actresses Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer (who both worked on Battlestar Galactica together) participate in a variety of charity events, in an effort to raise money and awareness for causes they feel strongly about. With a merchandise store (at www.ActingOutlaws.org) that includes various t-shirts and a documentary of the motorcycle ride they took from Los Angeles to Louisiana, they now have a 2013 calendar that features 12 months of exclusive photos of the women in classy and provocative poses.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Katee Sackhoff talked about how the Acting Outlaws came about, what made them decide to do their first-ever calendar, where her interest in and love for motorcycles started, and more. She also talked about returning to her A&E drama series Longmire for Season 2, which starts shooting again in the middle of March, her experience making the next Riddick film with Vin Diesel, for which she had a nude scene that she needed to get her father’s permission for first, that she’s seen bits and pieces of the film while recording ADR and said that it’s bloody but that the R rating is definitely more for the language, how she’s attached to do the all-female Expendables movie with Gina Carano and that she’s excited about all of the women that they’re talking to for roles in it, and what it was like to work with Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) on the horror film Oculus. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
KATEE SACKHOFF: Actually, Mark Derwin came up with the name. He was on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which is now finished [shooting]. He’s Tricia Helfer’s husband’s best friend. She’s known Mark for 15 years, and we all ride motorcycles together. It just was something where we were trying to figure out a gang name because we wanted to start a motorcycle club, so our motorcycle club name was the Acting Outlaws Motorcycle Club. We were the AOMC. So, when we were trying to come up with a name for the company, it made sense to steal the name from the motorcycle club because the motorcycle club consists of seven people, two of which are our significant others. We actually really wanted to have a motorcycle club, and then we realized how much work it was. You actually have to take your name and your patch to the organizations of motorcycle clubs and get it approved. You sit there with the Hell’s Angels, and all these big, bad motorcycle guys, and you’re like, “We’re a bunch of actors who want to call ourselves the Acting Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Is that okay?” So, we opted to not actually be a motorcycle club, even though we still call ourselves a gang.
How did the idea for this calendar, with you and Tricia Helfer, come about?
SACKHOFF: We had been approached, a couple years ago, to do a calendar together. The company that approached us wanted to retain ownership and Tricia and I were like, “If there’s actually a market out there for this, then we should do it on our own.” I was like, “I don’t want to take naked pictures of myself. I don’t see myself that way.” Tricia comes from a modeling background, so for her, she was like, “It’s not that big of a deal.” I was like, “I don’t know if I really want to do this,” and she was like, “Okay, then let’s do it ourselves and do it for a good cause. That way, we’ll be able to get something out of it and the fans will get something out of it and amfAR will get something out of it.” So, it all worked out. To sit there and say you have a calendar makes us a little selfish to think that people would want it, but it’s for charity. Tricia and I have really found our calling, in that we love being together and we love riding our motorcycles. We tried to figure out a way to incorporate doing good, at the same time, and it just fit and worked out. This is the second thing that we’ve done to raise money for a charity, and we love it. It’s fun!
Do you know when the autographed copies will be available for people to purchase?
SACKHOFF: We don’t know. The great thing about this is that Tricia and I have learned so much about what not to do, and the right and wrong ways to do things. When we did the documentary last year, we learned so much about producing something. This year, we learned about just the cost of doing calendars. We were lucky enough to find a company like Red Bubble, who would actually print to order. It saved us the up-front cost, which kept the cost lower. They’re still priced quite high, but it kept it lower and it produced a higher quality for the fans, and we could give more to charity. So, what Tricia and I have to do is actually go buy the calendars from the company at cost, sign them and then sell them that way. It’s taking a bit longer to get the signed ones, but they are definitely going to be on www.ActingOutlaws.org, at some point.
SACKHOFF: Tricia grew up on a farm, so she’s always been on riding type things, whether it be a tractor or whatever. I grew up in a small town where we played around on motorcycles and things, but it really started when I got old enough. I think I was obsessed with the culture of riding. I got sick of having to date guys who rode motorcycles for me to be on them. Funnily enough, my fiancé actually grew up with Tricia’s husband, and we realized that after the fact. Tricia’s husband and my fiancé both ride, and it became this thing where she and I motivated each other to do it, so we could ride together and with them. And then, Mark Derwin rides, as well. It just became this big group of people who ride together. Michael Trucco from Battlestar Galactica rides. JR Bourne, who’s on Revenge now and who was on The Secret Circle, rides. So, we’re this group of actors who rides together, hence the whole Acting Outlaws thing. It just became this big crew of actors and producers. But, we learned to ride so that we wouldn’t have to be on the back.
Did you have any idea just how challenging it would be to do the ride from Los Angeles to Louisiana for your documentary?
SACKHOFF: You know, we did. It was challenging, but it was fun. Even the moments we were scared for our lives were fun. It was the first ride that we had done without our guys with us, and we weren’t worried about the riding, but we were worried about driving across the country and something going wrong. I honestly don’t think that we thought we’d hit the weather that we hit, and when we did hit it, the first people we called were our guys. They were like, “Get off the road!,” but we decided not to. We were trying to prove to everybody that we could ride through 50 to 60 mph winds and get to the destination on time, without being hurt. We rode through a torrential downpour where the sky just opened up and pissed rain on us for four hours. You couldn’t even see your tire in front of you. The problem is that you can’t stop because then you’re sitting in it, so you have to keep going. We just took the necessary precautions. For lack of a better term, we got as far away from the eye of the storm that we were in as we could. We still rode through insanely high winds and, in retrospect, it was probably really unintelligent. But, we proved to ourselves that we can ride through anything, which was really great for Tricia and I, and our friendship.
There’s a joke that, if you can ride through Texas with somebody, which is 700 miles of just straight, flat freeway riding, then you can be friends with them forever. We’ve been very, very close for a long time, but if you can be with someone for nine days, and it’s just you and them, then you know that you’ve got a tight friendship. It was scary for us to come to the realization that the truckers in these massive semis were actually the better drivers, and they were the only ones watching out for us. What we did through Texas, for about 400 miles, was ride directly behind a semi, on top of him. He knew that we were in his blind spot, and we would back up and he would see us and wave to us, but we were staying on top of him because it was so windy and he was blocking our wind. He was also protecting us from the other drivers because they were driving so crazy. It was one of the best riding days we had because we were so protected from the wind.
SACKHOFF: Telling our people that, not only would we be taking 10 days off, where we’d be completely unavailable even if [Steven] Spielberg called, but that we would also be driving across the country on a motorcycle, I think everyone was a bit fucking terrified. They were like, “You girls are going to die. I don’t know why you’re doing it.” My manager was a bit more understanding than Tricia’s people, just because my manager has given up. He’s been my manager since I was 17, so he understands that he can’t make me do anything. People think that Tricia is more fragile than I am, but in reality, it’s the opposite. It’s funny.
Have you started shooting Season 2 of Longmire yet?
SACKHOFF: We haven’t. We actually start in the middle of March. It’s been quite a big break, but it’s been great because I fit some projects in and I have a couple more still to shoot.
Because it seems like there is so much more to explore there, are you looking forward to stepping back into the shoes of that character?
SACKHOFF: There really is. What I like about her is that Vic is actually the most real character that I’ve ever played. Most of the characters I play are heavily engulfed in some sort of fantasy world, but Vic is the first real breakable character that I’ve played and I love that about her. I love that she’s the most feminine and the most real character that I have played. I am looking forward to going back because I think that she’s the closest to myself that I’ve ever played.
Was it fun to have the experience of making the Riddick film and working with Vin Diesel?
SACKHOFF: Oh, my god, yeah! It’s a dream come true. I’ve been a fan of the Riddick series since Pitch Black, and I’m such a huge fan of Vin and (director) David Twohy. When I got the job, I was jumping up and down and crying and screaming. And then, the director said to me, “You do know there’s nudity, right?” And I was like, “Shit! I have to talk to my dad first. I can’t take the role until I call my dad. Let me call you right back.” So, I called my dad. I’ve always said that I’ll know when I’ve gone too far because I won’t be able to sit down and watch it with my father. I am a daddy’s girl at heart, even though I’m in my 30s. So, I told him about it and he said, “You know, I can handle that, but I don’t know if your brother will be okay. It’s Vin Diesel. Don’t say no to Vin Diesel. Just go do the movie.” So, I called David Twohy back and said, “My dad said I can take my clothes off.” It was pretty funny, actually.
SACKHOFF: I haven’t, no. I’ve seen bits and pieces when I’ve gone in to do ADR, and it looks really fun. I’m really excited about it!
It’s been announced that it will have an R rating, but will it be a hard R? Is there a lot of blood in it?
SACKHOFF: There’s a shitload of blood and there’s little pieces of nudity, here and there. There’s my nudity too, but it’s side boob, for three to five seconds. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s mostly for the language. My character and Matt Nable’s character say fuck, like every other word. It’s kind of fantastic, actually. He must have said fuck 15 times, in every single scene. It’s pretty awesome. So, it’s mostly for language.
What can you say about the character that you’re playing?
SACKHOFF: Her name is Dahl and she’s a Nordic bounty hunter. She’s German. It’s just fantastic! There’s a scene where one of the characters screws with my character and I punch him in the face. She’s really very short-tempered and she’s got a short fuse. She’s funny. She’s very, very, very good at her job. She’s a sniper, and she’s the number two commanding officer, behind Matt Nable’s character, in our group of mercenaries. She’s great! Matt and I decided, from day one, after we met, that we were kindred spirits. We got along really well. We knew that we wanted to be standing next to each other, in every scene. We went and told the D.P. about it and he was like, “I like it. It works.” That was cool! I’m really excited about it. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. It really is a dream come true. It’s amazing!
Are you officially doing the all-female Expendables movie, or are you waiting to see a script?
SACKHOFF: Well, I am attached to it, but things always happen. If a script got delivered and was absolutely horrible, then you figure things out. But, I can’t imagine, with everyone that (producer) Adi Shankar is bringing around the project, that it’s going to be bad. I really put a lot of faith in him and his eye for detail. I’m a big fan of Gina [Carano], and there’s a lot of strong women. When I sat down with Adi and he pitched the women that he wanted in the movie, these are not your 5 foot 2, skinny girls. These are the girls that can actually kick some ass, which made me excited. And they are different types of girls. I haven’t seen The Expendables movies, but not every one of us has the same fighting style and we’re all different body types. It’s believable that we could all kick some ass. I’m really looking forward to it.
Did you have to audition for that, or did they hire you because you’re not for doing so many action roles?
SACKHOFF: I didn’t audition for that, but I did audition for Riddick. I auditioned one time for Riddick, and then the second time, I just had to go in and meet Vin. I didn’t read the second time. I’ve worked really hard and I’ve been doing this a long time. It really is nice to get to a point where you don’t have to audition, all the time, and where your reputation on camera actually goes into the room before you. That is nice. By no means am I above auditioning or do I not have to do it ‘cause I do have to do it. I auditioned for Longmire. But, there are certain jobs where I just don’t have to anymore, and that’s really nice.
SACKHOFF: This business is hard. People and producers and studios and finance guys get caught up in saying, “Women don’t sell movies,” or “This person doesn’t sell foreign,” or “You have to attach guys first,” or “People don’t want to see women do this.” I’ve heard those things so many times that I’ve actually heard myself say them, a number of times. It is nice for someone to finally take a chance. In the last couple of years, our business and a lot of people have stopped taking chances and have started just recycling old ideas. There is a market for that. Trust me, I watch the movies, so I know there’s a market for it. But, I also think there’s a market for things that are new and different and take chances. Those are the movies that really take people by surprise. I don’t know. I am surprised it’s taken this long. I’m happy that it did because I wouldn’t have been in it.
What was the experience of making Oculus like, and playing the mother of Karen Gillan’s character?
SACKHOFF: It’s so funny because everyone was like, “How is that possible?!” But, it’s possible as much as Olivia Wilde could be Justin Timberlake’s mother (in In Time). I didn’t actually have many scenes with Karen. I can’t give too much away, but most of my scenes that are with her are different. I don’t know how to explain it without ruining the story. Let’s just say it’s different.
How was Karen Gillan to work with?
SACKHOFF: Karen is a bit older than I was, when I first got Battlestar, but she’s so young. To actually help navigate her through this world was pretty interesting. But, most of my scenes were with the younger version of her, who’s played by Annalise Basso. She’s just a brilliant little actress.
Do you have a plan or future goals for what you want to do with Acting Outlaws, or are you just feeling it out to see how things go?
SACKHOFF: We are feeling it out and taking it slow, but we definitely have ideas. Tricia and I came up with this idea thinking that ultimately what we wanted to have was a motorcycle clothing line, and then do these side projects to help charities that were underfunded and underappreciated. Right now, it’s in the beginning stages. The great thing about the Acting Outlaws is that we’ll never stop doing what we do because there will always be charities that need help. It will have as long of a life as she and I have the energy for. We’ll just keep coming up with new ideas. We have a couple of big motorcycle rides in mind. We also do a ride every year with Kiehl’s for amfAR. Kiehl’s does a lot of charitable work. They’re just a phenomenal organization. The president of Kiehl’s is amazing, and he’s really allowed Tricia and I to help him, along the way, just by being there. We just want to keep giving back, and come up with fun ideas and ways to do that.
Further information about the Acting Outlaws can be found at www.ActingOutlaws.org.