Opening this weekend is writer-director David Twohy’s Riddick. The R-rated film finds Vin Diesel’s character being hunted by mercenaries, and once again, they’re hopelessly outmatched by the anti-hero who can see in the dark. But the mercs and their bounty are forced to team up when lethal alien monsters attack. If you’re a fan of Pitch Black, you’re going to be very happy watching Riddick. The film also stars Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Molla, Dave Bautista, Raoul Trujillo, Bokeem Woodbine and Nolan Gerard Funk.
At the recent press day in Los Angeles I landed an exclusive interview with Katee Sackhoff. She talked about making the film, what surprised her about the filming process, how she was cut out of Pitch Perfect (but still gets residuals), the best part of attending conventions, Twitter, what she collects, Oculus, and much more.
Note: Slight spoilers are discussed towards the end of the interview.
KATEE SACKHOFF: Thank you.
I thought the movie turned out great.
SACKHOFF: Thank you.
Consider you guys had a dollar fifty and some duct tape.
SACKHOFF: The duct tape is our uniforms, and it’s all that silver.
Right exactly. I did set a visit so I know first hand the way you guys were doing. And this wasn’t an easy shoot.
SACKHOFF: No, it was not easy. I made a joke that someone asked what the worst part was and I said that I was allergic to my wardrobe and that I had to use monkey butt and baby power down my pants and everything. This was not… it was because there was water and dust and wind and all these elements that you were, you know, sitting in all day long. It was crazy. I mean, not crazy in bad way, crazy in a good way. It was an intense shoot, you know.
Well, more than that, when I think people see the movie, they’re not gonna believe that the entire thing was shot on a soundstage, like, in Montreal.
SACKHOFF: No, not at all.
You don’t believe it when you’re watching the screen.
SACKHOFF: No, it’s amazing. I mean, you know, even the jackals are absolutely amazing, and granted some of them were there but not in the form that they are on screen, you know? It’s what they’ve done with the special effects and the way the tone of the world they set up is pretty amazing, and, yeah, no one would believe it was minus forty outside.
We’ve done a lot of the casting stories, we’ve done a lot of the making of, so I want to go into some other stuff.
SACKHOFF: Oh God.
For example, what do you collect?
SACKHOFF: Oh my God, what do I collect? Records.
Okay. Do we have like a big collection or a medium-sized collection?
SACKHOFF: A medium. Medium. You know, uh, yeah, medium. Like a hundred, two hundred records.
Oh, that’s not that bad.
So you’re not on eBay or Amazon looking all the time?
Okay, so what makes that cut to make it part of the hundred? Is it something that you have to have loved from childhood?
SACKHOFF: Well, the record has to be in really good condition. It has to be under fifteen dollars, because I don’t believe in spending more on records. Unless, listen, I’ve been there, and there’s some out there, but the problem is you can spend so much money on records. So, you know, it was really frustrating for me because my fiancee [producer Scott Niemeyer] did Pitch Perfect and he had, and they had to buy an entire record collection of this guy. I mean, thousands and thousands of fucking records, and they had to buy them, and then they sold them all. I was like, “What are you doing?” I was so upset. I was like, “Come on.”
You didn’t get hooked up at all?
SACKHOFF: Not at all. Not at all.
Something about this is not right.
SACKHOFF: Right? He did bring me one necklace that belonged to one of the cast members that was really cute because there was an L.
This is not about your movie, but that movie was a very big hit.
SACKHOFF: Massive hit, yeah.
Big hit. Now, can you sing and can you be in college when they’re doing the sequel?
SACKHOFF: I can sing, and I have said to him once or twice Anna Camp is my age. Like, what are you doing here? Come on, buddy. I just give him shit all the time. Like, you know, I mean nepotism is something that this business is very fond of, and it is something that he and I have only done once, and it was on Haunting in Georgia. I pick his brain, and that is nepotism enough. You know, I produce with Tricia [Helfer] and I’ve got a bunch of projects in the works and I’ve optioned a bunch of projects and writing some stuff, so I pick his brain about stuff like that, and that’s enough. I’ve made it this far on my own. I can do it. I mean, listen, if I could go back, like two years, and kick his ass to be in Pitch Perfect, I probably would.
I understand. Well, hindsight is twenty-twenty.
SACKHOFF: I actually was in it. I was just cut. There was a scene, I was there one day visiting on set, and they needed a DJ. The guy that Beca was dating was dating the DJ, and they said, “Katee, wouldn’t it be really funny if you threw a brown wig on and played the DJ?” And I was like, “Perfect, I’ll do it.” So I was actually in the movie, but not in the movie.
So there’s actually film of you in the movie.
SACKHOFF: With a brown wig. I think actually Elizabeth Banks actually tweeted a picture of me in the movie. Yeah.
This is an Easter egg I did not know about. This is very interesting.
SACKHOFF: So yeah, there’s moments. I actually make residuals on it, and my fiancee gets so mad at me. He’s like, “You didn’t even do anything!” Like, I know, I know. You’re the one that asked.
That is amazing.
SACKHOFF: Isn’t it amazing? I think I made like fourteen cents the other day.
SACKHOFF: He then said something along the lines of, “And this is the problem! This is the problem! You didn’t even do anything!”
But you could have done something. Well, you did.
SACKHOFF: I did, I worked, but whatever. Should I be getting residuals on it? Probably not.
You’ve done obviously conventions. You’ve been to Comic-Con, you’ve been all over. What is the, for you, the best part of going to conventions and meeting fans?
SACKHOFF: That’s it, right there. You know, is meeting fans, and in general. Blanket statement across the board. I love the idea of seeing who you’ve touched with your work and who you’ve inspired. It may not have been why I got into the business, by far, but it’s part of what I love about it now and as I’m getting older, is the amount of people that get some sort of enjoyment out of what I do. That’s why I like conventions.
SACKHOFF: Oh gosh. You know the coolest thing is usually a cup of coffee because they usually bring me Starbucks coffee which makes me really happy. The weirdest thing? Yeah, I don’t even remember. There’s been some weird stuff. There’s some weird stuff. I keep it all. I do. I have a box underneath my stairs where it’s all there.
I can’t even imagine.
SACKHOFF: I put it all in the box.
I’m gonna jump back into Riddick for a second. For people curious about the making of the movie, what’s the thing that maybe would surprise them about the actual making of the film? In terms of behind the scenes, the stuff you don’t see in the b-roll, the stuff you don’t hear about. Was there anything that really surprised you about the making of it that fans might be interested to learn?
SACKHOFF: I mean, seriously, that’s such a great question because I think that there’s so many little things that I’m not even thinking of because it’s so commonplace for me. I think that for me, so I can’t really think about it, but the thing that gets me the most, the things that are the most fun for me, is like the scene at the very end of the movie where I’m harnessed and I come down, and to see that happen, it was on a little, the size of a four car garage space, with a mountain. A mountain that was built it, that was probably only twenty feet high, and a harness on a crane, and me dangling from the harness, and Vin [Diesel] sitting on the side of the mountain. That’s it. And then to see it finished is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Just to see the mud demons climbing up the mountain and him fighting for his survival, and my character coming out of nowhere. It’s amazing! I was like, “Oh my God that was so cool! I did that!” No I didn’t, Katee. You’re on a harness on a thirty foot mountain. I think just things like that, just to actually see it happen and then see it on camera, or you know, in the film is such a completely different thing.
When you’re on set, you’re obviously doing multiple takes and you’re delivering lines different ways sometimes. The performance is ultimately shaped in the editing room. How much are you, as an actor, being like, “Hey, could I just see where we’re at in the editing room?” Because obviously they’re controlling your performance.
SACKHOFF: The only thing I wanted to see, the only thing I bothered them, we had so many hair discussions, because there was only so much we could do with my hair, because I was going straight back into Longmire. So whatever we did, we needed to be able to put extensions in to go to Longmire. The whole first season of Longmire is extensions because my hair was at my chin. We were limited. I wanted to shave half my head. I wanted to shave my whole head. I wanted to like, go for it. DT [director David Twohy] was like number one, too far, and number two, we don’t really need to. We had a lot of discussions about what to do with my hair. I wanted to see what that looked like on camera. I also wanted to see the wardrobe, what it looked like with the corset and the chaps, because that was a decision we had made, you know.
It’s funny to hear corset and chaps.
SACKHOFF: Isn’t it? I mean it could be called bustier corset/leather binding thing. Half Fifty Shades of Grey, half fucking British movie. I have no idea. I wanted to see what that looked like on film to see if we made the right choice in making her more feminine.
Obviously things get cut out of movies. Were there any scenes that were cut out involving your character?
SACKHOFF: Not cut out, shortened. The scene at the end, the rescue, was twice as long, and I’m glad it’s shorter, because it plays… it’s such a faster paced moment, so the ass grab surprises you. And her comment to him surprises you, instead of the way it was, where she had dialogue to him on the rocks and ultimately what they decided is that it wasn’t needed. I think they made the right choice. Granted, I didn’t see it before, but I think it plays beautifully. It’s very cool.
From when you first got the script to what I saw on screen last night, how much changed along the way?
SACKHOFF: Oh God.
Were there any sort of big things with your character, or the film in general?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, well I don’t think big things. There was more of the Necromonger world, was there. Stuff with Carl. My character being second in command to Boss Johns and my character being a sniper was not in the script. Her shooting the gun was in the script one time, and I said, when Vin told us to do our backstory and DT had said do your back story, and Matt Nable and I had decided that we think she’s his number one. We were like, you know, one of the big questions was that, you know, does my team know that I sleep with guys? How well do these guys know me? The decision that Matt Nable and I came up with is that they probably have been together for six years, and they probably know each other very well, and she’s been his number two for a long time. Which then peppers in to the fact that she makes a really good soldier. If she’s your number two, she’s very good at being told what to do. So it just changes subtle things about who you are, and in your performance, and then the sniper, which was a pain in my ass after I decided to do it in the sense that DT was like, “If you decide to do it, you’re married to that gun. I mean, married to that gun.” That gun is heavy, heavier than shit, and who knew you could have conversations for like an hour about how best to carry the gun on camera so you look like a badass? All of those things go into it. Things like that that weren’t on the page that you kind of develop as you go along.
The other thing is that there’s a lot of gun aficionados out there, that when a movie like with a lot of people with guns, they all watch.
SACKHOFF: Probably yeah.
Just throwing that out there.
SACKHOFF: Probably, and that’s the one thing with the sniper rifle is that I wanted to be very proficient at it. If she is the sniper, then she knows how to use this gun very very well. She shouldn’t have to look at her ammunition. She shouldn’t have to watch as she’s loading, and so I had to work at it for like a week, a week or two and really get that down, because that’s not an easy gun to load and get ready to go.
Before I run out of time with you, I wanted to touch on a few other things. One is, you’re linked to this female Expendables movie. What can you tell people about it? I know some of the casting, and I know it’s coming together, and that’s all I know.
SACKHOFF: Yeah. I mean, it’s coming, yeah. I mean, I think whenever you put that many women in a movie together, the casting process is going to be interesting. Not in that people don’t want to do it, but that’s a lot of schedules to work around. There’s a lot of women that are working right now and we’re trying to figure it out. Adi Shankaris really smart, he’s got the ability to see what works and what sells, and execute it. It will happen, it’s just a matter of everybody getting free.
I actually think it’s a great idea, and I’m really looking forward to you guys putting this together, and I’m not trying to put myself in the interview, but I think there needs to be more movies with women leads. There’s just not enough of them, and that’s why with The Heat this summer, I’m happy that that performed.
SACKHOFF: No, I agree completely, that I’m really impressed with the amount of women that are leading action movies and TV shows these days. I think that it’ll be interesting to see a movie with all of them in, a lot of them in it. That’s a lot of ego. That’s a lot of ego and a lot of estrogen.
I also want to touch on, I’m going to butcher the name, Oculus?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, Oculus.
What can you tell people about it?
SACKHOFF: Amazing, amazing. Absolutely amazing.
This is at TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival], right?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, it’s at TIFF. It’s one of the coolest movies I’ve ever seen. I’m very excited about it. Mike Flanagan [director] is a phenomenal writer and director, come to find out, and he’s able to take old ideas, old horror ideas, and turn them into fresh things that you’ve never seen before, and you walk out of there going, that was so simple! It’s so amazing, so amazing, and every one of his scripts are… it’s kind of one those things like the woman that invented the fuzzy hanger: so simple, but so amazing. Why didn’t I think of that? That’s who Mike Flanagan is. Amazing.
Well, TIFF’s a very prestigious festival. I’ll be there next week. For you, being part of the festival, what does that mean to have a film there?
SACKHOFF: Never been a part of TIFF before. I’m really excited. There’s a lot of buzz around this movie. I know a lot of people want to get a hand on it already.
SACKHOFF: This is a movie that was already sold. You know, we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be very, very interesting to see what happens.
Obviously for the future, I’m sure there’s many possibilities, what are the roads you’re looking at down the horizon in terms of what you want to walk down?
SACKHOFF: I’m all about longevity. I’m all about creating sustainability in this business, and producing. I’ve optioned two-three books, I’m writing my own TV show, I’m working on movies right, and also the company with Tricia Helfer. We’ve got quite a bit going on. It’s a blessing and a curse to have lived for nine years with a producer who’s had successes and failures. You see every aspect of what being a producer is and I love problem solving, and I feel like I can sit back and solve a problem that is so simple to me that everyone else has a hard time with. A lot of times it’s just not my place to bring it up, but ultimately that’s it. In a sense I’ve gotten this far without creating my own doors, and I wanna open up some new ones that I kind of control.
You’re also on Twitter, and you like to use it. What’s been the best part of that? Let’s talk about that. What’s been the best part of interacting with fans and using that to sort of shape things?
SACKHOFF: Twitter is an interesting demon because it is a necessity in the business we’re in these days. Social media is a very, very relevant part of our business. There is also a happy medium to it, in the sense that you have to control and it’s a difficult thing when you have opinionated people that have a hundred and forty characters to say something meaningful. I think that I have used it at times to say what I feel, and then at other times, I’ve deleted a lot of messages before I sent them, because it’s just not the right forum. I think you have to go into Twitter with an open mind and a grain of salt and just kind of say, this is what it’s gonna be, but I do like the idea that you kind of gives fans a glimpse into your life, but at the same time, it has to be a controlled glimpse.
Click here for all our previous Riddick coverage.