The indie drama Sexy Evil Genius – now available on DVD, digital download and VOD, and including audio commentary with director Shawn Piller and actors Seth Green and Harold Perrineau – tells the story of a group of people who are lured to the same bar in downtown Los Angeles by Nikki (Katee Sackhoff), an ex-girlfriend they all have in common. Beautiful, manipulative and possibly a bit insane, Nikki has one last surprise in store for her ex-lovers.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Katee Sackhoff talked about how challenging it was to play a role with so much dialogue, that she actually hired a friend to be her line coach, how they determined the way Nikki would behave with each of her exes, and what she personally thought of Nikki. She also talked about how happy she is with the status of her career right now, that she’s gotten to see bits and pieces of the new Riddick film and it’s awesome, what drew her to the role of Dahl, her desire to make the character stronger than any other character she’s ever played, and the status of the all-female Expendables film that she’s signed on to do. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
KATEE SACKHOFF: It was definitely a challenge, for many different reasons, compared to what I’m used to. It was a lot of dialogue. As actors in this movie, the five of us really took on the responsibility of giving Scott Lew’s words to life and wanted to do him justice. So, in memorizing this, we all set down and said, “We need to be word for word. Every word that’s on the page was meant to be written by him, and it’s important.” It was a lot of work. I actually hired one of my best girlfriends to be my line coach and she would come over, every day for a month, and we would read the script, from front to back, every single day. She and I must have read this script at least 60 times together, and then I must have read it 50 times on my own. We just went over it again and again and again and again, to really make sure it was perfect.
That was hard. It was a lot of work. It was really daunting, and I was petrified. The other thing we had to do as cast members, together and separately, I wanted every single thing that Nikki did to be planned, even when it looked like it wasn’t. And I needed to play it in such a way that, if somebody went back and watched it a second time, they would see it. That was hard, and it was hard for the other actors, too. I remember Michelle [Trachtenberg] sitting there one day and wanting to take her jacket off, but not knowing when to do it. She had to go back into the script and find the exact line where it would make sense. So, there was a lot going on, and every single one of us had a hand in it, and Scott Lew had a hand in it, and certainly (director) Shawn Piller had a hand in it, and 100% David Higgins, the producer. He was the steam engine behind this project, from day one.
SACKHOFF: David and I and Shawn sat down and really tried to figure out each relationship and to know each relationship and to know the backstory and try to figure out who this person was with each person. It had to be different, but it also had to be authentic. She was never faking with these people. She was being herself. She just didn’t really know who she was and what made her happy. I think it’s a conundrum that women go through, especially in their late teens, early 20s, and even into their 30s. I think we’re constantly reinventing ourselves, trying to figure out who we want to be and why we want to do that. It’s all of those questions that we ask ourselves, on a daily basis, but it’s magnified with Nikki. She loves every one of these people, for different reasons. She’s paying respect to each one of these people, for different reasons.
How did you view Nikki? Did you think she was actually unstable or crazy, or did you think she was just brilliant at manipulation?
SACKHOFF: Isn’t that the question, though? Some of the craziest people I’ve met, in my life, are some of the most brilliant people I’ve met. It’s almost as if they get bored in their own brain and they have to come up with this craziness to stay interested in life. So, I don’t know. I still don’t know. I think that’s up to the viewer. I think there’s probably little bits of both inside of her, for sure.
Does it feel like you’re in a good place with your career right now, with the TV show (Longmire) that’s totally grounded in reality, that you can go back to between doing things like Riddick? Does it feel like you have the best of both worlds?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, 100%. It’s not by accident. In television, I find myself drawn to reality because you have to live in that space for multiple months, day in and day out. To play in a reality is much more interesting and conducive to your own life. And then, when you go do movies for these short little bubbles of time, you can leave it all on the floor for three months and go get your ass kicked. And then, you go back to the reality of a TV show, where it’s a little bit saner. So, it’s definitely a choice. I love where I’m at right now. It’s great!
Have you gotten to see a rough cut of Riddick yet?
SACKHOFF: Bits and pieces, yeah. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s going to be a frickin’ awesome movie. It’s really great!
Is it more exciting or nerve-wracking to be a part of something that has become so highly anticipated?
SACKHOFF: I think the nerve-wracking part of it comes from being really one of the only women in the movie. There’s some other women in the movie, but they’re in the very, very, very beginning. There’s nobody to take focus off of me, if I’m not good. That was my biggest fear. There’s so many guys in the movie. They were all amazing. Every single one of those guys are phenomenal actors, and they really brought such life to their characters. But, when you’re the only woman in most of the movie, there’s a lot of pressure. If you’re not good, everyone is like, “Well, the girl sucked!” It’s not like people can go, “Which one?” The flipside of that is, if it succeeds, it’s the other side of that. This is, by far, the biggest movie I’ve ever done. I’m incredibly excited, but I’m also really scared. So, we’ll see.
SACKHOFF: It was a different role. The fear is that there would be a lot of comparisons to the roles that I’ve played in the past. I made a conscious effort to make her stronger than anyone I’ve ever played with very little, if no, vulnerability. That was hard for me because, as a person and as a woman, I’m incredibly vulnerable normally, and I love to bring those different layers to the characters that I play. With Dahl, there really wasn’t any of that. She’s just really, really strong. If she has a vulnerability, you’re never going to see it. That was really, really daunting and different for me, but I loved it.
The last time we spoke, you had signed on for the all-female Expendables film, but you hadn’t seen a script. Have there been any updates since then? Have you seen a script yet?
SACKHOFF: I know that one is coming. It’s still in the same place, but anyone who’s been around this business knows that this is the part that takes the longest. Once you start shooting, it’s really fast. This is the part that takes the most time. It’s actually right on track. It seems like it’s not, but it is.
You seem to effortless go back and forth between smaller, character-driven stories and bigger action stories. Are you more comfortable in one than the other, or are you comfortable with both now?
SACKHOFF: Yeah. Every job that I got, after my first movie, was icing. I never dreamed that this would actually be my life, so I don’t know. All of it still scares the crap out of me. Every time I open my mouth, on the first day, I still think I’m going to get fired. I just consider myself incredibly lucky. I get drawn to things that inspire me, in the moment. It just so happens that they’ve been this really nice mix of both. It’s kind of on purpose because you do something small, and then you want to go do something big. I’m just going to keep working, as long as people want me to.
Sexy Evil Genius is now available on DVD, digital download and VOD.