An Interview with Katrena Rochell – By Nic Brown

Just do it. That phrase may be best known as a slogan for a brand of athletic shoes, but it is also a way of life for actress and filmmaker Katrena Rochell. Born in Tennessee, Rochell got the acting bug and it’s taken her all around the world. She currently splits her time between England where she is one of the producers for Kingsway Films and the US where she has appeared in a number of big studio films including the controversial comic book adaptation: KICK ASS. She’s just wrapped work on Kingsway’s latest release PSYCHOSIS and B-Movie Man Nic Brown had a chance to talk with her about her work on stage and screen, what she thinks about violence in cinema, and why “just do it” fits her style so well.

*   *   *

Nic- Katrena you’re in writer/director Reg Traviss’s new film PSYCHOSIS. What can you tell us about the movie and your role?  

Katrena- Reg confronted me about making a short film based on a 1970’s hammer horror film about an American woman in London.    We started playing around with the script.  We kept writing and playing and it ended up being a bit long for a short.  We sent the script out and everyone responded positively to it so we decided it made more sense to make a feature that we could recoup our monies.  Charisma Carpenter stepped in to play the female lead, Susan and I played her nemesis, Helena.    Helena is the mistress.  She is one of the red herrings of the piece.  She’s is involved with some dark, shady characters.

Nic- This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Traviss is it?

Katrena- No I have actually worked with him 3 times.  He is very loyal to the people he likes.  I am also a shareholder in his film company, Kingsway Films in London.

Nic- It sounds like you are pretty involved in filmmaking behind the camera as well as in front of it. Do you have any plans to write or direct your own feature?  

Katrena- Yes I have thought about it.  I have a "pet project" that I would love to do.  I’m working on it at the moment.  First I need more experience…

Nic- Going back to working in front of the camera, you also have a role in the new film KICK ASS. What kind of role do you play in that?  

Katrena- I played Rita, the female junkie.   She is the sexy girl who inevitably gets killed… It was great fun playing her as you get to have fun with it and play….

Nic- KICK ASS has generated a lot of controversy in both the US and the UK due to violent content. What are your thoughts about violence in films and is KICK ASS being given too much attention for that aspect?

Katrena- It seems our entertainment threshold for violence is very high anyways! Compared to what’s out there, I don’t believe it’s any worse than any other film or video game!   The film’s message is actually to help your fellow man.   To me that is what is important, the meaning.    I wouldn’t enjoy watching violence just for the sake of violence…

Nic- As an actress what do you look for in a role?  

Katrena- I love characters that are mad, crazy, insane… I’m not very good at being "normal".  I consider myself a character actress….  I love playing around with the lunacy of character… finding what makes them tick just a little bit different.

Nic- How’d you get started in acting?  

Katrena- I was taking a film class and the head of the drama department asked me to come in. I did and I was dreadful.  I was soooo shy.  Actually, I still am.  In Drama school, I would physically get sick before going up in front of the class…  I was so nervous. Sometimes, I still get that way before an audition and when that happens….. You know you are in for a long one.

Nic- In addition to your work in film, I understand that you’ve also done quite a bit of theatre as well. Which do you find the most challenging: film or theatre? 

Katrena- I find film more challenging…  I feel like you have to work within the restraints of the camera.  It’s not as natural for me. Theater you just live, you just react… you do what you feel in that moment… it is brilliant.

Nic- Many filmmakers consider this to be a crucial time for the entertainment industry as new technologies challenge the traditional models of distribution. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Katrena- I think this is the most exciting time to be a film maker.  I am actually doing a film at the moment incorporating one of these "new world distribution" models.   This enables film makers to have much more control with their films and distribution.  More films have the opportunity to be seen… there are so many new outlets now.   There is no excuse now, if you want to make a film, not to do it!

Nic- You’ve been in a number of films from the horror/thriller genre, but do you like watching ‘scary’ movies?

Katrena- It really depends.  I like story!  I would not enjoy a film just for the violence or horror aspects.  I love dark subjects but not to do something for the sake of doing it… I’m more interested in the why.  I’m fascinated by the minds of serial killers!

Nic- Earlier we spoke about violence in film, there is another aspect that often get’s brought up when talking about horror films, the treatment of women in them. What are you think about women’s roles in horror/thrillers?

Katrena- I do think it has its place! Saying that I do feel that people both girls and boys like women with more depth other than just good looks, especially on screen. Women can be much more scary and violent than men. Women can be evil and it is fun watching women play those roles.

Nic- What do you like to do for fun when you’re not making movies?

Katrena- I love reading, traveling, cooking, painting, I adore animals, biking, meeting friends at the pub, I’m pretty much up for anything….

Nic- If you could work with any director who would it be and what kind of project would you like it to be?

Katrena- There are so many directors, but right now, the one that is standing out is Kar Wai Wong.   I love anything that crosses boundaries, you know, pushes the envelope just enough that everyone feels just a little bit uncomfortable!  I always work to find the truth.  We are all the same… we all feel the same feelings and we are all capable of the same things…  what makes interesting characters  are the choices the character makes… I would like to play the characters that make the odd choice and I would hope that that would show on screen. Projects with that type depth are my dream projects… and of course I love comedy!

Nic- What advice would you offer to someone interested in working in film?

Katrena- Just do it… anyone can make a film these days. You learn by doing.  Put something on you tube.  Get a group of mates, whose company you enjoy, and create!!


*   *   *