Who doesn’t love Katee Sackhoff? Ever since her career took off in 2003 when she was cast as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the modern version of Battlestar Galactica, she has gone from one high-profile gig to another, including a season of 24, a starring role in last year’s underrated Riddick — where she held her own opposite Vin Diesel – and a lead on the A&E detective series Longmire. She is also a fan favorite, showing up to wild acclaim at events like Comic-Con and enthusiastically supporting the projects she undertakes.
In new her film, Oculus, Sackhoff plays Marie, the mother of two children who comes under the corrupting influence of a malignant haunted mirror. Marie’s transformation is truly horrifying, but Sackhoff – working from a great script co-written by director Mike Flanagan – make sure that Marie is sympathetic as well, making her plight that much more cruel and tragic.
Den of Geek got to sit down with the Los Angeles-based actress at the recent press day for Oculus, where she discussed the film, her role, her most memorable fan encounter and the campaign to cast her as Ms. Marvel.
Den Of Geek: What appealed to you about playing Marie, which is not exactly a pleasant role to play?
Katee Sackhoff: Yeah. You know, I thought that you read something like that and you kind of, you know, I felt for her, I really did. I felt her pain and her insecurities and frustration with her life. I really wanted to kind of do her justice because I didn’t think she was evil, I just felt she was sad and vulnerable. And because she’s so obviously vulnerable to this mirror from the very beginning, I think that I wanted to try and make her as relatable as possible and as sympathetic as possible. Because I wanted you ultimately to feel really bad for this family and these children. Their lives have been destroyed. So I thought what a challenging opportunity to try and make somebody who’s so evil actually sympathetic.
Is it difficult to do that kind of stuff with kids, all the horrific and even abusive stuff? Even though you’re all actors and you all know it’s not real?
It was one of the first questions I had when I read the script. Before I took the role I remember getting on the phone with Mike Flanagan and saying, “Are you really going to make these kids like eight and ten?” Because I believe in the script they were written as eight and ten or nine and ten, something along those lines. So I was worried about that. I would have had to think a little bit harder had they played them younger. But then I found out that they were actually 13, that you could sit down and actually have an adult conversation with a 13-year-old and be like, you know, let me know if you get scared or if I hurt you. And these kids are both pros. I mean they’ve been working forever.
So you had like safe words with them and you discussed things beforehand?
With Annalise (Basso) for sure. Not with Garrett (Ryan) because I don’t think I ever really manhandled him as much. But with her definitely. I think it was “banana,” something like that or “peanut butter.” And she never used it. And between each take I would just make sure to be like, “Are you sure you’re okay?” And she was like, “Absolutely.” She’s a great kid and she’s really smart. And her mom Marcy was there and she is lovely.
What would you say was some of the more physically grueling parts that you had to shoot? I mean I keep thinking of you being chained up in the bedroom floor …
Well, that for sure. I remember driving to New Orleans because my fiancé, we have a place there and he was actually there at the time and so I remember driving to meet him there and it was summer, it was October but in New Orleans that’s summer. And I came in with my shorts and a T-shirt on and I was covered in bruises, even on my neck and he was like, “What the hell is going on?” And I’m like, “Oh, I was chained to the wall.” He’s like, “What?!” So it was pretty physical for sure. And there were scenes where you have to sell it. This isn’t a picture where they’re bringing in stunt doubles for you. This is something where they’ll bring in a stunt double for Annalise when she has to jump out of a window but not for me. The role was written physical but it didn’t have to go this big. I wanted her to crawl and spend tons of time on her knees. And I wanted her to turn kind of more animal . When you get hit in the face with a golf club you (have to) sell that. Because if you don’t, no one’s going to believe it. So you throw yourself over and over and over again onto the floor, which I find fun but I’m not 25 anymore so your neck definitely hurts the next day.
You’ve done physical stuff before but this just seemed more savage. Where do you draw that out of?
I don’t know. There is this fear that it is incredibly embarrassing to crawl on your hands and knees and act like an animal in front of grown men. I mean, maybe that’s somebody’s fantasy but not mine (laughs). If you don’t do it well it’s embarrassing. So you kind of have to throw that out the window and just go for it. Because the only way it’s not going to be embarrassing is if you really just do it. But definitely the first time I did it was a little nervous. I looked at Mike and I was like, “Is something like that good?” And he was like, “That’s amazing.” And I was like, “Okay good, just making sure I don’t look like an idiot crawling on the floor.” I had wood burns on my knees and it was pretty crazy.
What is your relationship with the horror genre?
Horror movies scare me. I’m not the type of person that goes and rents horror movies, but at the same time (I enjoy movies where) it’s things that you can understand, things that would really happen. Like, I really want to see The Purge just because it makes sense. Like that could actually happen. Home invasions happen every day. That to me scares the s**t out of me so it’s kind of like things like that I’ll enjoy watching. I watched Insidious 2 and was screaming in the theater and my friends were like, “Katee, that wasn’t that scary.” And I was like screaming bloody murder. I think I’ve seen one Saw halfway through and I was so scared and grossed out that I turned it off. I like to laugh more.
Your name popped up in regards to Marvel movies a few months ago. Anything on that front at all? A lot of people out there would love to see you play Ms. Marvel. Is there any basis in reality of that or is that just hearsay?
I don’t know if there’s any basis in reality to it. As far as I know it’s just been fan speculation and maybe some conversations, but nothing concrete at all.
Have you ever sat down with Marvel just for a general meeting?
Me personally? No.
Because they always say that they talk with people a lot even if nothing gets signed.
Well, they do, they do reach out but I think if it ever got to a point where I as an actor and not my representative sat down and talked to them, it’s a completely different ball game at that point. So no, I have not had a conversation with them.
Fans love you and you’re very popular at Comic-Con and events like that. What’s the most memorable fan encounter you ever had?
A Wookie in the bathroom told me that they loved me and I don’t know if it was a woman or a man, to this day. It was so weird and just awkward and I was like, “Awesome.” I don’t even think I peed, I think I walked out. I was so just kind of freaked out just by the visual of it. Like, this person’s seven feet tall. In your mind you’re going, “I’m in the bathroom alone with a person that’s dressed like a Wookie. This is crazy.” So that definitely for sure is still one of the most memorable things that’s ever happened.
Oculus is out in theaters April 11.