I recently got the chance to talk to Kathleen Gati about her role in Miranda July’s new film, ‘The Future’. Here, Kathleen talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how she got into acting in the first place…
Hey Kathleen. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘The Future‘.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
When a couple decides to adopt a stray cat, their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves. (I took this from the IMDB for accuracy).
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I portray a German vet, Dr. Straus, who works at a pet adoption clinic. She is very sensitive and caring towards the animals and tries to find appropriate homes for these abused, abandoned and needy animals. At the first encounter with Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), who want to adopt this cat, Paw Paw, Dr. Straus (my character) tries to educate them in the physical and emotional care of this sick and wounded cat. Much to their chagrin, she has to deny them the ability to take the cat for a month as the cat needs full recovery from its wounds and broken paw. She feels hopeful that these two will be decent owners for Paw Paw, but sadly, when the month is up, and the couple forget to show up to pick up Paw Paw, she has to have the cat euthanized, even having waited a few extra days. She is so angry with these selfish, uncaring, cruel people, and when Sophie finally shows up to pick up Paw Paw, Dr. Straus has to tell her, in as controlled a manner as possible, that it is too late, but she is seething inside at the utter selfishness and cruelty of people, something she most likely had experienced in her own personal life, and which connects her so strongly with these abandoned animals and makes her so protective.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I first met the casting directors, Jeanne McCarthy and Nicole Abellera, when the director, Jay Roach – who I had worked with on ‘Meet The Fockers’, requested me for an audition for a film he was working on. The casting directors later brought me in for the role of Dr. Straus on ‘The Future’, and I was cast.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Miranda July has a wonderfully fresh and unique storytelling style. I loved her film, ‘Me And You And Everyone We Know’ and I jumped at the opportunity to work with her. She doesn’t buy into the Hollywood linear formula film, but instead chooses to tell a story her way, visually, symbolically, putting her imagination on the screen…things that we think… into shape and form and story. I want to follow her career very closely. I trust she has and will change the face of American filmmaking.
The film stars Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres and Joe Putterlik – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It was so wonderful to work with this cast. First of all, there was a “meet and greet” bowling party before the shoot began, so everyone could get to know each other. One of my acting teachers in New York told me the best way to get comfortable working with an actor is to have pizza with them! Okay, there was no pizza, but we did get to “sniff” each other a bit. My scenes were with Miranda and Hamish, and they were both wonderful and gentle souls. It was a treat to work with them. And Miranda, who was also the director, was especially delicate and specific in her requests.
Let’s talk a bit about you Kathleen. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
My parents were both in the arts, my mother, Agnes was an opera singer in Hungary before my parents left during the revolution in 1956 and emigrated to Canada where I was born. My father, Laszlo was a well-known conductor in Canada and all over South America, Europe and Mexico for over four decades. So there was plenty of classical music in the house to inspire my soul and emotions to find a venue for expression. Initially ballet captivated me for years, and then slowly I transitioned to acting, where I have found my calling and my complete satisfaction professionally.
You’ve had a number of roles in different TV series and films – who have been your favourite ac-tors/actresses to work with so far, and which project has been your favourite to be a part of?
My favourite actor to date is Robin Williams. I originally worked with him on ‘Moscow On The Hudson’, one of the first films I worked on when I was still a student in New York City. I played a dancer in a Russian restaurant where Robin Williams’ character was a busboy. He had to carry a very heavy plastic tray loaded with plates and cutlery in this specific scene we were doing. He insisted on doing the eighteen rehearsal takes himself, instead of having his stand-in do it, while the crew prepared the lights and camera. And of course never complained once, was warm and helpful to us all, and never pulled the diva card that so many actors and actresses feel they are entitled to use. I will never forget Robin’s professionalism, his humbleness and kindness with one and all. He reaffirmed this for me when we worked together on ‘Jakob, The Liar’ several years later. Once again, he not only was humble and kind with everyone, but he also gave everyone gifts and treated us all to a lovely Thanksgiving party. And he was a true partner in the scenes I did with him, giving so much of himself to me in each moment, so that I could give myself fully to the material. The emotional connection he allowed and was open to with me in the scenes were magical. I wish every actor or actress I work with were so open and so giving.
Every show or movie I have worked on has been a treat, a unique and amazing experience one way or another, but if I had to pick one specific project, I’d say that ’24’ was a fantastic experience for me for multiple reasons. First of all, Kiefer Sutherland is a doll to work with, also kind, humble and a very decent human being and very talented. So were the producers and directors, Jon Cassar, Joel Surnow, plus the writers and all the amazing crew, the fantastic cast…I worked mostly with Jean Smart, whom I love, as well as with Gregory Itzin…so it was just this incredible job…I was sad when it was over.
If you could have dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
That’s a tough one as there are so many amazing people in this world, past and present. If I had to pick just three, I would have to say my mother would be number one, because she was such an inspiration, such an amazing support system and was so full of love, I have missed her tremendously since she passed away too young over twenty years ago. I’d want to know how she was doing and if she was happy with the way my life has gone. And I have always admired Max von Sydow and Gena Rowland as actors, among others…it would be lovely to listen to them, learn from them.
If you were stranded on a desert island – what three things could you not live without?
Ah, my fiancé, sunscreen and peanut butter.
What is your favourite animal and why?
I have always been fascinated by turtles and have raised several of them over the years. Besides the fact that they are possibly the oldest living reptiles on this planet, they also represent mother earth, peace, balance, and I love the idea that they carry their home, their house, their secure place with them wherever they go. My favourite turtle was Gigi, a large yellow-bellied cooter I had for nine years, but it grew too big and I needed to give it up for adoption. I swear it was almost as difficult as giving up a child.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I played the lead in a film called ‘Retrace’ that is being shopped around currently for distribution. I just won the Best Actress award for it at the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival, and this film was also one of seventeen films selected for Official Competition at the 33rd Moscow International Film Festival this past July.
I played a role on ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ and recently worked on a new film, ‘American Dream’, directed by Oscar Winner, Janusz Kaminski, which will be out soon, plus I played the mother of Azita Ghanizada’s character on ‘Alphas’ last season, and will hopefully be back this new upcoming season as well. And I just worked on a fun show on the FX Channel that will air in December and I had a blast doing! I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that I wouldn’t say anything till after…so stay tuned! I hope they invite me back as well! What’s next? It’s up to the universe! I’m ready!
Thanks for the interview!