I recently got the chance to talk to Katrena Rochell about her role in ‘Lotus Eaters’. Here, Katrena talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working on-set with the cast and crew…
Hey Katrena. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Lotus Eaters’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
It is a portrait of superficial and privileged young Britons. The film documents their adventures as they venture through relationships, parties, drugs, sex, shopping and other wild escapades! It is also a love story. A story about a girl struggling through her twenties with bad friends.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the character Leni who is American. She is brash, loud and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about her! Underneath she has a good heart. She has kids but sometimes forgets how many. She deals drugs to supplement her child support, but, alas, she’s terrible at being discreet. Leni is always honest to the point of being blunt and rude. She has bad judgement and gets into some terrible scrapes. Infidelity makes her sick to the point where she pukes on Saskia when she sees her having sex with someone who isn’t Marlon!
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I worked with the producer, Mark Lee on a project he directed several years back. He phoned me and asked me to read for him and the director Alexandra McGuiness. I did and got the part! I was so excited to work with Mark again and to work with Alexandra. She is a very talented woman and I loved working with her.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The film is shot in black and white and the cinematography is stunning! The fun thing about this film is not what the characters are saying. It is about looks and what is not being said. Watch the film over and over…you will find something new every time. It is an ensemble piece. It is not “Hollywood” (thank God!) which smacks you in the face with what is happening. Alexandria has created a work of art with ‘Lotus Eaters’. Oh, did I mention the music is killer! And lots of pretty people!
The film stars Antonia Campell-Hughes, Johnny Flynn, Benn Northover, Liam Browne, Amber Anderson, Jay Choi, Gina Bramhill, Daisy Lewis, Cynthia Fortune Ryan and your good self - with Alexandra McGuinness onboard as director - what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The film was so much fun. We all became good friends as we spent so much time together in costume & makeup! It was as if we were living the lives of the characters…one big party!
Alexandria knew what she wanted so we all knew what was expected of us. We did all fight over the clothes though…ha! They were so gorgeous! The best thing about being on set was the diversity of the cast and crew. We were all so extremely different coming from all sorts of different backgrounds. It was very interesting and fun.
Let’s talk a bit about you Katrena. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
I’ve always had a strong interest in the arts. And being a shy person, acting helped empower me to get out of my shell. I could express myself artistically under the guise of these “characters.”
And, of course, it’s just great fun. I think it helps one keep that childlike innocence which is so easy to lose in this modern, cynical world.
With acting you basically get to “play pretend” as you did when you were young. Yet it’s imbued with this personal art, as well as being a shading in the mosaic of the overall film itself.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
The best advice is to just be yourself. Don’t chase trends or looks or what you “think” people want you to be. Be yourself because that’s what you have that makes you unique. No one but you is you. Trust yourself and hone your craft. And most importantly, ENJOY what you do. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing today, what’s the point? The destination is always unknown, so enjoy the now.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series - which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
I love working with Reg Traviss. We have become very good friends throughout the years. His sets are always great fun! ‘Kick-Ass’ was exciting and such a large production. I was on set for a couple of weeks and didn’t even meet half the cast and crew. I have been working on a film the last year in the States which I am producing. We shot along the banks of the TN river…completely shut off from civilisation! Lots of stories there… but what happens on set, stays on set! ;;) I also shot a documentary in Palestine recently. That was crazy fun. I love being free to see where/what you can capture. I don’t like being tied down by being on set always. Give me a camera and let me roam freely…then I can shoot and do as I please.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
My iPod has all sorts of strange things in it. Artifacts from different points in my life.
Currently, I’m really enjoying the work of Stewart Eastham – (I just starred in his new music video! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcAn8a5madY). He was in this band ‘Day Of The Outlaw’ and is now doing a solo thing. I’m also a big Ray Charles fan. I love, love his “Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music” albums. As the song says, he makes me happy when times are blue. Justin Townes Earle is another singer I’ve really enjoyed recently. (Harlem River Blues!).
And of course, classics like The Beatles and Queen. Times and tastes may change, but they’re always safely tucked away on my iPod.
If you could have dinner with three guests - (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Ooh, that’s a difficult question. So abstract. CoCo Chanel is someone I’ve always admired. I’d love to pick her brain over dinner. She managed to do so much with her life. Henry Miller is another one. I’ve recently fallen in love with his writing. And, of course, there is the extra ex-pat connection I feel with him. And for number three….how about Tom Waits. In addition to the genius of his lyrics, he’s such a chameleon. I love the way he plays different characters in his music…and with his own persona over the course of his career. We all play different characters depending on who we’re interacting with in our daily lives. It’s a strange thing most people don’t talk about much…but Tom’s work is the living embodiment of it.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why? What’s coming up for you in 2013?
So many great films last year, it’s hard to narrow it down! Just saw ‘Django Unchained’ which was a cinematic treat. ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ was a spectacularly unique film. And ‘The Master’ was wonderful, as well. I’ve always enjoyed Michael Haneke and his ‘Amour’ was another brilliant film.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
All sorts of big stuff coming up for 2013. I have a new film company – (Lonely Girl Films) in the States and we’re focusing on documentaries, music videos, and more experimental films. Last year we released our first short documentary ‘Cab Rides In Cairo’ – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXc8Lf8VoTc ).
Also developing a documentary about music and the elderly that I am SO excited about.
Thanks for the interview!