Actress Karin Konoval discusses blockbuster "War for the Planet of the Apes", and the motion capture process
By: Rachelle Henry | PHOTOS COURTESY Twentieth Century Fox
Doane Gregory, and Gordan Dumka
- Los Angeles, California
Actress Karin Konoval discusses playing Maurice the ape in the blockbuster "Planet of the Apes" series, and clues us in on the motion capture process for Warner Bros. Also Karin talks about training for "Planet of the Apes".
I read a review that says, "thanks to an evocative story and the most realistic anthropoids you'll find outside a zoo, this third Apes is the strongest yet." Congratulations on playing fan-favorite, Maurice in the last three "Planet of the Apes" films! I also read that you almost didn't go to the audition for the role. What changed your mind and what was the audition/callback process to play a mature male orangutan? You went and studied orangutan behavior, specifically studying Towan from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA. How did Towan influence your role as Maurice, and how did he impact you personally?
The first audition call-out for the film was "Untitled Feature Film Casting For Mimes." I thought: I'm not a mime so I'm not going. Then I was told it was for actors to play chimpanzees, and I thought, now I'm REALLY not going! But then I decided I'd be a good sport and go to it, nothing would come of it and that would be that. But after the first audition I was called back to a lengthy ape movement session under Terry Notary's expert guidance, and after that I was called back to audition for an orangutan. I knew nothing about orangutans and did a lot of research fast. It was at the third audition that Rupert Wyatt, the director of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", told me that the character he wished me to play was Maurice. Once I was cast, I did a great deal more research - books, videos, sound recordings - and the training and practice for quadrupedal walking was intense.
On my own time I travelled to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where I observed Towan -- who in turn chose to come and study me. It was in the twenty minutes that we were eye to eye on other side of a window that gave me the heart and soul of Maurice. I didn't meet him again until after "Rise" opened, when I was invited for a personal introduction to him and the rest of his orangutan family. I went, and that was the beginning of a personal journey for me that continues today. How did Towan impact me personally? The answer to that could fill a book! In brief I can only say that his name translates as "Master", and for the six years I was privileged to know him he always was that to me.
This franchise uses a lot of motion capture and Vogue magazine just did a feature about why you and Andy Serkis should be Oscar nominated for your roles in this instalment. You bring such a powerful and brilliant performance and it would make Oscar history. How did you train for such a physical role? What kind of preparation did the studio provide vs what preparation you did for yourself? What are some of the biggest differences you find between motion captuure and regular live action roles?
The physical training to portray a mature male orangutan has been intensive and necessary both in advance of and throughout all three films. Not just to gain skill and ease with quadrupedal movement on arm stilts, but flexibility, strength, etc etc. My personal practice has included gym and weight training, cycling, yoga, many things on a daily basis. This is all stuff I have done on my own, intensively and extensively throughout. Also a great deal of vocal research and practise to achieve as much resonance as I could for the sounds I make as Maurice, to achieve the depth of voice, to get as much of an orangutan "long call" into my voice as possible. Terry Notary originally trained me in quadrupedal movement and has been a great support to me throughout all three films in terms of being a second eye -- reminding me to keep heavy if I was getting too light in my movement, things like that.
The studio provided a month of daily horseback riding training for the third film which was very helpful for me in particular, as we needed a level of horsemanship on "War" that I didn't have, and I'm very grateful to have had that time under Danny Virtue's guidance. In answer to your question about mocap and live action roles: there is absolutely no difference. None. I approach and play Maurice in the same way I do any other live action role. What's different between playing Maurice and playing other roles is playing a mature male orangutan in all of his psychological, physical and vocal integrity.That's one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges as an actor I've ever had.
You are a published author and painter. Your work has been featured in solo gallery exhibits. Your first illustrated children's book "Jeffrey Takes a Walk in December" was published in 2015. What is the inspiration for your literary work and painting
I simply love to tell stories, whether as an actor, a painter or a writer. All of my solo gallery exhibits are full stories or series in paintings --- the story unfolds from canvas to canvas around the room. While I had short stories published before I began painting, I've really enjoyed the journey of painting and writing coming together over the past years. Whether the words or the artwork come first changes constantly, but always towards a singular storytelling.
You've had such an extensive career in TV and film, and have received numerous awards for your work in theatre, performing lead roles in over fifty professional theatre productions. What type of roles do you find challenging and why? Do you have any dream role you'd love to play?
This is quite easy to answer: the more challenging and interesting a role, the more I love to play it. I've had the opportunity to play a wide range of roles both onstage and in film and television. I've never been type cast in any particular way, and that has proved to be a great blessing, one that keeps growing. Do I have a dream role? No. To have the opportunity to work on a well written script, in an interesting role, with an excellent director and cast -- that's all I wish and dream for as much more of as possible!
What are you working on right now?
I'm currently filming a recurring role in the BBC series "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." It's a delightful role and a great show to be part of through season two!
Actress Debbie Sherman talks The Vault starring James Franco, and returning to acting after having kids
Actress extraordinaire Debbie Sherman talks filming The Vault starring James Franco, and returning to acting after having kids. Debbie also talks about getting education while pursuing your dreams.
You have three high-profile films releasing in 2017! Congratulations! One of the film "The Vault" is a horror/thriller starring James Franco, Taryn Manning, and Francesca Eastwood. You play the character of Lauren. Tell us more?
Thank you so much! I can't wait for all three films to debut this year! The Vault was the very first film of my career and the first step of what I hope will be a very long career in this industry. Lauren was my debut supporting role. In this film, two estranged sisters are forced to rob a bank in order to save their brother, but this is no ordinary bank. Just watch and see!
Horror films are interesting type of medium because, of how much emotion goes into the character. Can you tell us how you approach these types of roles?
The horror genre often goes hand in hand with very emotional and terrified characters. I always do my best to fully immerse myself in the moment while filming and take on the emotions that the character would be experiencing throughout the scene. This is quite intense and can lead to me feeling pretty exhausted after shooting. Needless to say, I sleep like a baby after filming scenes like that, due to the sheer energy it takes to give off that much emotion scene after scene. Honestly, I love every second of the process!
You will appear in The Forgiven with Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana. You play Linda Coetzee. Tell us more about the film and the character of Linda?
This was my largest role yet and man, was I excited to film with such legends and on a film that radiates so much truth! The script made me feel so many emotions when I originally read it and I knew I had to be a part of this film. I am beyond blessed to have been given the incredible opportunity to work on this movie. I had the most wonderful experience filming. Everyone from the makeup department, to the whole cast and fabulous crew made my experience one of a kind. The whole team was top notch and I can't wait for the premiere of this film!
You graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration. You started your career as a talented singer before becoming an actress. Did you use singing as a way in? Did you take any acting formal classes?
I have always had a love of the arts: singing, dancing, acting, etc. I am a performer at heart and I love to perform. I took singing and acting classes throughout my schooling years. After college I had an opportunity to start singing in a group with one of my best friends. We had the time of our lives writing original songs and performing them. We even had a music video that I will forever cherish. I look back so fondly on that special time in my life.
My first role had nothing to do with my singing career. After having my two daughters, I wanted to get back into the entertainment field and a good friend of mine is an actor. He was able to introduce me to some wonderful producers who I had the opportunity to audition for and, from there, I was able to secure my roles. I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people in the industry. I always relish the opportunity to read for a new role in a film that takes me on the story of someone new. That is the beauty of acting: you are never the same person twice (unless you are in a sequel of course).
What advice would you give young actors looking to break into acting? Do you think it's important to have an eduction to fall back on?
Knowledge is power. It always has been and it always will be. Having a degree is necessary, in most cases, in today's world. You can pursue your passions (acting, starting a business, singing, etc) while earning a degree. There are so many online options these days as well. My advice is to go for you dreams! Don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough. Don't let anyone make you feel silly for pursuing your passions and chasing your goals. You are your own worst enemy and your biggest fan. Make a conscious decision before you enter this industry to put your faith in yourself and let other people's unwarranted opinions go in one ear and out the other.
Can you tell us what types of roles do you hope to be cast in moving forward? What's your dream role?
I'd love to have opportunities to play strong women, women of character, role models. You know... fun, classy, independent, loyal, courageous women who aren't afraid to stand up for what's right. Women that are multifaceted, because that is real life. We are so much more than just beautiful, or just funny, or just strong, or just anything. We are women of many talents and treasures and we should be portrayed this way on film.
We're interested in finding out what you enjoy doing in your free time? What summertime activities do you enjoy?
I just got back from a one month summer holiday in Prague. I had the best time exploring a new city with my husband and two girls. We have a passion for travel and it has certainly rubbed off on my little sweet girls. We will spend the rest of our summer swimming, spending time at the beach and exploring our local farmers markets. And since I am a travel addict, we may have to fit in one more trip before the summer ends. Oh, and let's not forget reading scripts and filming! My summer wouldn't be complete without some lounging by the pool with a good script in my hand. The one I am currently reading has me on the edge of my seat. I could barely put it down to do this interview! I literally have it on my lap right now!
Do you have any upcoming projects that we can talk about here?
I am working on some films and I am really excited about them. The roles are new and unlike any I've done before. I am also launching some new content on my website (www.debbie-sherman.com). I will be sharing more about my travels from around the world and my experiences filming in different countries. I will be combining two of my greatest passions, acting and travel!
Actress Nikki Leigh talks being cast in dramatic roles, and filming new feature Ay Lav Yu Tuu. Also Nikki shares breaking into the business
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY
- Los Angeles, California
Actress Nikki Leigh talks about being cast in the dramatic roles, and filming the new feature film Ay Lav Yu Tuu. Also Nikki talks about breaking into the entertainment business, and advice for aspiring actors.
You grew-up in Cypress, California and later moved to Los Angeles. How did you first get started in the entertainment business?
My decision to make the move to Los Angeles came about because I was hosting a radio show Monday to Friday on Sirius XM and it only made sense to get a place where I was working every weekday. Plus I had just graduated college and it was time for me to move out of my parents' house!
During your career you've been cast in films including The Wedding Ringer and Open Marriage. Which do you find more challenging: comedic or dramatic roles?
I find dramatic roles more challenging, but not challenging as in hard for me to do exactly. It is more challenging in the sense that with drama there is a lot of emotion and sometimes you have to take your heart and feelings to a dark place. Or maybe it's a place that you have already tried to overcome.
What can you tell us about your upcoming film Ay Lav Yu Tuu with Steve Guttenberg?
I am super proud of that movie! I can not wait for everyone to see it! It is so funny. Think of it like a 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' type humor, where the funniest parts are the cultural disconnects that happen in the film. I can also tell you that I speak Turkish in this film. I am one of the leads and I went over to Turkey not knowing I was filming this in their language either. I auditioned in English and, when negotiating the role, there was no mention of me speaking a foreign language. Thankfully I had the best language coach. But unfortunately I only got her for the first two weeks, not the whole two months I was there. This meant I really had to learn it. No messing around!
We often talk with people who are interested in breaking into the business. What advice would you give aspiring actors?
Don't take things personally. This industry is all about rejection. You develop super thick skin because you go into these audition rooms and you basically get told what you are not and it really tests the individual. You just have to keep remembering that there is a perfect role for you and you alone and you might need to do a long search before it manifests. But don't give up! If you feel this is what you are meant to do then the more you believe it the more others will believe it!
A large part of the audition process is rejection. How do you personally handle rejection?
I just don't take it personally. I understand that there is a role out there for me and the casting directors, producers etc, are looking for something specific so if I'm not their vision then that's okay. I am just grateful that I got to go into the room and have a chance. I got to go in and show people what I can do. Every audition I walk into I make sure to do my best and then I leave it in the room. I usually throw my sides out after the audition so that I don't go back and think about what I did in the room.
Actors tend to get overwhelmed when seeking out representation. How did you find the right agent?
I had to go through a lot to finally get the agent I have today. Finding representation is very difficult and you will go through quite a few frogs before you find your prince. But keep believing in yourself and you will find that agent who believes in you like you do. The goal is to find someone who is excited about you and wants to work for you. Do not just settle. This is your career, your life.
What are you working on now that you can tell us about?
I am working on a show called Sangre Negra where I play a race car driver named Amanda Bolt. The filming has had a lot of space in between each film day but it's coming. I am thrilled to play a driver. Amanda is a bad ass driver and a strong female in a male-dominated world. I'm not sure you know this about me but driving is one of my favorite things! I keep asking production to let me do all the driving myself! I am trying to make sure that I get race car driving school or something out of this!