NEW! Kate French ('Echoes')
'Echoes: Frozen In Time'
With a long line of both TV and film acting behind her, Kate French - American actress and model - is still perhaps best known for her role as Niki Stevens on The L Word.
She first appeared on the big screen in 2006 with a small cameo role in the film 'Accepted,' although French's first appearance on the small screen was in 2006, when she starred alongside Tatum O'Neal in the prime-time telenova soap opera, Wicked Wicked Games. In 2007 she landed her breakout role when she joined the cast of The L Word playing closeted lesbian actress, and girlfriend of Jenny Schecter, Niki Stevens (seasons 5 and 6).
Since then, French has had a role in the teen drama series South of Nowhere, has appeared in two episodes of the teen drama Gossip Girl (as Elle), and has both a recurring role as Renee on One Tree Hill, and later a recurring guest role as Riley Westlake in the Hawaii-set teen drama Beyond The Break.
In 2009 French played a supporting role in the independent horror film Sutures, then had a leading role in the independent romantic comedy Language of a Broken Heart, before featuring in the rock musical film Girltrash: All Night Long (which was later released in 2014). In 2011, French starred alongside Jason Ritter in the short film, Atlantis, had a lead role in the independent thriller 'The Red House,' and then a guest role on the TV series Up All Night.
In 2012, her career kept climbing as she had a supporting role in the independent thriller 'Channeling,' a role in the indie feminist film 'Farah Goes Bang,' and is currently attached to the psychological thriller 'Liquorice.'
Now starring in the psychological thriller 'Echoes,' Kate plays Anna Parker, a woman who suffers from horrifying, sleep-paralysis induced visions. Delayed in re-writing the latest draft of her screenplay, the young writer retreats with her literary agent / boyfriend Paul Wagner (Steven Brand) to an isolated desert house. As the visions intensify, she finds herself on the verge of losing her mind ... or uncovering a life-threatening secret.
I recently caught up with the lovely lady herself, Kate French to discuss her role in 'Echoes,' along with other things that are currently going on in her life.
In truth, ‘Echoes’ was not what I was expecting. Not exactly fast out of the gates when it comes to the real core of the plot, it’s true to life subject matter of sleep paralysis induced visions for Anna sure does make the whole thing a hell of a lot more frightening than your average horror movie! "Absolutely, because I feel like anyone feels like it could happen to them at any time. We've all had horrible nightmares that have kept us up at night. So it's totally relatable, even if you've not experienced sleep paralysis."
Had you heard of these sleep paralysis induced visions before filming, perhaps? "I had heard of them, but hadn't researched it or done any kind of looking into it. My family and I love watching all those Ghost Hunters shows so I'm sure I've heard of it somewhere along the way. I also researched it more once I got the role."
Did you have to learn how to play that "paralyzed" role? "Yeah, definitely. Nils and I talked about it a lot, as well, because it's something that happens when there's not a lot of physicality. So we had to show it in very small motions. Which is why he chose to do it with a little tremor in the hand and things like that; because in the videos and the research we did it was very hard to find actual footage. People were just talking about it. So, we discussed things from our own personal scenarios. Because I had some terrifying experiences just with really bad nightmares and stuff, where you think you can't wake up; and when you do, it's always in a sweat. So we agreed that we would do the sweat and the eye motion under the eye lids to show she was in a REM sleep cycle dreaming. So we basically broke it down to the physical motions that would happen during that, because that sells the entire situation that she's going through."
My goodness, you've hit the nail on the head there, for me, because one of the freakiest parts of this movie is when your eye balls move all over the place under your eye lids at night! "It was not easy to do, I tell you," she laughs. "I got headaches from doing it over and over, take after take. Because it's using those muscles, obviously, and it was just so intense. And after doing so many takes there definitely came a physical pain level from it, as well. But it was worth it," she gently laughs.
When you were “taken over,” shall we say, in the film by the spirit, your eyes turned black. CGI or contact lenses? "That was contact lenses, yes. They were very large contact lenses that I had to practice with before filming, taking them in and out. I've never worn contacts so it took about ten minutes getting used to taking them in and out, but then once I got them in it was really easy. The only thing was that we were shooting in the desert and there was a lot of wind and sand and that was the only issue with the contacts; that you couldn't get any granules on them. Basically like it is with regular contacts, but because these cover your entire eyeball, it would just be like you were in dire pain under the lens."
Could you actually see anything out of them?! "I could, yes. The center is actually clear. So it was all black, all around, and just the center open for me to see through. So your pupil sees right out of the clear spot. Occasionally when I looked over I could see a little bit of the dark creeping in, but overall if you looked pretty close, because my eyes are blue, you could actually see a white ring! Because it was my blue cornea coming through. So yeah, it was really creepy if you looked real close, but because the lighting was low, you couldn't really catch the blue."
Well, again, and for the record, eye balls and completely dark eyes freak me out! "It really is the creepiest thing, because anybody when they have the all black eyes, even in a photo, is just scary! Like I've seen some movies where the kids have them because they're possessed and that gets to me every time. It's terrifying, I agree."
Filmed on location in the hot and dusty region of Joshua Tree, which I always thought was just a U2 album title, what were some of the highs and lows of filming there? "The highs are the desert landscape is just stunning and at sunset and sunrise it almost looks like a CGI background. Even when we were all on set having photos taken for wardrobe they all just looked like we were standing in front of a green screen of a big desert landscape! It was just so incredible there. There's just something so different about being there than anywhere else, especially having spent that amount of time out there."
"But there's an awful amount of creepiness, because there's just a lot of wanderers out there too! I had just had a baby, so my husband and baby came out with me to that house while we were filming and there were just some creepy locals walking by, or just standing there, checking things out. Also there's all the night noises as well, like coyotes and such that we're not really used to here in L.A."
Did the creepy wanderers ever get close to you?! "The make-up artist stayed in the house with me and my husband, and one morning my husband left a couple of days early with my baby and she and I were there alone in the house. The morning we were leaving I woke up about five o'clock to get on the road, and somebody was running across the back patio! Like they had been peaking in the window or something. So yeah, there was definitely a creepy element to that house, to that area, but overall I loved it out there."
Your co-star, Steven Brand, told me that it's actually a real glass house that existed long before you arrived, and was loaned to you guys through a friend of the director, who had built it for himself! "Yeah, and we were always shooting in that glass house so you could see every view from every angle. We were always shooting during sunrise on the set so we shot some beautiful, beautiful scenery too."
Yeah, but come on now, who in their right mind would build and choose to live in such a wall-to-wall glass structure in the middle of the desert anyway?! "Probably someone who likes being watched, because that's probably the only reason! The whole time I was there it was so creepy, because even though there is nothing surrounding the house there's still weird people that are out there," she laughs. "I don't know, there's weird people everywhere, not just the desert, but I had to do those scenes laying in the bed and there's no curtains, there's nothing! So there's always that feeling that you constantly feel like you are being under surveillance. So, I feel like it would have to be an exhibitionist that lives in a glass house, and that's just not me," she laughs again.
As we’re not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, please reveal a behind-the-scenes secret about the filming of ‘Echoes’ that you haven’t discussed in other interviews, hopefully! "Well, there's a continuity issue," she deeply sighs. "When I'm looking to get internet reception, I walk into the bar, because I'm looking to get info on Steven's wife. Well, I walk inside in moccasins and walk out in boots," she laughs. "I'm sure there are a few more. It would make a fun drinking game where every time you find a continuity slip up you just take a shot. So yeah, that's a big one. We'd forgotten my boots and I was wearing my own personal moccasins, but we thought they were filming where they wouldn't be seen, but we were wrong."
"And the wind was our biggest challenge up there also. In one scene I'm having a conversation with the Shaman when Steven pulls up in the car and the wind was whipping so badly that I looked like Cousin It. I had hair blowing all over my face in every single take. So they were like, Don't worry about it. Just get your lines out as fast as you can," she laughs. "I guess they ended up just cutting around the scenes they filmed there, because you can do that. But yeah, that was a big challenge."
Because of your role in ‘Echoes’, you were awarded Best Actress at the FilmQuest Cthulhu Awards. Have you got your statue all safe and sound at home, perhaps? "Yeah, Nils actually has my award. It's apparently this giant creature-woman with wings and is about a foot tall. So yeah, I've got to clear some space on my mantel for the only acting award that I've ever won! I'm excited to see it. Nils and I keep meaning to meet for dinner, but we keep having to reschedule due to our schedules. But yeah, next time I see him, I'll be keeping that and putting it on my mantel and posting it on Instagram," she laughs.
You’ve been quoted as saying, “I usually play the bitch. Or the lesbian.” But I don’t think either apply to the role of Anna, do they? "Yeah," she laughs, "I did say that, but no, I didn't in this film. She had her bitchy moments, but that's why I fought so hard to get this role because it was such a complex character. I loved Anna from the moment I read the script and I loved the fighting, and the fact she wasn't just a one dimensional character. Which happens a lot of times with female roles. I love playing the bitch, it's always a role that's super fun to play, but it's also a lot of fun to play someone with a lot more going on. And the lesbian roles are super fun to play too! I love playing those roles too, but it's all changed for me ever since I filmed Echoes."
Tell us more! "I actually just finished a film called Last Man's Club, where I play like this greaser rebel who's also a hard ass, so it's great! It's not just one dimensional, so it's definitely opened the world up to me getting a little more creative with these characters that I play. I mean, I loved playing Niki Stevens on The L Word when I was a lesbian, and she wasn't a one dimensional character, but the bitch roles are, pretty much, one dimensional," she laughs.
Tell us more about 'Last Man's Club' "It's me and a bunch of old guys who are playing World War II vets. Well, they're playing WWII vets as they themselves are a dying breed, as it's been so long ago," she laughs," and it features a lot of really wonderful, wonderful men. Like Richard Riley and Morgan Shepherd. They were such gentlemen and a lot of fun and a totally different experience for me. It's a road trip movie about this last hurrah as brothers from WWII. It's a funny story, because you also get this wild free spirit who's also a bit of a con artist! Everyone ends up growing and finding themselves, but there's a lot of humor. It's a beautiful movie."
On a personal note, is it true that you have lyrics from Ryan Adams’ song 'Blue Hotel' tattooed on your rib cage? "I do. Yes, I do. "Go on and rain down on us, because I give up." He's one of my favorite musicians and I just love that song. I had my best friend write it in her handwriting and they just went over it."
I found your Twitter account, out of many Kate French’s, but it hasn’t been active since your 30th birthday in late September! Is there a reason for that? "I know, I'm just so bad! The only thing that I'm obsessed with is Instagram. Like there's a Facebook page under my name and it's not actually me, but whoever created it is very friendly, are very wonderful, and they post everything! So they're kinda like a PR for me, but I don't know who that is," she laughs. 'And then I have a wonderful girl on Instagram who keeps everything up to date, but I'm really bad with technology. You know what it is, I feel like I've never got anything important enough to say something about. I'm just insecure. I'm just not a comfortable Tweeter. I should be more active and I'm going to make an effort to be more active, but I wish I was just more wittier, more funnier, because I love people that can come up with brilliant things."
Finally, as we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds), we’d like to know if you do also - and if you had a personal story about one, perhaps? "I do love penguins and I do have a story about penguins! My husband, when we first started dating, gave me a penguin necklace. Like this little gold penguin, because they stay with their mates for life. So now we have a small collection of penguins in our house, because they kind of represent when we fell in love. So, yes, we do have penguins in this house," she gently laughs, one last time.
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Official 'Echoes' Movie Trailer
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED 'Echoes' Blu ray from star Steven Brand himself (and, possibly Kate French also!), just answer this question about the film, 'Echoes': What does it say on Anna's tshirt as the film opens?
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED 'Echoes' Blu ray (from one or both lead actors)! Just send us an e:mail here before August 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED ECHOES BLU RAYs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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