Exclusive Interview with Arrow’s Katrina Law
It’s likely that you recognize Katrina Law as Mira from “Spartacus” or Nyssa from “Arrow”. While my first experience seeing Katrina on-screen was as Mira, the role of hers I came to love was as Lana, the tough-as-nails leader of the Aurordecan Resistance Movement in 2010. She brought so much life to a character living in such a bleak yet futuristic dystopia. That was when I knew how badass Katrina Law was.
But I didn’t know Katrina Law. Not really. I knew the character she portrayed. I knew what the series wanted me to know. I set out to learn more about this fiercely wonderful actress and now, five years later, I’ve had the chance to sit down and talk to one of the actress’s that became a role model of mine – one of my icons and, I’m sure, one of yours.
I’ll be straightforward. I tried not to fanboy. I failed spectacularly. While I maintained most of my professionalism while speaking with Katrina, I found myself nervous beforehand. Was this really happening? Was I getting to speak to her for real or was it a dream? It was a dream – a dream come true for this journalist.
Katrina is down-to-earth and an absolute sweetheart. I thought I didn’t have questions for her. It turns out that I had a hundred. Talking with her was like talking with my best friend. Talking nerdy with her about Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series then was simply icing on the cake. Without further ado then, my interview with Katrina.
Katrina, thank you very much for this opportunity. Before we get to all the boring Arrow questions, I wanted to wish you a late happy birthday from everybody here at Talk Nerdy. How were the festivities?
Aww, thank you so much! They were good, I actually had my belated birthday party last night. I was so tired from all of the traveling that I’ve been doing that by 9:30 I was done, so I know it was so lame! I’m like who am I?
So everybody opted for the big celebration?
I’d like to start with a bit of nostalgia if you don’t mind. You’ve starred in some of my favorite works, from Spartacus to 24 to one of my all-time favorites, The Resistance.
Oh! I can’t believe you saw that! How cool!
Oh yes, yeah, it’s one of those I saw a few years back and it was amazing – one of my favorite sci-fi web-series. In what manner would you say your past roles have shaped who you are today as an actress and as a person?
Well I feel like my dancing … I’ve been a dancer since the age of 3, I feel like that probably shaped a lot of my career, I’ve always been very comfortable in my body, and so keeping up with choreography has been very easy. I just feel like it’s the same thing as taking dance choreography it’s just a little more violent and aggressive. I feel like dance has shaped my career a lot because I feel like I’m easy to work with when it comes to action genres, so it’s easy to get cast in those things. I think because I’m not your typical super slim, Hollywood actress though I think it’s a little … I think that people believe when I throw a punch that it might actually hurt. That’s a plus!
Yeah, and I just feel like the way that my career has gone, I’d be honored to be a part of really cool projects, and The Resistance
was one of my favorite projects to work on because it was this glorified style of filmmaking where we were breaking into state parks and running down the streets trying to avoid cops to get these shots off. Then eventually, it got picked up by Starz and then they gave us money, and then filmed it properly. Then it was put on SyFy so I feel like that was the little edge in the crib, because that was years in the making, and from there it was the same people who were casting for Spartacus that got me. They said well now we’re opening auditions to the United States so we would like you to be this girl first before you audition for Mira. That’s how I ended up getting the role in Spartacus, and from there, I feel like that directed me to go straight to Arrow. So yeah, kinda did a little bit of a snowball effect.
So, with the physicality of everything, how is the training for Arrow? Fans have heard from Stephen Amell when he talks about his training and what it entails. Is your training for Nyssa similar in any way?
No, I honestly feel like I don’t train for Nyssa, just because we’re shooting in the Americas and New Zealand (which is like the wild wild west of non-union). There’s a lot of legal issues up here with the foreign insurance policies – half of the things being done on-screen aren’t allowed to be done by the actors. Insurance won’t allow you to do it. But then also for timing’s sake and because there’s such mass of content that needs to be shot in such a short amount of time, it’s actually easier and more efficient for the stunt doubles to come in and do it. With that being said, almost every single actor on Arrow can do 90% of the stunts that you see on television unless it’s jumping off of a building onto a moving car.
But James Stanford is our stunt coordinator and he actually got to direct his first episode this year and it’s amazing. He’s great at pushing the actors to their limits. Also the stunt team has to learn it, so it’s kind of easy because you just throw in a couple of pieces here and there.
But I think everybody does their own training off-camera … going to the gym and finding their own way to keep in shape and having the stamina. Even if we aren’t doing the entire sequence of a scene, when you do that tiny little sequence for 14 hours, you’re going to get tired so you need to have stamina and you need to be in shape for it.
That is so cool. I love hearing about the training. As a vet and a recent gym rat, I always loved hearing about the physical challenges involved with specific roles. I know that it helps some folk to understand that as long as they keep at it, they can get into shape as well.
Yeah, I’m a gym rat as well, but I’m not necessarily training specifically for whatever.
Moving on, it was announced a month or so ago that production had begun on “Guilt”. Can you tell us a little bit about the pilot for those who haven’t heard about it yet and about your role in the series?
“Guilt” is a pilot for ABC Family, and it has not been picked up yet, we will find out by the end of the month if it will be picked up, so fingers crossed!
It’s basically about a girl who goes over to London for college and then her roommate is brutally murdered. The police think they have an entire lineup of suspects of who could possibly have murdered her roommate and they think this girl did it. My name is Grace Atwood in the show and I’m a lawyer in Boston and, as soon as I hear that my sister’s in trouble, I immediately jump on a plane, go to London and very quickly find she is in more trouble than we originally thought. She’s in pain so I decide to stay in London to make sure she gets home safely. Then I begin finding clues and use them to try to get my sister home.
That sounds pretty awesome, but you said it’s just a pilot?
Yep, fingers crossed! I got to work with Billy Zane and that was super cool and I was kinda freaking out about that, trying to act really cool about it.
Billy Zane? Nice! I bet that was something getting to meet him.
Yeah. It was!
So, in addition to “Guilt”, let’s talk about something that IS about to be released and that is “Death Valley” on October 20th, where you play Annie. The question’s the same here. Can you tell us a little bit about “Death Valley” and what we can expect to see from Annie?
“Death Valley” is an independent movie that we did as a passion – a friends and family project. So we all knew each other and we were all really good friends, and some people were related, and I got to work with my husband. TJ Scott was the director. I met TJ because he was the director on Spartacus. He’s also directed episodes of “Gotham”, “Hemlock Grove”, “Orange is The New Black”. I also got to work with Victoria Pratt who is TJ’s wife, and she was in “Mutant X”, “Cleopatra 2525”, and is in “Heartland”. Lochlyn Munro who is in anything and everything, and he even had a small part on “Arrow”. And then also with Nick Tarabay, who was also a cast-mate from “Spartacus” but he also played Captain Boomerang in “Arrow”.
So we all kinda got together and made this project and I think it’s pretty cool. I play Annie Gunn who is a Hollywood starlet who was struggling to make it and then she ended up meeting Billy Rich who is one of the most powerful managers in Hollywood. She kinda manages to convince him to marry her after a crazy night of partying and they’re on their way to drive out to Vegas when dark thing start to happen so yeah, it’s a little bit of a mystery thriller as well.
And then I also just finished up a Christmas movie for Hallmark that’s called “12 Gifts of Christmas”, and I think that’s coming out around Thanksgiving time. I’m not really sure exactly when (November 26) but that was a lot of fun, and it’s a complete departure from most of the things I do, so there’s no blood, no punching, nobody dies. I’m happy I did it.
Beautiful, I can’t wait to see it. My wife and son, we love Christmas movies so we’ll have to set aside some time to sit down and watch it. So, I want to get to all those boring “Arrow” questions we mentioned earlier. Could you share a bit about Nyssa and the changes we can expect to see from her in season 4?
And then, I can’t tell you anything about it, but we all know Sara is coming back so it’s gonna be fun for people to watch the reactions when Sara is resuscitated and how everybody takes that news.
Beautiful. Yeah, that was my next question, so lips-sealed then. I’ll move on. Now, Nyssa and yourself lead two obviously different lives, but what would you say is the most prominent characteristic that the two of you would share?
I think maybe the sense of internalization. Nyssa, she can be very tunnel-vision, about what she wants and I can do the same career-wise. I think where our differences are in that, is Nysaa, obviously with the license to kill and she’s mean, and will do all sorts of things to get what she wants, whereas I feel like I’m walking the more peace-ey, hippie love kind of style to get what I want. So I’m sort of focused.
And the opposite in this case, what do you think has been the most challenging aspect of portraying her?
I think the most challenging thing is probably to play a character who was originally set up as a villain to not come across as a mustache twirling villain, because her view of the world is so black and white and it’s so changing due to the incidents with the sisters. Yet at the same time her lines … if you say them one way, then all of a sudden you become someone else. That’s been a fine line to walk. How to make her decisions and her choices be as grounding and as real as possible because they’re not choices that I would make.
Talking of challenges then, which of your roles has presented the most challenge for you creatively, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
I don’t know that I’ve had a role that’s been any harder than the other, I think. I guess some people would think that Nyssa would be an easy character, but again it was really challenging to ground her and make her seem like a real human. Whereas something like “Guilt” which is just straight drama but you’re still trying to find the reality within yourself for every character.
I think maybe physically “Spartacus” was probably the hardest and most challenging because we did do all of our own stunts. We had stunt doubles, but in the 3 years I was on that show, I don’t think I ever saw my stunt double. So I do all of my own stunts and I think it’s being physically ready to do a stunt at any given moment during a 12-hour day and not injure yourself that’s hard, because I know by the end of it I walked out pretty banged and bruised up by the end of that show. Yeah, I think physically that was the most challenging.
Yeah, I can imagine. So, in true Talk Nerdy fashion here, we have to know what makes you a geek – what makes you nerdy. Whether it’s literature, film or television, what’s that one thing that you can’t help but fangirl over?
I guess a couple of thing I’m a huge fan of Lost Girl, so I can geek out and just watch that. I did binge watch all of the seasons of Star Trek Voyager and I used to walk around the house doing Captain Janeway’s voice.
And then, I think it would be the entire Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” series which probably took up a good couple years of my life.
Oh, mine too!
Yeah, when that 14th book came out you were like “Finally!” and then you were just, “Wow.” I also love the Hunger Games series and Harry Potter. Yeah. Maybe like a little more than your average person, but I’m not super … like I feel I’m middle ground somewhere.
It’s okay though. We’re mainstream! Geek is chic now!
[laughs] We don’t have to hide anymore!
Okay so last question, and I like to keep the most positive questions here for the end because I want you to let us know everything you can about it. Share with us everything. Tell us about your work with Kitt Crusaders.
Oh my god, so Kitt Crusaders, it’s run by 3 lovely women who I happen to know through a friend of a friend. And I always knew that they were doing charity work with animals and especially kittens and cats, but when I moved into my former house, with the house came 4 grey cats and they were all alley cats. Eventually we lived there for 6 years and by the end of the 6 years we were very familiar with all of them, they came by everyday for food, they essentially kind of became our house pets, but they were really cats that came to the house if that makes sense.
We ended up getting two cats of our own. One day I noticed that the one cat Tommy got really sick and I started noticing the smell off of him so we took him in to the vet to see if there was an easy fix, and they were like oh basically he has stomatitis which is when you’re body thinks your teeth are foreign objects and it’s basically disintegrating his teeth and exposing the nerves so basically the cat is going to starve to death. We were like oh my god well how am I supposed to fix that, and they’re like it’s $2,000. At that time period, we didn’t have an extra $2000 to spend on alley cats, cats that weren’t even ours.
So we were talking to the Kitt Crusader people just randomly, and they’re like oh no, no, no, it’s fine we’ll pay for the bill. They did the entire procedure, the cat survived. He was amazing, they had to check him for the next couple of years, but in the end Kitt Crusaders tried to offer them the money, and they said no that’s okay, we told you we would do it so, you’re welcome. As a way to say thank you I was trying to brainstorm a way to come up with money to help pay these ladies back because they were basically paying for the vet bill out of their own pocket.
What I came up with was me and some of the kids from “Spartacus” got together and took some photos of kittens and we started to sell the autographs and all proceeds outside of postage and mailing and printing would go straight to Kitt Crusaders and providing them with what they need. Since then, it’s kinda grown to where I’ve gotten a couple “Arrow” cast members. I’ve gotten Tricia Helfer, Stan Lee, Michael Rooker, Sean Young, so we’ve had quite an impressive mix. Candice Patton from “The Flash” did it, so hopefully it’ll keep till we get some more people involved, but so far we have raised over $45,000 towards this charity and they just continue to keep saving cats from kill shelters, and finding them homes, and getting them healthy, so it’s really rewarding.