Interview: Katheryn Winnick of Failure to Launch

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As a fan of movies and television, the average person might not know Katheryn Winnick's name, but chances are they have seen some of her varied acting work. She's graced screens both big and small, appearing in guest-starring roles on such hit shows such as CSI: Miami, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, OZ, and CSI: New York. She's also well-known to Canadian teenagers from her role as Trish in the first ever Much Music-produced feature, Going the Distance, where she starred alongside Mr. 90210 himself, Jason Preistly. She's also tackled Ivana Trump in the unauthorized Donald story, as well as appearing in 50 First Dates and the straight-to-video horror slasher Hellraiser: Hellworld. Just a couple weeks ahead of a guest starring role on Criminal Minds, she hits theatres this weekend with a small part in Failure to Launch. I recently had the opportunity to speak to her via phone from Los Angeles.

Katheryn Winnick: Hi, is this Mark?

Mark McLeod: It is... how are you doing this afternoon? It is the afternoon there right?

KW: Yes.

MM: You have a very varied resume. How did you get your start in acting?

KW: I guess it was when I started teaching actors on movie sets. I did some theatre in high school and I wrote plays and you know, did local stuff. In high school I started teaching Jennifer Jason Leigh on a David Cronenberg film, for instance. I started teaching martial arts and I come from a martial arts background, and then I fell in love with it and I auditioned and I got my first TV series from, like, my second audition.

MM: What would you say is the most difficult part of acting?

KW: For me, the most difficult part is just juggling the different things you've got going on with all the different characters. Right now I'm shooting a pilot called 13 Graves for Fox and in two weeks I'm heading to Bulgaria to shoot a 19th century period drama. So you're on an action pilot which is like National Treasure-meets-Lost, and then you're flying to Bulgaria to do a period drama based on a real life person. On top of that, I just finished shooting a guest starring role on Criminal Minds (airing March 19th) where I play a serial killer. So it's just juggling all the different roles. I'm having a blast doing it and it's a great job, and I get to make out with Matthew McConaughey.

MM: You're in Failure to Launch, which I had a chance to see last night. It's sort of a romantic comedy. Is that a genre you were looking to tackle after your guest starring roles on more dramatic-type shows?

KW: Yeah, I would love to do a romantic comedy. 100%. You know, they're fun. Get me a good co-star, someone cute. (laughs)

MM: Preferably, someone who doesn't live at home with his parents.

KW: Especially someone who doesn't live at home with his parents. That would be great.

MM: Is there anything different in the way you approach something like Failure to Launch as opposed to Hellraiser or the Donald Trump project you were involved with?

KW: They're all completely different. For the Trump film, I spent a month researching Ivana and learning her background and who she was and that.She was a small-town girl who came to Montreal, who started modeling and then ended up taking over the Trump empire with Donald, which she didn't get much credit for. She's a real genuine, smart businesswoman, and looking great too.Hellraiser we shot in Romania, and a horror film is a different genre. Then, for Failure to Launch, it was just being in a crazy situation with a guy who lived at home with his parents. It's all really the same thing anyways, just different environments.

MM: If you had to describe the character of Melissa in one word, what would it be and why?

KW: One word. Ummm. Hmmmm. I think mislead. I think she's a smart girl and I purposely didn't want to play her naive or dumb. I think she's a smart girl that really was mislead, where she thought she was going to marry him and she finds out that she didn't get the whole story. So I don't know, one word is a tough one. Honest? Maybe? I don't know. I don't know the word. I'll have to think about that one.

MM: So you had to know this was coming. Have you ever been in a relationship where the guy still lived at home with his parents?

KW: Uhahaha... no.

MM: Did you draw on any real life experiences there?

KW: (Laughing) No, most guys have the guts to move out already or can't wait to get out of their parents' houses. But you still have your momma's boy or someone who goes home to do their laundry. You can kind of weed those people out pretty fast. You can tell by their personality.

MM: What was it like working with Matthew McConaughey? It seems to me that the ladies are quite fond of him.

KW: Matthew was great. He's super sweet and I got to make out with one of the sexiest men alive. Isn't that what People magazine said? It's fun. Good times.

MM: What's coming up next for you? I know you mentioned the pilot for Fox a bit earlier.

KW: It's a series for Fox, with Dominica Sena, who directed Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish, and Kalifornia. Matthew Lillard is my co-star and I have the lead in it. I'm super excited about it. It's kind of like National Treasure meets Lost. It's a formula that works well with revealing everyone's personal lives as the series goes on. So that's what I'm doing now and then in Bulgaria, I've got the lead role opposite Ben Cross, who I think won an Oscar for Chariots of Fire, and Armand Assante. It's a period drama based on a best-selling book called "When Nietzsche Wept" about the German philosopher who fell in love with a poet, who I play. He then falls into major despair and he ends up getting a doctor to perform the first talking pure, which is the first psychological treatment.

MM: So is there anyone you haven't worked with that you'd like to?

KW: I would love to work with Shirley McClaine, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. People that are grounded and human and passionate.

MM: Do you plan to stick with just acting or do you want to go on and write or direct or produce?

KW: I don't know. I eventually would love to try things. I'm having a lot of fun just acting right now. I love self defense and marital arts, so I want to teach women's self-defense and do that here in L.A. I think that it helps for character development.

MM: Thanks for your time this afternoon Kathryn.

KW: My pleasure.

Failure to Launch opens in theatres everywhere this Friday, March 10th, from Paramount Pictures. Look for Katheryn on CBS's Criminal Minds on March 19th.

Tags: Katheryn Winnick, Failure to Launch

Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.

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