I met Katharine Isabelle two years ago when American Mary played at Fantastic Fest. She told me to call her Katie, so I have called her Katie ever since. Last week I got to talk to her by phone for the DVD and Blu-ray release of See No Evil 2, the slasher movie sequel that reunites her with American Mary directors Jen and Sylvia Soska.
Jacob Goodnight (Kane) is brought to the morgue after his murderous rampage in the first movie. When the mortician’s friends surprise her for her birthday, the not yet dead Jacob Goodnight has a whole new slew of victims. Some spoilers follow, so if you haven’t seen See No Evil 2 yet, why not? Didn’t my review convince you? If you have, we go way in depth with Katie Isabelle about her work as Tamara, and look ahead to her return on NBC’s Hannibal.
Nuke the Fridge: Hi Katie.
Katharine Isabelle: Hi Fred. How’s it going.
Nuke: Good. I can still call you Katie, right?
Katharine Isabelle: Yes, that doesn’t expire.
Nuke: I loved your character in See No Evil 2. Is this the most outrageous character you’ve ever played?
Katharine Isabelle: In that respect, yes, probably. She wasn’t outrageous on paper. She was just the annoying overtly sexual horror movie girl that you can’t wait to get killed. So it took me a few days sitting in a dark room by myself to figure out how I’m going to make her sort of likable, but mostly hilarious and completely outlandish. The girls trust me enough that I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do this but I’m going to do this my way.” And they were like, “Okay, whatever you want to do.” And I was like, “Okay, just remember that you said that.” It was really fun.
Nuke: So was it your idea to sing Jacob’s name?
Katharine Isabelle: Oh yeah, very little of that actual dialogue was actually on paper. The whole stuff of his mom was on paper, but very little of it was written down. We tried to run with it on the day. It’s amazing how when you get into the most awkward situations ever where you’re wearing nothing, a bra that pushes your tits out and you can barely even see over them, and you have to dry hump the dead body of WWE wrestler Kane in an abandoned mental institution with one of the camera guys that you’ve known since you were three. When all of that awkwardness comes together at once, you just go, “F*** it” and you just go. Then weird sh** happens and it’s funny to watch in the movie later.
Nuke: So was straddling Kane in the script?
Katharine Isabelle: Straddling Kane, yes, that was all scripted. It sure was.
Nuke: He’s an expert at choreography with other male bodies. How did you work with him on that scene?
Katharine Isabelle: The poor guy was supposed to be dead and he’s blushing. At one point they needed my face closer to his so I actually had to, instead of straddling his leg with my knees touching the morgue slab, I actually had to crawl up him with no knees touching, sort of Navy SEAL hump my way up his body with my pelvic bone. He’s just trying not to laugh for the whole scene. It was just so awkward. We didn’t get to do a lot of fancy wrestling choreography. It was basically just like, “Lie there and be dead no matter what I do to you.” “All right.” “I’m also very sorry about all of this. I’m sorry.” I said I’m sorry to him like 300 times that day.
Nuke: She also kisses her boyfriend after she kisses what she thought was a dead body. Is that kind of gross?
Katharine Isabelle: Yeah, I think a lot of it’s kind of gross. Tamara does a lot of gross sh**. I don’t know that hygiene is at the top of Tamara’s list of priorities. I think having fun is at the top.
Nuke: One of the most beautiful sequences in the movie is lighting the match in the dark. Was the lit match really the only light in that scene?
Katharine Isabelle: I think so. Yeah. Thinking back, I had to map out three steps here. There might’ve been one little tiny camera light way on the floor just so that we didn’t trip and smash our heads, but I think it was.
Nuke: So it was very technical to coordinate that scene?
Katharine Isabelle: Yeah, first of all you have to get me able to light a match without dropping it, breaking it, fumbling it. I’m the biggest problem in any scene that involved technical stuff, that I actually have to do it. Everyone goes, “Oh, okay, we’re going to be here a while.” I’m like, “Sorry guys. Just give me six more matches. I can do it, I swear.”
Nuke: How many takes did you do of the matches?
Katharine Isabelle: I don’t remember. I don’t recall.
Nuke: Then when you run down the hall, did you choreograph your special run?
Katharine Isabelle: No, my special run was just mine. The only choreographing in it was that half of the doors do open and you can’t lock them because it’s an abandoned mental institution so some of the sh** doesn’t work quite right. So a couple times I’d run and go to open the wrong door and it’d be open. And they’re like, “Sh**, cut, go back. Not that door.” They gave me knee pads and they were just like, “Go for it. Don’t open any of the doors that actually open.”
Nuke: When you’re recapping the morgue scene to the gang and babbling all over the place, were you improvising?
Katharine Isabelle: A little bit. The level of hysteria is so high, there was definitely a bunch of information I had to squeak out, like Jacob Goodnight is not dead. Where are all the rest of the people? There’s always a certain level of improv to what I do because I mumble and I put in half words everywhere that they’re not supposed to be, which I always regret later when I have to do ADR because I have a really strange speech pattern. I should just talk like this from now on so that it is easy. Yeah, there’s definitely improv when I’m in a screaming level of hysteria. I just have to remember to choke out actual bits of information every once in a while. They just cut around it anyway.
Nuke: Did Jen and Sylvia make you a Kane fan?
Katharine Isabelle: They’re big huge wrestling fans for sure and I grew up around a bunch of boys and was sort of forced to watch far more wrestling and basketball than I ever would voluntarily have watched. I’m still waiting to go to some kind of Wrestlemania event. I think it’ll be super fun. I hope they get in the ring and fight at some point. I would watch the sh** out of that.
Nuke: Are you lobbying or is there any chance Jen and Sylvia might cast you as Painkiller Jane?
Katharine Isabelle: I would love to. Of course, I would do anything that they ever gave me ever. I would love to work with them on everything they ever do. We’ll all end up in the same nursing home together I’m sure. Yeah, I’d do anything. I think Jane’s an awesome character and awesome comic book. The girls are so f***ing cool, yeah, I would do it 100%.
Nuke: Were you aware of Painkiller Jane before they got attached to the film?
Katharine Isabelle: Yeah, vaguely. They shot the series in my hometown of Vancouver. I wasn’t very big into comic books until I met the twins and they sort of opened up a new world. I bought Deadpool comics. I bought a Deadpool comic that has a letter that they wrote to Deadpool in the back. It’s the first comic book I bought and it’s got their letter. They tell me about all the sh** that I don’t know anything about, like wrestling, horror movies. They have to fill in all the gaps in my knowledge.
Nuke: Are you back to work on Hannibal?
Katharine Isabelle: I’m almost back to work on Hannibal. I got a very beautifully written e-mail. It said in very scroll-y letters: Dr. Hannibal Lecter has cordially invited you to join him for dinner this Friday. We’re having a cast dinner so I’m going to try to suss out information from everybody and anybody as to what happens. I have no idea. At least I’m alive and I’m in it. That’s all I care.
Nuke: In the book, Margot Verger becomes a body builder. Would you be willing to bulk up for Hannibal season three or four?
Katharine Isabelle: Well, I think it’d be a bit late now. I have been buffing out for a movie that we start shooting in November called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town. So I’ve already started working out. I don’t think I’ll hit the steroids and be a legitimate bodybuilder any time soon. I’m a small tiny person who I doubt that would even work on, but I’m definitely not going down that path. No one’s dropped off a box of protein powder and steroids on my doorstep.
Nuke: It’s certainly a different take on Margot and I’m just showing off that I read the book.
Katharine Isabelle: Yeah, you are. [Laughs] I know, I read it too. I’m going to do some more Hannibal stuff. I don’t know how much. I don’t know what it involves. I don’t know how terribly they’re going to treat poor Margot. Hopefully she gets revenge on everybody.
Nuke: Is How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town an outrageous sex comedy like it sounds?
Katharine Isabelle: It is an outrageous sex comedy for sure. We’ve all stopped drinking and started working out in the last month, I’ll tell you that. It’s really funny. It’s super well written. I think it’ll be a blast. It’s an ensemble cast. It’ll be really fun for everybody.
Nuke: Have you shot anything else that’s yet to come out?
Katharine Isabelle: Yeah, I’ve got a movie called 88 that is super cool that I love. It stars myself and Christopher Lloyd as the bad guy. He is so awesome and amazing. That I’m not sure. I’m sure it’s applying to festivals around the world so we’ll see where it lands. It’s really cool. It’s about a girl who witnesses a very traumatic event, goes into a dissociative fugue state. It’s really actiony and beautiful and I love it. It was written and directed by April Mullen. I’m not sure when that’s coming out though. We’ll see. It will land somewhere. I just want to see it. I haven’t even seen the whole thing so I just want to see it.
Nuke: When people come up to you, what’s the balance now between people recognizing you from Ginger Snaps or American Mary?
Katharine Isabelle: Just because American Mary is so recent, but I’m constantly surprised at Ginger Snaps fans, young kids that were not even close to being born when we shot the movie. I think both of those characters and both of those stories are tales that will last the test of time. The same with the actual films. The practical effects don’t age over time and I think that’s a testament to the amazing writing and filmmaking in both of those films. Hopefully I can continue to make really good movies like that with really good characters that people love 20 years later. That’s the hope of any actor.