Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
Chase Masterson talks Creature Unknown
Recently I had the great fortune to get a few moments with the lovely and Talented Chase Masterson as she prepares from the release of her upcoming DVD “Creature Unknown” Chase was kind enough to talk about the film as well as her time on Deep Space 9, the convention circuit and her love of acting. GVK: What is the story of the film and what is your character like?
CM: “Creature Unknown” is about a group of teenagers who gather for a reunion years after a close friend of theirs—the twin brother of one of them—was mysteriously killed in the woods on prom night of their senior year. One by one, they are stalked by a vicious creature, and only Kat, a doctor who lives in the wild, holds the keys to it all. I play Kat, a brilliant, kick-ass woman who takes no prisoners as she unravels the story of the boy’s death—and tries to get everyone, including herself, out alive.
GVK: You have been very active with a nice selection of roles in recent years. What attracted you to the part of Kat and in what ways would you say you and Kat are alike and different?
CM: I immediately took to Kat because with her, I could be a woman who is worlds apart from a lot of people I’ve gotten to be on film. Kat is true grit—in this film, I care nothing about anything except the task at hand, a task which is neither fun nor easy, physically or emotionally. Actually, it’s devastating, but I can’t stop to reflect on that or feel anything about it, because we’re all in too much danger. So I stuff a lot of emotion. I’m a brilliant, sophisticated scientist who’s turned into a fighter in every way. A rough character with a basically unquieting moral conscience–but one with secrets I can’t afford to divulge.
GVK: Did you do any special preparations for the part and how would you compare Kat to other characters you have played?
CM: When Scott Zakarin, the Executive Producer, sent me the script, I was out of town doing “Terminal Invasion” opposite Bruce Campbell, and I’ll have to admit that my 2 months of hotel food wasn’t going to cut it for my next role. Kat doesn’t care about eating or drinking—okay, with the exception of a few nightly shots. Kat’s had too much on her mind to even think about food for a while—she’s got a snake-like focus–and I had to have a rock-hard body, especially since the role was so physical. That put me at the gym twice a day. I pretty much transformed myself from a curvy, intellectual red-head to a kick-ass, motorcycle-riding brunette. It was great fun. Of course, now I’m a curvy redhead again.
GVK: How physical was the playing Kat and how did you approach this?
CM: Very. I learned to ride a motorcycle for the role, and that was really challenging, especially because I knew if I broke my arm or leg they’d have to hire someone else. I loved learning to ride, and I think it works on film. Also, Lou, who played the creature, didn’t completely screen-fight. He’s a gentle person, really nice, but because of the camera angles & close-ups, he had to really fight in some shots, which isn’t something I anticipated. So everyone got pushed around a bit. But it worked on film.
GVK: What are some of your fondest memories during filming?
CM: We had a really great cast and crew, people who liked and cared about each other. This can’t be taken for granted—sometimes with actors, there can just be too many egos for one room. But we really wanted each other and the film to be come off well, and that chemistry shows on screen. You have to credit the director, Michael Burnett, and the producers, especially Eric Mittleman, Scott Zakarin and Peter Jaysen, for putting together a team that works well together. I’ve found Creative Light, the production company, to be really great at forming a team, making a family. They did the same with “Comic Book: The Movie,” which I had a cameo in. They’re a great company to watch for.
GVK: What is your take on FX based films and how has your time on DS9 influenced this?
CM: I’ve had the privilege of being on some shows that were highly acclaimed for their effects but still have incredible stories, which of course is the most important thing. That balance obviously doesn’t always happen. I don’t like or watch films that are primarily effects-based, but they certainly have a place in the market, a huge audience. The stronger the effects are in a film, the stronger, more intricate, the story has to be, or it can get blown away. Being on DS9 probably spoiled us because the writing was truly some of the best ever on television. Ira Steven Behr, Ron Moore, Rene Echevarria, Hans Beimler and of course Michael Piller are some of the best writers in the business, because they have such a wide range of ability, sensitivity and creativity in both comedy and drama. It’s rare to find a show that covers the bases as DS9 did. Not everyone knows this, but we were the #1 syndicated show in the world when we closed. And from everything I’ve heard, the resurgence of DS9 on DVD and on Spike is bringing a new audience to the show, ironically, years after we closed. After 7 years. it’s great to see such a worthy piece finding the audience that it deserves.
GVK: Where was the movie filmed and how long was the shoot?
CM: “Creature Unknown” was a two-week shoot, which means you work really fast…one or two takes is usually all ya get, and that means often shooting the rehearsal. I worked about six days, but that, as always, was with a lot of down time. Thankfully, Michael Burnett was a fabulous director, one who works equally well with both the actor and the technicalities of the medium. That’s pretty rare in a first-time director, and often rare in an experienced one. Anyway, we had rehearsals and talks about the characters before the shoot, which made things go much faster, so it was possible to get what we needed in a very short period of time.
I think that the fact that this film isn’t a big-budget project may be a positive point for some viewers, rather than a negative. Since there was so little time to worth with, it’s more identifiable to people who’ve always wondered how filmmakers get started. If you have the talent and a solid team behind you, independent filmmaking, on extremely small budgets, can be done, very well. I think this film testifies to that.
GVK: What would you say your style of acting and motivation is and what do you feel is the most important thing that you bring to a role? Where did you study?
CM: I’ve worked as an actress in one form or another since I was five, did my first professional job, a lead in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when I was 18, and got my degree in acting. It’s what I’ve done since literally before I can remember. But I never have had “stardom” as any kind of goal—of course I want to be ultimately successful, but that’s not why I do what I do. At it’s finest, when the right elements of script and opportunity come along, acting can almost be like a ministry. In the dark of the theatre, when everyone is silent, and everyone is facing the same way, listening, there’s such an opportunity to speak to people’s hearts. Make them laugh, think, reflect, cry, commit to something or someone, or to just begin a healing process through identifying with the people on screen. I feel very honored to be in a profession that has the ability to communicate so powerfully.
GVK: You are very active on the convention circuit, do you find it harder now to meet the demands of live appearances then you did while filming DS9?
CM: Schedule-wise, it’s always been difficult, but very rewarding. The fans are so giving and so faithful, any actor who’s ever lived would love to have the kind of following that the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre has. Star Trek has lead to a lot of work & other opportunities. So, if I see you at a con, it’s because I really enjoy being there & appreciate the people who have made all this work possible.
GVK: You have done a good deal of work that is Science Fiction and Horror based. Is this a coincidence or are you drawn to films in the genre?
CM: I’m definitely more a fan of sci-fi than of bloody horror. Other than this one, I’ve never seen a bloody horror film, except I did see Scream and Scary Movie with my son, but I’m not really sure that counts. I’m a big fan of life, not death, so I don’t like to watch it, you know? But psychological horror, I love. I loved “The Ring,” that kind of stuff. I’ve done a lot of genre work because it’s a genre where it’s been relatively easy for one genre role to lead to another. For that, I thank God every day. It’s been a real blessing.
GVK: In what ways has playing Leeta helped your career and in what ways has it hindered your career? After DS9 ended did you have to deal with any typecasting?
CM: Playing Leeta only furthered my career, never hindered. There is always a danger, particularly with tv, and with a character that’s well-loved, as well as very specific, that an actor will be typecast. But I was able to play a huge range of roles even while the show was in production, from a military commanding officer to a blindly committed child protective services worker, back to Dabo girl turned faithful wife and stepmother. I hosted a show for Sci-Fi Channel and then played a brave, cheeky pilot for them. Now I’m singing jazz (check out Chase’s critically acclaimed CD “Thrill of the Chase” on ChaseMasterson.com.) And I’m shopping films for production, mostly genre films. What’s next? I’m praying about it. I have faith that if God keeps me in this business, it’ll be something good. FOR MORE INFO ON CHASE, CHECK OUT