Katherine LaNasa Talks To us about The Campaign, Will Ferrell, and Her Career

Photo below by Bell Soto

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Recently I had the chance to speak to the charming and talented Katherine LaNasa who stars as Will Ferrell’s wife in the upcoming comedy “The Campaign”. I want to thank Katherine for taking the time to speak with us.

What can you tell us about your character and what attracted you to the part?

Rose is a bossy, ballsy, ambitious hick in a dress. The script was so damn funny, I laughed out loud reading it. It was an honor and a surprise to land this role. I am a huge fan of both Will and Zach, and Jay Roach’s movies are impeccable. So much attention to detail. He’s a mad comic scientist. I knew I’d be well taken care of.

What sort of research did you do for the role and did you have any real life inspirations?

I watched the Republican primaries, listened to an interview with Mrs. Perry, looked at images of Cindy McCain and Mrs. Romney, read some of Sarah Palin’s book and watched her documentary. I had just come from Alaska so I was pretty up on all things Palin, or at least the clichés. And my secret ingredient…. “Dance Moms” and “Toddlers and Tiaras”.

How was working with Will and Jay and any fun moments form the set that you can share with the readers?

Will and Jay are both incredibly generous, smart, kind men. It was a terrific fun place to be creative. Will is so funny and you never know what he is going to do. My main concern is that I would be terrible in the film because my primary focus was just NOT LAUGHING during the takes. I was talking to Sarah Baker one day after work telling her ” my god he’s SO FUNNY, I can’t stop from laughing. I mean, he’s REALLY funny” She said “I know. He’s Will Ferrell.” Good times.

What drew you to acting and what would you say was your big break?

I saw Sydney Pollack’s documentary on Sandy Meisner when I was about 23. I was still a ballet dancer by trade at the time. I was so taken by what he was doing, I hunted him down and got a place in his class. It was an inspiring and practical education. Dylan McDermott who’s genius in “The Campaign” studied with Sandy too. My big break really just came last year when Billy Bob Thorton gave me a leading role in his upcoming film “Jayne Mansfield’s Car”. I play his sister, and daughter to Robert Duvall. I got to have 3 scenes with just me and Bobby. It was a great thrill and honor, and frankly a lot of fun. We had a really easy chemistry. I owe Billy so much for that opportunity. It changed my life.

How would you compare/contrast working on television with movies and which do you prefer and why?

Personally, I have enjoyed these last few films the best (including “The Frozen Ground” with John Cusack). Often T.V. has a lot of executives making creative decisions and it can be hard for the writers and actors to navigate. Independent films are generally the most intimate and creative work places… but there’s no money in it. I’m lucky the TV show I’m doing “Infamous”, for NBC, has a wonderful group of writers, and very smart executives like Gail Berman, for whom I’ve worked before, so I think I scored. The role is very dark and has a little viciousness and a lot of smarts and sexuality. I’m really looking forward to that one. I guess it just depends on who you’re working with ultimately.

Do you have a preference to comedy, drama, or action and why?

I really like both. I’ve been very lucky to fly under the radar long enough that I haven’t been typecast. I went directly from shooting “The Frozen Ground” in Alaska, where I played a quiet, pious, smart special needs school teacher in a very sad drama, to New Orleans to shoot “The Campaign”. There was one guy in the camera crew on both movies. I thought, “this guy must think I’m psychotic”. I pretty much sat with my head in a corner sobbing on “The Frozen Ground”, and walked around like an oversexed peacock with a tight dress and big hair on “The Campaign”. Each role always teaches me something about acting I didn’t know before or presents a challenge that gives me a new skill set. It’s rewarding over the years to see myself solving situations that would have really thrown me when I was younger.

If given carte blanche, who would be your ultimate cast and director to work with and in why type of project?

Let’s see…. Clint Eastwood directs me and Meryl Streep and Gene Hackman in a thriller. Robert Downey plays my husband. Yeah.. let’s start with that. I would also love to play Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” one day.

What do you like to do in your free time and which movies are on your to watch list?

I’m really outdoorsy and surprisingly domestic. I used to have an interior design business Casa LaNasa. I’m learning to golf with my fiance Grant Show. I’m just old enough to have the patience for it. I’m a scrabble savant and I love bike riding in Venice Beach where I live. The other night I had a temper tantrum when I couldn’t find my screener of “Midnight in Paris”.

What do you look for from a director to help you give your best performance and what type of characters do you tend to be drawn to?

I’m really drawn to great writing and think I appreciate the nuances and the implicit information that a writer consciously or subconsciously throws in. It’s like deciphering a puzzle that is a person. Great writing really does the work for you. Roles are like a diet for me, sometimes you want home cooking, sometimes you want a soufflé. It’s mixing it up that keeps me sharpest. My favorite director is one that lets me know what he wants to see or feel. Not ones who try to explain to me how to get there or what’s going on in the character’s psychology specifically. I need to take my own road to the destination.

When you consider a script or a potential TV or film project, what elements tend to draw you in and make you want to work on that film?

The writing, the cast, and the director. It really all starts with the words for me though. If it isn’t there, no one is going to be good.

Final question, what is the one thing about acting that most people are shocked when you tell them?

People are always surprised at how much material we have to memorize. It’s really just a learned skill set. I usually learn the whole movie before I start. Forwards and backwards. That way I can drink beer and just hang out on my days off. It’s all about the beer.

See our review for “The Campaign” and check it out at a cinema near you on 8/10/12