Being Mack and Dealing with ARTi: A Conversation with Fan Favourite Actress Katee Sackhoff
Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Wilson struggles to keep her career as an old-school mission controller in a future where artificial intelligence has made even the smartest human redundant.
Mack was living her dream as a mission control scientist until Martian-One, the first manned flight to Mars, crashed. Among the dead was her father, Jake Wilson.
Years later USPC lead the space race and they’ve replaced mission controllers with advanced artificial intelligence supercomputer ARTi. No hidden motives, no mistakes. Humans are only needed when new ‘Origin Unknown’ objects are encountered and one has just been found on Mars…
Mack snatches what could be her last chance to run a mission but she can only investigate. Stuck in a mission control bunker with the reviled ARTi running the show, the pair discover a giant Cube in the wastelands of Mars.
Mack pushes ARTi to his limits and when the investigation uncovers connections to foreign space agencies and the military, only Mack’s cunning and human intuition can navigate the riddle and in so doing expose a web of international conspiracies which put Earth at risk.
In our latest interview, The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali had the pleasure of talking to fan favourite Actress Katee Sackhoff about her new film 2036 Origin Unknown, this was a dream come true to talk to Katee, we discuss what drew her to 2036 Origin Unknown, her icons in the sci-fi genre and tells us about her new Netflix show Another Life…
It’s amazing to speak to you Katee, thank you so much for the interview this evening.
I watched the film it is incredible, I really enjoyed it. What was it about Mack for you that enticed you to get involved with 2036?
What I loved about the script, first and foremost, it was so intelligently written and thought provoking and complicated and this woman was all of those things as well, you know, I thought the most complicated relationship she has in this movie is within herself and I found all of that to be really intriguing.
Absolutely I’ll go watch it again (laughs) because I’m sure there are bits that I missed (laughs)
I actually find with films you watch over and over you find things and pick up things. So you’ve appeared in sci-fi previously with Battlestar and Riddick etc, is sci-fi your preferred genre?
I think so. I grew up watching science fiction and action movies with my father so I am drawn to them, but also, you know, science fiction genre projects have also provided no shortage of strong woman and I think that I was drawn to those types of characters because they didn’t exist in other genres, and when I first moved to California and started working the characters that I was playing where just stupid blonde girl roles and number 1: I didn’t identify as that as a person but number 2: I figured that was incredibly small minded as a career option and I didn’t think it would provide for longevity in the business. And so I made a conscious decision to try and shift out of those roles when I found the script for Battlestar Galactica and, you know, every single woman between the ages of 19 and 35 had auditioned for this character and everyone wanted Starbuck because she was so groundbreaking, and thankfully, god bless, I got it, but science fiction has always had those kind of roles and so it was a conscious decision by me to try and provide myself with the opportunity to have a longer career.
Do you have any icons in the genre who you look up to?
Oh my god yeah, of course, I mean there is the old steadfast of Linda Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lucy Lawless, you know, these women sort of they formed my childhood and my opinion of what I could be as an actress.
Absolutely, great and they’re all phenomenal. For a large part of the film, Mack spends her time with ARTi, I got a HAL and Flight of the Navigator vibe from him, can you talk about the relationship between Mack and ARTi and largely isolated to the environment in Mission Control?
Yeah absolutely. So the relationship between ARTi and Mack, myself and Has [Dulull] the director was for to feel just like two co-workers sitting in a room together, you know, we wanted, he kept saying to me “if ARTi was a real human person they would probably be romantically involved”, which is the case if you think about it, a man and a woman locked in a room working together with nobody else in sight, have common interests, common educational background, these two people probably would end up dating or at least have one bad night where they regret it, you know, I mean that’s sort of what we wanted it to feel, very familiar and we wanted the relationship to feel like she has these conversations with him everyday.
Right great. Do you have any memorable moments from set?
Oh my god there’s so many. I very rarely get upset when I leave set because I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and all jobs end and so I’ve build up this sort of defensive wall like “don’t form relationships because it’s all going to be over in such and such time”.
This was such a quick fast moving project but I was so emotionally attached to these people because, I don’t know, it was such a small crew and everyone got along so well and everybody worked their asses off every single day and I literally cried when I left, you know, the producers brother and I bonded so much, because my work visa didn’t come through so I was kicked out of London and I had to go sit in Dublin for five days and wait for my work visa and the producer sent his brother with me as sort of like a chaperone to make sure, I like, didn’t disappear, and he and I, sort of at the mercy of the passport office and DHL delivery man so we sat there for five days and just got to know each other and talked and then I would Skype with Has a lot, we had to talk so much because we couldn’t start filming when we where supposed to start filming and so I felt like, by the time I got there, I was already so emotionally invested in these people, in this project because I’d been memorising for a month already, and when we showed up we did the whole movie in like seven to nine days because we lost so many days and I knew we needed to make up time, and on day 1 I got to work at like 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock because my passport came in the morning and we flew there from Dublin and got to set and went though hair and make-up and the first take was 26 pages, and that just doesn’t happen, like the longest scene I’ve ever done was four and half, and I did 26 and it was just me talking to ARTi whose invisible because we had to make up so much time, but it was just amazing I would go back and do a movie a year with this entire crew because they where phenomenal.
Great. Well that kind of follows on to my next question which was; can you talk about the experience of working with Has [Dulull]?
Yeah. Has is so talented, he is a director who is going to, because he does all of his own effects and the design is all in his mind and it’s all at his fingertips.
He is sort of changing film and indie film, you know, he did everything himself, he’s pretty amazing and he is absolutely 100% going to be somebody who is going to take this industry by storm at some point if he isn’t already which I know that he is.
I think that we sort of taught each other, sort of, I helped him sort of learn to articulate what he wanted emotionally faster because we didn’t have the time, and because I come from a background in television I’m used to working fast and he and I just got along really well, he’s great.
Brilliant Okay. Throughout your career you’ve done some voice work in the past, most notably on Star Wars: Rebels and The Machine, is voice work something you’d like to do more of?
Yeah, I’ve been doing voices almost since the beginning of my career as well because I became friends with Seth Green and he started sterling me into Robot Chicken most notably playing Bitch Puddin’ who has had her own Christmas special, she’s pretty out of control. And so I’ve always sort of been around voice over work which sort of led me into voice over gaming opportunities and then doing Valkyrie and sort of all these different things. I love voice over it’s just a different aspect of the same business, a different sort of task and skill to have, I love it.
Yeah great, love hearing you as well. So obviously you’ve worked with a good amount of talent over the years, do you have a wish list of who you’d like to work with?
Oh my god my wish list is so long that I can’t…..I mean it grows and grows and grows. I’ve been trying to work with J.J. Abrams since the beginning of my career I think that he’s incredibly amazing, (Darren) Aronofksy I’d love to work with, you know, I would have killed to be in the new Terminator, I mean I literally could go on and on and on forever, but I just hope to continue work for the next 20 to 30 years if I want to.
Does that also mean you’d want to go back to TV at some point?
I am, I have a new show called Another Life that we start filming in four weeks and it’ll be on Netflix and it’s sci-fi, I play the commander of a ship called the Sylvari and it’s going to be pretty awesome, I’m excited.
Are there any other genres that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?
Yeah. You know, I love rom-coms , I love dark comedies, I did a movie called Girl Flu that is one of my favourite projects and performances that I’ve done and it’s just a little indie film and absolutely adored that project and I would love to do more romantic comedies.
I just, sort of, go where the interesting good characters, sort of challenging work is and right now it just continues, for me, to be in genre.
Great awesome. Fandoms are an ever popular part of the industry, who or what are you a fan of?
In the industry, oh gosh, so much there’s so much. Right now, what am I watching right now? There’s no, like, actors in particular that I, you know, I’m like a huge fan of but I don’t like “geek out” over anything if you will.
The things that I “geek out” over are musicians and music because it’s something that I can’t do so I’m like obsessed with Bruce Springsteen, but, god what am I watching on TV right now? I have no idea what I’m watching on TV right now because I’m not watching anything. I’m a huge fan of Netflix because it allows me to actually watch TV the way I want to watch TV which is like hard and fast for like two days and then watch nothing for two weeks.
Yeah I’m kind of like that at the moment with a show that I’m watching. I started watching Good Girls on there starring Christina Hendricks and…..
Oh is that good?
It’s very good, and Mae Whitman it’s very very good. It’s a crime drama, it’s got a bit of comedy in there as well, so it’s really good. I think I’ve almost finished the series (both laugh) it’s ten episodes but there all an hour long and I think I’ve watched seven so yeah (laughs).
That’s funny, yeah I, what did I just watch? What’s that series, the thing that I love…..The Night Manager with Tom Hiddleston, holy s**t, I didn’t just watch it but I think that was the last thing I watched, but I like couldn’t stop watching and I was obsessed with it and I got to the last episode and felt so upset it was only….I was like “wait it’s only six episodes” like I was so disappointed and I was so upset and then I’m like really waiting for the next season of Taboo.
With Tom Hardy?
Tom Hardy absolutely. And it’s so funny because when we where filming Origin Unkown, Tom Hardy was there for a wardrobe fitting for something that he did and I didn’t even recognise him when he walked by me , which is probably a good thing because I would have been like “OH MY GOD!”
Yeah, I was at a premiere last night, he was there supporting his wife, so I caught a glimpse of him but he didn’t do press or anything. So just before I let you go, you touched on the Netflix series that your filming in a few weeks, what else have you got coming up that you’re allowed to talk about?
So that’s literally just it. After Longmire I knew that this Netflix series coming so I couldn’t take another contracted role on a series and I just sort of wanted to have fun and be close to home because I’m building a new house and so The Flash came up and I did the fourth season of The Flash and I had a blast playing some crazy woman and a crazy villain, yeah I had so much fun playing her that when I brought up to the producers that I wanted to do an English accent he was like “oh right from where which one?” and I was like “no all of them” like I want to do all of them because I think she’s insane, like she’s f**king insane, this woman I think she’s like from a small town in Florida and she got hit with this particle accelerator and she’s like “oh I can be a supervillain? let’s do this” (laughs) I had such a blast playing her.
You where brilliant on the show and I hope that you come back (laughs)
Thank you so much, I just think that she’s really really funny and you have no idea what she’s going to do next which I think is what makes villain’s so much fun.
Yeah and obviously the best part about villain’s is one that doesn’t think of themselves as the villain and I did get that from Amunet…
Yeah Amunet is just misunderstood she’s an opportunistic person she’s just like trying to survive, just take care of herself (laughs).
Yeah. I’ll leave it there and I’ll let you get on to the next one but thank you so much, this has been a dream come true to speak to you this evening thanks very much.
Oh absolutely thank you so much for taking the time.
Thanks very much, take care.
2036 ORIGIN UNKNOWN is released On Demand & DVD from August 13