Were you inspired by female action heroes like Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton growing up, and do you think about inspiring young girls with your performances?
Katee Sackhoff: I grew up watching science fiction with my dad and it was kind of like our little secret and it was our bonding time as father and daughter, and he showed me movies that I should not have been watching. I think I saw Predator when I was six, so I knew from a very young age that it wasn’t real but I just loved it. We watched so much Star Trek that it was coming out of my ears by the time I was 10.
So I grew up idolizing these men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I love Sylvester Stallone, I loved Bruce Willis, these guys that embodied everything that action was in the 80’s and 90’s. I think I told my dad that I wanted to be like one of these guys and my dad was like, “Oh lord! I think we should watch Alien. Don’t tell your mother.” I was probably like ten when I saw that, and I realized in the moment that I don’t have to be a dude; I can just be Sigourney Weaver. And then Linda Hamilton came along and then Xena on a weekly basis on my TV in my home, Sarah Michelle Gellar, they just kept coming. They were few and far between, but they just kept coming as the years went by. I was always inspired by Sigourney because she was able to have such beautiful diversity in her career, and I think that’s a really impressive thing.
I auditioned for Wonder Woman but David Kelly didn’t like the idea, but thank God because now I’m on Longmire. I loved Wonder Woman growing up. Any tough woman that I could be I wanted to be. I love comic books, I loved Ms. Marvel, I talk about Harley Quinn all the time because I think playing villains is so much more fun than playing the good guy, because who wouldn’t want to go to work and just be crazy?
What was it like working with Vin Diesel?
Katee Sackhoff: Vin’s amazing. From the moment I met Vin, he has the ability to make you feel like he’s known you for his entire life and you’ve known him forever. There’s this responsibility that you feel he has to this series of movies and that he lets you know that he feels this responsibility. You show up on day one and they want you to be prepared. David Twohy told me in the very beginning that the main thing he wanted me to focus on was that he wanted me to look like I could beat up these guys, every single one of them (even Dave Bautista). I was like, “Dave is like 6’ 6”! He’s huge!” And every time they cast another guy, the guys just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I was like, “Oh my God I’m 5’ 5”! This is not going to be pretty!”
So I told Vin that I wanted to put weight on. I said I know this is the opposite of what women in this business say, but I’d really like to put on 10 or 15 pounds of muscle and then also some fat and just hold onto this mass because I’m gonna look so small next to these guys. Vin was like, “Do whatever you want to do. You own this character. By the time you get to Montréal, you will know her more than anybody. So if that’s what you want to do, do it.” So I remember getting there and getting to the hotel, and he saw my arms and was like, “Jesus Christ kid, you did it! They are massive!” My arms were huge.
Vin gives you a trust and a responsibility and gives you the freedom to create your own character and to be who you want to be and who you think this character should be. I made a lot this stuff up. In the script, Dahl was not Boss John’s No. 2; Matt Nable and I sat down and made that up. Then all of a sudden she was shooting the gun one time and I was like, “Okay, so maybe she’s the sniper?” David Twohy said, “If you want her to be the sniper she can be the sniper, but then you’re married to that gun.”
I loved working with Vin. He has a passion about everything he does. He’s been married to this project for so long and I’m sure that it’s owned a piece of property in his brain for the longest time. You can sit and listen to him talk about it forever because he is so passionate about it, and he brings a passion to the set every day.
In one scene where Dahl is being hit on, she replies to the advance by saying, “I don’t f*ck guys.” How did you see the character of Dahl?
Katee Sackhoff: I think that there’s a vulnerability that every woman has in a situation where she is surrounded by men in an enclosed space where you learn through time different defense mechanisms. One of things that Dahl has learned, whether it’s true or not, is she may not f*ck guys. It was never a subject we talked about. It was her response to the entire thing that David Twohy and I talked about; it’s that she didn’t want the grief.
I’m not closed to the idea that she might be telling the truth. I don’t think it was something we gave too much thought to. I kind of like the idea that she was kind of open to anything sexually. It was an aspect that made her fiercer in my mind. What opens it up with Riddick is that there’s this moment where he talks about her nipples, and she realizes in that moment that Riddick could’ve killed her, had every opportunity to do it and didn’t do it. So there’s more to this person than she or anyone else knows. Maybe they do need to kill him, but not yet. It’s this kinship she feels towards him because she’s misunderstood a lot. There’s something about Riddick that brings out a side to her that opens her up sexually where she probably has been closed down for a while as a defense mechanism.
Is there a scene in this movie that really challenged you physically, and did you spend time learning how to shoot the gun your character uses?
Katee Sackhoff: I did because, like David Twohy said, you’re going to be married to that gun because that’s the choice you made. He said you’re going to learn how to use this better than anybody here. I realized she should be able to grab ammo, use that gun and to do anything to that gun that she needed to do and never take her eyes off her target. It took a week to be able to take the gun apart, put the gun back together, get the ammunition and load all while keeping my eyes down the scope which is something I’ve never had to do before. In the process, I realized I was left eye dominant, so I realized that I should actually shoot with my left hand. I have since learned to shoot on the left side just to see if that was true, and it turns out that I’m 10 times more accurate that way.
The hardest thing for me, because of that damned sniper rifle, was that I had to carry the case which weighed about 50 pounds and was long. David Twohy was like, “Okay, you wanted it. You’re carrying it.” I had to carry it for an entire day, and I couldn’t hold it next my body because it would hit my knees. So I had a hold it out, and my arm was so sore the next day. I was actually hurting down my rib cage because was so heavy. But it looks cool. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable (laughs).
That concludes the interview but we’d like to thank Katee very much for her time. Be sure to check out Riddick when it hits theatres tomorrow!