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November 19, 2013


Interviewed by: Rob Sibley

 Natalie Jean needs very little introduction, she's a class act with a body of work that would make most salivate. She's done two stellar horror films both directed by the talented Adam Ahlbrandt. Both Cinema Head Cheese favorites, The Cemetery & Cross Bearer two of the best blood soaked Independent horror films that really charmed my black heart. 

Natalie was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions about her career. Luckily the interview didn't end with me 
begging for her phone # or  her filing a restraining order 
against me so I think it turned out well! A big thank
you to Natalie for such a fun interview and as always
being a total sweetheart (and not filing a sexual harassment suit against me!)

Rob- First off, thanks so much Natalie for doing this little interview for Cinema Head Cheese! I wanted to mix things up a bit so the questions will be a mix of normal Q&A stuff and oddball questions. Feel free to curse and say whatever you want, we don't believe in censorship at The Cheese. First question isn't film biz related, you have an awesome assortment of tats. How many do you have and do you have a personal favorite?

Natalie- Hum, I’d like to say 13? I haven’t gotten worked on for quite a while, for a couple reasons. I want to wait until I can get to the artists I am really after, and also I’m not in any rush to get fully covered. I probably never will. But I will definitely be getting some pretty serious pieces, over time. My favorite is probably the Mark Ryden painting on my left leg. It’s from the hardback version of the Stephen King novel Desperation. I will actually be getting a whole King piece when the time is right. Nerdcore!

Rob- Now again with the tats, do you feel when you go to audition for a film say just doing a cold read do you feel having tattoos effect the casting directors choice? It seems even in this day and age for some reason tats are almost taboo. Do you ever feel you got gipped out of a role do to them?

Natalie- To be honest I rarely go to cold-read auditions. I’m sort of a square peg in an industry of round holes (readers feel free to write your own anal joke here) so anything I’ve gotten thus far has been from hustling my own ass through networking and whatnot. Even when I’ve worked with agents or modeling agencies, try as they might, they never really knew what to do with me. I don’t fit into any niche market, which is to say really great, or real, real, bad. Whichever way that swings is up to me. Also I intrinsically hate the concept of cattle calls, as a caster or auditioner. I think they blow for a number of reasons.

As far as tattoos, as someone who casts I kind of understand the reason tattoos can cause problems. It’s nice to have ‘blanker slates’ for certain roles.. If I’m stunt-doubling an actress and someone on production gives me shit for my tattoos, or I can’t be considered for a role as a character from 1967, well I get it. In any case, one reason I started getting worked on by tattoo artists was as a part of my pseudo-nihilistic defiance against following pointless rules. Now it’s actually become SO normal for every other19-year-old kid to be covered nose to nuts in scribbles, that rebellious feel has kind of been stifled. But shit, that’s the way trends and time work: what once was old will be new again. So I love the practice of it, but I don’t want it to be everything about me.

Rob- Now your two most recent films Cross Bearer & Cemetery have been kicking ass and taking names all over the place. The films are pretty much the Chuck Norris of film festivals, wherever they go they rock the casaba. Did you ever expect while working on either film that you were working on something really special that fans would respond to?

Natalie- Well thank you! Right away (along with everybody involved I think) I knew that I felt great as we were shooting The Cemetery. There is actually a moment in the Special Features vignette, on the yet-to-be released DVD, between Sakmann (my co-producer and SPFX master) and Brown (actor playing Bill) where they have one of those ‘wow, we’re really doing something’ conversations.

During Cross Bearer I felt confident in our actions, but the tough plotline mixed with intense physical demands made it impossible to stop and take a breath, let alone worry about what people would think. Afterwards though, I certainly had hope we had caught something. And if not, I probably would have booked a one-way ticket to the looney bin, since putting so much in to something begs for some kind of return. I’m kidding about the looney bin (mostly), but thankfully I fell in love with the end result.

Rob- The tone for both CB & Cemetery couldn't be more different. Especially your roles, your character in CB is a troubled individual in a dark place. While as in Cemetery you get to play a free loving and soon demon possessed medium. When Adam was writing The Cemetery, were Adam & you purposely trying to do something totally different (lighter in tone) then CB?

Natalie- Actually.. it’s a little known fact that The Cemetery came first, production-wise! Also of note, I was a last-minute replacement for the lead actress of The Cem. And when I say ‘last minute’ I mean they flew me from LA to the principal photography location four days after they first contacted me. I had had previous working experience with Adam and Doug on some music videos and they thought of me when they were scrambling for replacements. As such, The Cem changed somewhat during shooting, since Adam is good at letting things take an organic shape around the actors he has.

Regarding Cross Bearer, that movie was supposed to have been a much lighter movie as well. It was originally called ‘Strip Club Slaughter’, and it was Adam’s homage to Slumber Party Massacre. That didn’t last very long. As casting and pre-production moved along, both Adam and I were in financial straights and dealing with some ugliness in other facets of life. Add in an absolute frigid winter, throw in a blizzard, then mix in a primary location with ZERO heating capabilities and viola- you have Cross Bearer!

Rob- Besides CB & Cemetery you have a hugely impressive resume. A good portion of it is stunt work on very big flicks such as The Other Guys, Black Swan, Men In Black III and even the upcoming Noah. How did you first become involved in stunt work?

Natalie- As with many people in the stunt field, it sort of found me. I was doing background work at the demand of my modeling agency at the time, and was approached by a stunt coordinator while I was playing a modern dancer on a TV show. That guy, Doug Crosby, is my ‘stunt dad’ -many of us have some kind of patriarch in the field- and he proceeded to teach me not only about stunt work but about how to be a better filmmaker and a stronger person in general. He has been so instrumental in my career and life, there are no words to describe my gratitude to him. Also to the other couple guys who have taken me under their wing, like Bam. The stunt profession is a constant learning curve; I’m the first to say I consider myself on the lower rungs of the ladder. With anything I’ve accomplished, there are ten things bumping up against it I HAVEN’T done yet.

Rob- Now besides acting and stunt work your into some other awesome stuff. At this point your a scream Queen and a Jill of all trades if you will. The fact that you act in Independent films, do stunts in big budget productions and not only that but you are also a professional dancer & contortionist. Do you feel dancing kind of opened you up to the idea of stunt work (I imagine it doesn't hurt being limber in that profession).

Natalie- Well thanks again! I’d be honored to be considered a Scream Queen, would love to make more horror. But I don’t want to jump the gun; it’s tough to gauge the moment when you’re allowed that title. I just came back from Days of the Dead Chicago, and was fortunate enough to sit down and speak with the greats of that field over the course of the weekend. If I can earn the respect of those fellows and (sadly few) ladies I’d feel cool with taking that title. Though I humbly appreciate you calling me so!

Most of us in the stunt field came from a physical background- pro-dancers, gymnasts, martial artists, etc. Aside from the physical capabilities those skillsets usually lend themselves to conditioned performance and pressure capabilities, which are crucial. You have to have super tough skin and be bred for constant challenge. For example, if you’re shooting a massive action sequence and you trip and fall and a top-level celebrity actor halts the entire cast and crew and makes you point yourself out in order to humiliate you, and you have to continue on, now injured and unable to make the slightest error lest you anger him and he shuts down the entire show, you have to be able to push past it and keep a clear head. That example is just theoretic, of course.

Rob- Now when your not dancing the nights away, being chased down by hammer wielding maniacs, being possessed by demons and traveling around promoting your films, how do you like to kick back and relax?

Natalie- Welllll, I have a terrible time relaxing, to be honest.. I may be addicted to work. My personal life is kind of sad. Case in point: after being a veritable gypsy for well over a year I finally took a room over at my friend’s house in Philly, and I’ve been there for six or so months. My office side of the room is completely set up, my posters and photos framed, bulletin and white boards up, desk organized. I still do not have a bed- true story. But aside from that I do love music and going to shows, exploring old buildings in the hopes of finally finding the treasure map that will lead me to Chester Copperpot and a giant pipe organ made out of skeletons, and making friends with awesome designers who will let me wear their clothes for free. Oh, and I have a consuming greed for buying and owning shoes.

Rob- Gotta ask, what are some of your favorite films? Or films that you enjoy watching whenever you have the chance?

Natalie- The list is so erratic I don’t honestly ever know how to answer well..I love horror of course; more-so classics with style, like Texas Chainsaw, Exorcist, Evil Dead 2, Poltergeist, Dead Alive, The Shining, Return of the Living Dead, but I try really hard to stay on top of the daunting amount there is to watch; some of the new ones I like quite a bit are Hobo With A Shotgun, Insidious (yes I do like mainstream horror sometimes), most of Ty West’s work; then there’s comedy, my favorites being Ghost Busters, Coming to America, The Jerk, Wayne’s World, Anchorman, The Goonies; then there’s a crapload you could categorize as ‘cult’- exploitation like Switchblade Sisters and Reform School Girls, punk movies like Suburbia and Rock n Roll High School, 90s neo noir like Natural Born Killers, Doom Generation, Four Rooms, the Tarantinos like Pulp Fiction and Killing Zoe, also Kill Bill and Deathproof; arthouse horror like Possession and Susperia, directors Kubrick, Werner Herzog, Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch, Penelope Spheeris, Jack Hill..and I’ve been devouring documentaries recently. Netflix can be a beautiful thing. I think I’ve watched American Grindhouse and Room 237 20 times each. I am going to stop this answer now and not look back, because I will just continue to edit this until we’re all dead and the next generation might not know all these movies.

Rob-Next up you have Punk Rock Holocaust 3 coming out soon, what can you tell us about the production and working with Doug Sakmann?

Natalie- Hah! Doug…what can I say? If you are familiar with Doug, that question will probably make you smile. Beyond PRH I’ve worked on at least a dozen other projects with him over the last four years, probably more. Not to mention I’ve had to live on his couch more than once during post-production of Cross Bearer and The Cemetery, since I had to sell most of my belongings to get the movies finished. The man lives on meat and candy, can throw a raucous ten-hour party, is an absolute master of practical effects (he was the head of SPFX on The Cemetery and the ENTIRE department on Cross Bearer), and can drink a sailor under the table and then get up and produce a 14-hour video shoot like a pro. He’s the guy who diligently sat watch over me for hours at a horror convention party as I slept exhaustion sleep under a lobby table because we couldn’t afford a hotel room, and he’s the same guy who coerced me into simulating blood-soaked anal rape on a guy with a baseball bat for PRH in the middle of a crowd at Warped Tour. He’s one in a million and one of my favorite people on earth.

Rob- Last question, what kind of muzak do you have loaded up onto your I-pad? Any particular genres or bands you like to jam to?

Natalie- I grew up on punk rock and ballet music, and then I branched out into what can only be described as a music know, going beyond love into a mentally unstable obsession which if I could, I would keep music’s discarded trash and hair clippings in a shrine in my closet? Music means everything to me, and often in the traverses of my self-inflicted struggles to make movies, musicians were my only companions. As such what I keep in my libraries varies from deathmetal to soul to grindcore to EDM to chamber music. I don’t care what anybody thinks about what I like, because artists like Eminem, Tom Gabel, Alx Rose, Debussey, Matt Bellamy, Mike Patton, Freddie Mercury, Wendy O. Williams, Joey Ramone, Beethoven, and so many more were my support system and I don’t know what I would have done without them. SO I’ll wrap this up by saying to anyone choosing to go after a big (and sometimes alienating) goal and might be feeling alone, find power in music, film, or on paper- it’s there to serve you, baby!

Thanks Rob and Cinema Head Cheese!

For more info on all things Natalie check these sites out-- 

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