Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans starring Nicolas Cage and Val Kilmer opens next month and I got the chance to speak to actress/model/producer Katie Chonacas about the film and her career.
During the course of the interview, Chonacas informed us that John Carpenter’s planned Nicolas Cage film Riot is dead and she also gave us some news of the new Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent film version of Jekyll and Hyde.
You seen to have a very busy schedule that juggles everything from modelling and singing to acting and film producing. How do you manage it?
It’s been quite an experience. The biggest roller coaster ride I have ever been on! I manage by always having a positive attitude, I have a good team and surround myself with people who I admire. My whole life I’ve dreamt about abundance, success, joy, and gratitude, and am lucky to be finding it.
How did you get started in modelling?
My first modelling job was standing as a mannequin in the window of a Jacobson’s department store. I would wear their designer clothes that were popular during that particular season, it was fun! One of the first things I did to get further in my modelling career was grab the yellow pages and look for modelling agencies in Michigan- a lot of them wanted me to pay for their services… but I found two, The Talent Shop and The I Group that were agencies that I knew I needed to be involved with.
You also sing – and have toured with 50 Cent. That must have been pretty crazy, was it?
Yes, it was pretty wild. 50 and his whole camp are really sweet, great guys.
Was it difficult making the transition from model to actress?
Not at all, it was meant to be!
You star in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, is the iconic director as eccentric as he appears?
His obvious intelligence is captivating. I look up to him and admire the moments we were able to spend together creating.
Herzog personally called you on the phone offering a role in the film. What was that like?
When the phone call came in I was floored. I felt as if I were a classic movie star that night, like Joan Crawford. It was an honor, a blessing, and so exciting!
The film is a loose remake of the Harvey Keitel-starring original. What are the differences and similarities of the two films?
The new film is by no means a sequel; Herzog’s film is a re-envisioning Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant in a whole new cultural milieu. They are as different as the directors who made the films. Ferrara’s version is raunchy and dirty, representative of New York City in the early 90′s. Herzog’s film is more existential and absurd; the humor is off the wall as Cage’s character spirals deeper into self-created hell. I loved watching Cage’s descent, watching Keitel’s performance was so disturbing at times you can feel the urge to shield your eyes. Herzog and Cage have said the improvisational, Jazzy soul of New Orleans stands at the core of the new film. The two films stand as completely unique and powerful films.
What can you say about the development of “Riot?” Are John Carpenter and Nicolas Cage still attached?
I don’t think the film Riot is happening anymore, it was part of a two picture deal however Nic Cage has the option to replace Riot with another film.
Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent are a bizarre yet brilliant pairing for Jekyll and Hyde – how did that come about?
A producer friend of mine gave me the materials and Forest was already attached to the project. My friend was entertaining the idea that 50 would be a good match as his son. I was interested, read the material, loved it, so I gave it to Randall Emmett (who I was working with at the time) and he loved it as well, so Curtis Jackson a.k.a 50 Cent read it and gave it a green light. After many calls, we finally found a time for Curtis to meet with the writer/director of the film and Bonnie Timmerman in New York City. They all got along really great, and that is how it all started.
Have you any other acting roles in the pipeline?
I am up for some projects, I will find out in a few days if I am going to be going to New Zealand for a television project. I also just received a script for a film that will take place in Capetown, South Africa, so that could be a possibility as well.
You’ve tackled a lot of diverse jobs, what’s next – directing?
Next I will be launching a jewellery line, I am really excited about it! I have a new partner as well, so hopefully we will be able to work on lots of projects in 2010.