Daily Record interview
by John Millar
Revealed: Horror queen Katharine Isabelle says she’s terrified of blood
AFTER starring in some of the most acclaimed and blood-drenched horror films of all time, scream queen Katharine Isabelle has finally come clean – she’s not very good with the red stuff.
But the 31-year-old admits she is not too good with real-life gore.
Katharine said: “Even having my blood taken is a big deal for me.”
In her new film, she plays a surgical student who carries out illegal operations for bizarre clients in a part especially written for her by horror producers the Soska sisters.
Katharine said: “When I was sent the script, I was just supposed to glance at it on my Blackberry but ended up reading the whole 180 pages straight away. I loved the character.
“It was not till I had dinner with the sisters some time later that they told me they had written American Mary with me in mind – which was extremely flattering.”
But she left research into the film’s bizarre subject matter – the world of body modification surgery – to her two directors.
She said: “I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to seeing potentially horrifying things on the internet.
“But the Soska sisters had done so much research and they explained everything I needed to know. So I did not have to freak myself out.”
The movie tells how Katharine’s medical student character starts making money with illegal ops on bod-mod clients before embarking on a bloody trail of revenge in a film hailed by horror fans as a modern classic.
The Canadian actress, who also starred in psychological thriller Insomnia with Al Pacino, says she gave one of her most convincing performances when she overcame her nerves to out-bluff the movie legend and a bunch of Hollywood hotshots at the poker table.
Katharine Isabelle and Al Pacino in a scene from Insomnia
Although she was a novice at the game and nervous about being in such exalted company, Katharine said: “I bluffed my way into that poker game and through it.
“I went into that game with $50 and left with six times that.
“It is totally bizarre and it is my best story to tell over a few drinks.”
Although she managed to maintain a convincing poker face over the card table, Katharine admits that, inside, she was a bag of nerves. She said: “When I left the game, I was shaking like a leaf.”
Making Insomnia, which was directed by Christopher Nolan, was also a career highlight. She said: “Working with Al was amazing. I was shocked, honoured and terrified, all at once.”
Katharine – whose real name is Katharine Isobel Murray – is fiercely proud that she is of Scots descent.
She said: “My roots are Scottish. My dad’s parents are from Scotland and my mum’s dad is Scots.” That tartan connection is why Katharine is so thrilled to be making guest appearances, with the Soska sisters, at screenings of American Mary at the Edinburgh Filmhouse and Glasgow Film Theatre.
She said: “I’m so excited. We are going to travel through Britain by tour bus, stopping off for screenings of the film along the way. I have never been to Scotland before. I can’t wait.”
Katharine was born into a showbiz family. Her father, Graeme Murray, was a double Emmy-winning production designer on hit sci-fi TV series The X Files for 10 years and her brother, Joshua Murray, is a film and TV actor.
Katharine said: “I grew up on my dad’s sets but I was never star-struck or desperate to be famous. I grew up being a worker.
“It took me a long time to realise that my work ended up being seen by people. As far as I was concerned, I was just in the family business.”
Katharine and her dad worked on an episode of The X Files called Schizogeny, involving an orchard that appears to have murderous powers.
“It was the most stupid episode ever,” she says with a chuckle. “Trees would come flying through the window and grab people.”
The success of werewolf flick Ginger Snaps put Katharine in the limelight and earned her Hollywood offers. But she was determined not to be enticed from her Canadian home.
She said: “I was 18 and not ready to throw myself into the depths of Hollywood. I like my life and I like Vancouver.”
Now Katharine feels more comfortable about handling the Hollywood scene. She added: “I’m in a much better position than I would have been when I was 18. I know how to keep myself sane.
“My brother lives down there so I visit him but I come back to a normal life in Vancouver where nobody cares who you are.”
Another thing that sets Katharine apart from the usual notion of a Hollywood starlet is her refusal to do nude scenes. She said: “I don’t think it is a big deal – 99 per cent of the time, nudity is gratuitous and unnecessary.”