Guardian interview
by Stephen Applebaum

Angry like the wolf.

Being a modern teen, Ginger Snaps star Katherine Isabelle already knows what it’s like to feel alienated the rest she learnt from her pony.

Rising Canadian star Katherine Isabelle experiences the double “curse” of menstruation and lycanthropy in Ginger Snaps, John Fawcett’s clever, feminist spin on the werewolf genre. She won the changeling role when Toronto based casting directors boycotted the film, assuming it was going to be a cheap slasher flick. Forced to cast his net in Vancouver, Fawcett found Isabelle and Emily Perkins, long time friends who fitted perfectly into the roles of alienated siblings Ginger and Brigitte. Suffering from a stomach bug, airline sick bag to hand, Isabelle talked cheerfully about the pleasure and the pain of being the wolf next door.

Ginger Snaps links lycanthropy to periods. Were you concerned about its tone?
Well, yeah. I thought it could be really stupid and cheesy just because it’s a werewolf movie or it could be condescending to women. But then I also thought it could be really funny and scary. It ended up being way better than I had hoped even.

Did it make you more at ease knowing the writer, Karen Walton, was a woman?
Yeah. If it had been written by a man and directed by a man, I don’t think it would have come across with the same honesty and truth. Because it was written by a woman, who knows all those woman things, it does have that shocking, oh god sort of thing. Like when the school nurse is talking about periods, or when Ginger’s mum finds her bloody panties in the laundry I don’t think a male writer would have put those things in.

Ginger becomes increasingly violent as her condition worsens. Did you relate to that side of her character?
Ginger, really, is just a small exaggeration of my bad side. It’s really weird. I have a pony, who’s bright red and a total bitch, and her name’s Ginger. I’ve had her for a really long time, and if I ever needed any sort of inspiration for a scene, I’d think, “What would my pony do?” Usually I thought she’d just kick out.

Like in the scene where you beat up a bully on a hockey pitch?
Yeah. We had so much  fun doing that, although I might have broken the stunt girl’s nose by accident. I had this hood on, and it flipped over my head, and I cracked her in the nose with my elbow. I felt so bad. But it looked good.

Ginger talks about the way that girls are pigeonholed as either sluts or virgins. Were you subject to that kind of stereotyping as a teenager?
Definitely. I have a few girlfriends but nearly all my friends are guys. I don’t think I ever wore girl clothes. I wore baggy jeans, baggy T shirts, sweaters, just to avoid the looks that everyone gives you when you’re a young female in the world. It’s just really hard  to be a woman growing up in these days, what with all the media and all the images of sexuality that are forced on you. You know, Britney Spears, these little outfits. I can’t stand it.

Was it a fun shoot?
It was really fun, if I forget how much pain I was in. I remember once being in full make-up – five hours worth and this mini-van pulls right up outside my trailer. I go outside, open the door and leap in, only to find a soccer mom and her three kids. There I am, covered in blood, and they are screaming. I start screaming, leap out again, and the car goes tearing off down the road. It was horrible. So there’s like three totally traumatised children out in Toronto somewhere.


Read on authors page


Return to the press index