KATHARINE ISABELLE, 18, is a Canadian actress poised for international stardom. Her latest film, the cult smash Ginger Snaps, is an allegorical tale of a woman’s journey into puberty and sees the young actress turning into a werewolf after being bitten by a lycanthrope during her first menstruation.
What is it with Canadian films? They’re all very dark…
I don’t know, there’s necessarily an overall national psyche where we’re all dark. Maybe we feel a bit of oppression from the Americans that we feel we have to act out.
Will you move to Hollywood?
I’ve gone there a few times but if I can do it in Canada then that’s where I’d rather be. If they want to pay me $20million to do a movie down there, of course I’d do it. But, after it was finished, I’d fly straight home.
What sets Ginger Snaps apart?
It’s a far more intelligent, funny, caricature than most films. It has strong, independent female characters, which are really hard to find, especially in teenage and specialist horror movies.
Which of the three facets of Ginger is closer to you: moody goth girl, sex goddess, or bitchy werewolf?
Bitchy werewolf. I’m a double Scorpio and we all know how bad that can be, don’t we? But my life in general is so great, I just don’t have the chance to release that side. I get in front of a camera and can really got for it.
Did you draw from your own experiences to develop Ginger?
Definitely. Going through puberty as a young girl is so confusing. This monster invades your body, changes things and makes things grow and no one tells you what’s going on. It was terrifying and I definitely had that reserve to call on. I couldn’t research being a werewolf, so I had to use my imagination for that.
Is this your rite of passage to the big time?
It could be. I’ve had to get an LA-based agent and I’ve just finished film with Al Pacino, directed by Christopher Nolan, the British director of Memento. So, yes, it has done my career some good.
What was working with Pacino like?
I was terrified about meeting him. I’d heard all kinds of stuff, like if you look at him you get fired and don’t talk to him unless he speaks to you first. But he’s a really great, down-to-earth and funny guy. I ended up playing poker at his house and cleaning him out.
How much did you win?
It was a $50 buy-in and I left with $115. Al and I were the only ones who had any money left at the end of the game.
What’s it like to be a teenager starring in movies?
It’s definitely affected my life. I started when I was five and, because of my schedule, I had to move to different school every year to find one that could accommodate my lifestyle. I had to adapt and change my character and personality to fit and make new friends. Now, I can adapt to any situation and to different types of people. I do it without even noticing. It’s made me a bit of a confused person but a better actor.
Did that stop you building long-lasting friendships?
Definitely. I don’t have any friends from my childhood because I didn’t stay at one school for very long. I have a group of friends now but, when they all start talking about school and things they’ve all done in the past, I feel a bit left out. High school seems exotic to me – I love to watch high school shows on TV and imagine what it would have been like for me had I stayed at one long enough. But I definitely wouldn’t give up my experiences for anything.
Is it difficult to hold down relationship?
No. My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half and been best friends for about three years. I love him to death. It’s not hard – all my friends are guys and they don’t really care about my career.
Who’s your favourite actor?
My favourite actors are all dead, or dying. I just love Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn – I was named after her – and Cary Grant. I just love old black and white movies and the stars in them. It must have been a great time to be in Hollywood.
Do all Canadians like maple syrup?