Province interview
by Glenn Schafer

Katie’s horse sense

It’s a good thing Katharine Isabelle has her horses as a constant in her life.

The rest of the working actor’s life involves bouncing between past and future, reality and fantasy — and a lot of cold, wet days on Vancouver sets.

“They all mush together into one cold exterior scene,” says Isabelle, this day feeding hay to her horses at a Southlands riding stable. “it’s all glamour.”

There would have been a bit of glamour last week, had she been able to make it to the Toronto awards ceremony where she won a best supporting actress Gemini statue for her role as a petulant silent movie star in the CBC mini-series The Englishman’s Boy. But as it happened, she was filming a role in the thriller Rampage for director Uwe Boll, in which she gets shot by the rampaging star, her actor pal Brendan Fletcher.

“I’ve got work and (costume) fittings, and horses to do,” she says of the missed Toronto trip. “I was totally sure I wasn’t going to win — it’s not like I’d been nominated nine times and I thought I was due.”

As Norma Carlyle in The Englishman’s Boy, she was a 1920s Hollywood starlet who toys with the affections of an earnest writer. She’s also featured in the silent movie within that movie as a western damsel in distress.

“Who ever gets to do silent film work these days? It was great, the costumes I got to wear, the hair and everything. Bob Hoskins (who co-stars as a cigar-chomping Hollywood    mogul), I learned a lot from him. That whole experience was just great for me.”

Nearing her 27th birthday in November, Isabelle has been one of Vancouver’s busiest actors since her breakout role as a pubescent werewolf in the cult horror hit Ginger Snaps in 2000. That movie spawned two sequels and a lifelong friendship with fellow Vancouver actor Emily Perkins, who co-starred as her sister.

The two reteamed as modern-day evil stepsisters opposite rising Disney star Selena Gomez in Another Cinderella Story, just out on DVD this fall. Next month, Isabelle is doing nine days on another TV movie, the fantasy-tinged Robin Hood: Beyond Sherwood. That’s one of those cold exterior jobs she was talking about.

“I morph into a dragon, so every time I come back in human form, I’m naked, in November in the forest.” After that, she’s got one day booked on the Halle Berry drama Frankie and Alice, in which she’ll get slapped by Berry’s bipolar main character. When she’s not acting, Isabelle works as a clerk in a Vancouver tack store, which gives her a discount when she buys gear for her own horses. The horse habit that dates back to her childhood served her in good stead earlier in September year when she filmed a guest role in Alberta on the CBC’s family ranch drama Heartland.

“I was like this Lindsay Lohan character who goes there to learn how to ride because she lied to get some movie. I get there and I’m a terrible rider, I make out with all the boys, I hurt one of the horses, then I leave. I got to go on a five-hour trail ride through Kananaskis, all this silly, terrible riding. You have to be able to ride, to ride badly, otherwise you’d fall off.” All in a day’s work, between cleaning the stables. “I win fabulous awards and then go and shovel more poo.”


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