There’s something about the survival-horror film genre that has the ability to strike raw fear. Perhaps it’s that hint of realism or an uncanny ability to place you in the shoes of the protagonist that triggers a survivor’s instinct in all of us.
For actress Katrina Bowden, being a part of ‘Great White’ elicited a vulnerability in her that stemmed from the fear of the unknown.
“There’s something very vulnerable about being in the ocean and not knowing what’s below you or around you,” she told Gulf News ahead of the release of her film that will screen over Eid Al Fitr on May 13 in the UAE.
Bowden, who most of us remember as the lovable, but ditsy secretary Cerie Xerox from the NBC sitcom ’30 Rock’, has come a long way from the comedy that found her fame. Over the years, ever since the show ended its run in 2013, the 32-year-old has starred in the Netflix true-crime thriller ‘Dirty John’, featured in the Hallmark Channel romance ‘Love On The Slopes’ and moved to daytime soap with a recurring character on ‘The Bold and The Beautiful’.
In the midst of this, Bowden took a deep dive into the shark thriller ‘Great White’, directed by Marty Wilson, where she plays Kaz, a woman who finds herself stranded with three others, floating aboard a raft in the Great Barrier Reef while being hunted by killer sharks.
Ahead of the release, Bowden talks to us about her new horror-thriller, filming in times of a pandemic and whether Dubai would ever feature on her flight plan once COVID-19 is put to bed.
Q. Let me start off by saying we are quite impressed by the slow burn thriller ‘Great White’ has turned out to be. What was it about the film that drew you to the project?
A. I really loved the script and the character of Kaz. The script wasn’t your typical shark thriller — there were so many emotional layers to it and very ‘quiet; moments in between the action and that set it apart. Kaz is a string female character, who is called to action in a very real, very terrifying way and I love a challenge like that. She was an intricate character to explore and create.
Q. The film also sends out a subtle message about climate change and how that’s affecting seasonal migration patterns for marine life. How important is it for people to wake up to this reality?
A. It is very important to me. I love that our director, Marty, really wanted to highlight that message. I love our planet and everything on it ... if we don’t start taking better care of it, we won’t have it in its full, gorgeous glory!
Q. Horror movies usually have a ghostly presence or a masked murderer on the loose. Somehow a movie about a very real predator lurking below you makes it all the more the frightening. Would you agree?
A. Oh I agree 100 per cent! I think that’s why shark movies really hit people - it’s a real ‘monster’ and the ocean is there territory, not ours. I, too, get a major sense of vulnerability in the ocean and I have great respect for it for those reasons. Additionally, sharks are such magnificent, yet scary, creatures so it makes the fear and the tension very real.
Q. Have you ever had tried to ‘swim with the sharks’, do ‘cage dives’ or had any encounters with these creatures in the past and would you again after being a part of such a film?
A. I haven’t don’t those things but I would love to! It’s on my list of adventurous things to do, and I hope to do a cage dive in the next year or two. I was surfing in Hawaii once and my instructor pulled me in because he saw a shark fin nearby, which was very scary ... but I also learnt so much about sharks while shooting ‘Great White’, so now I’m not as terrified of them. Still scared for sure haha, don’t get me wrong, but now I have a better understanding of how they operate and what to do if you encounter one.
Q. Considering you have been in two films that have killer underwater creatures on the loose, ‘Great White’ and ‘Piranha 3DD’ it has to be asked: sharks or piranhas? Who would you rather face?
A. I do not like this question! Ha! Neither? I guess a shark because one Piranha means many more and I wouldn’t want to take my chances with a swarm of those.
Q. ‘Great White’ is releasing in cinemas in the UAE at a time when the theatre experience has become an unattainable reality for many of us who haven’t been to the movies for nearly a year. What’s your take on the future of cinemas in this post-pandemic world?
A. I love the cinema and I hope it hangs on the throughout the world. There’s something so magical about seeing a movie on the big screen and I am certainly not ready to give that up.
Q. Has life returned to a semblance of normalcy after a lockdown and restrictions that has kept many indoors around the world?
A. Over in the US, things are getting back to a level of normalcy for sure. I’ve been living my life safely and trying to create normalcy because otherwise we all go a little crazy.
Q. Have you started filming again? Have the dynamics changed on set?
A. Yep! We started filming again on B&B (The Bold and the Beautiful) back in late June 2020. Things have definitely changed on set - a lot more safety precautions and a lot of Covid testing (2-3 times a week) but we are all just happy to work and be on set during a time when many don’t have that luxury.
Q. Most of your fans miss you as Cerie from ‘30 Rock’. In your opinion, what was so great about the show that has lived on with fans even today and would you ever be agreeable to sign on for a reboot if it ever came about?
A. I think ‘30 Rock’ was so great and being so relevant during the time it aired and that relevance lives on today. The jokes and style of humour are timeless and our writers were some of the best in the business. I had the absolute best time shooting that show and the cast and crew became like family to me. I would sign on to a reboot in a heartbeat if that came to the table.
Q. And now you have ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’, a show that every kid who grew up in the UAE secretly watched because that was pretty much all we had on TV in ‘90s. What is it like to be on such an iconic show and is shooting for a soap opera much different from a regular TV series?
A. Oh it is so fun to be on ‘B&B’. It’s an iconic show and the cast is amazing, everyone is such a gem to work with. I love how the show weaves its storylines seamlessly through the ages and I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. It’s also an actors dream because I get such dramatic, interesting material to work with and it’s the perfect balance of a challenge and fun.
Q. Are there any other films or TV spots in the pipeline?
Q. And finally, once the world returns to normalcy, which is the first country you would like to visit for a holiday? Could the UAE or Dubai ever feature on the travel bucket list?
A. Dubai is on my list for sure. After shooting ‘Born a Champion’ and hearing about Dubai from my cast mates and UFC fighter friends, I need to get out there and experience it for myself.
I also have never been to Italy, so that’s on my list too. Hiking Machu Picchu in Peru is also a top destination for me. Fingers crossed I get to do all of them soon!
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'Great White' releases in the UAE on May 13