Kristine Sutherland [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We are kicking things this week with an absolute legend in the world of performance! It’s Kristine Sutherland, Everyone! Whether you grew up watching her brilliant portrayal as Joyce Summers in the acclaimed series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or from the eventual worn out VHS copy of Honey I Shrunk the Kids that you watched at your Grandma’s house relentlessly (specific to me? I’d hope not!), Kristine has had an absolutely tremendous career spanning over 35 years. She has dominated the big screen, the silver screen, the stage, and more in her time and has done it with very very well.

We are so very excited to have the great Kristine Sutherland with us hear today, joining us before our quick little hiatus to prepare for the summer, starting this Wednesday. Thank you all for checking us out regularly, and extra special thanks to Kristine for gracing our digital pages with her positive energy and wonderful responses. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Kristine Sutherland!

 

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When did you first discover your passion for the world of performance? Was it something you that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I just discovered the theater by chance one day in high school. I was in a choral group and my best friend Gretchen wanted to audition for the school musical Brigadoon. She was nervous about going so I said, “Well, I’ll go with you.”  We went to the audition and we both ended up getting cast. She played the leading lady, and I was the boisterous and brassy character of Meg. So for me it started out as a lark, but when we performed for that first audience, I was struck. In Italian it is called ‘un colpo di fulmine’ which literally means the fault of the lightening. This is how one expresses falling in love at first sight. I fell in love with that connection to the audience and finding parts of yourself that you never knew existed. I was planning on an academic career, but everything changed in that moment. 

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And was there anything thing taken from that experience that continues to influence your work to this day?

 

Well to be honest, my first job was in children’s theater touring a really horrible piece we had worked up for high school kids. The only thing I have taken from that experience was the excitement at receiving a small paycheck for being an actor.

 

 

 You had an incredible role on the new legendary series that was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It is a truly iconic show, and you were absolutely wonderful in it. So, I am curious to know how your experience was working on this program? Was it as enjoyable to work on as it was for me to grow up watching it.

First of all, thank you for the compliment. Nothing makes an actor happier then hearing they brought some joy into people’s lives. I absolutely loved being a part of Buffy! When most actors my age were playing lawyers, doctors, cops and robbers, I was working with vampires. It was like being a kid and playing pretend on a mythological scale. Joss told a beautiful and powerful coming of age story. Buffy’s powers made her strong, but she had to learn to use that power. And she was no cartoon hero…she was human and she was vulnerable. As she grew up, her understanding of evil went from black and white to complicated shades of gray. She fell in love and had her heart broken. Her father left her. She lost her mother and not even her super powers could save her. But, she got through it with the support of friends who loved her and were wiling to go into battle with her. That is life and I think that is why Buffy fans respond to the show generation after generation. 

Another project that you were great in that I grew up watching was the incredible and original story that was Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I can still throw this film on at any time and I am certain to continue to love it. You’re work alongside the likes of Matt Frewer was absolutely incredible! So kind of the same question as before, but obviously based around much more light-hearted material…how was this experience? 

That movie was a fantastic experience. We filmed it outside of Mexico City at Churubusco Studios. There was one sound stage made up only of grass that was as tall as the sound stage. Our house and the entire neighborhood were built on the lot. The  Thompson’s house was not a façade and we shot most of the interiors in the house itself. It was originally called Teenie Weenies. It seemed like such a silly title and I thought I am never going to live this down. Of course the name was changed and it went on to be a big hit. Somewhere I have a magnifying glass that was given us as a gift at the beginning of shooting that had Teenie Weenies inscribed on it. I remember the day they decided to change the title and we were all pleased with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. It came into being organically while we where shooting. I loved the cast. Rick and Matt where so funny together and Martha was a doll. 

 

 

You have had great success in your illustrious career on the small screen, the big screen, on stage, and more. With that, I am always curious to know a performer’s preferred field of acting. So, if you were only allowed the option of acting in one capacity, which would you prefer it to be? 

I know what I craved most in the theatre in New York when I was a hungry young actor was that connection as an actor to the audience. The productions I saw brought to life a piece that had something to say about being human…both the good and the bad. The theatre allows us to step back and understand our own core beliefs and those of others in such an immediate way. I remember the air would be crackling with energy. There were so many great productions in New York in those years and I remember them as if I experienced them yesterday. 

I loved performing in the theatre, but I was terribly anxious to be in front of people. Once I got on stage all the anxiety went away, but spending the day waiting for the curtain to come up was too painful. For me, it wasn’t worth living that way. I moved on to film and television, but the theatre was my first love. I eventually came to understand that you could do the same thing onscreen, but with out the immediacy of connecting with the audience sitting in the dark. What made me love film so much was the intimacy of it. For me, the set would go quiet, the crew of 100 people would disappear and I was just alive in the circumstance of the character reacting to the situation and to others.

It was such a treat to have the opportunity to get to know fans through the internet and through cons. To meet the people whose lives you touched and hear there stories is such an honor.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

One of the great things about being an actor is that life unfolds in chapters. You go from show to show, and also experience to experience. I have been fortunate to be able to do this with my life. However I don’t define my self exclusively as an actor. I have worked as an actor, but also as a photographer. I love to document ordinary things in photographs and interviews because time passes and these stories turn into history. Currently I am living in Italy full time. I am learning how to garden, to plant with the moon, eat what is in season and haul firewood to heat my house with a wood stove. I feel honored to be with people here I have known and loved for 20 years and I want to pass on their family history to the younger generation. Who knows what the next chapter will be? 

 

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I wish I could say something really cool, but without question it is my cat! He is endlessly entertaining. I love the cocky hunter he presents to the big bad countryside. He is exceptionally small and when he hisses at the large sheep dogs, they run away in terror. The other day, I found him hunting a pheasant that was almost as big as he is. Then he knocks on the door, comes inside and becomes a total softy nuzzling my neck like he did when we was a month old. Animals are amazing company. 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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