Kool Kat of the Week: The Legendary Catherine Mary Stewart Dishes Out Intergalactic Frights at The Springs Cinema & Taphouse Oct. 14-15

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The one-and-only Catherine Mary Stewart, whose stellar career spans three decades (With so much more to come!), makes her way to Atlanta this Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 for two killer The Springs Cinema & Taphouse Fright Nights events where she’ll deliver a badass retro-filled weekend! You won’t want to miss Thom Eberhardt’s NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984) screening Fri. the 14th, and Nick Castle’s THE LAST STARFIGHTER (1984) screening on Sat. the 15th! Get your tail to The Springs this weekend for a frightening good time! We can’t wait to see what she has in store for us!

The Springs’ Fright Night Film series runs through Oct. 31st and their killer line-up can be found here!

ATLRetro caught up with Catherine to chat about her Fright Night double-feature events at The Springs, about playing badass female characters, and what inspired her to dive headfirst into the land of make-believe!

ATLRetro: When we heard The Springs was putting on a killer double-feature with NIGHT OF THE COMET and THE LAST STARFIGHTER in the same weekend that included a guest appearance by the one and only Catherine Mary Stewart, we were thrilled! Care to share a little about both events and what our readers can expect?

Catherine Mary Stewart: I am so excited to appear at these screenings. I will be there to meet and greet attendees before the screenings and I’ll also have photos to sign, take selfies and sign things that people bring in. After the screening there will be a Q&A for the audience to ask any questions they may have.

NIGHT OF THE COMET has been dubbed the greatest “California-Valley-Girls-With-Machineguns-Go-Shopping-After-The-END OF THE WORLD” movie of all time! Does this pretty much cover it? How would you describe the film and your role as Regina?

What I love about NIGHT OF THE COMET is that it crosses so many genres, from horror, to Sci-Fi, to tongue-in-cheek, adventure, and teen comedy. That was exactly Thom Eberhart’s intention when he wrote it and I think it makes it unique. The audience can identify with the characters, and it has stood the test of time!

The late 70s/early 80s brought us many strong, independent female characters, especially in the horror and sci-fi genres (ALIENS’ Ripley, HALLOWEEN’S Laurie Strode come to mind) including both of your characters in COMET and STARFIGHTER. Can you tell our readers what it was like to play such badass characters during this era, and what do you think it is about these particular genres that inspire such head-strong female roles?

Going into NIGHT OF THE COMET, being this strong, badass character, Regina was very attractive to me personally and as an actor. It was against type for many of the roles I had played leading up to it and was in fact more like who I really am. As an actor I want to play as many different kinds of characters as possible. That’s always been my goal. I didn’t think about the fact that Regina was kind of unusual in terms of female casting. What I do think contributes to the success of the movie and the character, in retrospect, is that Regina is accessible. She’s not a superhero or some kind of futuristic exceptional person, but just a regular teen thrown into an exceptional situation. It makes Regina relatable to kids of her age in the audience, and I’ve heard so often from fans, she gave them the confidence to believe in themselves. That they can be badass too.

I think any genre should have strong female roles. Historically, females have been portrayed as second to their male counterpart, dependent on them, or as the love interest. This is not reality. Women can take care of themselves and have control of their paths in life. We need to see more of that!!

Photo by Kevin Talley

With a slew of feature film and television credits to your name, can you tell us what your favorite film genre to work in is, and if you prefer to work in film or television?

As an actor I love to try every genre and every platform, including stage. They are all so different and present their own challenges. My goal is to be challenged with interesting characters and situations no matter what the format or genre.

How did you get hooked on acting and what are a few films that had an early impact on you?

I began my performing career as a dancer. The first movie I ended up acting in I initially auditioned as a dancer. I found the whole movie acting world fascinating and when I completed my first movie I thought I would see where it took me. If it didn’t work out I was happy to fall back on my first passion of dance. Well, it was a fascinating journey that took me on an incredible ride, and still does. I’ve enjoyed every second of it and I continue to explore all the possibilities including writing, producing, and directing. I’m excited by what the future brings! From a very young age I loved musicals such as MARY POPPINS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Later on, I was blown away by JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, FAME, and THE TURNING POINT.

Care to share which actors would you say inspired you most? And what it was about them that made you want to hone your own craft?

I’ve had the honor of working with some of the most iconic actors of the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s always incredible watching them work and trying to absorb what they present. One of my absolute favorite actors is Maggie Smith. I am just blown away by her talent and how she still works well into her later years.

As female actor working in the film industry, what challenges have you personally faced that seem to be a common theme amongst women in the industry?

It’s a patriarchal business. Slowly but surely women of all cultures and color are having more influence on the productions. Women are more than 50% of the population and it’s high time we are represented in a realistic, inspiring manner and stories told from a female perspective. A perspective that is just as valid as a man’s and as interesting and entertaining to the whole audience. I look forward to the day when we are blind to a creator’s gender, culture, or color behind any form of entertainment.

In your opinion, what trends and directors are pushing the envelope now? Have any film recommendations for our readers?

I love movies that are character-driven. That changes me somehow. It may be in a small way or a broader way but when I come out of the theater and I have a different perspective on myself, people, different cultures, different times, the world. When I find myself thinking about what I’ve just seen and experienced, that is what I love most. I love the stickiness of those kind of films.

You’ve attended many horror/sci-fi/comic-cons and met so many of the creators behind the film classics. What one or two encounters stand out and surprised or delighted you the most?

I love seeing people I’ve worked with. Terry Kiser from WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S stands out. He’s a lovely man. I also saw an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for probably 35 years. Frank Welker is one of the most prominent voiceover actors on the planet. I love him dearly and I was so grateful to see him again. As a kid I LOVED the Monkees. I managed to get a photo with each and every one of them. The first was Davie Jones at my very first convention. I had such a crush on him when I was about 10 years old.

Who are your favorite female actors or directors (from the past or present), and what is it about them that draws you to their art?

Photo by Kevin Talley

I love Julie Taymor. She has such an interesting point of view. Her background in theatre, mime, and puppetry creates a fascinating perspective that you see in her work. I’m a big fan of Gilian Armstrong. Her movie MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979) is one of my favorites on every level. Agnes Varda and Claire Denis are also very interesting creators. Actors I love include: Cecily Tyson; Maggie Smith; Isabelle Huppert; Cate Blanchett; Alicia Vikander; Michelle Williams; Marisa Tomei; Diane Lane.

Can you give us five things you’re into at the moment that our readers should be watching right now?

Right now I’m streaming old episodes of SEINFELD. Loving that. I’m on season 4. There is so much to choose from, but I just started THE MIDNIGHT CLUB and ALASKA DAILY. They look interesting. The last movie I saw was with Sigorney Weaver and Kevin Kline called THE GOOD HOUSE. I thought it was clever and their performances were terrific! I think the next one will be TÁR with Cate BlanchettSMILE looks like it could give me a good scare, and I would like to see THE WOMAN KING, with Viola Davis.

Any advice for women actors and filmmakers out there trying to get their foot in the door?

Learn the craft first and foremost. Whether it’s filmmaking or acting, do the groundwork and build a solid foundation. There is so much information online these days. Mine that. And I would suggest creating your own content. With the technology we all have at our fingertips and online sites such as YouTube and TicTock there is no excuse not to. It’s great exposure and wonderful practice.

Photo by Kevin Talley

What do you like to do completely outside of the acting/film industry world? Any favorite hobbies, places you like to visit?

I do love to travel. I’ve travelled extensively my entire life. It gives you a sense of the world that you will never get staying put. The world is not what you see on the news. I also love photography, horseback riding, food, being outdoors, nature, and my friends and family.

And last but not least, care to share what you are currently working on? Anything coming out that we should keep our eyes peeled and ready for?

ASK ME TO DANCE is a movie that I did last year. It’s a lovely romantic comedy that is guaranteed to make you feel good at a time when everything seems to feel a little dark and suppressed as we navigate our way out of the pandemic. It was just released into theaters on Friday Oct. 7th. I have also been developing several projects from theater to TV and film. I love writing, producing and my focus is directing. I will share everything when they come to fruition!

 

 

All photos courtesy of Catherine Mary Stewart and used with permission.

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