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

Posted on: Oct 11th, 2022 By:

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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Kool Kat of the Week: Where is Love and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA? Scott Hardin Finds Both as Projectionist for the Fabulous Fox Theatre

Posted on: Jul 26th, 2013 By:

Fox Theatre Projectionist Scott Hardin with an original 1929 projector.

By Gretchen Jacobsen
Contributing Writer

While The Fabulous Fox Theatre was not actually conceived as a movie house (it was originally intended to be the headquarters for the Shriners’ organization) and it amazingly almost faced the wrecking ball in the 1970s, its history as the Southeast’s premiere glittering palace of cinema is firmly entrenched.

While The Fox has been transformed from a movie house to a multipurpose arts venue, its storied past in cinema is kept alive by the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival which kicked off in June. From now through August, The Fox will present seven more features on the biggest screen in Atlanta. Before the movie starts, patrons are treated to a sing-a-long with the “Mighty Mo” organ and a vintage cartoon. This weekend’s features include Quentin Tarantino‘s DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)[Fri. July 26 at 7:30 p.m.], the animated caveman comedy THE CROODS (2013) [Sat. July 27 at 2 p.m.] and a new digital version of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) [Sun. July 28 at 4 p.m.]as well as the official Sing-a-Long version of the John Travolta-Olivia Netwon-John ’50s-themed high school movie musical GREASE (1978), which is not part of the official series.

Only in July, the Fox Theater also will present special movie tours before this weekend’s Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival screenings. These tours will take you to the projection booth, screening room, two star dressing rooms and the stage while learning about the history of the movie palace and Mr. William Fox‘s innovations. The Fox also offers behind-the-scenes hour-long tours year-round.

Making this all possible, in a sense, is our Kool Kat of the Week, Scott Hardin. Scott has been the film projectionist at the Fox since 1978, making this his 39th year in the projection booth. We recently caught up with Scott to talk about film, history, the new tours and his own beginnings in “showbiz.”

ATLRetro: How did you become a film projectionist? 

Scott Hardin: I was too old to pretend I was Zorro anymore, even though my grandmother made me a wonderful cape that I got a lot of mileage out of. That, and a friend of mine I had met when he was working for Theater of the Stars – while I was a 14-year-old kid in THE SOUND OF MUSIC – had later joined the projectionists’ union and thought I might like to train to be one, too, given our past “showbiz” affiliations. He was a great friend named Jeb Stewart, who had actually sung on Broadway in the chorus of various shows. My biggest claim to fame had been playing the role of OLIVER at 12 years of age in the summer production at Theater Under the Stars, which was then outdoors at Chastain Park Amphitheater. What does that have to do with your question?  Not a thing, but I can still sing “Where is Love?” for you if you’d like.  Jeb Stewart later became the Business Agent of the Projectionist’s Union and sent me to help with the Fox projector installation those many years ago.

The auditorium and stage of the Fox Theatre. Photo credit: Yukari Umekawa.

When did you start at The Fox? What was the Fox like at that time?

I started in the spring of 1978 helping with the installation of projectors that had been brought over from the Loew’s Grand Theatre [Ed. note: another Atlanta movie palace which had been the site of the world premiere of GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) and tragically was destroyed by fire that year].  I was a young movie projectionist with four years of experience at the time and was sent to fill in for an older projectionist who had to go deal with personal issues for a few days. I remember carrying some of my dad’s tools with me to the job in a Kroger sack. I told them “Don’t worry, I’ll only be here for a few days.”  Well, that was 35 years ago and the other guy’s never returned.  I’m pretty sure he’s not coming back.

The doors to the theatre were locked with chains when I arrived. I was told to knock loudly on the door and ask for Joe Patten. After banging the arcade door as loudly as I could, a young receptionist came over to unlock the door. I told her I was there to work with Joe Patten on the movie projectors, and she just turned around and yelled as loudly as she could towards the auditorium:  “JOE!!! …JOE PATTEN!!!”  (This was before they had walkie-talkies to communicate with.) After no one answered she said, “well, he’s probably backstage.  Just wander back there and see if you can find him.” (Ed: Joe served as The Fox’s technical director from 1974 to 2004. He was granted a lifetime rent free lease in the 1970s and still lives in an apartment at The Fox.)

Scott Hardin with the new digital projection system.

Is there a film you projected at The Fox that you think was terribly overrated? 

I think the film OLIVER [1968] was overrated because I wasn’t in it.

What about underrated?

THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (2001) was terribly underrated.  How can you get more poignant than that?

One of the exciting films of this year’s Coca-Cola Film Festival is a new digital print of David Lean’s masterpiece LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. What can viewers expect out of this release?

They will see a beautiful rendition of the original negative of the 70mm film print, this time shown in Digital Cinema with no fading of color, no scratches, no splices, no interruptions of sound.  They can also expect camels.

Another film on the docket is the sing-a-long version of GREASE. Will you be singing along with the audience?

I’ll be sitting in a seat in the balcony using a remote volume fader to turn the sound levels up and down while following a script that has my sound cues in it.  I’ll be singing loudly at the same time too, except I’ll be singing “Where Is Love?”

Sing-a-Long Grease at Prince Charles Theatre, Leicester Square. Photo courtesy of Fox Theatre.

Before this weekend’s screenings, moviegoers can book special Movie Tours at The Fox. What’s your favorite “secret” place people will see on the tour?

My office door backstage that has my name and the word “Propmaster” above it.  It’s my secret, because even though I do double duty as the Props Department Head, I’m not really a “master” at it – I barely have a green belt – but if somebody paints “master” above your name, you have to keep up appearances.

Will you be in the projection room during the tours?

Yes, in all probability, along with my assistant Mike.

How has The Fox changed over your 35 years?

There have been so many changes it’s hard to enumerate them all. There’s a general trend in technology from analog to digital, and from simple to complex. I’ve also noticed people I’ve worked with for years gradually start to look older and wonder why I still look 28.

What do you think about the change in film from celluloid to digital? Is projection easier? More difficult?

Digital Cinema projection is easier because you don’t have to inspect and repair each frame of film by hand, and it looks and sounds great when everything works. However, you’re relying on computers to always work perfectly, which everyone knows is fraught with folly, and [that] will make it less reliable than film in the long run, in my opinion.

The original 1929 projectors at the Fox Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Fox Theatre.

Finally, which film have you projected the most? And how many times?

I have projected GONE WITH THE WIND on 11 different occasions in my 35 years at the Fox. One time in 1989 was for a 50th anniversary re-premiere with some of the surviving cast members on the stage. The most prominent was Butterfly McQueen, who played Prissy. My friend Jeb Stewart, who was responsible for first sending me to the Fox, helped me project the movie that night.

This Weekend’s Movie Details:

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012); Dir. Quentin Tarantino; Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson; Friday, July 26 @ 7:30 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

GREASE SING-A-LONG (1978); Dir. Randal Kleiser; Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing; Saturday, July 27 @ 7:30 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1963); Dir. David Lean; Starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn; Sunday, July 28 @ 4:00 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

Gretchen Jacobsen is freelance producer, writer, costumer and film school graduate. She is also widely know by her Steampunk nom de internet, Wilhelmina Frame, and serves as the Editrix de Mode for the website Steampunk Chronicle.


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