Nicki Clyne, Actress - Profile Interview Series Vol. #5
By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/18/04 08:07:37
Nicki Clyne may not be a name you've heard of; in fact, I didn't hear of the young Vancouver native until I met her at one of the many parties at this year’s Vancouver Film Festival where she was promoting one of her films, "Ill Fated,” which is an independently produced Canadian film about quirky small-town life. As I met her, I quickly realized there was more to this girl than just a young, pretty face: Clyne is a successful working actress in the Vancouver; besides “Ill-Fated”, she has appeared in the mini-series “Battlestar Galactica” (due out on DVD later this year) as well as a small part in the recent-on-DVD film “Saved!” along with various TV work such as “Smallville,” “Dead Like Me” and “Stephen King’s Dead Zone.” I had the opportunity to meet up with Nicki to discuss her acting during this year’s VIFF.
The setting: a perfect get-together for young hipsters. Nicki and I are having tea at a Cafe Crepe on Granville St., inbetween screenings at the Film Festival. And no, we’re not smoking French cigarettes with berets on and talking with accents….
Jason Whyte: (Pitching the Profile Interview series idea) I want to know all about you, who you are, things like that.
Nicki Clyne: *laughs* Okay!
JW; Where were you born? Age? Things like that.
NC: (laughs) I was born and raised here in Vancouver. My birthday is on February 11th and I’m 21.
JW; Have you been working out of Vancouver this whole time?
NC: Yeah, for work. I was never a child actor. I did school plays and I took acting classes when I was younger because I was interested in it. I also did lots of sports, even though I knew I wasn’t going to become a professional ice hockey player, so I knew I wanted to go into acting. (Laughs) The next best thing, you know?
JW; What was the first job you ever had in the industry?
NC: The first thing was either a commercial or it might have been a really small part on a TV series. You know, one of those one-liners.
JW; I was told by someone the other day that you were on “Smallville” which I like if for no other reason than the fact it features Kristin Kreuk.
NC: Oh yeah, that was a little bit later. That was a really small part that they had originally told me could be a recurring character; that’s how they get you of course. But that didn’t happen and I disappeared into thin air. (Laughs)
JW; “Ill-Fated” is your first feature film.
NC: Yeah, it was my first lead in a feature. I did MOW’s in the past but this is my first juicy part so it was really fun. And I am so pleased with the support we have received on the film. When we were filming, it was incredibly hard. Everyone was there because they wanted to be there, but everyone was working for free. You’re hungry, cold, in the middle of nowhere – in this case Cache Creek outside of Kamloops – and if you looked around you saw hills and cows and horses and that’s about it. But the movie itself is about interesting small-town life that is hopeful and I hope more people get to see it.
JW; Do you do anything else right now besides acting?
NC: I’ve been lucky to not HAVE to work another job that I think would drain my creative energy. I think that’s what happens and you’re not able to focus. I also do get really restless so I’ve been able to complete two years of University off an on at UBC (University of British Columbia in Vancouver) and SFU (Simon Fraser University in Vancouver). I took one theatre course as an elective but I never really studied acting there.
JW; I know we’ve already talked about your favourite movies when we met a few weeks back— (which are “Julien Donkey Boy” and “Gummo” by Harmony Korine; this was asked at an earlier time and also mentioned in my wrap-up article for the 2004 VIFF)
NC: Yeah It’s hard to say because usually people’s favourite movies are ones that they watch over and over again, and I’m not really that type of person, but there are some movies that I like to see again because there are things that I may have missed. But the ones that I really appreciate are the ones that I really don’t want to see again (laughs) like “Julien Donkey Boy” or the Larry Clark movies.
JW; Oh for sure, I’ve been there. I can see a wonderful movie in the same vein like Larry Clark’s “Bully” which is so well-done and on my Top Ten list for 2001---
NC: Yeah, very well done. But you never know, one day you might sit down and go “I’m in the mood to watch ‘Bully’!”
We both laugh.
JW; When you start making a movie or are preparing for a role, everyone has a different process. What do you think best describes how you prepare for each role?
NC: For me it has a lot to do with the writing and it’s really breaking it down to core of the story; what the point is. Obviously, as an actor you have to have goals and think of what you want from the other characters that you’re working with and things like that, and I really love working with other actors who are into spontaneity and just going with things. If something happens, we go with it and work with it and not always having to stick to the script. We let things happen.
JW; Do you improvise that much while acting? Some people want to do that, others want to follow the script exactly.
NC: Yeah, I’m not an actor who wants to rewrite the script myself and change everything. I’ve done some personal writing. When I graduated high school I was then enrolled to go to film school and thought at that point that I wanted to do anything involved with film. I was obsessed and didn’t care as long as I got to be there. Once I started working and doing acting I thought that this is it, this is where I want to be on this side of the camera. I love this.
JW; Do you have any actor or filmmakers that have influenced you or you admire?
NC: There are people who I admire as actors, but I don’t really try to model myself or my work after anybody. I try to do the best that I can. I mean, growing up I watched a lot of TV and movies as everyone did. But I wasn’t really one to watch something over-and-over; well, I did watch “The Wizard of Oz” a lot….
JW; For me it was seeing “Pulp Fiction when I was 14-“
NC: Wow, really…
(At this point we were politely interrupted by a server. This whole time during the interview we were not served anything. I stopped the tape at this point but we finally ordered our tea.
JW; Actually I should have recorded that so I could transcribe that into the article.
NC: (laughs) “I had a peppermint tea! And you had a strawberry tea!
JW; Anyway. What actors or filmmakers would you love to work with in this industry? Directors or actors that you just adore that you would love to work alongside?
NC: I’m bad because whenever I see a movie that I like and I fall in love with the actor or director, I don’t really take it around with me and then I see another one that just changes everything. (laughs) I just watched “Big Fish” and I loved it. I think Ewan McGregor is amazing and everything I’ve seen him in is wonderful. And Tim Burton seems like an amazing guy as a director and creator of a world. I’d love to work with someone who has that much imagination. I’m not usually one for fantasy and fairytales, but his characters are so based in reality and I think he treats them in that way, with respect. Even if they are far-out there he treats them like real people.
Directors that I have admired working with are the ones who understand actors and the acting process and writing. I have a lot of respect for directors because they just have to know everything! From how the lighting is going to be set up to exactly where the actors are going to be, everyone has their job on set and the director over-sees all of that. Good directors! Those are the ones that I want to work with!
JW; Do you see yourself as staying as a Vancouver-based Canadian actor or do you ever see yourself going down to L.A. in the future?
NC: I’m not really sure how you can differentiate, because they film so many American productions up here in Canada. I don’t think Canada has the market to provide an actor with full time work, but for me, I really want to work on good projects. I love Canada, of course, it’s my home, but I’m not patriotic in that way. I just want to work with people that I can connect with and that have good ideas. I’m just playing it by ear.
JW; If you weren’t in this industry, what to you think you’d be doing?
NC: Ahh, good question. I’d probably be finishing University right now, doing something boring like psychology. (laughs) At the same time, I’ve always been interested in the arts. I’m so lucky that I’ve found acting and fallen into it, and who knows if I’ll be doing this forever but for now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.
JW; Have you had any interesting run-ins with people who recognize you from your work?
NC: Only recently because of “Ill-Fated” at the Vancouver Film Festival. A guy was with his friend and came up to me at the “Everyone” party and said “Were you the girl in ‘Ill-Fated’?” and it was really funny because the guy was very nervous to talk to me and I’ve never experienced that before. People who know me or have worked with me would come up and say “congrats,” but since I already knew them it was just fine. It was completely out of the blue to have someone come up to you having seen the film the day before and they were kind of uncomfortable. It was really amazing to me to make somebody feel like that without even actually knowing them. It was really cool, really nice.
JW; Yeah, and you haven’t had any odd celebrity encounters yet…
NC: Well, I’m getting a bit ready for that. I just finished filming the mini-series “Battlestar Galactica” and I know that sci-fi fans are really unique. They’re very committed fans, very devoted. I’m not as involved as some of the other actors are. One of my friends on the show goes on the website and posts messages and such so they treat him like royalty there and they send tons of fan-mail to his agent. (Laughs)
JW; What do you love the most about acting?
NC: I just love acting and I love doing this work, and that moment when you’re doing a scene and you just know that you nailed it, you got it. That’s just the best feeling in the world. But besides that, and the other reason is kind of obvious, but it’s just the people. I love working with creative people and meeting people. It’s fun. It’s an adventure.
Special thanks to Nicki Clyne for arranging this interview. This is the fifth in a series of interviews where an actor, be it little-seen, under-looked or up-and-coming is interviewed for our website. Coming soon: a profile on Vancouver filmmaker Bill Marchant, writer-director of the recent festival entry “Everyone” along with input from cast members from the film.
Any comments or questions about this article or any in the profile interview series may be sent to Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org