Actress Kristanna Loken has established herself as one to call when you need a tough woman who can kick ass, something she established in the 1999 TV series Mortal Kombat: Conquest, followed with playing the T-X in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. After making a couple movies with the infamous Uwe Boll including Bloodrayne, Loken got the role to play Painkiller Jane in the 2007 Sci-Fi Channel show based on the comics.
While she seemingly hasn’t been as visible in recent years, she can now be seen in the crime-thriller Black Rose, a Russian-American collaborative film that’s finally hitting these shores. It’s directed by, and stars, Russian bodybuilder Alexander Nevsky as a Russian super-cop who is brought to L.A. to help solve the murders of a few Russian women there. He’s partnered with profiler Emily Smith (Loken) as they try to find clues to find the ruthless killer.
If you’re into the action movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s, you’re likely to find something quite enjoyable about Nevsky’s directorial debut, which clearly pays homage to the heyday of American action films.
LRM spoke with Ms. Loken last week mostly about Black Rose, but also about her working relationship with the infamous Uwe Boll, and her new production company with Painkiller Jane co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti, Trio Entertainment.
LRM: This is a Russian movie and I’m not sure if it was shot in Russia, but I know Alexander is Russian, so I’m curious how you got involved with it. Was he a fan of some of your work?
Kristanna Loken: Yeah, we did shoot in Russia, and a little bit here in L.A., but yes, Alexander is a fan of mine. I actually had met him when we were doing press for Terminator 3, and he had always wanted to work with me, and this came about. He had me in mind for the role of Emily Smith, and I got the script and read it. I really liked the depth of the character. She had more than meets the eye as far as a police profiler goes. She’s affected really deeply by the murders that were happening under her watch, so it kills her to want to solve the crime. So yes, I came on board, I met with Alexander and I liked his vision on the script and characters and next thing you know, there I was in Moscow.
LRM: Was her valley girl past something he came up with? I thought that was pretty funny hearing you do a Valley Girl dialect.
Kristanna Loken: You know, that was there. (laughs) That was in the script. I don’t know if that was the writer’s brainstorm, or if that was Alexander’s, but yeah, that was there.
LRM: It’s funny, because the movie definitely has that tinge of ‘80s/’90s action movies, so I wondered if that how they perceived California women, or if that was something you came up with on set.
Kristanna Loken: That was in the script, but it’s interesting. Before I moved to California, that was kind of my thought as well.
LRM: Had you played a police detective before in a movie?
Kristanna Loken: Gosh, it seems like I always have a gun in my hand with most of my on-camera work. I have played a cop before. I don’t think I played a profiler before, but I have played a cop before, and I actually trained with the LAPD to get really comfortable with the Smith and Wesson .45 that I used in Terminator 3. That was a really cool experience.
LRM: I thought it was really evolved for them to have a woman profiler, but not have anyone mention she’s a woman. It’s evolved for a Russian filmmaker who probably hasn’t spent a lot of time in the States. Did that appeal to you as well?
Kristanna Loken: Yeah, that’s a good point. I do think it is a little bit of a boys’ club when we have Adrian Paul’s character making snide comments to me, but more or less I think on an emotional level, certainly a woman would more likely be more deeply affected I think then men who I think are better at compartmentalizing their emotions. It’s like, “Since I’m at work, I have to do the job,” and that’s it. Women are very emotionally driven, and we can let our emotions get in the way of our reactions sometimes, but I think on a holistic level, I think it adds a lot to the part. I think having a female in that role of the profiler adds a certain amount of depth, and yeah, I thought that the sincerity in our tactics and approach makes for a unique combination on screen.
LRM: I thought it was funny that he always has his partners drive, too, because the first time we meet him he’s driving that Jeep, but then the rest of the movie he has his partners driving him.
Kristanna Loken: (laughs) Funny, I hadn’t even thought of that. I just thought it was my city, so I should be doing the driving.
LRM: When they flashback to his old partner in Moscow, he’s driving, too.
Kristanna Loken: Oh, interesting, interesting. No, I didn’t even catch that; that was a good catch.
LRM: What is Alexander like working with as a director/co-star? He’s also a bodybuilder just like Arnold is, who you worked with on “Terminator 3,” so what was he like as an actor/director?
Kristanna Loken: You know, Alexander could not be a nicer, more cordial human being. He really is, and I love his drive and his vision of what he wants to achieve in life, and what he is achieving, frankly, with his consonant approach in his country when we were shooting there. I actually brought my father with me, and he couldn’t have been more welcoming to him as well. He’s very close with his mother--he’s a very family-oriented man. He’s really just a sweetheart, and he’s become a personal friend. We look forward to doing more stuff in the not-too-distant future.
LRM: You have gravitated towards these physical roles, between “Terminator” and “Painkiller Jane” so what got you interested in doing these physical roles or is that just how things have landed?
Kristanna Loken: In a way, these roles I think found me, but not without a certain je ne sais quoi coming from me, because I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. I played outdoors and have always been very physically active. I grew up taking dance lessons, very L.A. tap, jazz, modern and when I got my first physical role, which was Mortal Kombat: Conquest, the TV series, I was 18, and I started to learn the choreography for the fight sequences. To me, it was reminiscent of learning how to dance, albeit the body conditioning is very different. I think it really spring-boarded from there, and I think my size--I’m nearly 6 feet tall--and athletic training, people hopefully can buy me doing action, and it just went from there. People liked seeing me do action, and I enjoy doing it. I mean, I love doing straight dramatic roles. I’m moving towards comedy. I’d like to do more comedy as well, but going out there and getting down and dirty is what I really enjoy. I think when I watch as a viewer, seeing me doing action, I think most people in that aspect can really buy women doing that. You really see them taking down men that are much bigger than them, creating a sense of, "Do they have what it takes to sell that?", so that’s what I really go for in my work.
LRM: It’s interesting because you say you’re 6 feet and Alexander is 6 foot 6, and I think that’s why you work as partners, because when he’s next to any other actor in the movie, he towers over them.
Kristanna Loken: (laughs) Yes, that’s true, very true. He’s a tall guy, that’s for sure, yup.
LRM: You worked with Uwe Boll a bunch of times, and I wondered what Uwe Boll brings as a director that has you working with him so many times? He has an interesting personality and way of making movies, and you worked with him recently again on “Attack on Darfur.”
Kristanna Loken: Yeah, I have. I’ve done three movies with Uwe, and I like to say that Uwe is a little crazy brilliant. He definitely does things in his own way and his own approach. I admire that. I like people who think outside the box and maybe has a different take on things, or make a stance. He’s extremely an accomplished man as far as being a former boxer. He’s a doctor. He wears many, many hats. I think now he now owns a restaurant in Vancouver. The guy is full of surprises. He loves animals; he really loves dogs. When we were in Romania, there were a bunch of street dogs when we were shooting Bloodrayne, and he brought home a dog and one of the producers--I had a dog--Michael Madsen brought home a dog, Michelle Rodriguez brought home a cat. He’s a really interesting man, and I really liked what we did with Attack on Darfur. He really wanted to tackle a very, very difficult subject matter, and believe it or not, had a really interesting approach. It was a 30-page treatment--it wasn’t even a full script--and we, as the main actors, pretty much created the backstory of our characters, and then improv'ed it in the guise of following a certain outline of where the story would go. That’s pretty bold. We basically improv’ed a movie from a treatment on genocide. Not a lot of people are going to tackle that, and I liked the movie. I think the movie came out pretty great, actually. It’s a difficult film to watch, obviously, because it’s about genocide, but yeah, he’s an interesting man, Uwe, that’s for sure. He’s made days, and I give him credit for that.
LRM: It’s great talking to you, and hopefully we’ll talk again soon. I assume you’re taking some time off to enjoy motherhood but then back to work soon?
Kristanna Loken: Yeah, absolutely. I’m actually launching my production company, called Trio Entertainment, and we’ve got two partners and several films on our slate and a TV series, so yes, in my time off for motherhood I’ve been working on that, and now I’m getting back to work. It looks like we’re going to start production on our first film as soon as the summer. I’m not quite ready to make a formal announcement yet, but that should be forthcoming, so keep a look out for Trio.
Black Rose is now playing On Demand, Digital HD, etc.