photography by Stephen Busken
NYM. You’ve done everything from comedy to thriller to detective work. What’s your preferred genre?
KS. I do love drama! I like the idea of going to work and leaving my crazy there at the end of the day. It saves me money on therapy bills but probably also my relationship, and least important my own sanity. There is something so beautiful about making people laugh. I love that. But my love, my ultimate love, is action… I love watching things blow up – the colors are stunning. But being able to pretend I’m not afraid of anything? That’s my Xanax, because I am a hypochondriac and wish I was as strong as my characters.
What have you done to avoid type casting?
Have I??? Seriously??? Truthfully I don’t. I mean I try to mix up the characters and want them to have a different motivation and passion, but I want to be a part of projects that as a viewer I would want to watch. I guess you can tell what I like to watch….
What’s the best advice you ever ignored and wish you hadn’t?
I’ve ignored it all and am glad I did! I had to make my own mistakes, and now I own my progress. I knew full well my mother knew everything – she and I are so similar it’s scary, all her mistakes are mine – but had I listened and not fallen flat on my face, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have made the same mistake out of curiously later in life when I had more to lose. I was never a perfect child; I was always a rule breaker. My friends parents were so scared of me because of my honesty, but every thing I did formed who I am and I’m proud of that. And honestly, the things I was doing were nothing compared to kids these days. The new generation would think I was a square!
America manages to keep going, but sometimes it seems like it’s a close thing. What do you think we need to change most to stop ourselves from running into the ground?
My God, there’s so much that needs to change. We could go into so many different subjects! Every morning I wake up I’m excited to see what people have to offer, [and] throughout my day I always get let down, numerous times. But by the end of the day some beautiful person has re-established my faith in humanity. I get that life is hard, I get that we are all busy, what I don’t get is the complete lack of disregard for the person standing next to you. The main problem I see threatening our way of life is how judgmental as a nation we are. Who are you? Who are you to throw the first stone? Who are you to look down upon [others]? I’m not saying every problem can be solved by humility and understanding, but get to the goddamned table for the discussion before you’ve decided somebody has nothing to give and no great ideas. Love and honor every person in this world as if they are your mother or father. Smile at each other! I don’t care what you believe, who you choose to love and make love to, what you drive, what you eat, what you pray to, how you choose to protect your loved ones. If you smile and treat people with understanding and humility, that’s doing more for humanity than anything you could buy, preach, or sell. Love people. Love life. Love yourself.
How do you think movies and film affect the people who see them, and do you ever wish scriptwriters put more thought into the messages they write, especially for women?
Movies are movies. They are entertainment, unless otherwise stated. When did we decide we couldn’t just enjoy movies and TV? They are entertainment, which doesn’t always have to elevate and have a message. Maybe the purest, simplest message is escape. For one or two hours you get to lose yourself in fantasy. That doesn’t have to be profound, just enjoyable.
We also heard that you are a huge fan of Star Trek, which was one of the most inspired shows of all times, breaking boundaries for gender and race. Do you think Hollywood has lost sight of or even taken a step back from what the show accomplished?
I don’t think anyone realized what Star Trek was doing or has done. I loved that show and still do, but I never really thought about it as anything other than pure entertainment. I was 8. It was a fun show and inspired me to be creative. I never questioned the show’s intent.
What inspired you to act and how did your parents take it? We read you couldn’t watch TV growing up. How did this affect your upbringing?
My parents were totally terrified! But at the same time I told them I was going to move to LA three years before I graduated. When it came time to take my SATs and I said “what for?” I think it finally hit home and they panicked! We watched TV growing up in St. Helens, but not a lot. For the most part we played outside, but when we did watch they were rented movies and we were totally sheltered. Although I was my dad’s movie buddy and I had seen a myriad of rated R movies by the time I was 12. We bonded over the action and science-fiction stuff – at 7 or 8, Alien was one if my favorite movies! Ultimately my parents saw my will and determination and realized they either supported me or lost me, and they were amazing! I’ve had their total love, respect, support, and faith since I left home at 18.
Why is your right arm ‘public property’? (And what’s the story behind that tattoo?) Explain the reason for the Japanese symbol tattoo as well.
When I was 20 and living in New York I was on a series with Richard Dreyfuss called The Education of Max Bickford. After 9/11 the city was a very interesting place to be. My parents came to visit and were on one of the first planes to land in the city just days after the attack. We were at dinner one night and everything was very somber. A woman asked for my autograph, and when I didn’t have a pen and asked if she would wait till we were done eating she started yelling at me in the restaurant and saying I was public property and gave up my right to privacy and that I was ungrateful. I was in total shock. After she left I said “I’m tattooing that on my body,” because as wrong as she was, to a certain extent she was right and I guess I saw the irony in it.
Scenario: The world is ending tomorrow. You can go drinking with 3 people. Who are they?
My mom and dad and my fiancé, Scott: three of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met.
How much coffee do you need before you can deal with people?
It never stops! I drink black coffee all day long. But if we are talking first thing, at least 2 cups. I live with a man who knows this and I get a cup in bed most mornings. Smart man!
What was the best part about filming Riddick? Do you prefer shooting films as opposed to a television series? Why or why not?
I like film a bit more than television but I would never kick a gift horse. They kick back way too hard! I love giving every fiber of myself and leaving it all on the floor. For a television series, it’s a slow burn; for a movie, it’s an all or nothing. I like the pressure. I work best when my back’s against the wall and doubt clouds the room.