Katarina Leigh Waters Interview — Karate Kill

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Wrestling icon, Katarina Leigh Waters stars in the action-packed new Kurando Mitsutake film, Karate Kill, scheduled for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD July 18th.

The Tarantino meets Cannon Films Karate Kill also features a “grimly relentless performance” (Japan Times) from Hayate, with solid support from Iron Fist’s David Sakurai.

A “must see” (Terror Weekend) action masterpiece from the director of Gun Woman and Blind Wolf comes to the U.S. When Karate master Kenji’s (Hayate) young sister (Mana Sakura) is kidnapped by a dangerous cult, and taken to the U.S., he will stop at nothing to find her. Partnered with a mysterious shot-gun toting partner, Kenji must use his mastery of Karate to dismantle the cult members one by one in spectacular and bloody fashion, until he finds his sister.

Tell us how you got into acting?
I have always loved acting, since I was a kid. Both my parents were performers, my mother a ballet dancer and my father an opera singer, and so I was introduced to the world of live theater at a young age. In fact, when I was about 8 years old I joined the children’s chorus at the theater, my first professional gig if you will. I was hooked then, and several school plays and musicals later, I decided to go on to study film and drama at University.

Did the wrestling provide a good training ground for you as an actor? Natural progression?
I think that both disciplines, wrestling as well as acting, each provide me with a set of skills that I am able to utilize for the other. For example, since I was already an actor when I got into wrestling, I tried to inject more of a sense of realism and layers into a performance art that is often seen as quite two dimensional. Wrestling on the other hand, taught me a lot about being in the moment and added to my improvisation skills, since it is not very often rehearsed and you have to be able to think quickly and on your feet. This was especially useful for Karate Kill, since pretty much all of my dialogue except for the “high noon” sequence with Hayate was completely improvised.


Growing up, was it the goal to get into acting?
I have a BA Hons degree in film, TV, literature, and theatre studies. In addition to that I have over the years taken many acting classes, both in England and here in the US as well. The goal originally was to get into acting, wrestling began more as a hobby and eventually took over. Now my goals include writing and directing, and I have actually shot a few of my own projects as well.

Any particular genres you chase?
I don’t particularly choose films to watch by genre — my taste has always been quite eclectic. I do enjoy dark subject matter, but I also love a good dramatic period piece or a clever comedy… At the end of the day the most important ingredients in a film are the characters and their internal conflicts or struggle, that is for me what makes the journey interesting.

Karate Kill seems like a good fit for you. I imagine you love a good biffo/fight flick?
I certainly love working on one, especially when I get to play the villain! Karate Kill was indeed perfect for me. It has a lot of elements that I enjoy — great action scenes, dark, twisted characters, and it appeals to my sense of humor as well. I am very proud of this movie and am so happy that I got to breathe life into the role of Simona.

Did you watch these types of films growing up?
I never particularly watched action films growing up, although I was a big fan of the TV series The Fall Guy, if that counts… Other than that I gravitated more towards action a bit later in life.

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How was Hayate to work with?
Amazing! The nicest person, a consummate professional, very polite and such a great talent. As you can see in the movie, his martial arts and parkour skills are out of this world, and it was a great pleasure to work with and learn from him.

Were most of the stunts performed by the actors themselves?
Yes, I believe all of them. I don’t think anybody had a double. And that was certainly reflected in the casting; the fact that myself, Tomm Voss (who played my co-henchman, Benning), and of course Hayate as well as some of the other smaller characters already had a background in martial arts were partly the reason we got the parts in the first place… There was a stunt team that was absolutely incredible, like Hayate, they were proficient not only in fight choreography but free running as well. Their role, however, wasn’t so much to double anybody, but rather to play additional characters in some really impressive fight and chase scenes.

What kind of doors has Karate Kill opened for you?
I think this U.S. release will certainly help lead to more opportunities. So far I am very happy in that I was able to form a working relationship with the director, Kurando Mitsutake. I very much hope that I will have the chance to work with him again, since it was such an exhilarating experience. He has an incredibly strong vision and knows exactly what he wants, but also gives his actors so much freedom to just play, and I think you can tell on screen how much fun we were having with the characters. ‘Karate Kill’ definitely has been one of my favorite projects I have ever been involved in and I hope that U.S. audiences will enjoy it as much as I have.

Rock Hard \m/

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