I spoke with the gorgeous Kate Kelton about her new series on IFC, Bullet in the Face. It was an absolute honor to speak with the multi-talented star. In Bullet in the Face she shares the most incredible screen time with Eddie Izzard. Her scenes with Eddie were so hilarious that I pretty much cried every time they spoke to each other. Kate plays Martine Mahler, the leading lady of the series. Kate does a beautiful job playing Martine, even when Heinrich Tannhauser (Eddie Izzard) is starting with her. Since you haven’t gotten a chance to see Bullet in the Face yet. You may remember Kate’s work from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle? Remember the two British girls who suffered the unfortunate consequences of taco consumption? Kate has one hell of a sense of humor, and she embraces her diversity. In the interview below, she discusses Bullet in the Face, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Haven, her artwork, and so much more. She’s going to be in the new season of Haven on Syfy. She also has a piece in an art show in New York on August 9th. Bullet in the Face also stars Max Williams, Neil Napier, Eric Roberts, Jessica Steen, and Christopher Heyerdahl. Don’t miss Bullet in the Face, August 16 and 17 at 10/9c on IFC.
Lena: I love Bullet in the Face. You are fantastic in it. The entire cast is magnificent in it.
Kate Kelton: Thank you.
Lena: I love it because it’s less like a television series and more like a cinematic feature.
Kate Kelton: You know, the whole time that we were working on it pretty much everyone on the set experienced it at least once, they would accidently call it a movie because it felt like we were making a movie.
Lena: Definitely. They did such a great job with everything. The treatment is absolutely beautiful.
Kate Kelton: That’s great to hear.
Lena: Your scenes with Eddie Izzard, even when you are just on the phone with his character (Heinrich Tannhauser), are my absolute favorite. The chemistry between the two of you is perfect.
Kate Kelton: He was amazing to work with. He was just absolutely amazing to work with. I mean humbling. He’s just really, really insanely talented. I was very, very nervous. As soon as I met him, it all just went away. He was very inclusive, kind, and generous. You know, you are never sure how things are going to go until you get to the day, so to speak, but I was really blessed.
Lena: They could really give you guys your own show.
Kate Kelton: That would be fantastic.
Lena: Then you could really develop the characters and really go in there and explore them. That scene with the leprechaun had me in tears.
Kate Kelton: I remember he was improvising a lot. Alan Spencer was saying that he’s never really met a comedic mind like his since the Marty Feldman days and Mel Brooks. He really just loved what Eddie was able to bring to that character. Half of the time that I was acting with him I didn’t know what was about to come. I think one of those TV shows like the MTV Awards, or you know those sort of goofier awards shows, where they give out strange little awards like for best kiss. I feel like they should have an award for the person who managed not to crack up during a take. I feel like I would win it, hands down [laughing]. There was only one time that I corpsed. We were nose to nose and it was in that scene about the scorpion and the praying mantis. He improvised something and I just starting cracking up while we were nose to nose and he looked deep into my eyes and immediately said, “Stay with me. Stay with me.” And boom, just like that, I was back. It was just the most amazing thing. You could tell that that happens to him often.
Lena: Do you have a favorite scene with Eddie?
Kate Kelton: I really love our fight scene towards the end. It was sort of awesome to be able to get physical with him for a bit because he definitely throws his weight around during the series a lot with me, and that was the first time that I was able to fight back. It was just a lot of fun.
Lena: I can imagine. This role must have been a dream role for you. Martine is such a dynamic character.
Kate Kelton: I know, she is so vastly interesting. I almost wonder what I can say about her without giving too much away to an audience that hasn’t seen it, but needles to say there are a lot of layers.
Lena: What was it like bringing her to life?
Kate Kelton: Oh, it was incredible. I have to give a lot of the credit to the production designers, the wardrobe designers, the costume designers, and makeup because seeing everything visually come together, I suppose because I come from a visual arts background that really honed it for me. Seeing what she looked like really fed in to who she was and what she could be capable of. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to play anything like that again because it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard of or seen on television before, perhaps in film but certainly not on TV. It was absolutely a dream come true.
Lena: They did a beautiful job with her makeup. They have her in semi-Blade Runner makeup for a few scenes.
Kate Kelton: The makeup artist was phenomenal. She was actually such a spitting image for my aunt. It was almost uncanny. I posted a picture of my aunt on Facebook and some of the crew members actually thought that it was her. We were sort of kindred spirits, and she taught me all of these tricks of the trade. She swore me to secrecy about not sharing them. She was extraordinarily talented.
Lena: It looks great. Your wardrobe…I love that black dress with the puffy sleeves.
Kate Kelton: I know. I actually got to keep that one, the one with the black ribbons on the sleeves. Sharon had an incredible eye. We shot this in Montreal and the aesthetic of Montreal, to me, has always been a cross between New York and Paris. I’ve always loved shopping there and I know that there are a number of original pieces that were from designers from Montreal. There were even some pieces that were created by various people working on the production. The whole feel of that Montreal aesthetic really gelled with my own personal taste, ironically and that is sort of a first when working on a production. I know in L.A. often times it is a bit more of a pink and blonde aesthetic. This was definitely a darker, edgier and more European vibe, which I really appreciated.
Lena: We spoke about Eddie, but I have to bring up Max (Williams). WOW! What a brilliant job.
Kate Kelton: Absolutely! His level of dedication was just unsurpassed. The hours that he put in even on our longest day, which was twenty-two hours, he actually had to put in twenty-four for that prosthetic work that he had to do first, before the makeup. He just never complained. He was so gracious and so kind, so giving, and he was phenomenal to work with.
Lena: The casting in this series is just incredible.
Kate Kelton: We had met each other I think it was with a callback. I had come in and he was just finishing up his and leaving and the casting director, Ivy Isenberg, introduced us and instantly he just wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me in and said, “Yes, this is my Martine.” It was funny, right off the bat that chemistry was there. We just looked at each other and knew that that was that. I had seen some of the footage of some of the other guys that had auditioned and I just didn’t get the same vibe. I sort of knew instantly that he would get it because he was just so perfect for it with his chiseled face and his great laugh that went with that maniacal sense of humor; it fit so perfectly.
Lena: It’s scary how good he was at playing a sociopath. I don’t know if that’s a good thing [laughing].
Kate Kelton: I know [laughing]. I wonder what his hockey player past brings to the table because hockey isn’t exactly a non-vicious sport. It has its moments. Maybe he was drawing on that but that is obviously a question for him, not me.
Lena: Was he more fun before or after the face transplant?
Kate Kelton: I would say after just because he was a lot less miserable after. I think anytime that you are working with prosthetics it’s difficult because it’s limiting and there are certain facial expressions that you just can’t make anymore. It’s hot under there, and it’s strange to see yourself look so completely different. It was definitely a test of strength sometimes, but he was definitely happier working with his own face.
Lena: Did you have to go through any type of weapons training?
Kate Kelton: I did, yeah. It was really quite fun, actually. The first time we went out shooting it was with one of the producers and Max and for some reason I was just nailing the targets right dead center, and the guys were a little bit off. The gun wrangler just looked at me and said that, “I might have a pretty natural gift with this.” It was a little uncanny, much to my hippie mom’s complete chagrin. What happened? How did I raise a daughter that is really proficient with weaponry? I remember that the second time that we went out shooting, I had a nightmare the night before that was a very sort of post-apocalyptic with people trying to hunt me down and I managed to find some shelter and weapons there, but I had this sheer panic attack because I didn’t know how to use them. I woke up in a complete sweat, just drenched and panicking. All of a sudden, the first thing that came to mind was that by the end of today, I will know how to defend myself. I went and learned how to shoot and by the end of the day, I really did. I really felt that if I were in that situation, in front of all of these loaded weapons, I would know how to pick one up and defend myself. I think that remains true to this day; that was something that was definitely unexpected in my life.
Lena: The show is also being met with controversy about the violence, but shouldn’t people really be more offended, and have a problems with, reality TV like Toddlers and Tiaras, Teen Mom, and so on? That is scary television!
Kate Kelton: I tend to agree with you there. I also want to point out that because it’s a farce, a satirical take on reality, it is also pointing out the non-benefits of violence. It’s showing how this all goes awry. I think Alan tweeted something about how the randomness of acts of violence aren’t so random anymore. If you think about the frequency in which they are occurring, it is becoming a part of our everyday life. I think when you have great minds making smart commentary on the situation, I think it can only help rather than hinder. Of course, it is also going to draw in the fans that love that sort of stuff, but I think that they will come out of it educated a bit for the better rather than just having seen it glorified for its own sake, the repercussions are shown.
Lena: It’s a dark comedy so if it’s not your thing, don’t watch it.
Kate Kelton: That’s right! I know a lot of the weapons training when we were going through it, I was really surprised at the level of precision involved. Our gun wrangler was speaking about sharpshooters and how they don’t just fire off or just pull the trigger in between breathes; they pull the trigger in between heartbeats. That level of becoming sort of one with the machine, I mean, the technical precision involved is appealing to me because I had been wary about guns in the past, but I think that it is actually smarter to educate yourself about handling them and knowing what to do in a situation if you were in it rather than pleading complete ignorance because I almost want to say that’s when most of the accidents happen. All of those unattended guns with bullets right next to them that these three-year-old toddlers can find and access them in somebody’s house, and blows somebody’s head off. It’s all these unwitting accidents that could benefit from a little more education.
Lena: When people ask you about the series, how do you describe it to them?
Kate Kelton: I like how IFC had put it as a pulp comedy. It’s like the Kill Bills and Inglourious Basterds; all those great films that just turn the normal Hollywood on its end and really include a lot of surprises in that formula. Everything does sort of come out of left field.
Lena: It definitely has a great ending.
Kate Kelton: Yes, it’s my absolute favorite moment of the series.
Lena: They did such a great job. I honestly can’t praise it enough.
Lena: I have to mention your part in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Should I ask about the audition process?
Kate Kelton: [Laughing] It was funny because both me and Brooke D’Orsay, who played the other girl in that scene, we were laughing because we’re both lactose intolerant. Even on the EPK I think raised a fist and said, “This is for all my lactose intolerant sisters.” We were laughing and saying that perhaps we had an inside track on what that was like because that’s why we got the part. Needless to say, during the actual filming of the scene we were given these hand clickers that made a fart sound effect so we could hear each other through the walls of the bathroom stalls, and later on they added in the [more extreme] sound effects. It was just such a riot from the audition to actually filming it. That scenario is one that I don’t think I’ll ever see again.
Lena: [Laughing] That must be a great thing to have on your acting reel?
Kate Kelton: My poor agent must be so sick of it, but I really, really do love it. It’s one of the funniest things that I’ve ever done. I’m sure it um, might be a turn off to some [laughing].
Lena: It shows how diverse you are. You are not afraid to get in there and get dirty with some great comedy.
Kate Kelton: Absolutely!
Lena: Do people come up to you and say, “Oh, you are the “battle shits” girl from Harold & Kumar?
Kate Kelton: It hasn’t happened too often because I think once I cut my hair into a hairdo with bangs it was a little harder to identify me perhaps. It has happened a couple of times and I always say, “Yes, absolutely.”
Lena: Well I hope they don’t bother you in the ladies room.
Kate Kelton: Now that would be funny. That would absolutely crack me up and I think I would have to engage in a game of “battle shits.” If you are smart enough to catch me that would be hilarious. Now watch, people that read this interview are going to follow through. That would make my day. We can absolutely say that; that would be hilarious.
Lena: It was a great movie and you have a memorable part.
Kate Kelton: Memorable being the cue word, right.
Lena: You are also going to be in Haven on Syfy?
Kate Kelton: That’s right. It’s been a really wonderful experience shooting up here. It’s one of the reasons that I busted my hump on the audition extra, extra hard. I’ve never been out east in Canada before and it’s such a beautiful place to film. It’s a really nice little getaway from the smog of Los Angles. The air is completely clean and pristine. I’ve been shooting with an incredible bunch of people, and everyone is so sweet.
Lena: What character are you going to be playing? Can we expect to see you early in the season?
Kate Kelton: My episodes start early in but not right off the bat. It’s a character called Jordan McKee and she’s got quite the extraordinary trouble. I’m not actually sure if I’m allowed to share just yet. Everybody in Haven has some sort of a trouble, they call them. It’s based on the short story called The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, so obviously it has these spooky overtones. The level of writing is just beautiful because I think everybody is always trying to match the Stephen King name, to make him proud. Jordan is sort of a dark character and she has just really been a blast to play. It’s ironic that there are some similarities between her and Martine Mahler, but obviously because this isn’t an action comedy, it’s rooted in reality a lot more strongly even though it obviously has its supernatural elements to it, but it’s been interesting seeing how the repercussions of being this kind of a dark character hit in a more realistic scenario. There are all these nuance levels and very real emotions that sort of play themselves out. That’s been really wonderful to sink my teeth into.
Lena: Your artwork is also exceptional.
Kate Kelton: Thank you so much. I’ve been drawing and painting since I was probably two-years-old. I drew a very realistic looking fish when I was two; it wasn’t just chicken scratch. My mom is a painter. Her father was a painter. My father was an architect, and his father was an engineer architect. The painterly and artistic ways definitely go back in my family for years and years. I definitely got dragged all across Europe to every possible art gallery growing up. I went to a high school that was sort of like Fame, in that it was a school of the arts. I was a visual arts major. In the morning we would focus on our artwork and then we would do our scholastic studies. One of the things that the school taught was that there were artists making a living at what they were doing these days. Why shouldn’t it be us? I think that is a real critical thing to drum into the heads of young people, because instead of seeing this great divide between them and us when it comes to actors and artists doing what they love it became more inclusive, more feasible in your mind. You could picture yourself being one of those people. I know that there have definitely been a lot of graduates from that school that went after what they loved to do. It’s worked out for them just because I think there was fearlessness involved going after it, and trying your best because if you are not going to who is?
Lena: Did you do any of the posters for Bullet in the Face?
Kate Kelton: No I didn’t. Alex Maleev did this wonderful illustration that he was inspired by some of the beautiful Robert McGinnis James Bond posters. It is just gorgeous artwork. It was really complementary to see myself through an artist’s eyes. I haven’t done any. I guess I could or should.
Lena: What else do you have coming up?
Kate Kelton: I’m going to New York City to do a group art show called Crazy for Cult. It’s through an art gallery that I’ve been showing with a number of times over the past year, Gallery 1988. They do have two locations in Los Angeles, one in West Hollywood and one in Venice, but this is the first year that this show is going to be in New York. They have a space in the Meatpacking District. I’m going to be able to go to the opening night on August 9th from 6:30-9. I’m really looking forward to doing the art show in New York. I haven’t been to New York in so many years, so it will be really nice to see that city again. It has such an incredible energy to it; I miss it.
Lena: That’s fantastic. It must be great to see your stuff on display.
Kate Kelton: It’s a big group show. There are over two hundred artists and I did this piece of Harold and Kumar just because it’s a celebration of cult films and that definitely achieved that cult film status at this point. I did a portrait of the two guys and I think it’s fun.
Lena: Have you seen the other Harold and Kumar films?
Kate Kelton: I haven’t seen the Christmas one yet. I love that that turned into a franchise for the two guys that created it and wrote it because initially, I know that they were very worried that it would be really dialed down and somehow turn into Bob and Joe go into McDonalds instead of letting it stay with this commentary on the sort of inherent racisms. I think that is one of the reasons that both John Cho and Kal Penn really sunk their teeth into it. They were just so overjoyed at the chance that doesn’t come often as often as it should.
Lena: Yes and Neil Patrick Harris was so funny in it.
Kate Kelton: I know. You know, the funniest part is that they wrote this part for him, I want to say that it was just before he came out, and he had written back to them laughing about the character’s actions of snorting coke off a hooker’s bum. He was howling with laughter writing to them saying do you realize why this is so funny for me to play? They didn’t really get it yet and then he came out. It was just so funny. He’s phenomenal, he really, really is. He has such a great sense of humor about himself and he doesn’t take anything too seriously. He’s incredibly talented, and just a gem to work with.
Lena: You definitely have to watch the new one. I saw it in the theaters.
Kate Kelton: It’s been a crazy, busy year for me and I haven’t gotten the chance to settle in too often, but I’m very much looking forward to that.
Lena: I hope people give Bullet in the Face a fair chance.
Kate Kelton: I know that there is nothing like it on television.
Lena: I will stand behind that statement. It’s amazing.
Watch Bullet in the Face, August 16 and 17 at 10/9c on IFC.
Bullet in the Face – Killer Species