Russian-born actress Alexis Raben is about to take Hollywood by storm. In her first major feature, “Miss March”, the modest, not to mention beautiful, artist plays Katja, a drop-dead gorgeous beauty who gives the lead characters (two horndogs on their way to the Playboy mansion) a, dare I say, lift. CLINT MORRIS caught up with Raben to chat about then, now and the future.
You’re from Moscow. Â Could you have had an acting career like you do if you’d stayed there?
It’s hard to say. I was never an adult there, only a child. One thing I saw, at least in my parents’ generation, is that it wasn’t so easy to explore different types of work even within the same industry. So in my case, starting my education in directing would have likely locked me into that path, and precluded ever even trying acting.Â On the other hand, Russia has a very rich cinematic tradition, and when the regime allowed, amazing creative work came out of there. I would have liked to be a part of that… and who knows, perhaps I will do a Russian film sometime in the future.
You attended the School of Visual Arts, and whilst there, learnt how to make your own movies. Is that where your interests originally lied – filmmaking?
Yes, filmmaking was my first love.Â The original plan was to pursue a directing career. As a part of that I wrote and directed, as well as edited, and even sound-designed a number of short films. Then one day I found my skills in directing actors seriously lacking.Â It seemed that the best way to learn to work with “these people” was to try their job for myself. That’s where my adventures in acting began.
How did you land the role in “The Invasion”?
Boring as it may sound, it was a simple audition. One of those where tons of people are seen, in the hopes that someone will feel right for the part. Lucky for me, I was the one that felt right.Â Of course after that I had to come back and do some follow-up auditions, showing what I would do with different material, as well as in an interview.
Were you disappointed with the treatment that film received? Were you bummed it didn’t do better?
Of course I was disappointed it didn’t do better. But then you can never tell how something will turn out, let alone how it will be received.Â Either way, it was a great experience for me. I had gone from never being in a studio movie at all to spending three weeks acting opposite Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Jeffrey Wright. If nothing else, it was an education.
They’re calling your role in “Miss March” your breakthrough role. How did it come about?
I don’t know about breakthrough!…Â And I definitely wasn’t expecting anything of the sort when I was first auditioning for Miss March. It was a simple audition, again where many people were seen to see who fits.Â Until then I has mostly played serious and often even dark characters, in film anyway. So a comedic character was a fun change and challenge. And for some reason, I had a very specific idea of what I thought would make Katja funny.Â So that’s what I did in the audition. And it was one of those rare experiences where right away the casting director was laughing… Fast forward to a couple of months later, and that’s pretty much what I did on camera.
Were you at all nervous playing this overtly sexual lesbian character?
Of course, you’re always going to be a little nervous when playing a highly sexualized character. However what made this one different was the over-the-top comedic style of the film. The performance it called for was more of an SNL rather than the L-Word style. That instantly took a lot of pressure off, leaving me free to just play and be silly.Â Â As far as the character being a lesbian, I actually found it refreshing and kind of intriguing to play an extremely sexual woman who is oblivious to men.
Were you familiar with â€˜The Whitest Kids You Know’?
I was a bit. A few of my friends were big fans of theirs, and had shown me some sketches online. I thought they were funny, and was fascinated with their awesome irreverence and incredible ability to strike a nerve and win die-hard fans.
Are they talking about a “Miss March” sequel yet?
I haven’t heard anything.
What have you been auditioning for lately? Anything interesting?
Of course.Â But I’m afraid I’ll have to wait to tell you until anything becomes a sure thing [smiles]
MISS MARCH is now showing