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NIGHT OF THE ANIMATED DEAD Interview: Katee Sackhoff (exclusive)

We talk to the wonderful Katee Sackoff about her role in the animated adaptation of Night of the Living Dead!

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Well, it’s almost Halloween. It’s almost time for way too many sweets, dressing up, and plenty of horror movies. There’s still a bit of time before Halloween officially hits but may have a pretty movie that’ll ease you into the spooky season. George Romero’s classic, Night of the Living Dead has entered the animated world with a brand new retelling filled with gore, zombie-action and plenty of screams. Night of the Animated Dead is available digitally now and will be ready on physical from October 4th. To celebrate the upcoming release, we spoke to The Mandalorian star and Sci-Fi legend Katee Sackhoff about her upcoming role as Judy. You can check out our full chat below where we discussed all things horror, voice acting and the possibility of a zombie apocalypse.

I watched it last night about midnight. with the lights off, and I was ready. And it was I had a lot of fun. I really did enjoy it.

I mean, that’s the perfect way to watch this. Right? And especially this time of year. We’re getting to that great time where everybody likes to be scared a little bit. 

I’m not the bravest person in the world. So, I’ve never responded that well to anything remotely scary. But it was nice to be taken out of my comfort zone.

Good, good. Well, that’s what it’s for. You know, I’m not the biggest fan of slasher films and horror films myself. Because, like I said, I think that my daily life is scary enough sometimes. But I do enjoy being a part of them. You know, in a number of horror films, and then this animated film as well. It’s just so much fun to play that heightened sort of sense of fear. I love it.

The Night of the Animated Dead is an animated adaptation of George Romero’s 1968 classic. So, for people who are going to be watching, would you be able to tell us a bit about Judy, and where we find her on in this animated apocalypse?

Well, I think that for anyone who watched the original movie, they’ll know exactly, you know who my character is. This movie takes place in a old farmhouse. And the beautiful thing that Romero did was he didn’t actually coin the term ‘Zombie’ It was just people acting a little strange, right? And everybody hunkers down in this farmhouse and tries to figure out what’s going on. They basically try to survive the night. So that’s where you really find everyone, including myself. And you know, you’ll just have to watch to see if you haven’t seen it.

I think that’s good advice. Because for me, it was a new experience because I hadn’t seen Romero’s 1968. But I went and watched it afterwards. And it was really nice to see the comparisons. And just that level of detail that went into the way that characters moved, and how they delivered their lines as well. It was really interesting to actually see on the screen and how it actually played out.

Absolutely. And I think that’s important. And I think the fan base will appreciate that as well.

For sure. And speaking of Romero’s version, how important was it, that version of the film, in your kind of progression of finding your voice for Judy?

You know, I think that what it comes down to is that you know, as a voice actor, you’ve come in and you largely rely on the team around you in order to create the character that they want to create. And then at the same time, make sure that you give it your own little nuances as well. So, I think that it was a combination of paying homage to something, but also making her myself.

That’s a really nice way of putting it. And I know, literally a minute ago, you mentioned the idea of fear and really revelling in it. What was it like entering that frame of mind?

You know, it’s so interesting when you do horror projects, because they are the least scary thing to actually make. And this is the exact same thing, you know, it’s learning how to convey an emotion with a voice, and not necessarily relying on animation because it was not, you know, at the time was not done.

So, if you’re just trying to create something based on something that already exists as well. So, it’s just a matter of manipulating your voice. I have a scream that I think people don’t expect to come out of my mouth that is very high pitched and very shrill. And it comes with like a lot of emotion in it as well. So, I think that when we were there filming on the day, the guys basically just had me screaming the whole time, as many streams as I could because they were like, these are really good we might use these in other places.

I bet that was a killer on the throat.

You know, it is but I’m so used to it. When you’re a genre actor, you get really good at doing crazy things to your voice and sort of like, you know, waking up the next day and paying the price.

Throughout TV and film, we’ve seen you battle and war against various creatures, monsters and aliens. This time you’re up against the undead, or the ghouls and zombies. What do you think it is about the horror/zombie genre that has allowed it to survive for so long? And you know, zombies are never going away? What is it about them that people love?

I don’t know, to be honest, for myself, I think what’s so interesting about it is that there is this idea that this could actually happen to human beings, that if under the right circumstance, this could actually take place. And I think that is one of the things that continues to bring people back to not only horror, but the zombie genre. Then because it doesn’t exist, you see the different nuances, and you see different creators actually manipulate what we know to be the zombie. And that is really cool as well. So, I think that that is why people keep coming back to this is number one, it is within the realm of possibility if you use your imagination, and then it’s a constantly evolving character.

I think one of the things that scares me is maybe not the zombie or the infected, it’s the way that they change people. How people react to them. How it brings out the worst in people and I think that becomes evident in Night of the Animated Dead as well.

Absolutely, because, you know, people don’t change immediately, right? It’s a thing that happens and I think it’s that turning on each other as well. It’s very interesting to see what happens when someone’s backed up against a wall, you know?

Yeah, for sure. It becomes very personal and particularly where it’s such a small group of people, you felt that intimacy a lot more. And even the relationships, the very brief relationships, because they all meet by chance. And you could really see the clogs turning in people’s heads and how they were going to react or what they were going to do and I really couldn’t predict the actions of people and I think that’s what makes it scary. People are so unpredictable in that sort of situation.

Well, human beings are unpredictable, you know, I think I read a statistic one time that said something along the lines of only 10% of people do the right thing in a stress situation. Because we are so used to following. And then also, I think that human beings, you know, when we see something tragic that we haven’t seen before we start to search our memory bank, you know, our brain starts to search, try to figure out what to do in this situation and you start pulling from your actual memories.

And when you have nothing there to pull from, you do what the person in front of you does, which is why a lot of people in in trauma situations follow the person in front of them, because their brain doesn’t know what to do. We’ve not seen it before. So, it is a very interesting thing to see what people do when they’re scared.

Just that alone, makes the idea of a zombie apocalypse. Even more frightening, I think.

Absolutely. Because 10% of the population would be standing.

You mentioned that you’re not the biggest horror fan or zombie fan. But did you draw on any sort of experiences, whether it was watching scary movies that helped you in your overall performance, or just kind of getting into the mindset?

I have never been the type of person to watch other performances to find my own performance. I find that if you put yourself in the character’s shoes and use your imagination in that way, especially when they’re not based in reality, that I find that that’s the best way for myself to get into character and to find where I need to be.

It’s just more unique to you, I suppose. Instead of drawing on influence.

Yeah. And I’ve done that in all of my roles throughout my career. You know, I tried to pull from my own experiences rather than other people’s.

Are you ready to meet the cast? Night of the Animated Dead includes Josh Duhamel (Harry Cooper), Dulé Hill (Ben), Katharine Isabelle (Barbara), James Roday Rodriguez (Tom), Katee Sackhoff (Judy), Will Sasso (Sheriff McClelland), Jimmi Simpson (Johnny) and Nancy Travis (Helen Cooper).

Prepare to face the undead in this reimagined version of Romero’s haunting classic. Grab your digital copy from September 21st or the DVD & Blu-Ray from October 4th. Will you be checking out Night of the Animated Dead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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