Bad influence

Natasha Henstridge on Cinderella's Revenge

by Paul Risker

Lauren Staerck and Natasha Henstridge in Cinderella's Revenge
Lauren Staerck and Natasha Henstridge in Cinderella's Revenge

Natasha Henstridge plays Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother in Andy Edwards’ Cinderella’s Revenge. It’s a dark, twisted and blood-soaked take on the classic fairy tale, transforming Cinderella into a violent vigilante out for revenge against her wicked stepsisters.

Speaking with Eye For Film, Henstridge recalls daunting and fond memories of her experience making Species, and the joy of being a devil on the shoulder.

Paul Risker: How did you catch the acting bug?

Natasha Henstridge: Even before school, I was a ham. A lot of actors are very quiet and private people, that are out there in the world exploring through other characters. That was not me - I was the kid who was super-hyper, had a camera in someone's face all the time at Christmas functions, pretending I was a reporter or interviewer, wanting to get the nitty-gritty and understand who they were. Going into the closet and dressing up like Cindy Lauper, coming out and doing an impromptu show. That was my childhood and in school I was never a part of any cliques. I don’t want to sound like a sociopath, because I'm not, but I cared very little about what people thought of me from a young age, even in my pre-teen years.

It was liberating, and it made it easy for me to be in the arts. I could crawl around and do all those acting exercises, and have no qualms about it because I wasn’t easily embarrassed. I thought that was fun and I always felt more expressive and less reserved - that was the way for me.

Then I got up on stage when I was ten or twelve-years-old in a play at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberto, Canada, where I'm from. It was a big stage, and it was a pretty nice theatre and there was a rush. I've never done theatre since; I'm terrified of it, but as a kid I just found it so liberating to be up there and to have that energy, that I fed off. So, I guess all of those reasons.

PR: I was looking up Species, and I was reminded of the film’s incredible cast. It must have been an experience to be part of that ensemble.

NH: […] This was an MGM film, and we walked in, and we had a big table reading. All the actors were in the room, and I'd never been in a film before, let alone done a table read. Luckily, I didn't have a lot of lines in the film [laughs]. It took me a long time to get cast. There were screen tests and callbacks. So, by the time I was cast, and I ended up in this room with Ben Kingsley at the time, now Sir Ben Kingsley, and Marg Helgenberger, Michael Madsen, and Alfred Molina, I didn't have a clue who any of them were and that was a gift.

I was riding Ben Kingsley around on a bicycle on the lot - him on the handlebars and vice versa. I think they loved that too because I was an 18 or 19-year-old kid who didn't know who they were. Any attitude they may have had about being movie stars was lost on me. Only later did I realise, 'Oh they're kind of a big deal.’

PR: The assumption is that actors are natural extroverts, but is it the case that many are introverts for who the creative process is a bubble that allows them to connect with their extroverted nature?

NH: It goes in many different ways, but I do think as certain people's fame skyrockets, they become more introverted. It's sad to be honest. They stop being their natural selves because of this energy zap. From my own experience of not being that famous, I look at these hugely famous people who have to constantly give so much of themselves and their energy away. I see those people have to revert back and recharge and just save something for themselves. It's sad, and it's nice to have some kind of balance. I'm happy in many ways because I saw early on in my career the fame thing, of people owning every minute of your time, of feeling watched, and not being able to rest into who you are anymore. I didn't think I was going to be a fan of that.

I can be very extroverted, as I am right now, and then I can want to watch an entire Netflix series for ten hours [laughs]. It's a combo of things for sure.

PR: Your latest role sees you play Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, in a version that embraces the darker roots of these fairy tales. It’s a continuation of your interest in darker characters.

NH: The humour was what turned me onto this project. I'm not a horror fan, but I do find it interesting. A lot of these things are entering the public domain and there's something fun about seeing a film where you know where it's going to go - everyone knows what happens in these fairy tales – then it gets flipped on its head. I think that makes it fun for the audience.

For me specifically, I loved the humour and the tongue in cheek aspect of this role - starting off with the British accent and pretending she's going to be an English Fairy Godmother. All of those cheeky little things and living in this little world of her own that has nothing to do with the rest of the characters. Their costumes and the locations and the accents, everything feels very storybook and fairy tale. I'm in this little bubble of my own and I thought that was fun. It was a fun little foray into the dark side and it also gave Cinderella permission to do the things she probably always wanted to do, which was to seek revenge and be the little vigilante Cinderella. I gave her the permission to do those things and being the little devil on her shoulder was fun.

Cinderella’s Revenge is in US theatres now.

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