Katie Featherston Interview: ‘Paranormal Activity 5,’ the Latino Spinoff and Demon Dancing
It’s hard to imagine that Katie Featherstone has been scaring us silly since 2007, but the actress has been the one mainstay in every single 'Paranormal Activity' film since the very beginning. In the latest film, 'Paranormal Activity 4' (on Blu-ray and DVD January 29), Featherstone’s screen time is significantly smaller, but the importance and weight of her role is perhaps bigger than ever.
We recently sat down with the actress to discuss the 'Paranormal Activity' series, her dance moves, and how much she misses 'The River.'
This series that you started back in 2007 for a little bit of money has become an enormous hit. Did you ever imagine the enormity of it, way back then?
No, I did not. From my perspective, we were focused on making the best movie we could possibly make and that was our focus when we were filming it. When it was done, of course we wanted it to be seen and we wanted it to be successful. There were so many opportunities for us to say, “Hey, here’s a straight-to-DVD” or “Maybe it’ll get into a festival and get a limited release someday.” So there were always hopes and we always aspired for greatness and for it to be seen and for people to like it, but I never imagined that it would turn into a multiple movie franchise. That’s pretty unbelievable. And to have so many people across the world excited about it and to have such amazing fans that really championed us. They’re really the reason why we’ve come this far. It’s truly beyond what we could have hoped.
Do you get recognized now on the street?
Oh, absolutely. It’s pretty great. I love talking to fans and meeting people. I mean, how great is it if someone stops you on the street and says, “Hey, I really love your movie.” That’s a pretty great gift so, whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook or in person, we all love our fans. The first film was demanded. People had to literally physically click a button and then because so many people did that, our movie came out. That’s pretty spectacular.
Your time on screen in the sequels has decreased but your role and importance in the films has increased in a way. Do you continue to have the same passion and love for the films today as you first did? Has it actually increased over time?
It’s changed. In the first one, the character was totally mine and I remember when we were sitting and talking about the characters. I didn’t have a job or anything and I told Oren, “I’ve got to have a job or something. I can’t just be hanging out. I’ve got to have something that I’m doing with my life in this movie. How about I’m a student. I’ll be an English student and working toward being a teacher.” So Oren was like, “That’s great! That’s great. Let’s do it.” There was a lot of freedom there to create and, as an actress, that was so exciting and thrilling. As it’s grown, this world has erupted. We have great writers and producers and creators so now it’s this love of this part of my life. The people involved and the stories we’re telling. It started off as this great acting experience and it’s become this huge part of my life. I’m equally thankful and passionate about both.
Do you ever feel like you have that urge to get more involved again like you were in the first film?
Oh, I have to resist that all the time. [Laughs] I think there’s a part of me that’s really creative and wants to jump in and start directing and producing because we did all of that in the first one. But we have great people to do all of those things and they don’t need me to do it. They definitely value my opinion and my voice, but it hard for me sometimes because I just want to get my hands in there. We have a great team. It’s a fun way to spend a summer. That’s for sure.
Do you think at some point you may want to direct a film?
I don’t know. I think someday, yeah. If it was a story that I felt really passionate about, absolutely. It’s always about the kind of work. I know there’s a play “Wit” by Margaret Edson and when I’m fifty I’m going to do that on Broadway. [Laughs] I wouldn’t necessarily say, “Hey, I’m going to do this play,” but it’s because I love it so much that I just know that I will do it. So if I find something that I’m that passionate about, absolutely, I’d love to direct it.
Tell me about working with some of the great child actors you’ve worked with in 'Paranormal Activity 4' and the series as a whole.
The kids have been unbelievably professional. They’re like little tiny adults in kid bodies. So fun and lighthearted, but so professional. These movies are all about the imagination and all about being in the moment and thinking on your feet. Kids are naturally inclined to do that more than adults are and the kids we’ve had are no exception. They’re so smart. I remember that I was doing a scene with Aiden Lovekamp and we were walking across the street. He was just talking to me about pit bulls and how he loves pit bulls and how they get a bad wrap. He was totally invested in that conversation. So the director calls “Action!” and Aiden just immediately was in it. He was in the scene. And, of course, I’m still thinking about pit bulls. I’m still in normal world thinking about how these poor dogs get a bad wrap while he was right there acting. [Laughs]
Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the films, either on screen or off?
I have a lot of favorites. On this past film… [Laughs] This is so embarrassing. [Laughs] On this past film, we did a couple of scenes where I’m standing right in front of the camera with other actors and there’s a death or something involved (I don’t want to spoil anything here). So we’d do the take so many times that they’d say, “Cut!” and I’d do this little dance. Everyone is watching in Video Village and they started calling it the Demon Dance. On some takes I wouldn’t do it and they’d say, “Katie, where’s your Demon Dance?” So I’d have to say sorry and do a little jig. [Laughs] That kind of silly stuff, where we’re just joking around, is pretty fun.
I feel like the title of this is now going to be “Katie’s Demon Dance.” Don’t do that. Don’t let that be the title of this. That’s going to be on the Internet forever.
Well, now that you mention it… [Laughs]
No, don’t do it! [Laughs]
I know that Oren is very tightlipped about any of his future projects, and he probably has you under lock and key, but I have to ask if there’s anything that you can tell us about the upcoming 'Paranormal Activity 5' film?
I know that it comes out really close to my birthday on the 20th. It comes out that week-ish. Somewhere in there. And truthfully, I really don’t know anything. I am so excited to see what they do and I know that they will be focused on making a movie that will really challenge audiences and hopefully really scare them and keep people excited. I would love to be a part of it if there’s a reasonable way and purpose for me to be in it. Either way, I’m excited that there’s even going to be a fifth film. That’s truly amazing and we are thankful.
There are a lot of rumblings as well about the Latin spinoff as well. I like how the universe is branching out. If given the opportunity, would you like to be the person that sort of bridges the gap between the American films and the regional spinoffs?
Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t even really thought about that because I don’t know much about the spinoff. I know the people who are on board, but I don’t know. If they needed me in some way, I would be excited to have that conversation and to see what I could do to help, but that’s an interesting question. That’s something I’d have to think about.
Right now 'The River' is dead. If that were to come back in some format or in some medium, is that something that you’d do? Do you miss those folks and that universe?
Oh my gosh, yes! That was the most amazing three weeks. I mean, I learned so much hanging out with Bruce Greenwood and watching him work. And the rest of the cast as well, but Bruce and I had a lot of one-on-one time together. But everybody was so fun to work with and it was just joyful. I did die so if they could somehow bring me back in a flashback or something. Maybe they’ll find some old tapes. I could create a list of reasons why it would be reasonable for me to be back. I would do it in a heartbeat. Great people and I made a lot of lifelong friends out of that, which is pretty incredible.
Well, I feel like nobody is ever really dead on 'The River.'
True. That’s what people on set kept saying. They’d say, “You died, Katie. That means you’re coming back! If you dead, that means you’re here forever.” So I would love it. Now you’ve got my hopes up again. Now I’m going to be thinking about it a lot.
How was it different for you working on TV as opposed to film, even though they’re in a similar found footage style?
It was actually really different. It was really fast-paced. There’s a time crunch. You don’t have an entire summer to play and to improv and to go back and forth. There is room for play, but there’s also an hour to do a scene so we need to get it done. Plus working in the jungle and the wilderness. There were a lot of different factors that were new. The biggest difference was how fast-paced it was because you couldn’t get in your head to second-guess. You just had to jump in headfirst, go for it, and move on. For me that was a really fun and freeing experience. I really enjoyed working on TV and look forward to doing more of it.
You’ve mostly staked your claim in the 'Paranormal Activity' series. What’s next for you?
What I really want to do is comedy. I would love to do some guest star spots on some single-camera comedies. Maybe I’ll book a single-camera comedy this pilot season. Or even movies. All those are options for me so that’s where my head is right now. I’m excited to jump into that world a little bit more. I think it’ll be fun.
Where you a horror fan before doing 'Paranormal Activity?'
I was! I loved scary movies growing up.
What are some of your favorite horror films?
My favorite was probably 'Candyman' with Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen. I would force my best friend to watch it with me at my dad’s farm in the dark. I loved to be scared. She did not like to be scared, but she was a good friend so she would watch it anyway. And we would just scare ourselves silly watching that movie on VHS over and over again. That was probably the scariest one of the bunch. I always thought scary movies were fun. Tony Todd scared me so much as a kid. It’s weird to think that people might now say that about me. [Laughs]
Katie Featherstone stars in 'Paranormal Activity 4' on Blu-ray and DVD on January 29.