Natasha Henstridge

Natasha Henstridge was born in Canada on the 15 August 1974. At the age of 14, she left home and moved to Paris in order to begin a modelling career. She landed her first cover on French Cosmopolitan when she was only 15. As well as appearing on the covers of many international fashion magazines, she also appeared in numerous commercials for products including Lady Stetson, Oil of Olaz and Old Spice. In 1995 she made her move into films when she played the alien Sil in Species. Since then she has appeared in movies including The Whole Nine Yards, Ghosts of Mars and Species II. Darren Rea spoke with her as the special edition of Species was due to be released on DVD...

Darren Rea: Happy belated birthday for last week. How do you feel about hitting the big 30?

Natasha Henstridge: Awww... thank you. It was a fun, fun time. It was very cool. I love being 30 - good week so far.

DR: Before you leapt to fame in Species, you had a very successful modelling career. What was it that made you make that jump from modelling to acting?

NH: I'd always wanted to be in show business and I'd always wanted to act. I was sort of a little fed up of modelling. I think I'd got about as much out of it as I was going to get and the opportunity was there. I even noticed that when I was doing TV commercials that I was doing something a little more challenging than modelling and that was very exciting for me. So I told my agent that I wanted to go for film auditions and I loved it. I love a challenge. There's always a place to go - you're never going to reach the pinnacle of that. Maybe some actors have, but I'm a long way from that [laughs].

DR: Did you worry, when you were contemplating accepting the role of Sil in Species, that it would be make or break? And because of the fact that there was nudity in the movie that you may loose some potential modelling contracts if your acting career hadn't taken off?

NH: I quit modelling the second I found I got the film. I had offers of other modelling jobs and I turned them down. So, no I was ready to move on and give it everything I had. I was also, to be honest, too naive to think about it in those terms. I was just incredibly excited to be doing a film and I hoped that it would go further, but I just didn't know.

DR: Would you say that Sil has been a blessing or a curse?

NH: I can only say blessing, because it was the project that enabled me to have a career. Although, there are things involved in being remembered for a particular role that people have a hard time letting go of. And when it comes to making other projects that can be tough. It's also very flattering in a way, so I guess really it's a little bit of both. So to answer your question... it's a little bit of both I suppose.

DR: When Species was first released were you surprised at how popular it was, and are you still surprised at how popular it is?

NH: Yes, very much so. The fact that I'm here, nine years later, still talking about that role, is mind boggling to me. It's incredible - I've got a sort of little legacy built there [laughs]. It really must have had some impact and there is also now a whole new generation of fans that were too young to see the film when it was originally released. It's strange that it is classic enough that after nine years people still enjoy it - that's a nice feeling.

DR: The special edition DVD is also being released in September. You did an audio commentary for that didn't you?

NH: I did. I think there are some really cool things on the release. I did a commentary, which was really fun - I got together with Roger Donaldson [director of Species] and Michael Madsen. We had a great time revisiting our memories of filming. There is also an interview with Giger on the DVD. Over the years a lot of people have become very interested in his work and a lot of art fans and science fiction fans are always asking me about Giger and it's great that a feature about his work will be included on the new DVD.

DR: Did you do any preparation before you recorded the audio commentary, or did you come to it raw?

NH: I didn't. I think it's much better when it is off the cuff.

DR: You also appear in a cameo in Species III. Do you think the Species series has much more life in it?

NH: I don't know. I was really surprised that they made a third film. But, apparently - and these people do a lot of research on this - there was enough of a market there to make a third one, so who knows. But they wouldn't be making it if they didn't think it was worth it. Although, I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that Species III may be going straight to DVD. You know what that market's like these days.

DR: Does it bother you that you will be asked about Sil until the day you retire? That you will be an old lady and still people will come up to you and ask about your naked scenes?

NH: [Laughs] Strangely enough, it's probably true. It's funny, but when anybody recognises me it's like: "Oh my God! Your..." and I always wait to hear what they say. About 60% of the time it is still Species.

DR: It could be worse. You could be forced to do Star Trek conventions for the rest of your life.

NH: [Laughs] True. Although, there are conventions also for the science fiction films and they always have an interesting group of people attending [laugh].

DR: You also appeared as a voice on South Park [in the episode Tom's Rhinoplasty] what was that experience like?

NH: It was such a good time. It was just a quick day - in and out - at that time I didn't even know the show. Other people I knew did, but I was a little out of the loop. But it was great fun.

DR: How did you feel when they credited you as "The Chick from Species"?

NH: [Laughs] They did ask if they could do that - I thought it was funny and very appropriate for that type of show - because they're good like that.

DR: Off all the movies you've been involved in, which would you say you're the most proud of to date?

NH: Well... the movie as a whole, probably The Whole Nine Yards. But on a personal level, Beauty and Power the Judy Exner story about a woman who had an affair with John F Kennedy when he was running for president. I also did a little romantic comedy called It Had to Be You and I was kind of proud of my work on that too - it was cute. I've been very lucky though that I haven't been typecast or been pigeonholed in the same genre.

There are a few things that I'm proud of that I've done, a lot of things that I'm not [laughs] but I was in my twenties and I was young and I wasn't putting that more emphasis on my life, more importantly, than my career - at that time. Now I'm at a different stage in my life where I'm more focussed on doing things that I'm proud of and I can do that. I've made some good money and I feel that I'm in a position now where I can make decisions based on the material.

DR: There are Internet rumours flying around at the moment that you turned down the role of Jill Valentine in Resident Evil: Apocalypse is that true?

NH: I didn't know I'd turned that down. I'm afraid that's another Internet rumour... [Laughs] and it's rubbish.

DR: What are you working on at the moment?

NH: I'm doing a film called The Heart of the Dragon about Rick Hanson a man who was a paraplegic who travelled around the world in a wheelchair. It's more of a love story than anything - about his journey and triumphs and tragedies along the way and how he fell in love with his physiotherapist. We're filming that in September in China.

I've just started producing and I've got a new film called Destination Moon which just got green-lit last week and I'll be starring in that as well. It's a small independent movie, but it will be doing the festivals - we hope. It's a wonderful film, character driven and something I can be proud of and I'm really excited about starting work on it.

DR: Is producing something you are interested in doing more of?

NH: It's not something I've ever pursued, but when you reach a point where you are fed up with the kind of material you are getting you just want to go out and get your own scripts and get those made. So that's kind of where I'm at right now.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Victoria Keeble at Greenroom Digital

Species: Special Edition is out to buy on DVD from MGM Home Entertainment from 13 September 2004

Buy this DVD for £14.99 (RRP: £19.99) by clicking here

Buy other DVDs starring Natasha Henstridge by clicking here

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