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Interview: Katie Walder

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What do you get when you combine amazing talent, a drive to succeed and a little bit of luck? Don’t know the answer? Well, you get actress Katie Walder. The Pennsylvania born actress has built an impressive resume of work in the industry and there are no signs of her slowing down.

She’s made memorable appearances on television shows such as How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, Supernatural and Gilmore Girls. She’s also appeared in the films Shelter and The Neighbor.

This time around, Katie is really stretching her acting chops with the suspense/thriller Come Back to Me from writer/director Paul Leyden. In the film, Katie plays Sarah whom after a car accident, suffers blackouts & ends up pregnant though her husband Josh is sterile. As her life spirals she hides a camera in her home & unlocks a horrific secret with far-reaching consequences.

Katie sits down with us to discuss the challenges of this role, working with co-star Nathan Keyes and what separates Come Back to Me from other films in the same genre.

Pop Culture Principle - Can you tell us about the film Come Back to Me and your character Sarah?

Katie Walder – I play Sarah McLaren who is newly married and wants to have a child, but she was just in a horrible car accident. She is still going through some post-traumatic stress after this horrific accident. A neighbor moves in across the street and around the same time, I start having these night terrors. I am waking up in cold sweats, having panic attacks and not exactly sure what is happening. She’s having foggy memories of dreams, waking up in different clothes and sometimes there’s blood. She really doesn’t know what is going on and thinks she’s going through some crazy post-traumatic stress episode. I think also the fact that she wants to have a kid and her husband not being on the same page was stressful as well.

Pop Culture Principle – Looking over your career, you really haven’t done a film like this before. Was that a motivating factor for you to accept the role?

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Katie Walder – Yes, definitely. I think I’ve been afraid to play something like this because it is so raw. I’m an extremely sensitive person in real life, so bringing something like this into my life really scares me because I haven’t let it all out like this before. Not that I have played it safe, but I am much more of a comedy and dramedy person and that is much more my comfort zone.

Pop Culture Principle – With a film like Come Back to Me, is it easy for you to shake off your character when you aren’t on set or does it stay with you?

Katie Walder – I can do these kinds of roles, but when I do it takes a big part out of me. I guess I am a little method when it comes to these types of roles. I’ve been afraid that I will take on all of it which I did. It took me a good couple of months to get over that whole experience because I really went into it head first. I let myself really live the role. It wasn’t fun doing that, but it put me right where I needed to be and I felt like I was feeling everything Sarah was feeling. It was like there was no distinction and it was very intense.

Pop Culture Principle – There are some very intense scenes throughout the film. Did you do any preparation for this role?

Katie Walder – You know, I booked the role a week before they started shooting. They were having a really hard time finding leads for this project. I ended up getting a meeting with the director and I knew one of the producers because I had worked with them before. This is funny, because I haven’t said this to anyone yet, but I was supposed to play the best friend Leslie. I got a straight offer for that role and the producer said you would be great for the lead. So, I met with the director and he said that I would be perfect for the Sarah role. So, I didn’t have much time to prepare and what I did was imagine myself in that situation. For me, it wasn’t hard to place myself in that situation. I just imagined it was happening to me and that would be all I needed to get into the role.

CBTM Sarah wakes up

Pop Culture Principle – Speaking of intense, many of those scenes where with Nathan Keyes. What was it like working with him?

Katie Walder – Oh my God, I loved working with him. It’s funny because initially we didn’t speak. He was doing his own thing and I was doing my own thing. We met probably the fourth or fifth day in. I had been shooting and he came on set for the first time. He was listening to music with his headphones and looked really creepy. He was doing his own thing and I certainly didn’t want to talk with him because we needed to feel that intensity. We did all the last scenes first, so once we got past the first day and all of the hard stuff, we started talking and he is just the sweetest guy you could meet. We hit it off and we’ve become great friends and were very close the rest of the shoot. Any scenes thereafter, there was such a comfort and safety working together.

Pop Culture Principle – This was Paul Leyden’s first feature film as a director/writer. What was it like working with him?

Katie Walder – Well, we initially all met for a table read type of situation to work through the kinks about two days before we started shooting. We all talked about ideas we had for our characters and he told us about the ideas he had as well. It was a very collaborative environment for the project. As with a lot of independent films and first time directors, they are really nervous. They have an image in their head and they want it to go that way and you are pressed for time. I was literally shooting twenty five scenes a day for the first six days of the shoot and I was in every scene. I was tired to say the least and I was barely sleeping. So, that’s another way of easily getting in that state of mind because I was so tired.

First and foremost, Paul is an actor and he really understands working with actors and he knew how to talk to us to get things out of us. He was very nervous at the same time because he felt a lot of pressure. He was very intense which helped our performances. We only had a few takes because we didn’t have time to do a lot of takes. It was an intense experience for him and for us and I think we felt the pressure that he was under. He wanted his first major film to be great and he was very stressed out about it, but still did a fantastic job.

Pop Culture Principle – Your character finds an inner strength to deal with her situation. Was it important to you that her strength and resolve come across in your performance?

CBTM Sarah with gun

Katie Wilder – Absolutely! I hate playing victims and avoid it at all cost because I feel like it’s such an old way of thinking. For me, the fact the she could turn around and do for herself and find strength in her situation was really important to me. I am that way and anyone I admire is that way. You don’t let it get to you and let it just shrink you as a human being and take over. You have control and you turn your situation around and find strength in it.

Pop Culture Principle – What do you think separates this film from others in the genre?

Katie Walder – This film really gets in your head in my opinion. It’s not just blood and guts or torture porn, it’s a psychological thriller and it’s very smart. I avoid doing horror movies and have passed on auditions in the past, but when I read the script I thought it was scary, but in a way that was really smart and really unique. The story to me was so intriguing and I think it was a very special, unique idea and I have never seen anything like it with this kind of concept. Anything that deals with the supernatural in that kind of way is a lot cooler. Even with the Blair Witch Project, it was what you couldn’t see that made that film so scary and I really like that.

Pop Culture Principle – What was it like working on the series Supernatural where you played Fate?

Katie Walder – It was so much fun! The cast and the crew are just having the best time all the guys. Jared and Jensen are so warm and friendly and just want to make it fun for everyone who visits. That show is not something you can just pick up in the middle, so they gave me some backstory and I watched a bunch of episodes. I found myself really getting into the series as well. Working on that show was a blast because it’s not just scary; there are some great comedic moments. They shoot in Vancouver and I was there about 11 days having a great time.

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I also loved playing a character that has power. I always wanted to play a witch or someone who has supernatural powers. I had to work hard to not make my character funny because I love adding quirks and things, but I knew what they wanted, so I played my character really straight. Also, working with Misha and the actor who played Baltazar was a lot of fun.

Pop Culture Principle – You also had a memorable appearance on the comedy Rules of Engagement? What was it like working on that show?

Katie Walder – Oh my God, I had the best time! David Spade might be one of the funniest people I have ever met in my entire life. It’s so funny, you see comedians and you expect them to be larger than life in their personalities, but most comedians I have worked with are kind of quiet at first and then they get comfortable with you; David was the same way. After he got comfortable with me with rehearsing, he would say in true David Spade fashion things under his breath. He would say things that would throw me off and were so funny throughout the entire shoot. That entire cast was awesome and a sitcom is the best kind of gig you can get because everyone has such a blast.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you find it a bit intimidating when you do a guest appearance on a show that has a built in audience and a cast and crew that has worked together for a while?

Katie Walder – You know, when I initially started I was so excited and so nervous. I had just arrived in LA and my first gig was on the Gilmore Girls during its fourth season. As with anything in life, the more you do it, you get more and more comfortable. It’s not so much intimidation anymore, just the fact that I get to work with some amazing people. I feel so lucky sometimes and feel really grateful to work with some of the actors I have had the chance to work with. I think the really great and established actors try and do everything to make you feel as comfortable as possible. They all know what it’s like to be the new person coming in. I just feel so fortunate with my experiences so far. Everyone has jitters before they start, but once you get on set, it’s all good.

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Pop Culture Principle – Any advice for up and coming actors?

Katie Walder – Make sure you take classes and take it seriously. It’s not just about the pretty face or you just wake up and you are an actor. It’s a job and it’s a business, so you have to treat yourself like a commodity and take care of yourself. Don’t give up on your dream and it can happen for anyone. I think the most important things are persistence and hard work. Even above talent and looks, you have to have that drive and persistence and trust that it’s meant to be.

Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Katie Walder – I have one project that I’m not allowed to talk about that will be out in 2015 and I’m really excited about it when it does get released. I have an appearance on Comedy’s Central The Kroll Show. I will be playing Nick Kroll’s love interest for part of it. Also, there is a pilot I shot with Ben Stiller a couple of years ago. It’s called Billy Glimmer and Ben Stiller plays a comedian in Las Vegas who is apparently the most famous impersonator, but actually isn’t good. Although he has a huge following and a lot of fans, he really isn’t that good. Plus he also has ADD which adds to the fun. I play an Entertainment Tonight style reporter interviewing him and it starts out really light and funny, then it gets really dark. It was a blast and one of the best, if not the best experience I’ve ever had.

Pop Culture Principle would like to thank Katie for taking the time to talk with us. If you would like to keep up with all her latest news and updates, you can follower her on Twitter @TheKatieWalder.

Come Back to Me is now available on VOD, iTunes & Amazon – and also coming to Netflix November 25th.

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