Kari Nissena at Actor Transformation sat down with actress Madelon Curtis to discuss her latest film.
Actor Transformation ~ What got you started in acting?
Madelon Curtis ~ I started out in dance and music from a very young age. I played classical piano all my life and studied all forms of dance( ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap). I have always considered myself a dancer first, singer second and straight actress third. As a dancer, I moved into musical theatre in my teens and college years and then the avocation slowly became a vocation. I even was an NFL cheerleader for the New England Patriots. I performed in professional musical theatre as an Equity actress and when I became older and had tackled, it seems, most of the dancing roles in musical theatre, I started concentrating predominantly on my acting. I joined SAG in 1980 and have done professional work since then. My first movie was EYES OF A STRANGER which starred a very young Jennifer Jason Leigh.
AT ~ Talk about a triple threat! You act, sing, dance. You play the piano. You’re a choreographer. What a talent. Do you gravitate towards one area of your career over another?
MC ~ I still work with music and choreograph on a regular basis. When I’m not acting, I teach ballet and have done so for the last 30 years. I studied with NYCB, ABT, Joffrey and many other notable ballet instructors and institutions over the years. I enjoy seeing my students grow and become professionals themselves, in many cases. I am also a certified Pilates instructor and competitive ballroom dancer. Now, I gravitate much more to acting, in film, TV and theatre. I have worked a lot in the indie world in films like TIMING IS EVERYTHING & even have a little bit of a cult following from acting in one of the “FRIDAY THE 13th” films; JASON GOES TO HELL…The Final Friday.
AT ~ Tell us about your feature “Caged No More”. There is a lot of buzz surrounding this film. You got to work with Loretta Devine, Kevin Sorbo, and Debra Wilson. How exciting. They say this movie was based on true events?
MC ~ The movie isn’t based on a true story per se, but it is a very true story for millions of sex trafficked victims. It was written by Molly Venzke, a writer from Seattle, and is the first of a trilogy. She wrote it to raise awareness about human trafficking. It is an extremely well-written novel. The story gives a very realistic picture of the horrors of children being exploited all over the world. It is a gripping tale. I loved working on the film. I play the evil Greek “Madame” who runs the brothel where the girls are. I am 100% Greek American and speak fluent Greek, so this role was very comfortable for me. I spoke Greek in several scenes of the film (which were subtitled) and I also had to change my normal American accent to a true Greek accent. The entire cast and crew was a joy to work with. We filmed in Louisiana and Greece.
AT ~ Wow. What a gift as an actor. And such an important subject matter. How great is that when your talents get to help the world way beyond basic entertainment! Educating and spreading the word about such horrific crimes.
MC ~ really enjoyed doing this movie because it was important on so many levels: a wonderful role for me as an actor, getting to use my language skills and my natural strengths, the chance to work with a great group of people in a very positive work environment, the chance to make a statement about a universal issue that is only now beginning to gain recognition.
AT ~ You played a truly terrifying villain in the film. What was the casting process for this role like?
MC ~ The casting process was quick and very pleasant. Ideal, if I may use that word. I was called in and was put on tape by the wonderful Joey Paul Jensen on a Tuesday, got a call back on Friday to do the same audition. In front of the director this time. And was offered the role on Monday. For a feature film, that was pretty quick! I was excited. When my agent told me she had sent in my “ugly” photo (the one with no make-up which no actor likes to submit anywhere!), and told me to go to the audition looking the same way, I was uneasy. It was the first time I had been called in from that photo and felt so funny going to an audition bare-faced! I was well-prepared, as I really study my craft all the time with a wonderful teacher, Richard Seyd, so I felt very confident and it paid off. Actors must study! It’s how I delivered a very convincing and strong role in the film. At various events, people do not believe the Madame can be the same nice person they meet. They said I was so “evil” that they were afraid of me! I take that as a compliment, as that is what good acting is supposed to achieve.
AT ~ Scary! And so exciting! And what’s next for you?
MC ~ Well, hopefully more auditions and chances to do exciting work! I hope to get a lot of visibility because of this film and! I am excited because they have plans to do “Caged No More 2. Not sure when, but the end of the film leaves the audience needing more. I think the Madame is in that one too!
AT ~ Well… We can’t wait for audiences to see you in the film. Thanks so much for your time and for sharing this with our readers.