An amazingly versatile actress who has had her beginnings at the age of 11, in Stephen King’s, “The Stand”, Cassandra Hepburn has been gaining a plethora of experience in the industry for over a decade, appearing in both independent and mainstream productions ranging from Sidney Lumet’s, “Find Me Guilty”, to roles on TV’s “Young and The Restless”, “Medium”, and “Days of Our Lives” to now features such as Quentin Taratino and Larry Bishop’s “Hell Ride”, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with positive reviews.
With such experience, and a driven personality to further add to the mix, Cassandra is a rising force which many are taking notice of and admire her down to earth yet indomitable spirit. I had the opportunity to chat with her and delve into artistic sensibilities as well as her insights into her craft.
Cinema Without Borders: There are many people who live by inspirational quotes to help them achieve their dreams, do you have a quote which assists you in day to day life?
Cassandra Hepburn: My favorite quote is by writer L. Ron Hubbard – “To be Happy, one only must be able to confront, which is to say, experience, those things that are. Unhappiness is only this: the inability to confront that which is.”
“That which a person works hardest on, he winds up having. That’s one of the fundamentals of this universe. That to which he devotes energy, he finally has.”
CWB: Is there a project that you have untaken in the past that has most affected you? Why?
CH: The project that most affected me in the past was one that I wrote, produced and directed which was a short called “Daddy’s Little Girl”, and the reason why it affected me was loosely based on a true story that I heard from a friend of mine which I decided to undertake and film it. It is about a fashion model who when she was young was molested by her father but the twist is that she in her aberrated way enjoyed it, because it was the only way she could feel love from her dad. It really took an emotional toll on me to play her but turned out amazing! Which I think there is a small clip on my reel that you can watch at: www.cassandrahepburn.com
CWB: What about the script “Hell Ride”, appealed to you the most? What role do you play?
CH: I loved the fact that it is in the genre of the 60’s/70’s exploitation films. And working on a Tarantino Presents film had a lot to do with it since I have always been a big fan of his work. He was executive producing the project and found out he also edited it but Larry Bishop son of The Rat Packer Joey Bishop directed the film “Hellride”. Working with these two seasoned film makers really gave me so much knowledge and understanding of the film industry and I am very much looking forward to working with them again soon!
I play the role of Maria who is one of the two main love interests of the lead character “Pistolero.” She doesn’t say much but she is very observant and is mysterious, sexy and dangerous and that is what Larry wanted from my character was to be a real woman not a girl, but a woman who is strong but doesn’t have to show it off…and Quentin really liked how I played her and complimented me at the screening in Sundance because of it.
He made it a point that I get seen in this film and chose the best scenes that really shows how natural I am on camera and told me that I have that “IT” factor to being a great actress, which is a huge compliment coming from an amazing director who has worked with Hollywood’s greatest!
CWB: Who inspired you most growing up as a creative artist?
CH: The people who inspired me most growing up as a creative artist are the Old Hollywood Legends like Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Marlena Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, etc. These actors not only had amazing talent but had grace, class, sophistication, appeal, humility, humor and a lot of pizzazz! I admire that in people and watching them growing up as a child inspired me to be the best in my field as an actress and I look forward to getting better and entertaining my fans more and more!!!
CWB: What aspect of your past projects, have you found were most challenging?
CH: The most challenging aspect is really getting the chance to show what I got to the right people who can give me the go ahead of working on such phenomenal film projects. At least for me, it was never easy because of my exotic looks where casting directors didn’t know how to cast me. Also having to prove that I can bring in the box office has been challenging because the industry is much more corporate driven where you really need to show that you have that box office draw that can bring in the sales. And I started later than some in this industry so I was never the ingénue who could be developed into being the next “It” girl….I had to already be on my best game to get the roles. This is the plain and honest truth and I still constantly better myself as an actress to be on my best.
CWB: What types of projects do you tend to select to undertake and why?
CH: I undertake projects that really challenges me because if I have a little reservation about that means I need to confront it so therefore I say yes to it….it goes back to that quote about confront! I love roles that I can fully transform and be that character not Cassandra playing that character but fully being that character…that to me is where the art is!
CWB: Is there anyone you would most like to work with/collaborate with in the near future?
CH: I have quite a few people I would love to collaborate and work with in the very near future, they are: Steven Spielberg for his spellbinding action projects, Robert Rodriguez for his over the top no apologies, make you have a different point of view films, Barbara Broccoli for her James Bond franchise that I have always admired and inspired me to be in the business, Quentin Tarantino (again) for his unique stylized way of telling stories on screen which is unmatched by anyone else, Peter Jackson for his epic and adventures creative films, Christopher Nolan for his way of telling the Darkness of the stories but brings that shimmer of hope into them which makes for great filmmaking!
Clint Eastwood for making everyday lives of others really pop out on the big screen by telling very intricate stories of “normal” everyday peoples lives and the challenges that we all face daily( because there is a bit of “normal” in all of us!), Paul Haggis for is emotionally intriguing characters that he writes about and I hope to one day soon portray and bring to life!
So as you can see there are a few filmmakers that I so admire and follow their work because each one is so unique and is a master of what they do which helps me master my craft more and more each time I am able to challenge myself as an actress in these roles.
CWB: Is there one thing you would like to accomplish this year?
CH: The one thing that I would love to accomplish most this year, is to work with all the filmmakers that I spoke about in the last question…because with that I know I can only reach the highest level of my craft by learning so much from each one of them! And that has always been a dream of mine since I can remember was to really better and advance myself as an artist/actress!
CWB: What advice would you give aspiring actors?
CH: The advice I would give, if someone asked is: NEVER EVER GIVE UP! Especially when you most want to because you just never know what may come around the next corner. Continue to practice and train to be better at what you do and really help yourself by bettering yourself spiritually because believe it or not that helps you better yourself in this physical universe in all that you do!!! And, always create a lot of affinity with others and always communicate.
CWB: Thank you Cassandra for taking time out from your busy schedule to chat with me. I would like to let everyone know that, “Hell Ride” will be released on August 8th, 2008. Hell Ride also features performances from Dennis Hopper, David Carradine, and Vinnie Jones.