Kristine Chester, Fanboy Comics Contributor: First and foremost, welcome to the States! You recently moved from the United Kingdom to Los Angeles, and this must have been a pretty big change. How has the transition been for you?
Marcia Battise: Yeah, the transition was a difficult one for me as soooooo many of my friends and family were like, "What?! You're going there during a depression? You mad?????" But, I have to say, I don't wanna be one of those old farts on a porch going "shoulda, coulda, woulda." I’m very happy to be here and feel at home and would like to say a big "Thank You!" to everyone who has been supportive of my move to LA. I know the 'City of Angeles' can be tough on a newbie, BUT you Americans have been kind to me. :)
KC: The Fanboy Comics staff and I greatly enjoyed your portrayal of Nyree, the Reaver mercenary, in Dragon Age: Redemption. Were you a fan of Dragon Age or the fantasy genre before you accepted the role?
MB: OMG! Thank you, guys! I have been a fan of the fantasy genre since childhood, and when my sister, who's a big-time gamer, found out I was doing Dragon Age, she was like, "DON'T F**K UP, 'cause it's my favorite game." My sister upgraded from World of Warcraft to World of Dragon Age. LOL! (She helped me to thoroughly understand the DA game, while I, on the other hand, was living out my dream of being able to play with dangerous weapons and kick-a-- in a demonic way.) So, playing Nyree was the ideal part for me. Oh and just in case, I, like Nyree, have a love of dragons. I was born in the year of the dragon and have a beautiful dragon tattooed on a beautiful spot on my body (wink, wink), and working with Doug (Jones), Felicia (Day), Peter (Winther), and Shaun (Becker) was a good laugh.
BUT SERIOUSLY, growing up in England, I had the pleasure of watching shows on such ancient myths and legends like King Arthur (Excalibur, his Knights and The Round Table), Beowulf, Hercules, Chronicles of Narnia, Biblical Tales, etc. Although, the films Legend, Labyrinth, and The Never Ending Story did have a huge effect on me as a child, along with my favorite sci-fi horror film, The Thing. Loooooove that movie!
I think it was due to such a colorful upbringing. I was naturally drawn to ANYTHING that was other worldly and mysterious, anything that was science fiction, magical, and supernatural definitely held my attention and got me to think, “What would it be like if I was to live in those worlds and be one of these powerful beings, holding all the secrets of the universe?"
The reason I find medieval times soooooo alluring is that everything and anything seemed possible, no matter how fanciful it all may seem...flying dragons, sorcerers, witchcraft, beings of other worlds, portals to mysterious lands, fairies, and hobbits… Hahaha! Don’t forget them hobbits and fairies, along with the gods of the skies and the underworld. All this great mythology and folklore, action adventure entwined in myths, legends, and quests, for personal purpose… I mean who wouldn't want to slay a dragon, fly into space, have supernatural powers, OR even want to be a fairy for the day? No pun intended!
KC: How does it differ working on a web series, like Dragon Age: Redemption, from other projects?
MB: THIS IS MY GEEK OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't want our future generations nor our golden age filmmakers to fear the change in technology BUT to embrace how freeing it has become and the amazing opportunities that will come of it. :)
In my mind the web series is fast becoming a historical footnote of a transitional age due to the help of the internet…thanks, porno dudes…from such early originators as Bullseye Art, Red vs. Blue, and Sam Has 7 Friends to talent like Felicia Day, who exploded with The Guild and Doctor Horrible, which then helped to shape the web series to the media (and public) forefront, as well as helping to raise the production bar higher with quality scale shows, which can easily stand alongside what is meant to be high-end TV and film productions. Just to add, back in 2009 the Streamys were created as the first web awards show.
If I was to bet on the media platform of the future (which is odd because it's really now), I'd expect that the web series would be the NEW calling card and would replace the short film. Producers, financiers, funding bodies, and the like are all asking, “Where’s your web series and how much traffic are you getting?” We have seen how the web series has evolved into dynamic, audience-driven, self-publicizing vehicles through social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This for the filmmaker, whether independent or commercial, can easily find a far larger international audience than a short film on the festival circuit ever could, using no more or even less money, technology, or logistics to make than it does a short film. With the short film, you have to put yourself through a lengthy process of submitting your short for acceptance into festivals just to get seen at a capacity of the festival. The web is an unlimited audience; however, I do feel we are still dealing with a certain mindset among filmmakers who need to understand that it’s okay NOT to be in a theatre, especially as theatrical releases nowadays are the Spartan Arenas for blockbuster releases and nothing else.
To sum up, there is NO difference; the webisodes are just crafted specifically to work on the web. DVDs will be gone as new lines of HDTVs are now becoming web-capable and have Netflix (for example) pre-installed. Movies with well-known talent are hitting OnDemand BEFORE hitting small theatrical runs and everything seems to be slowly but surely coming through the same channels, whether it be YouTube, Hulu, iTunes, NBC-Comcast.net, etc.
KC: Aside from your work in Dragon Age, you have a number of projects on the horizon, including 100,000 Zombie Heads and Elegy for a Revolutionary. For fans who may be unfamiliar, can you tell us about your work on each project?
MB: Yeah, sure thing, well…Elegy for a Revolutionary is a short film based on a historical event: John Harris, who bombed a Johannesburg train station (which killed people) and his involvement with the African Resistance Movement (ARM) during the 1960s. The people involved are now old but still very much alive. There has been some published literature on the incident but NO theatrical or TV release of any kind, so the production team is all interested to see how this slight-of-hand story will be received, especially in South Africa.
I play Miriam Maduba, who is a portrayal of Winnie Madikizela, Nelson Mandela's then wife. Anyone wanting to look up the story can take a read of C. J. Driver's 1969 novel Elegy for a Revolutionary. The film is being used to help raise funds for the feature. In the meantime you can look out for it, as it will be hitting festivals in and around LA, along with the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa some time later this year.
The film is written and directed by Paul Van Zyl's (who grew up in South Africa at that time), produced by Stacy and Chris Ekstein of Market Street Productions, and boasts a great cast: Martin Copping from Police Under Fire (TV) and Blue Heelers (TV), Brian Ames from Grey's Anatomy and The Vampire Diaries, and David Ross Paterson from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon.
The other project is a ZOMBIE MOVIE! Of course, we are coming to a close of an era and into another, so lets kill some zombies on the way…Er, well, in a peaceful way (wink).
This zombie movie is mostly centered on graphic sexual scenes, BUT is inappropriate for people of all ages. In this sick, twisted film about the prostitution of zombies and the breeding of zombies and humans, you can guess why it's called 100,000 Zombie Heads. And, there you have it for plot. I play Hedu, who's a bit of a reserved character and that's all I can say for now.
100,000 Zombie Heads (which is part of a zombie trilogy) is written and directed by Jose Figueora, produced by Kyle Puccia of La Boca Productions, and again also a great cast: Jennifer Taylor from Two and a Half Men and The Waterboy, Vernon Wells from Green Street Hooligans 2 and Charlie Valentine, and Elizabeth Mathis from TRON: Legacy and Blue Crush 2.
KC: From fantasy to zombies, you have worked on a number of “genre” projects. Have you enjoyed working in a specific genre, or is there a different style of film in which you hope to work?
MB: My heart is in the fantasy, horror, and sci-fi genres with such influences as Stephen King, Clive Barker's Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman, Ridley Scott's Alien, John Landis' American Werewolf in London, and my favorite horror flick, John Carpenter's The Thing.
When projects of this nature show up, I tend to gravitate towards them; however, I do like to do narrative storytelling (influences like Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Charlie Kaufman, etc.) and hard-hitting dramas, especially cop shows. I was hooked on a really good - well, two really good cops shows, The Wire and The Shield - looking forward to sinking my teeth into something of that nature in the future.
KC: I couldn’t help but notice that you have also been to San Diego Comic-Con. Being that this is Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your own favorite comics, movies, and more?
MB: San Diego Comic-Con was a BLAST and, as it was my first time, I was so lucky to have Felicia (Day), Kim (Evy), and Doug (Jones) show me around all the different booths, especially watching The Guild booth in action and seeing Doug get swamped by adorning fans. (He is such a sweet man; all the rumors are true!) I have to admit, I was really exhausted at the end of the convention and totally looking forward to my bed!!
My biggest geek out would be to be able to play one of the following comic book characters: Batwoman (Batgirl), Storm, She-Hulk - AKA Jennifer Walters, and Superwoman (Supergirl) with Christopher Nolan directing and his brother Jonathan writing the scripts. Batman meets The Prestige with a touch of Memento, because in the comics - the women are f---ed up, vengeful with dual identities, sometimes otherworldly. And, I like the idea of doing something period but in comic book setting. The Walking Dead, I cannot get enough of and now they're going into the new location, which is the prison, with the emergence of Michonne. Her and Nyree should hook-up! LOL! And, I can't say anymore on Games of Thrones except it's fantastic, and, lastly, The Hobbit - I'm looking forward to watching that film, while the world’s ending. Thanks, Mayans! ;)
KC: Lastly, what would you like to tell our Fanboy Comics readers who would like to learn more about you and your upcoming projects?
MB: Well, I'm on the lookout for reviving superheroines. Well (if I’m honest), supervillainesses are just these poor, misunderstood souls and are much more complex characters to play. Samuel L. Jackson made playing a villain really cool and humane, so I would love to be like the female version of his bad-a-- villains. You can't fault SLJ, he is one slick cat when it comes to acting, and I’m so looking forward to his work in The Avengers! :)
I guess I've always felt sorry for the villain. My favorite was Skeletor from He-Man's Masters of the Universe, and I kept telling everyone that he was just misunderstood, and He-Man was a caveman version of Ken (of Ken and Barbie). Don’t ask where my head was… I even had my own Skeletor Doll. So, I guess bad-a-- villains or heroines gone bad are where I wanna go in life, you know, play a "woman on a rampage.” Something like a Rockstar Games gig, where they do a lot of that stuff…guys running around with guns (you know like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead), and I know they're good about giving new talent a launching pad.
I want to end this interview by thanking ALL of the Dragon Age fans for showing Nyree, ’Nuff Love, and asking whether she will be seen as a playable companion member in the next Dragon Age 3.
Yes, Nyree really is a kick-a-- character, and that is something that the fans of the game should rally for.
I'm very happy I was able to entertain you all with my portrayal of that lovable rogue.