In the action/crime drama “Black Rose,” actress Kristanna Loken, best known for her role as the T-X Terminator in the 2003 sequel “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” stars as Emily Smith, an FBI profiler tracking a serial killer who is murdering young Russian girls. Smith is teamed up with Vladimir Kazatov (Alexander Nevsky, known as the “Russian Schwarzenegger”), a Russian police detective brought in by the LAPD to help solve the crimes.
During an interview with me last week, Loken, 37, who has starred in such movies since her breakout role in “Terminator 3” as “BloodRayne,” “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” and “Mercenaries,” talked about roles for women in Hollywood and whether or not she thinks a film like “Black Rose” will get some attention because of the myriad of Russian controversies currently taking place in the U.S. government.
I know you’ve played law enforcement agents before in other films. Is there any secret to making these cop characters like the one you play in “Black Rose” authentic?
I think I really try to look at the human behind the professional first. What is Emily Smith about? What’s going on with her? I really try to humanize them as much as possible. Then, we layer on top of that. I am this character, but I choose to be in this profession. Like you mentioned, I’ve played cops in TV and film, so I know what that’s all about.
So, everything else like the correct way to hold a gun and other police-specific details are things you’ve sort of picked up along the way after doing it a few times?
(Laughs) Yeah, I think just years of having a gun in my hand has done it. I’ve also trained with the LAPD before to really feel comfortable with a gun. That really helped me a lot with awareness. I’ve actually been able to go onto shooting ranges to train. So, yeah, after years of shooting on screen I think I have it down pretty well.
You’ve played a few badass women in your career, and I’m not even talking about your role in “Terminator 3.” I’m referencing some of the protagonists you’ve played in the past. Do you think that is something Hollywood has finally realized was missing now that we’re getting more films like “Arrival” and “Rogue One” and the “Ghostbusters” remake?
Yeah, I think because I play a lot of those roles, I don’t really think I’ve realized there has been a lack thereof. I find myself playing a lot of them. I think over time, the more that you see women in the workforce as a police profiler or something like that, the more we want to immortalize those people and characters on screen and give them a voice. I think that, yes, there certainly is an upswing in that direction.
There was a study released by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film recently that said that last year women made up 29 percent of leads in the top 100 films, which was up from only seven percent in 2015. But there were only three percent of female leads in action movies. Do you think we could see that number rise or will the action genre be a tougher celling to break through?
Wow, I had no idea the numbers where that small. That’s pretty incredible.
Do you think there is room in the action genre for action movies like “Mercenaries,” which has an all-female cast?
Yeah, I definitely think so. For me, that’s a no-brainer. The feedback I always get from fans is that they like seeing women kick ass. I enjoy watching it, too. I think the thing for me—taking it from a movie viewer’s perspective— is that I really enjoy women in those roles that I buy into or that can pull it off. I really appreciate that. I think in that regard, the more we can do for women who are doing that, the more films, perhaps, will be made.
With as much Russian controversy as there has been in the political news these days, do you think that will help a film like “Black Rose” get some attention?
It certainly may. I think the message of our film is about unity between the U.S. and Russia and working together. I think in the media, we have a very important job to show the kinds of ties we would like to see in the world. I think we’ve done that in this film.
I don’t want to give anything away in the film, so I’ll just say that the serial killer you’re tracking is believed to be Russian since he’s killing young Russian girls. Why do you think Russians make such great cinematic bad guys?
(Laughs) Maybe it’s something with the accent. It’s foreign to us. I think it sounds kind of intense and guttural. Also, our country has a history with Russia. Maybe there is a little fear there, too. The U.S. doesn’t have nearly the amount of land mass that Russia does. They certainly have a lot of country in their country.
I know you haven’t worked with him in a while, but last year, director Uwe Boll (considered by many as one of the worst filmmakers in the history of cinema) apparently retired from filmmaking. Do you think he’ll stay retired?
(Laughs) I don’t think there is anything you can really count on with Uwe. He does whatever he wants whenever he wants. I hope he’s happy. I hope he’s enjoying his life.
I know you had your first baby last year, Thor. How has motherhood changed who you are as an actress? Do you look at roles differently?
Oh, immensely. I feel like a completely different person—a better version of Kristanna now that I’m a mother. I am the woman that I always wanted to become—more character and more integrity. I don’t know if you have children, but all the decisions you make impact your child—what you do, who you spend your time with, where you go, all those things. It’s like my scope of vision has become completely panoramic. It’s wonderful. As far as my career goes, I’d like to play different types of roles. I have a production company called Trio Entertainment. So, now I have more overall creative control to the content produced in front of the camera as well as behind the camera.