Kat Gellin is an actor, director and writer whose career began with popular British TV shows like Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Doctors. She is the subject of our latest 60 second interview.
How long have you been in the industry, and can you share how you first got into acting ?
In the industry, not so long - I graduated five years ago - in the middle of the financial crisis, which was fun! I've mostly been doing film and TV since then, but I miss the theatre; I got into acting age six. My Norwegian mother took over a local youth theatre group in my tiny village outside of Oslo. I played a princess. It made me realise I had a taste for playing the opposite, so I did evil witches and stepsisters and the like for a long time after! They did all-singing-all dancing shows which was wonderful. I started directing the same group age 14, then my first run-in with films was when I nearly landed a major lead in a Norwegian film age 16. But knowing nothing of auditions at that age I cut my waist-length blonde hair to a pixie cut and the casting director was like "Right..." The girl who was my competition got it. Guess what? Waist-length blonde hair...I learned! Age 17 I applied for drama school in the UK and got a place, age 18 I moved and haven't looked back.
Did you have a mentor and, if so, who ?
Not really, I don't come from an artist family at all, so artistically I've had to look to who I thought was good and try to learn. But for sure my mum was a huge inspiration; she was incredibly creative and always encouraged me to fight on for what I wanted to do and helped me in any way she could.
Are you by nature an optimist or a pessimist ?
Depends on my mood! I suppose I'm optimistic in that I left everything I knew and moved to London for a very difficult career path, and later on starting a film production company with my fiancee - it demands a positive outlook, because there are days that will seriously get you down!
Which actor do you most admire and why ?
I've always had this huge admiration for sir Anthony Hopkins. Strange perhaps, that an elderly Welsh man should so inspire a young Norwegian actress, but I find he speaks volumes without even opening his mouth. It's facinating to watch. I grew up watching a lot of male talented actors, and I always wanted the male part...so much more interesting. I'd rather play Hannibal than Clarice, even if she's considered a great female role! Later on I've looked to female actors too, as the industry's changed as I've grown up. I love people like Kristen Wiig, for writing something funny and original and managing to put 'Bridesmaids' together herself after so much hard work. And Jennifer Lawrence is an incredible talent closer to my age who I can only look on in wonder - she seems wise beyond her years and brings so much to roles which might otherwise have faded into obscurity.
What's the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date ?
That's a big one! I'm still learning a lot. Don't work with bad people, trust your instincts, is certainly one. It's tempting as a young actor or actress to do things you don't want to do, or say nothing in the face of poor treatment, because you just want the job. But there are plenty of brilliant people to work with. If it feels bad, it's probably bad - walk away and find the good!
What's your favourite life motto ?
We aren't given that much time on this earth, so be honest with yourself. That's a daily process. It's hard to know what you want sometimes, but it deserves ruthless honesty - are you doing as well as you can, fighting as hard as you can? Are you being kind? Are you happy? I lost my parents young so have had to ask myself a lot of those early, but I think it helps. You always change - so your answers will change too.
What's the best book you've ever read ?
It's a crazy, extraordinarily written wonderful tale of eternal life and perfume. It can't really be explained. You have to read it!
Kat’s careers began with popular British TV shows like Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Doctors. Her first feature film role became Donna in the immensely successful 'Inbetweeners Movie’, followed up by roles in cult horror film ‘The Thompsons’ and this year Amanda in British gangster comedy Hackney’s Finest, as well as indie drama My Hero and comedy Krish&Lee.
Kat is also a director and writer, and her film ‘Of Her I Dream’ in her original Norwegian language will be at festivals worldwide in 2015.