Over the past few months a certain Science Fiction film, not to mention the performance of its leading lady, has been gaining a fair degree of festival and critical recognition. Neil Johnson’s highly anticipated sci-fi actioner ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER was named recently as the Opening Night Film at this year’s Action On Film Festival, a festival which is fast becoming a much sought after event to be part of for filmmakers.
"Ahh, but what be this ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER that you be speaking of me hearty?" I hear you ask in your best Pirate voice. To be honest, I really have no idea at all why I hear that question in a Pirate voice, I blame the copious amounts of coffee that I've consumed today. However, it's a fair question.
ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER is a complex science-fiction actioner described as Mad Max meets Star Wars. Written by Neil Johnson, the science fiction film is set in the distant future depicting the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence on Earth and other worlds. Starring are Tracey Birdsall, William Kircher (The Hobbit), Daz Crawford (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Stephen Manley (Star Trek III), and Marilyn Ghiggliotti (Clerks).
It was a little while ago when I published on the News section of the 5D website at www.5d-blog.com that the film had just won numerous awards at the Malibu West International Film Awards, including Best Actress (Tracey Birdsall), Best Director (Neil Johnson), Sound Design (Vic Kaspar, Dirk Kloiber) and the Unique Vision award (Neil Johnson). Not only that, but it was becoming quite clear from all and sundry that Tracey Birdsall's performance of Sienna—the film’s tough, intelligent and sexy leading character—is nothing short of exhilarating.
Once again I know what you are thinking. However I couldn't possibly comment about the fact that my interest was peaked not only by the fact that a current sci-fi film was gaining some plaudits, but also by the fact that a gorgeous blonde actress was playing the heroine of the story. Nope. Well OK, maybe just a little.
It is at this point is where Tracey Birdsall made her first mistake....... (A sentence that reads infinitely more creepy and sinister that it was actually meant).
Because shortly after she kindly retweeted the 5D website news I immediately decided to do what I do best in this modern social networking world, yes that's right, I sent her a friend request. She then made her second mistake in accepting that request. Her third and final mistake was then actually replying to my pestering for an interview, for which the transcript is below. I'm sure you'll agree that she is a fabulous interviewee.
Just before I show you the interview with her loveliness, here's a look at an excerpt from her IMDB bio for those poor souls who are as yet unfamiliar with Tracey.......
"Tracey Birdsall is an award-winning American film and television actress recognised worldwide for her diverse and challenging roles - which recently earned her the esteemed Female Action Performer of the Year Award at the highly regarded Action on Film Festival for her role of Sienna in the recently Premiered and highly anticipated Science Fiction film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2016).
Birdsall has four feature films which will be released in 2016 alone: The lead of Sienna in the up-coming science fiction film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2016) opposite William Kircher, Daz Crawford, and Stephen Manley, the lead of Jenna in the up-coming comedy feature Who's Jenna...? (2016) opposite Bill Sorvino, Garry Pastore, and Joseph D'Onofrio, playing herself in the up-coming Australian comedy Diary of a Fatman (2016), and the role of Dijanne in the up-coming science fiction film At the Edge of Time (2016). She was also just cast as the female lead in Dance of the Blue Tattoo opposite Harry Lennix (The Blacklist (2013), filming soon in Gran Canaria. Birdsall can be seen opposite Barry Corbin once again in 2017 in The Time War (2017), a time travel film featuring a narration by Christopher Lee.
She was the female lead the feature film I Might Even Love You (1998) opposite Leigh McCloskey and James Van Patten which had a Cannes Festival debut, and also performed in films including but not limited to The Prophet's Game (2000) (starring Dennis Hopper), Casino (1992) (starring her good friend Sammy Jackson), Dawn of the Crescent Moon (2014) (opposite Barry Corbin), and Going Very Badly (2014) (opposite Gerry Bednob). She recently voiced the Spaceship Computer on Doomsday (2015) and the Deliverance Computer in Starship: Apocalypse (2014).
In 2014, Birdsall was named honorary Maverick Award Winner at the esteemed Action on Film Festival, and in 2015 the honorary Trailblazer Award at the Temecula Independent Film Festival for her contributions to the entertainment industry."
THE INTERVIEW BIT
5D) Hi Tracey. Thanks for sharing all my 5D posts on Facebook & Twitter so far - all likes, shares & outright public proclamations of love & adoration for my website are always welcome!
TB) Right back atcha! I appreciate the promotion as well :)
5D) First of all, I would like to say many thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to talk to 5D - it's a genuine thrill.
TB) That’s one of the nicest things a guy has ever said to me ;) Happy to be here.
5D) So the traditional opening question; Tell us a little about Tracey Birdsall the woman and how you became part of this whole wonderfully insane business.
TB) I thrive on this business. Every cell of my being wants to take on various characters and live them to a degree that I think only I can do. I’ve worked, trained, studied, worked, trained (you get the point) - most of my life. If I’m not booking, I’m training - because there’s a reason. I absolutely adore the whole process.
5D) Quick challenge - can you tell us something you've never divulged in an interview?..... (I'm looking for a world exclusive here!)
TB) As a kid, I was really bullied. I was quite a nerd, and I had this passion for acting and becoming other people - which did not help at all. I was David Cassidy in the Partridge Family on my front lawn in Burbank (enlisting the younger kids of the neighbourhood of course to play along), I was Marcia in The Brady Bunch… Everything I watched I wanted to do and be. I had a lot of fun being me, but I did catch a lot of flack for it!
We then moved to Channel Islands Harbor when I was going into the fourth grade. There I had to go to a school in Oxnard where they bussed a lot of kids in from “over the tracks.” Somehow my “un-coolness” reached a whole new level and I was beaten up after school almost every day - whole gangs of kids. Luckily, my parents got me into private school after a while, but I never stopped wanting the same thing out of life and I was never going to stop being me no matter how uncool it was at that young age.
In many ways, I see that as part of my development as a human, and I see that as part of my perseverance and adoration of people of all walks of life. I’ve travelled and adore studying people - and I refuse to be afraid of anyone or to compare myself - I just study them. I learn from them. I wonder how the various experiences in my life might feed a future role, and I learn from everyone I meet. My challenges in life led me to have so many layers that I just can’t wait to integrate those layers into roles.
5D) Have you ever visited or worked here in Scotland? (The drinks are on me if you do!)
TB) Ahahahaha! That is meant to be a joke, right?! Scotland is my sensitive spot because part of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter was meant to be filmed in Scotland! I was so excited as we had this amazing location we were going to and I had this amazing coat that was meant for sub-zero temperatures as part of my costuming (which I had to instead wear in almost 100 degree heat).
The skies opened and the rain poured in Southern California for a couple of weeks, and one day the Director said to me “My God it looks like Scotland right here!” I felt my stomach drop when I realised that the direction he was pointing meant the loss of my glorious trip to Scotland!
In a pouting mumble…”No I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Scotland…” (But I’ll take a rain check on that drink!)
5D) I seem to remember reading somewhere that you were a childhood sci-fi geek (join the club) - what were your particular obsessions?
TB) I was a huge Star Trek fan (thanks to my dad who would supply ample amounts of rocky road ice cream to me when the episodes came on - with chocolate sauce), and that led to the whole realm of possibilities: Star Wars, Logan’s Run was one of my favourites, Lost in Space, Planet of the Apes… the list can go on for miles. Basically, I loved the idea of possibilities and imagination all mixed into one.
I had a particular obsession of playing a bald painted character on Star Trek for many years, but that never materialized…
5D) What about horror films, are you a fan & would you see yourself appearing in that genre?
TB) I’ve done a couple of horror films, but never in the classic scream queen way. I’ve only been the smart/resolute character. In some ways that’s awesome, as I see how the scream queens get pigeon-holed in character. You see, I want to play the gamut and I have the most fun with the most difficult and challenging roles. I loved it when I did Rogue Warrior, and Director Neil Johnson said to me at one point after a scene “I don’t think any other actress could do that.” That’s the kind of work I live for. Give me the impossible, give me the arcs, give me something to bring to life that makes someone say “Oh my God.” Rinse and repeat.
5D) So Rogue Warrior has been getting all sorts of plaudits far and wide. How did you first become involved in the project?
TB) The Director wanted me to be a lead in his next film and presented me several scripts to read. One of them, Planet Crash, had a lot of elements that were appealing to me: grit, passion, physicality, and artificial intelligence. He kept re-writing the script over and over until it was something we had to bring to life. The layers and the complexity and the character were something I had never seen in Science Fiction before and I just had to bring it to life (remember the David Cassidy story here) - and I knew it would be the hardest thing I had ever done (and I love challenges.) I knew the commitment just in prep time would take me months and months of full-time work but it had every element of what I needed to do next.
TB) Rogue Warrior is a journey - a complicated, exciting, excruciating journey… The relationships are deep and multi-layered, every cast member is skilled and on point, most of the film is practical including the effects where possible (and most of the robots), the arcs and the curves of this film are very much a deep drama delved into a science fiction film - like you’ve never seen before in this genre. Whether you’re male or female (we’ve found out), you will relate with Sienna’s character: you will cheer for her, laugh with her (and at her), cry for her, have angst for her and revel in her. You will see what worlds are like that have been overcome by AI (not that hard to even imagine this day in age) - and you will see that in the end it is another beginning - just not what you expect.
5D) The role of Sienna that you play, apart from obviously being a sexy heroine, is also intelligent, tough and resourceful. Was this important to you not to play the cliched 'screaming blonde’?
TB) Absolutely and always. I’ve never been a screaming blonde. No thank you very much. I very much lead with my talent in everything that I do. What you look like just gets you in the door. A movie like Rogue Warrior (any movie to me actually) can’t be cast on looks. When you watch a movie, you have to be drawn into the character and that’s not a reality with looks. Remember here, you’re talking to a young girl that was a geek… and always will be.
5D) Hey, congratulations on picking up the Best actress award in Malibu West International Film Awards! What was the experience like?
TB) It’s always fantastic to be recognised for your work. It’s icing on the cake for a couple of days. I had just won Female Action Performer of the Year the month prior at Action on Film Festival, so I feel like two of the hardest things I did this year went recognised (within the same project). The best award I’ve had lately though is the feeling I had when the Premiere ended and I saw the reaction on everyone’s faces. When you work as hard at something as I do, that’s the true reward.
5D) A few days ago the exciting news was hearing that SONY has picked up ROGUE WARRIOR; & a franchise is planned together with a proposed to series - will that feature yourself?
TB) Absolutely! It’s a very exciting time in my life that I’ve worked decades for.
5D) So what does the future hold for Tracey Birdsall?
TB) I will work until I die. I will continue to work harder than most people around me and I will continue to pay off. I adore what I do, and I adore the training/character development/punishment. I might take a vacation at some point (it’s been a couple of years since vacation meant something other than gym training or SnapChat for 5 minutes!). I will continue trying to pay-it-forward, and I will continue being the best me that I can be - and hopefully entertaining everyone along the way. :)
I would like to give my sincere thanks once again to Tracey for giving me some of her time - as you can gather, she's a little bit busy at the moment.
You can find out more about Tracey Birdsall and Rogue Warrior at the following links;
Tracey's official Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE.
Her IMDB page RIGHT HERE
You can Tweet Tracey via her Twitter handle @traceybirdsall1