After starring in superhero tentpoles BATMAN VS SUPERMAN and MAN OF STEEL, actress Christina Wren signed to play a CPU wizard in murder mystery series L.A MACABRE. As the series hits Amazon Prime, we caught up with the versatile actress to get the lowdown on the series.
GVN: When did your love of acting begin Christina?
Christina: When I was super small I would watch the kids on Sesame Street or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with such an ache in my heart, wishing I could do what they were doing. At the time, I figured it was a thing all kids craved, like candy or going to the toy store, but not something I’d ever have a chance to do. When I was in second grade I saw a kids’ production of Godspell and had to white-knuckle hold onto my seat to keep myself from running up on stage. My mom asked me afterwards if it was something I’d like to do and I couldn’t believe she was for real. She says she had never seen me so focused on anything before. I started in a local children’s theatre in third grade and the love has only grown since.
And I bet, growing up, you never expected to be sharing the screen with… Superman and Batman!?
Ummmm, no! Superman was such an icon in our household. My mom used to safety pin towels to our shirts and sing the John Williams theme while we’d run around the yard. She made my brother this amazing full-body Superman costume he’d come home and wear every day after school and I was pretty jealous. I watched probably every episode of Lois and Clark, any Superman movie that came out made me feel sentimental no matter the public response. So, when I found out the “Untitled Warner Brothers Project” I had auditioned for was Superman, I uh, I cried.
Okay, how amazing was that experience!?
So amazing! For real. I learned so much from watching the masters at work. Man of Steel was the biggest set I had been on and I was pretty nervous that I’d make a total fool of myself. That cast and crew welcomed me in with such warmth and generosity. I clearly had the shortest resume of anyone in the room yet I felt embraced as part of the ensemble. I was on set for three weeks and got to know the people I was lucky enough to work with. Henry Cavill wasn’t as famous yet so could kinda sneak in and out of places and it was the end of the shoot so by the last week it was him, my now dear friend Harry Lennix, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff and a bunch of Navy Seals who played alongside of us going out every night in these small town dives. Amy Adams joined us a few times, as well. She’s a delightful human being. I love watching her work. Those are fun memories.
And working with Zack Snyder?
There aren’t enough good things to say about working with Zack. He is warm and fun, incredibly smart, a master at his craft. Any time I get a call from him, I know I am going to have a wonderful experience and I am so grateful he keeps calling. Each shoot I’ve gotten to play on with him has been a real bright spot in my journey.
You weren’t involved in “Justice League” – – but what’s your take on the longer, all-new cut that Zack is putting together for HBO?
I am so very excited! It is well deserved and I really can’t wait to see it! The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was awesome to watch grow. It’s so great that the we’re all going to get to see it as it was meant to be.
Did doors open for you as a result of playing that part?
I got my first agent thanks to an introduction from the casting director, the incredibly lovely Kristy Carlson. I got cast in Man of Steel off a role I played in a non-union hummus commercial and a self-taped audition so it was my first time getting in the room in front of casting directors, reading pilots and studio scripts, learning how the business really works. It also just legitimized me in other peoples’ eyes. People love to ask an actor, “What have I seen you in?” A lot of the roles I’ve played were straight offered to me by the directors and I know playing Farris is what piqued their interest.
The role you play in “L.A Macabre” is largely different though! What appealed to you about playing her?
As an actor, my dream is to play as many “largely different” characters as directors are willing to trust me with! I loved playing JP. She’s a master in her work, she’s courageous, a little sassy, has a generous spirit and will risk her own comfort and safety to fight for those around her. She’s balanced. A lot of roles for women are so emotionally weakened by their relationship with a man or so cold they can’t keep a relationship with a man. JP’s connection with Ryan means something to her without making her smaller in his presence or taking away from her overall purpose. I loved learning her technical jargon, I loved the way she playfully messes with Ryan and ruffles his feathers. And then I got to go deeper at the end of Season One and especially in Season Two. I appreciated Dan writing me those opportunities. The physical transformations in Season Two were also fun to play – Malia did a great job with my make-up in a variety of scenarios as I transformed in health and also into a character of sorts that JP herself takes on.
I imagine it was quite a different experience too -going from a huge studio production to a more intimate, independent production?
You know, that’s really been my whole career and I love it. I love the intimacy of indie sets. I love the energy of big sets. I love the ways collaborations transform from crew to crew. My husband, Demetrius, and I also have a small production company, Two Kids with a Camera, and our first indie feature, Saudade? Is what led to my audition for the hummus commercial that Zack Snyder saw and cast me from. These parts of my journey are fully intertwined and I will always have a soft spot for indie shoots.
Is it all about the character for you?
It’s about the character. It’s about the script. It’s about the director. I consider as best as I can what it is that I will be contributing to in terms of messages going out into the world and what the experience of the actual process will be. I love what I do and want to say yes as much as possible!
Did you have a backstory for your character that wasn’t necessarily on the page?
I do but that stays with me as only Dan gets to write anything public about this world J.
Are there any other TV shows on the air that you’d say “L.A Macabre” is reminiscent of?
Oh, interesting. Hm..Something that struck me about LA Macabre from the start was that it explored a world I hadn’t seen dug into in that way. These old LA cults had kind of faded out of popular view for a while. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood explored it and I saw some similarities for sure in the culture of the culty kids from that generation to Dan’s. But I think Dan’s world and storytelling style is distinct and that makes it very cool. It’s a detailed, twisted, researched, painstakingly written world. I remember him plopping down the massive Season Two scripts – the size of three features – on the table at one point and talking about the very small group of people he had invited in to give him notes. He took them so seriously and would weave his rewrites in start to finish while he also protected his vision from being clouded – that’s a tough balance to find for yourself as a writer. He’s poured himself into the world of underground cults for years and so could write it in a way that comes across as really natural. I first read it and thought, “Oh sh*t, are all the baristas and waitresses in the valley getting lured into cults?!” It feels so possible and also fresh and surprising. I was thrilled to get to play in that world.
DC Fanboy! Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time. Favorite movies are Man of Steel, Goonies, Back To the Future