16 Jun Kate Lyn Sheil on “Sun Don’t Shine,” “Green”
I had acted in high school and it was obviously what I wanted to do, but I think I really started to learn how to act when I went to Lee Strasberg. - Kate Lyn Sheil
Some actors have trouble making more than a few feature films in the span of two years. Kate Lyn Sheil has made 16 of them, and has seven projects currently in post-production. Not only is Sheil one of the most prolific artists of her generation, she’s also one of the most electrifying. In picture after picture, she’s displayed the radiance of a young Meryl Streep and the fearlessness of a Cassavetes-era Gena Rowlands.
Her latest role is in Amy Seimetz’s vividly impressionistic crime drama, “Sun Don’t Shine,” which explores the fractured bond of a couple on the run. Sheil and Kentucker Audley portray the pair of troubled lovers who desperately attempt to evade the eye of cops in the Florida backwoods. In this exclusive interview, Sheil chats with Indie Outlook about her extraordinary career, her key collaborators and her first major venture into screenwriting.
Q: You’ve appeared in 16 feature films over the last two years. So naturally, my first question is, how have you been able to handle them all?
A: I don’t know. [laughs] I’m glad that you think I did handle them. Once you get to a movie set, it’s a very immersive experience and so much of acting is reacting to your surroundings. Each of these films is a different experience, and so for me, I feel that if you’re present as an actor, that helps each performance to be a little bit unique and specific to the environment in which you’re making the film. Then there’s the work that the actor does beforehand, the individual stuff that you do in your room by yourself. I want to have more time to do my character work and legwork as an actor before I get to the set. I’m proud of all of the movies that I’ve done in the past, but now I’d like to experiment with taking quite a bit of time working on each role.
Q: Have your classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute served as a major influence on your approach to acting?
A: They completely formed my sense of identity as an actor. The Lee Strasberg school and the way that I approach acting now is basically inseparable. I wish that I were a more disciplined person, and I’m trying to figure out how to bring more of that into my life. I had acted in high school and it was obviously what I wanted to do, but I think I really started to learn how to act when I went to Lee Strasberg. There are so many incredibly talented actors who never went to acting school, but for me, it was extremely informative and helpful.
Q: The first feature you appeared in was 2009’s “Impolex,” directed by Alex Ross Perry, whom you’ve subsequently worked with on 2011’s acclaimed “The Color Wheel” and the upcoming HBO series, “The Traditions.” Has that collaboration been instrumental in your development as an actress?
A: Yeah, I feel like we grew up together. I’ve known Alex since we were about 19, but it seems like so much longer than that. I feel like we went to grammar school together or something. We met at Kim’s Video where we both worked, and we talked about our love and consumption of movies. When Alex was making his first feature, he asked me to be in it, which made me so excited. It was the first film for both of us, as well as for our friend Sean [Price Williams], who has been Alex’s cinematographer ever since. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I’m just so proud of Alex. He’s always been extremely talented, but I think he’s getting better and better. We shot “The Traditions” and are in the process of editing it now. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to be that comfortable or free of nerves, since Sean and Alex are such good friends of mine. The first job that I have on a set is to get over how nervous I feel, and that job was taken away on “The Traditions.”
Kate Lyn Sheil is an alumna of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute®. Learn more about the programs and classes available here. Apply here.