Take one look at her bio and you see that Sascha Knopf keeps busy, and she has since she started her career in Hollywood. A product of Long Island, Knopf says she wasn’t cool, wasn’t a nerd, and wasn’t a jock. “I guess I’ve just always been an “artist” of sorts,” she explains. “Maybe just a bit off. On top of that I had a pretty colorful family to say the least. If you took the Sopranos and made them Jewish, without the killing and just the huge personalities, you would have my family.”
Recently SOAK took the time to catch up with Sascha to talk about her latest film Expiration Date and her other upcoming projects.
SOAK: So you are working on a few things right now and have a few projects coming out – tell me about the projects, the favorite ones?
Sascha Knopf: Well, I’m really excited about the premiere of Expiration Date, which recently took place in LA. We had it at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and we’re the first modern film to ever show there. A company called Cinespia has been doing these cemetery screenings for about five years, showing classic films every Saturday night on the lawn at the cemetery. It is like going to a “civilized” rock concert or perhaps what a drive-in movie was like (without the cars). I really love this film and I am so excited to finally share it with my friends in LA. Expiration Date is being compared to the feel of the cult classic, Harold and Maude. I like to say it is like that film, crossed with Garden State, if you can imagine that.
I was fortunate enough to recently work with Christian Slater, on what I feel might be one of his most memorable performances to date, in a film called He Was A Quiet Man. I haven’t seen the film yet, as it is still in post-production, but it was a great script and a terrific cast, also starring William H. Macy and Elisha Cuthbert.
Another film that I am the lead in is a quirky horror film, kind of with the feel of a good 80’s film and solid acting. The film is called, Death By Engagement, and also stars Christa Campbell, Julian Berlin and Iyari Limon from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and several other really hot, talented actors.
I just signed on to play one of the three angels in an extremely exciting new project called The Star Walkers. It’s based on an upcoming book and reminds me a lot of Star Wars, and the game Dungeons & Dragons for some reason. The creator, G.K. Holland, has done and is doing, an extensive amount of biblical and mathematical research, some of which you can get a glimpse of on the website, thestarwalkers.com. It is going to be a long process where there will be a web series first, then a TV show and then a feature, which should take a while due to the special effects, but I’m looking forward to the process. In addition to that I have signed on to shoot a drama called, A House Divided, which will begin lensing in February with a very talented young director, Tawan Bazemore.
SOAK: What is the best experience you have had as an actor?
Sascha: I would have to say the best experience so far for me was working on Expiration Date. The script was so well written and the character that I played, “Bessie” was someone I really wanted to bring life. It was a challenge for me because of many of the issues that “Bessie” deals with were so fresh for me at the time. My brother Paul was killed in a small plane crash on December 20, 2002 and much of the film is shot at a cemetery and other places dealing with death and dying. There was one scene that I was actually inside a coffin. It was the display model, but it was still really rough. I was able to use my grief over my brother to make what the director says, an “annoying character” likeable. I believe, because I made her “real.” Everyone on the film, in addition to my joy in playing the role, wanted to be there…and I really fell madly in love with Seattle, where we shot.
SOAK: What music do you listen to?
Sascha: An eclectic mix… Right now, in my car, I still don’t have my iPod, I have a CD of chants/songs from the Indian Saint/Guru AMMA (for enjoyment, relaxation and the spiritual essence), then I have Gnarls Barkley, a demo of my friend Tatiana Nicole (a young Chistina Aguillera with a more soulful vibe), James Taylor, and a mix CD that I put together for driving.
SOAK: What do you look for in projects that you work on?
Sascha: I look for well-written scripts and enthusiastic directors and producers that I connect with. If I don’t feel like I will work well with the creators of the project, really, what’s the point? Especially on an independent film, you need to work as collaborators. If that doesn’t happen, the film will go straight to video! At this point in my life and career, that is the most important thing to do, because I want to do it and to work with people who see it that way as well.
SOAK: How did you get started as an actor?
Sascha: I wanted to be an actor as a kid, but my parents weren’t too hip to the idea. When I was about 10, I went to see an agent, who I sang, danced and read for, who finally crushed me by telling me I was ‘too ethnic looking.” I didn’t pursue it until college, when I realized that I had no other choice. It is what makes me happy.
SOAK: Where are you from and how has that served you well in your career?
Sascha: I am from Long Island, NY. I guess the proximity to New York City served me well. I saw a lot of Broadway and had access to very good dance classes growing up. At first, I really wanted to be a ballerina. But not according to my plan, I developed hips and breasts, which don’t really “work” with the ideal of a dancer’s frame.
When I realized my “calling” after freshman year at college, I transferred to NYU for acting. It was good to be close to my family and still in school. New York is an excellent place to start for an actor. The best teachers are out of New York, because they are rooted in the theater and I was lucky enough to study with a few of the best, like Susan Batson and Sally Johnson.
SOAK: How did where you were raised affect who you are right now?
Sascha: Growing up in Long Island wasn’t the best experience for me. In fact, I begged my parents to send me to boarding school throughout my childhood. It was like growing up in Beverly Hills, only without the celebrities, and we just didn’t have as much as everyone else as a kid. I always felt like I was a little bit on the outside looking in and I was never really a part of any of the “cliques” and only had a few friends. I just didn’t really conform to any one group. I guess I owe my determination to become a strong, independent woman to the folks in Long Island, whom I never felt supported by or a part of. I owe my distinct personality to my family, without which I think I would be nothing more than “another actress in Hollywood.” They’ve given me depth and joy, and a little bit of grief in there as well.
SOAK: What would you be doing if you weren’t an actor?
Sascha: If I weren’t an actor, I would be a full time photographer or a veterinarian. I work as a photographer now and it is almost as fulfilling to me as acting at times. I love being creative and I really love the “directing” part of photography. I adore animals and have never been without a pet. Animals give unconditional love.
SOAK: What challenges do you find being an actor?
Sascha: The highs and lows in this kind of life are extremely hard to deal with. When you get a role or when you’re working on a project, everything is great, but even while you’re doing it, you’re worried about when and if the next job will come. It’s hard to feel that you don’t have much control over your career as well. We have agents and managers and publicists, and we leave it in their hands for the most part. Recently, I’ve been trying to be more proactive about things.
SOAK: Who in your life has been essential to your success?
Sascha: My brother - his life and death is my inspiration.
SOAK: What do you do for fun when you are not working?
Sascha: I “geek” out on the computer, take pictures, read, watch “Project Runway” and listen to Tweaker.
SOAK: What motivates you in your life?
Sascha: Collaboration and creativity motivates me. I just want to tell stories that mean something to at least one person…to touch someone’s life. That motivates me. I hope to be a good role model for my nieces and nephew, whom I adore, and make my brother proud.
SOAK: Where do you want to be in five years?
Sascha: I really don’t know. I hope to be healthy and hopefully the people I love are all still here and healthy and happy as well.
SOAK: Tell me something about you that no one else knows?
Sascha: I hate my hands—we retouched them a ton. I guess I work out too much, or maybe it’s all the typing on the computer! They’re soooooo veiny!
Photography by David Chen & Steve Chen
Styling by Mildred Brignoni
Makeup by Bonni Flowers
Hair by Karen Koenig
Shot at The Sunset Villa in Hollywood Hills, CA