Natasha Henstridge is counting the minutes until freedom. The Canadian-born actress who now lives in the U.S., has been in quarantine for the mandatory 14 days before she can return to work on the set of the third season of Diggstown, a popular legal drama.
The statuesque former model, who made her film debut a little over a quarter-century ago in the hit sci-fi film franchise Species, is thrilled to get back into production on the Entertainment One series, which has aired in the U.S. on BET+, but is moving to Fox, where it will broadcast the first two seasons, as well as air the new one. Henstridge, who also starred alongside Bruce Willis in the hit heist comedy, The Whole Nine Yards and its sequel in the early 2000s, co-stars on the series opposite Vinessa Antoine (General Hospital), who plays a corporate attorney who decides to set up a legal-aid practice after a close relative dies. The series is created by Floyd Kane, whose produced other Canadian TV shows including the 2009 music drama, Soul.
Originally from Newfoundland, Henstridge began modeling at age 14 and subsequently appeared in TV commercials. At just 21, she was hand-picked to star in the lead role in the sci-fi actioner, Species, in which she played a genetically engineered alien-human hybrid who breaks out of the laboratory and is chased by scientists fearing what may happen if she reproduces. As Sil, she kills her sex partners after having her way with them. The film was a hit in 1995 and spawned a sequel in which she played an alternate version of the deadly creature, with a cameo in the third installment.
In her new film, Night Of The Sicario, Henstridge plays a completely empathetic human drawn into a horrific situation. As Taylor, she runs a financially struggling assisted-living facility on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. She’s barely holding it together as she and a nurse care for a handful of residents who are notable for having lived lives where they helped others in some way. With a hurricane bearing down on her old family mansion, Taylor comforts and tries to keep her elderly charges upbeat, while trying to figure out how to keep the business afloat. Making an already tough situation even more challenging, a DEA agent arrives with a wounded man and the man’s adolescent daughter. Turns out the man was supposed to testify against the leader of a Colombian drug cartel and was ambushed by unknown assailants as agents were transporting him to a safe house.
The DEA agent leaves before Taylor has a completely grasp of what’s going on. But soon discovers that the injured man—and well as his daughter—are still being pursued by assassins. With the power out and no phone service, Taylor and her surprisingly resourceful elderly residents do what they can to protect the girl and themselves from the relentless killers.
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Although an R-rated action movie loaded with violent fight scenes, Night Of The Sicario also has a strong faith-based element, as Taylor and her God-fearing residents look to the Almighty for guidance in their dire situation.
Henstridge spoke about playing the Everywoman heroine in the film, directed by Joth Riggs, a veteran second-unit director making his feature directorial debut. The film also stars Manny Perez (El Cantante), Costas Mandylor (Saw franchise) and Addison Kendall
Saban Films will release Night Of The Sicario in theaters April 16, and On Demand and Digital April 20.
Angela Dawson: What’s unusual about Night of the Sicario is that it’s an action movie but there’s also a faith-based element to it. Were you surprised by that mix of genres?
Henstridge: No. Funny that you bring that up because it wasn’t pronounced at all in the original script. Joth brought more of that in, and we talked about it a little bit, and I thought it was a great idea. Not only are faith-based movies doing really well, but for the particular scenarios that we were dealing with in the assisted-living home and everything that was going on, it just kind of made sense. It brought hope and a lot more meaning and hopefulness to the story. It’s genre-neutral.
Dawson: Your character, Taylor, is this “mother-hen” type caregiver at this financially struggling assisted-living facility during a natural disaster. Through this pandemic, people have been coping with a lot of stress regarding caregiving and money issues. So, do you think audiences will relate to Taylor’s predicament?
Henstridge: You’re right. There’s an ironic similarity to what we’ve all been going through. People have been drawn closer together and are trying to help each other out. In this case, they’re trapped in this big old house due to the approaching hurricane. They’re all under the same roof trying to get each other through the storm. So, yeah, it’s super-relevant to what we’ve all been going through right now.
Dawson: You’re no stranger to doing action movies, so were the scenes in which you go mano-a-mano with the bad guys come naturally to you?
Henstridge: I have done a lot of action in the past. You just have to dive in and get real with what you need to do; you can’t overthink it. You’ve just got to get in there. In this case, I have to say, I’ve had some thyroid issues in the past couple of years and had gained quite a bit of weight during (filming) which was unfortunate because it’s not what I wanted to present. But I really do like doing action scenes a lot; I can get into that. I love the physicality of acting. I like physical comedy as well, although a lot of people haven’t see me do much of it, but I have done it, and I’d like to do more of that stuff.
Dawson: Your co-star is this young actress, Addison Kendall, who plays the daughter of the man being transported to be the star witness in this federal trial. Can you talk about working with her?
Henstridge: Addison is just the greatest and sweetest and most adorable child actor. She’s a great girl and I really enjoyed working with her. I got really close to her mom. She was just a great kid. Sweet, good-natured and really into acting, music and all that stuff.
Anytime you work with kids, though, you have to consider their shorter attention spans. When you’re doing scenes together, you try to support each other. In this film, there are a lot of emotional scenes. It can be tricky getting into those scenes, into that headspace, and you want them to feel safe with you. I feel we really bonded in a lot of ways in those scenes, so it was a real pleasure to work with her.
Dawson: Your character, Taylor, shows the girl a hideaway room that contains a box of memorabilia from her children. Do you have a keepsake box with precious gifts or items from your childhood?
Henstridge: I do. I actually have a couple of things like that in my house. I used to have a hope chest when I was a young girl. That was a big thing up here (in Canada). My grandmother used to put things in there for things that I would unpack when I got married. My dad actually made it and we’d laugh and joke that it looked like a coffin. It didn’t look very hopeful at all.
But since then, I have boxes in my room where I keep little things. My grandfather passed away a while ago. I had put up some pictures in his hospital room when he wasn’t doing so well. After he passed away, I took those pictures back and put them and other things that he really loved in a box. So, yeah, I like those little mementos like rings and certain special (greeting) cards or things that people have made for me or have a lot of meaning to me. I’m a very sentimental person.
Dawson: Species kicked off your acting career with the first film in 1995. Do have special fond memories of making it?
Henstridge: I remember working with all of these brilliant actors and being so naïve, and being on a studio lot, and thinking, “This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life.” The idea that I’m going to be able to make one film in my life—I didn’t know if it was going to continue and I didn’t know if I’d ever get another job—but I was just so excited to be there with these wonderful actors like Ben Kingsley. I was so naïve, I didn’t know who he was then. I just showed up and did my read-through. It was just a super-special time and I’m so grateful for that. It changed the entire trajectory of my life.
There were lots of great moments—and some not-so-great moments. I was honored to work with Roger Donaldson, the director of the film, but he loves to do lots and lots of takes. I didn’t know what to do. There was one scene where we did 42 takes, and I was wondering why because I felt like I was doing the exact same thing every time. I wondered what I was doing wrong. Then I realized there are dozens of extras behind me so maybe something there went wrong or maybe the camera wasn’t where he wanted it. I was so green. But it was a great experience all the way around.
Dawson: How long will you be shooting Diggstown in Canada?
Henstridge: At least a couple of months working at least. And while I’m here, since I’ve completed my quarantine, I’ll be able to visit with my family. My brother lives up in Alberta and my mom and dad are in Newfoundland so I’ll spend another two or three weeks visiting family as well.