30th July 2021
Silver Dress: Abigail Love / Animal Print Heels: Karen's Own
Photography: Owen James Vincent
Styling: Steve Vyse
Clothes: Abigail Love
Make Up: Jo Sugar using Revolution Pro
Hair: Anthea Hudson
Styling Assistant: Ann Banrigh
Make Up Artist Assistant: Rita Nieddu
Words: Shane Ramdhany
Venue: Near & Far Camden
ReVamp: The Inner Screen’s lead writer, Shane Ramdhany, joins the warm, energetic Karen Bryson, star of Shameless and Black Narcissus, for an interview in which we discuss her recent role in Zack’s Snyder’s Justice League as well as her thoughts on what defines the most meaningful roles in modern entertainment.
Dress: Abigail Love / Heels: Public Desire / Earrings: Farrow Low
Describe your experience working under the direction of Zack Snyder.
Karen: Zack is amazing and welcomed me very quickly. Zack has loved comic book movies his whole life and I think it’s palpable in the Snyder Cut. You can see the attention to detail, what he wanted to put out there, what he knows and balancing the needs of people who have read these comics their whole life versus newcomers. Zack has done an excellent job. I love a story that is about good versus evil, it gives me goosebumps.
Shane: It is indeed clear that Zack has been a longtime fan of the comics and this shines through in his work. When Zack had to leave the film due to his unfortunate circumstances, Joss Whedon stepped in and you could almost exactly pinpoint which scenes were Joss’s and which were Zack’s. In the context of this franchise, Joss’s vision, depicted in his scenes, felt mostly jarring because this was not Zack’s vision. When I saw Joss’s version, I didn’t feel a connection to Ray Fisher’s character. This completely changed when I watched the Snyder Cut, which is tremendously better, as his story was more fleshed out due to depth in its writing as well as yours and Ray’s excellent performances.
What was your experience like working alongside Ray Fisher?
K: What was really nuts was meeting Ray. I was really nervous. In 20 years of acting, I have never done a movie of this kind of magnitude. He walked to the trailer and he said “Hi,” and I looked at him and said, “I am playing your Mom.” At this point, he looked at me, smiled and gave me a big hug. At that moment, I knew we would (claps twice). We had only a few scenes to tell a story and we could not have accomplished it if it wasn’t for that strong chemistry. Ray is a very intellectual actor that also works from the heart. I hope to work with him again someday, I am going to put it out there in the universe. He is amazing, just brilliant. I feel so lucky because we are now great friends.
Where did you draw the most inspiration from with your performance of 'Justice League'’s Elinor Stone?
K: You know what, it was simply in the writing. That’s how good Zack’s script was. Zack was probably unaware that he picked two actors that would get on in such a way. You can’t fake chemistry, it was there the moment I met Ray. Zack saw this chemistry and gave us room to play with it and that I really appreciated.
S: The measure of a good director is the ability to take control at the right moments but also allow their actors and actresses to have room for creative freedom. I saw this freedom in the chemistry of the scene where Victor and Elinor are driving together. There was just this feeling of sincerity, it was clear that you and Ray had a natural connection that was simply unparalleled.
What most resonated with you following your experience with Justice League?
K: You need to give your all from the top. This was a big movie, but you have to forget that. It is still the same storytelling as any theater production. As long as my heart and my head are engaged, the story will be truthful regardless of the size of the platform. If I have been given a role in that storytelling, you are going to get my heart.
S: That is an excellent point. The size of a film is not a measure of its quality. There have been movies both big and small, in context of production values, that have not succeeded in storytelling.
Jumpsuit: Abigail Love
What types of roles are you most drawn to?
K: I like a good story that has not been touched on before. In the advent of movements such as #Metoo, we are now drawn to stories that focus on underrepresented voices. I want to play those roles and be a part of that. I have always tried to avoid picking stereotypical roles. I am not going to be “that black girl,” in a movie. Any role that smells of stereotypes and doesn’t represent where we are in terms of moving forward is not the role for me. Some may say that this may have stunted my growth as an actress but I was not going to be that girl. I would rather work in a supermarket packing shelves my whole life than take on a stereotypical role. I would have felt embarrassed with myself, regardless of the amount money that may be involved.
S: The bottom line is that you are not willing to sell your soul for any one performance, which speaks to your passion for the medium. The rise in the underrepresented platforms is indeed continuing to grow and it is a very exciting time for these unheard voices.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
K: I just landed something but I can’t give any specifics at this time. The character is amazing, a really big (story) arc life-wise.
S: Would you say that it falls into that category of roles you are drawn to?
K: Yes it does, I am very passionate about interesting women. Again, I try to avoid stereotypes such as that of the “Angry Black Woman.” What that says to me is that I am not allowed to be passionate without being judged. I am not allowed to raise my voice without the risk of being labeled. Previously, we have only seen actors and actresses of color in stereotypical roles, such as a story regarding gangs with an all Black cast. What is happening in the industry now is that they are using people of all colors to tell otherwise ordinary stories that you would typically see with an all white, Caucasian cast. This is truly amazing, and it’s what moves diversity forward. These are the stories I love to tell.