Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview: Crystal Allen on Lacrosse, Superman and Storms

Crystal Allen has had to deal with her share of dangerous snakes. As the star of “Anaconda III” and “Anacondas: Trail of Blood,” she battled literal snakes, and as a featured guest star on “Desperate Housewives” a few years back, she had to handle snakes of a different sort. But with her current project, Crystal leaves all that danger behind. In “Crooked Arrows” — which also stars Brandon Routh and hits the big screen this weekend (check your local listings) — Crystal is a teacher at a school for Native American children, and Brandon comes on board as the lacrosse coach. I spoke with Crystal recently, and she told me all about the movie and what it was like working with the Man of Steel.

Celebrity Extra: Looking at your resume, it seems you’re always working. Do you have time for fun, or is your work part of your fun?

Crystal Allen: It really is — I love working. It’s so fun. When I’m working, I’m so happy. When I’m on location, I wake up every morning and I’m like, “Ah. I’m on set.” That’s a good feeling. But then you work a lot and then you’re like, “OK, I need a break.” You enjoy the time off too.

It was great working on “Crooked Arrows.” We filmed it outside Boston. We filmed it around the prep schools there because it’s about lacrosse. I learned a little bit about lacrosse. The first couple of weeks was all about filming the lacrosse sequences, and then the last three weeks were pretty much our time to really get in there and film the movie, do the acting part of it. It was fun just to be with kids who have never been on a set before. They hired the best lacrosse players in the world to portray the players in the movie.

CE: Can you tell me a little about the movie?

CA: It’s about a guy, Joe Logan, played by Brandon Routh. He’s half Native American, and he is into opening casinos and making money. His father convinces him that he needs to get back to his roots. They ask him to coach at this lacrosse prep school of Native American kids. He takes the opportunity but is sort of not really into it at first. He’s kind of busy with other things, and his heart’s not in it. As the movie progresses, these kids change his outlook about getting back to his roots, and he really tries to help them win the championship. It’s kind of like “Bad News Bears” meets “The Mighty Ducks.”

It’s cute, but it’s not just a kid’s movie. And there hasn’t been a story about lacrosse — there’ve been movies about football and baseball, but not lacrosse.

CE: What is the connection between your character, Julie Gifford, and Brandon’s Joe?

CA: We were kind of high-school sweethearts. I work at the school as a teacher, and we reconnect there, but I give him a hard time. I challenge him throughout the movie. I think people are really going to enjoy it. It’s a spiritual movie. I felt it when I was working on it. It was a great opportunity to be on a movie I feel really strongly and spiritually about.

CE: What was it like working with Superman?

CA: He’s very professional. He’s worked hard to get where he’s gotten to be. He’s such a nice guy, and he’s got such a presence on film. I was watching some of the takes, and he just really shines and he’s really moving. I’m excited for him to have this role, because his character really grows, and he was great to work with. We had great chemistry on screen, and he’s just a fun guy.

CE: Backing up a bit, tell me how you got your start. Had you always wanted to be an actress, or was it something that just sort of evolved?

CA: I actually started out as a dancer. I was in ballet and jazz as a kid, I competed, and I went to ballet school — the Joffrey Ballet School (in New York). I guess it wasn’t until I started working as a professional dancer and traveling — I think I was either modeling or doing an interview or something, and somebody had asked me to test for a part. I just kind of fell into it. Then I started going to school at Lee Strasberg in New York and studying theater. 

I think I just do it because I’ve always chosen the most competitive and most difficult careers — that’s kind of all I know. Being a dancer is the same thing. You’re auditioning. You’re working really hard to achieve that goal as an artist. With modeling, you’re auditioning. You’re putting yourself out there. So acting was just another venue, but the most difficult one to actually achieve and to actually work because it’s much more cutthroat. But I was used to it because I had already been auditioning through dance and modeling so I knew that aspect of it.

CE: You have a nice working relationship with the Syfy channel. You've done a couple of "Anaconda" movies, and you have another original Syfy movie called "Ghost Storm." Tell me about that movie.
CA: "Ghost Storm" is an action movie — and since I’d done a couple of them, I knew the formula. I play a doctor, a meteorologist, and she discovers these strange phenomena going on. It’s a supernatural energy that isn’t connected with the storm and it starts killing people. It’s one of those kind of sci-fi kind of crazy films. I saw some of the CGI for it, and it looks really good. I’ve done a couple, and the CGI wasn’t as good as this one.

Carlos Bernard was great in it. I play Carlos’ ex-wife, and we merge back together throughout the movie as we chase the storm with our daughter. It’s an action film, so we were running and running and chasing and punching. It was fun. It was definitely a fun movie, and being up in Canada and filming in Vancouver was so gorgeous. I just love being home and being around the lakes and the mountains. It’s really beautifully shot, filmed just outside Vancouver.

CE: And I think it's great that you get to portray all of these strong women characters; those must be fun for you to play.

CA: You're right — those characters are fun to play and they are strong, and I seem to get those kind of roles a lot I guess because I’m tough. I’m just tough after being in this movie. 

CE: And every day you're probably getting quite a workout, filming all of those action sequences.

CA: Oh yeah. And that’s where the dancing comes in, because dancing is very similar to fighting — the chorography part of it — so I was able to pick up. I did all my own stunts. The kickboxing stuff and the choreography of the fights were really fun. I love filming that kind of stuff. It makes me keep myself in better shape and eat better when I'm filming those kinds of movies.

CE: So when you're not on a movie set where you are kicking serious butt, how do you stay in such great shape?

CA: I don’t crazy-exercise every day — I hike, and I go to kickboxing classes. I like going to classes, but I’m not like ridiculous about it. I meditate, and I like to walk a lot. I like to walk around town. I live in an area where I can walk everywhere. I take care of my skin. I try to stay out of the sun, and I clean my face every night. My mother taught me to do that since I was a little girl. And I get plenty of sleep.

I also make sure I have time for hobbies. I love cooking, and I do a lot of dinner parties for, like, 20 people. I’ll start cooking for two days, and I won’t stop, and then I’ll have this big dinner party and have all my friends over for dinner. It will be an elaborate scene, like Indian night or Greek night or something. I’ve got that foodie following on Twitter as well (

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