Sage Kristien is on a fast track to success as an actress with a wide range of talents in drama, comedy, and action roles for film and TV. She co-stars in the soon to be released thriller “Airtight” which was directed by Derek Purvis with cinematography by Sergei Franklin (“Reader” and “PS I Love You“). The film is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Rope” with a modern twist and Sage provides comic relief as a gold digging social climber.
Sage has embraced a typecast as the “beautiful bitch with a heart of gold“. Over the last year, she landed principal roles in “Deadly Sins” in the last two seasons of “Dates from Hell” on Investigation Discovery. She played an angelic lady in the pilot for “Nightmare Decoded” for BioChannel and a lead role in “Celebrity Close Calls“, as the country pop star Jewel at age 18, with Bobby Brown, Morgan Fairchild, and Elliot Yamin.
She has also played a Russian crow in a new Little Critter Apps entitled “Jack and the Beanstalk.” She was born with the drive and ambition that helped her to become a world renowned professional ice skater who emigrated from Moscow to NYC to model and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She is studying under Mary Boyer at MTB studios and Kung Fu under Sifu Chen who worked with Zoe Saldana for “Avatar”. Her experience as a professional skater has given her a unique gracefulness and strong focus to succeed as an actress. Sage recently phone in from New York City to share about growing up in Russia, her career so far and how important nature is to her.
TEN– Tell me about the movie ”Airtight” that you are in.
Sage Kristien– The project was done by Derek Purvis, a Golden Globe winner and has produced over 20 movies. He decided to take a Hitchcock film (“The Rope”) and cast a young gossip girl type of crowd rather than a slightly older cast. All the actors were theater-based actors and we did it in a very interesting way. We rehearsed the film as a play for little bit then did the movie in three days and was shot in one take. The director of photography was Sergei Franklin. My longest scene up until this film was eight pages and in this film my part was 67 pages. It was a very physical project and I’m very proud of myself that I did I have to know my lines but I also had to know it’s my placement…every inch of my face and where it had to be during every line. There were nine of us and of course, my character was wearing a skimpy outfit. Everybody was wearing winter clothes but me. For me it was a little bit more difficult because of my mic was taped around my leg with my mic box. We were shooting from 11 AM in the morning till 7 AM the next morning. Sometimes my leg would turn blue and then sometimes I have to dance and had to be very difficult for the sound that would screw up the sound. I did have a wonderful time and everyone was just so amazing on the set. They became my family during that time which happens during filming. It was a really, really cool project.
TEN– What made you decide to take up acting?
SK– I think it’s my personality. When I was two, I wanted to become an astronomer and by the time I was three I was like; “No, I want to be an actress. I would like to play all of the roles in the movies.” It never really went away, ya know. I went to theater school here in New York and started really doing it. I don’t mind working really hard in life in general. I had to work for everything I have. Something like that gives me energy and hopefully I get a chance to make a long career of it. That would be amazing and eventually give back in other areas.
TEN– Tell me about your roles in “Deadly Sins” and in “Dates from Hell” on the ID channel.
SK– In “Deadly Sins” I played a stripper but I didn’t do any nudity. I just wanted to do something risqué. It was a story about a lawyer who had a girlfriend but things started spinning out of control when he couldn’t pass the bar exam. He kind of loses it and starts killing people. It’s based on a true story. I had a small part in that movie. It was nicely done so I am happy with it. “Dates from Hell” I did two episodes. In one, I played a 911 operator who helps a young girl that was kidnapped. It was based on a true story and very emotionally intense. The second season brought me back as a wife of a friend of a woman who gets murdered. It keeps getting creepier and creepier by the second and it’s like very heavy stuff.
TEN– You’ve done a lot of acting so far in your career.
SK– A little bit. I’m trying to do more and I’m constantly conditioning and meeting people. So far I’m getting really good feedback.
TEN– Tell to me about you playing a young Jewel in “Celebrity Close Calls.”
SK– That was actually really fun. I was still in school so that was my first audition I ever went to. I went for something really small and I booked a lead right away, which was very flattering. Jewel had a liver disease when she was younger and she almost died. She was living in her car and this doctor literally saved her life. He gave her medication and help without any insurance. We were shooting in an abandoned hospital in Queens. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to an abandoned hospital but it’s creepy! The first part was fun. I had to throw up for a scene and this guy from security had to carry mushroom soup around in a cup. I had to take it in my mouth and throw it up. There was a guy carry mushroom soup around just for me! (Laughs) There were some scary moments in the end where it was just me and the assistant director being by ourselves in an abandoned hospital at night. We were walking down the dark hall and turned the corner and ran into somebody. Everybody screamed!
TEN– You’ve also done some voice overs for things like the “Little Critter” app.
SK– Yea, yea, it was done with one other person who does a lot of work with app and cartoons type of voiceovers. I played a Russian crow in “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The voiceovers actually are super, super fun as you get to act it out almost when you have a mic on. You get to be whoever you want to be.
TEN– You were actually born in Russia weren’t you?
SK– Yea! I was born in Moscow and I grew up in between there and here.
TEN– You seem to have just a slight Russian accent.
SK– Yea, yea, yea. I can make it thicker or I can take it off for certain parts. You see a lot of British actors do American accents. There certain dialects that I’m very comfortable with. I’m very comfortable with Eastern European dialects and I can make a much thicker I can do like a “Valley girl” well and others as well. Every dialectic takes some work so you have to study them and you learn how to do it. So far I have had time for those few.
TEN– How did you get into ice-skating and becoming a top-level world-class skater?
SK– I don’t skate professionally anymore but I still skate quite well. I don’t do triples anymore. I grew up in Russia and spending 6 to 9 hours a day on skating. I did my electives at school around my ice-skating. I had two hours of ballet, a few hours of practice in the gym and then six to nine hours of skating. It was a very strict schedule my whole childhood. It teaches you that nothing comes easy in life. I came to America by myself very young and that skating in my early childhood and into my teen years prepared me for working hard and making a home for myself.
TEN– You traveled over here at a very young age and you are by yourself. Did you just decide one day that you’re just coming to America? I mean, did you have friends or family that lived here?
SK– I came to study… I finished high school at 12 years old. I finished high school at of a young age and I came here to study and ended up staying and going to American Academy. I originally wanted to be here for just a year. Don’t get me wrong I love Russia and its home but so is the United States. There are places like New York where everybody is from somewhere else but yet they get along. I don’t know if I got lucky with meeting great people along the way but it has been an overall great experience. It wasn’t scary at all.
TEN– Tell me about you studying Kung Fu.
SK– I’m learning that as sort of that I have been thinking about for a long time a few years ago I started taking lessons from a really amazing kung Fu master. He is in his mid-50s the can jump super high like a real Shaolin teacher. For me, some of the advanced stuff was very easy because of the ice-skating background. Some of the high jumps and high kicks I just picked it up so quickly. And then of course, the basic punches needed a lot of work. It’s a really fun community in New York…in like a Chinatown space. There are some kids and some adults and some are architects and lawyers and movie producers and actors. They’re all kinds of people and they really get together and do it. Some of them are amazing. It’s a really fun way to spend time together and make friends. A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you can get confused and you spend your time in clubs or somewhere else which is fun but not necessarily what I enjoy. I try to do outdoor activities or take a dance class or take kung Fu class and then we all go to dinner afterwards. It’s a really fun way to get together. New York apartments are very small and you can’t really have a lot of people over so you go do something fun. I feel like I have more common with people like that.
TEN– A more positive crowd…
SK– Yes, especially if you act and you have those days where you get rejected, it’s nice to take your energy out in a Kung Fu class. You come out and you feel good.
TEN– How did you meet up with Victoria Pressly and Hype Inc?
SK– I met Victoria through a supermodel friend of mine. She came to my acting class and introduced me to Victoria.
TEN– What are your expectations of Hype Inc?
SK– I love to work and do the art part of this business but in the beginning, you really have to talk about yourself. I get a little shy about that. I don’t want to talk about myself; I want to do my work in my arts. The thing about Victoria and her talent is it helps me to get the business part aspect of my career. The thing about acting is it’s a business and I don’t mind attention but I’m not very great about sitting down and telling you in 5 seconds everything that I’m doing in my life.
TEN– Well you should be. You’re very talented and you should be able to sit down and be comfortable about sitting down and talking about yourself and your career.
SK– Thank you so much. I do talk about myself when I’m asked but I’m not the type of person that comes into the room and goes: “Let’s talk about myself now.”
TEN– I guess you’ve been typecast as “A beautiful bitch with a heart of gold.”
SK– Yea (Laughs) it’s the Russian thing. I don’t mind it because the more Russian in me… the more work for me! And this year if you look at people that’s made it really, really far like Al Pacino or Robert De Niro… the first 10-20 of the career they were playing very similar type roles. Eventually they got older and started branching out and doing all kinds of different things. Take Charlize Theron for example. Yes he played more than beautiful and lovely blonde and then in ”Monster” she really branched out and did something absolutely different and won an Oscar. It takes time to get that experience to do something else.
TEN– It’s kinda the same with you going from a blonde to brunette…
SK– I’m naturally blonde. I was talking to my agent it seems like the Russian women that are on TV a lot now seem to play a little bit of a bad girl…they are usually a brunette. You have a southern or beautiful girl next door who is a blonde haired, blue-eyed, American type. A Russian role usually calls for just the opposite. They are really fun roles to play.
TEN– A lot of the actresses who play Russian women play this sultry, sexy, seductive and powerful roles as well not just the spy roles.
SK– Yea, yea, yea.
TEN– I’m going to shift gears on you now. Please tell me something disturbing about yourself that you never revealed before in an interview.
SK– It’s actually a really, really great question but you caught me off guard. (In a very thick Russian accent) Recently, I went to Tanzania and I was 10 feet from two lions and I felt so much more comfortable than I feel in Times Square. Sometimes it is disturbing because I like animals more than people.
TEN– Were they full-grown male lions?
SK– There was actually two of them. At first we saw a female lion that is a little further away. But our driver drives by this big male. They’re so camouflaged in nature. At first we didn’t even see them. They were sleeping as we rode past. They are really beautiful animals. Nature is really; really beautiful. I hope that humans will take care of it. Unfortunately a lot of things are dying out.
I want to thank Sage for taking the time to share and Victoria Pressly/Hype Inc. for another fun interview