Interview: Nora Zehetner & Kip Pardue from Princess

“Princess” is a fairytale romance between William, a young man who is lost in life, and the beautiful Princess Ithaca who is cloaked in a mystery that will soon surround William. Their chance meeting at her castle starts them on a journey of intrigue and romance when their two worlds collide as they help one another find their true calling. Nora Zehetner (“Heroes,” “Everwood”) and Kip Pardue (“Remember the Titans”) star in “Princess.” The two-hour original movie will premiere SUNDAY, APRIL 20 (8:00-10:00p.m., ET), on ABC Family.

We had the honor of sitting down with Nora and Kip to talk about Princess as well as their other upcoming projects. Here’s what they had to say:

Could you just describe a little bit about what Princess is going to be about? What do fans have to look forward to?

N. Zehetner: Kip is very good at this. He went to Yale, he’s very smart, and so I’m going to let him do it.

K. Pardue: Well I think as the title suggests Princess is a bit of a fairytale and it’s more of a modern fairytale. And that’s something that, I think, drew both Nora and I to the project and hopefully viewers will respond to as well, in the idea that this is a story that is set very much in our world, but it crosses over into the fairytale world pretty seamlessly. Nora plays Princess Ithaca, who is a person who is misunderstood, to say the least, and she lives in a castle on the hill in this kind of idyllic space. My character, William, enters her life by chance actually. And as he enters into her life he realizes that he’s going to play a much bigger role and finds out that Princess Ithaca really does have powers beyond the mere mortals that most of us are. It ends up being this tale of saving mythological creatures from certain disaster, and Princess Ithaca needs William’s help to make the transition to the next princess.

You mentioned that there’s a saving of mythological creatures, is there a lot of CGI in this movie as well intermingled with the real acting?

K. Pardue: There is quite a bit of visual effects, and that was something that when you see the movie you’ll be kind of blown away at the amount of personality and life that all of the visual effects have in this film for such a small budget, I think. When you read something like this as an actor you kind of wonder what will be around you and how they’re going to fill in these gaps. And I think that the team that ABC Family and Radium put together to make the visual effects is just … they did a fantastic job. And some of these creatures will blow your mind; I mean they’re really fantastic. I think Nora and I both, and I guess she can say this too, had a tough time … there’s a lot of green screen in …

N. Zehetner: Acting with golf balls.

K. Pardue: Yes, exactly. Tennis balls on the end of sticks.

N. Zehetner: Yes, tennis balls, right.

K. Pardue: It’s a little bit tough to have to use your imagination so vividly, I think. But the final product is really quite amazing.

What was the most challenging part about these roles was for you?

N. Zehetner: For me it was just trying to balance playing this princess with the fact that it is kind of set in modern day and how far do you take that. And it was just completely different than anything I’ve ever done, which was really fun for me. And I guess aside from that it was figuring out how to move in these enormous dresses and acting with tennis balls. So luckily I got to be knocked out for half of that, Kip got more of that than me.

K. Pardue: For me it was definitely the visual effects elements of this movie were pretty strenuous. I mean there’s a fight towards the end of the movie where my character has to be picked up by a three-headed dragon, which is called a hydra. And the hydra, of course, wasn’t there on the day that we shot, I guess he was booked or something, so that was a bit of a strain. Any time you’re doing anything against that much green screen it becomes a bit of a lesson in frustration, I think, as an actor. I mean you have to hope that they’re going to make you look reasonable.

How did it feel to basically get to play a part in a Disney fairytale?

N. Zehetner: It was wonderful for me. I had so much fun. When they sent me the script and it was called it Princess, I was like, please let it be about a real princess. And I read it and it was and I was so excited and I immediately kind of got thrown into this series of fittings where they were building all these dresses on me. And it was just kind of an amazing thing to go into my trailer in the morning in sweats and come out in these gowns with tiaras and masses of hair and it was kind of a fairytale, a little girl’s dream. It was lovely.

K. Pardue: I think, for sure, Nora kind of … I mean she would walk on the set and you just knew that these are going to end up in Toys ‘R Us’s across the country, and I mean Disney has a new kind of iconic figure. She looked just like something out of a cartoon, and it was really fun to watch and I’m glad that I got to be a part of that.

I know Princess is obviously a strong fantasy-based movie and I know Nora has been in Heroes as well. I was wondering what you two’s feelings are toward sci-fi and fantasy are in general, like do you have any favorite movies, TV shows or books that you follow in sci-fi or fantasy?

N. Zehetner: I love Harry Potter. I read all of them. I went home for Christmas one year and I was like, what’s this Harry Potter all about and I bought one of them and read it in a couple of hours and then had to go and buy the whole series. Like on Christmas Day I was trying to find a store that was open that sold Harry Potter books, so that I could complete the series. And I didn’t talk to anybody the whole time I was home. My family probably wasn’t too pleased.

K. Pardue: I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but at the same time I have a few … you know I think everyone is kind of a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 … that’s more my vein if I had to pick a science fiction that I would respond to, it would be kind of the pontifications on the future.

N. Zehetner: You’re too high-brow. I said Harry Potter.

K. Pardue: I know, I was going to say, I went through a period a couple of years ago when Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, however many years ago that was.

N. Zehetner: I love Lord of the Rings.

K. Pardue: When they were both coming out in theaters and I thought, “Man I need to read these.” I got through about 60 pages of Harry Potter and just kind of gave up, sorry. And then Lord of the Rings just didn’t have the same magic as it did when I was 14. I don’t know … and everybody loves Battlestar Galactica and I haven’t gotten into it yet. I feel like maybe that’s a good Netflix thing. I don’t know.

Do you guys have any funny anecdotes or stories from the set that you could share?

K. Pardue: I’m sure Nora will embarrass me about the dancing situation.

N. Zehetner: No, I wasn’t going to. I was going to let you go for it. Well actually we went to a dance lesson, or dance rehearsal, because there is this big choreographed dancing, which was delightful for me, I was thrilled, because I took dance when I was younger, ballet. And so just to be in a dance studio was really fun. Kip was not as pleased to spend the day in a rehearsal studio learning ballroom dancing. And I had my hoopskirt inside out, is what I realized happened, so it didn’t really flow properly. So I was constantly tripping in rehearsal until somebody told me I had it inside out, and I felt pretty silly.

K. Pardue: Yes, which is a great way to start … as it is, I’m stepping on Nora’s feet and then on Nora’s dress.

N. Zehetner: I didn’t say that. I said I was tripping on myself.

K. Pardue: I know. But I’m just saying, I’m stepping on …

N. Zehetner: He actually did it, he was tripping on my skirt.

K. Pardue: I’m tripping on her skirt even if it’s the right way. So when it’s the wrong way I trip on it even more. And Nora is a very delicate flower and I’m quite big and lumbering and my feet tend to get in the way of her. She’s very small and sweet and beautiful looking and I’m just this kind of lumbering soul. But you know what, it actually looks really great and I’m glad that I went through the humiliation of having to dance.

N. Zehetner: Now you can take Allison dancing.

K. Pardue: I know, I need to.

Now you’ve both worked on both TV and film, and I was wondering how you feel like production on the film set has differed from the TV set and your relationship with the other actors.

N. Zehetner: Actually I do a lot of independent films and they’re on tight schedules too. But I think generally speaking it’s a tighter schedule. We shot this entire thing in four weeks. Luckily Kip and I knew each other before, so we had a nice time in Toronto.

K. Pardue: Yes, I feel like it was a bit tight. Any time that you’re working for television, I think the … this is going to sound like an insult and I don’t mean it to, but the feeling of it being a commodity is a little bit more. You have deadlines to meet and there are a lot of people that you have to please. Whereas a lot of the films that I’ve made in the past, and like Nora alluded to, have been independent movies where you’re kind of doing it for very different reasons and there are not quite as many people that you have to please. But that being said, there’s something really great about having everything there when you need it and there’s something really great about knowing that it’s going to be seen by a lot of people. So that’s a kind of nice feeling, to be on set and know that you’re making something that people are already looking forward to.

Can you talk a little bit about the other upcoming projects that you guys have lined up?

K. Pardue: Nora.

N. Zehetner: Oh, me first. Okay. I have a film called Spooner that they’re just finishing right now. It’s kind of a sweet, quirky kind of romantic comedy with Matthew Lillard. And I did a small part in the The Brother’s Bloom which is by Rian Johnson, the director of Bricks, and that has an amazing cast. It’s a great movie. I just saw it the other day. I think it comes out in the fall. I don’t know. I have a couple of other things lined up to do but I think those are the only ones that are completed. Oh, and Remarkable Power, I guess. I don’t know what’s going on with that, which Kip is in.

K. Pardue: Yes, Nora and I did a movie, about a year ago now, before Princess called Remarkable Power, which I guess is kind of doing the festival circuit right now, with Tom Arnold and assorted others. And that’s hopefully funny and cute. And I just finished work on a horror movie called Stag Night, which is with Breckin Meyer and Vanessa Shaw, which will come out in the fall, theoretically. And then I’ve been on strike.

N. Zehetner: Yes, the strike has kind of killed it a bit.

I know that the actors are supposed to go on strike in June. Can you talk a little bit about your feelings on that topic?

N. Zehetner: I don’t think anybody is thrilled about either of the strikes. Obviously they’re for a good reason, but it’s really hard for everybody involved, above the line and below the line people, because they’re just kind of … it’s just really hard on their business. But you have to do what you have to do.

K. Pardue: Well I think first of all the damage has kind of already been done. And I’m not sure what Nora’s answer was, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear it. But she may have alluded to the fact that I feel like … since I’m an actor who mostly makes my living in film, film is starting to be affected, because the shoot times tend to be quite long and no one is willing to go into production on a movie that might straddle that June 30th cutoff date. So we’re starting to feel that already, not a lot of movies are going into production whether or not the strike happens.

As far as how I feel about SAG and how actors should handle the situation personally, I’m fundamentally kind of against the idea of the strike. I think it’s destructive to this town and I think we’ve already been through a horrible one this year. But at the same time, I do think there are new revenue streams out there that need to be addressed. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest though to get this thing solved before June 30th, the sooner the better. And that’s my opinion.

Nora, I was a huge fan of your character on Everwood and I was really sad when you stopped being on the show. I was wondering do any of you guys still keep in touch, any of the cast?

N. Zehetner: Thank you, by the way. No, I don’t actually keep in touch with anybody. I don’t know if anybody else does. I did a little bit afterwards and I run into people from time-to-time, like Emily or Chris or Greg. Actually, I saw Mike Erwin a couple of weeks ago at an audition, but no, I don’t keep in touch regularly with anybody.

Interview By: Emma Loggins


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