Actress Catherine Mary Stewart has had a film career that has spanned over 30 years. She has worked with numerous stars in both television and film during her roles in such film as: The Apple, Night of the Comet, The Last Star Fighter, and Weekend at Bernie’s as well as appearing as the original Kayla Brady on Days of Our Lives. I had the opportunity to correspond with Catherine and talk to her about her long and fascinating career in show business.
You’re film debut began with the musical The Apple. What is your background in song in dance?
I was a dancer before I was an actor. I performed with a professional company in Canada called Synergy. When I graduated from high school, I moved to London, England to continue my dance training. I auditioned for The Apple there as a dancer and ended up with the leading role.
The cult status for The Apple has grown tremendously as of late. What are your thoughts on this film’s upsurge in popularity?
I think people are entertained by the campiness. It was created with the idea that it had a good message, great music, and it was a popular genre at the time. The filmmakers were very serious about making a good movie. The reaction from the audience is similar to that of Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is screened all over the country regularly and several times at the prestigious Lincoln Center in New York City.
When you were Kayla Brady in Days of Our Lives what was it like to be part of such a tight acting schedule?
Shooting soap operas are the hardest work I've ever done as an actress. There was a lot of dialogue, pressure to do everything in one take, and a very quick schedule. It was difficult, but I worked with incredible professionals who were very helpful.
What was the experience of The Last Star Fighter like for you?
The Last Starfighter was a wonderful experience for me. It was the first feature film I worked on in the U.S. Nick Castle was a terrific and supportive director. This was his baby and it truly was a labor of love. Lance Guest and I became good friends and remain so to this day. I think it's a beautiful story. It's also ground breaking in terms of digital special effects. Programs that are the foundation of special effects today were created for this movie.
What was the atmosphere of the set of Night of the Comet?
I remember it being sort of "gorilla" filmmaking. It was low budget with a crazy schedule. We shot a lot of nights so places like the shopping mall would be empty. We also shot during Christmas at a time of day when no one was downtown to create a sense that LA was empty. I can't imagine that that would be the case today. The shoot was a lot of fun and a collaborative effort. We were all in it together.
In Weekend at Bernie’s you are part of the slapstick humor. What was it like to be part of such a zany film?
It was a lot of fun. I love physical comedy. I also get a kick out of the fact that it has such an enduring life. It's become that sort of genre classic.
The Girl Next Door is a disturbing film that most people would be shocked by. What shocks or scares you?
I'm not one for horror movies. They really scare me. I go to movies to be entertained in a happy way. I also love romance, movies with a resounding message of hope. I love to cry in movies.
What was it like to work with Sylvester Stallone as a director?
I had a very small role in Nighthawks. It was interesting work opposite Rutger Hauer. He was very intense and kinda scared me. I was still pretty new to the biz, so I found it intimidating. Sylvester Stallone was exactly as you would imagine. He's quite small, very muscular, and charming. He let me stand behind the camera with him while they shot the scene where the department store my character worked in, exploded. That was pretty cool.
What was it like to work with the late Charles Bronson and Christopher Reeve in The Sea Wolf?
I love period pieces. I did a lot of research about women of that day in preparation for the role. Charles Bronson had a reputation of being rather stoic and standoffish. I found him to be a very sweet man under that tough exterior. It was an honor to work with him. He and I became good friends until the day he died. I miss him terribly. Christopher Reeve was the consummate actor. He was very serious and I learned a lot from him. His wife had just given birth to their son and they were both on the set with him. I know that he endured some sleepless nights during the shoot with such a young baby there with him, but he never let that affect his performance. For me The Sea Wolf was a privilege.
Do you get recognized often for many of roles you’ve played in your career? If so what would you say is the role you get recognized most for?
I have die-hard fans for The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, Mischief, and Weekend at Bernie’s. I did a lot of TV mini-series that were pretty popular such as Hollywood Wives, Sins, and of course Days of our Lives. I'm still doing lots of TV stuff on Lifetime and Hallmark. I've also made my directing debut, which I LOVE!!!
After such a successful career in Hollywood, do you have any advice for people who are coming into the business?
I would say know the business of the business. There is a good book called Acting as a Business by Brian O'Neil that I think has some useful tips. Stay involved everyday whether it's reading "Backstage Magazine" or taking classes in every area you can think of. Network, network, network and don't be afraid to ask questions and get advice. You would be surprised how happy people are there to help you out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
One of the best things about this business is getting to live vicariously through the different characters. I love the challenge of discovering who each and every character I play is. It's extremely rewarding. I love the travel. Travel is one of the many fringe benefits of this business.
In another interview you once expressed an interest in directing. What sort of project would you ideally like to work on?
I have a couple of very good scripts that I am working towards directing. The script must touch me in a very poignant way. I must be able to visualize how it plays out in the big picture.
If you could be involved in any movie throughout film history what would it be and why?
I love movies from the 30's and 40's. It was a simpler time in a way, yet the black and white photography was inspiring and the industry was glamorous.
What are some of your favorite movies?
I love everything from Bambi to The Sound of Music to Sophie's Choice. I'm a big fan of foreign films today and/or smaller independent films. There is a level of intelligence and integrity that seems to be missing from many big blockbuster films today.
What is your latest project that you are currently working on?
I am working on a project of my own that I've been developing in hopes to direct.
For more information on Catherine Mary Stewart visit her website at www.catherinemarystewart.com. She can also be found on Twitter @cmsall #CatherineMaryStewart and Facebook: Catherine Mary Stewart.