Thursday, February 18, 2016

Interview with General Hospital and Fear The Walking Dead Flight 462's Kathleen Gati: From Port Charles to the Not-So-Friendly Skies

 By Suzanne Ordas Curry
Kathleen Gati is a Canadian actress most well known for her role as the sinister Dr. Lisa Olbrecht on the long-running daytime drama General Hospital, is now part of the immensely popular Walking Dead phenomenon. She plays Deirdre, a flight attendant on the companion series to WD Fear The Walking Dead, Flight 462.

This actress has been on stage and screen since the 80's, appearing all over the place with roles in stage and screen in Canada, the US and internationally. With her exotic European aura and her flair for European accents, she often plays . From the webseries Winterthorne to Star Wars: Clone Wars, to Meet the Fockers to Jimmy Kimmel she's got an extensive resume. On TV, she's had roles in The Mentalist, NCIS, Ghost Whisperer, 24, ER, The Practice, Bones, NYPD Blue and more. In addition to General Hospital, she had a long-standing role on All My Children and also appeared in Young and the Restless early in her career.

Kathleen Gati as Flight Attendant Deirdre in Fear The Walking Dead Flight 462                  Photo Courtesy Facebook

With a fan base of soap fans that now includes deadheads and zombie fans, Kathleen continues to reinvent herself and take on new roles.  I had the opportunity to interview this fellow Hungarian to find out more about this busy actress and especially. to find out more about what's it like to be part of Fear the Walking Dead.

Growing Up Gati

Tell me something about growing up in a family of Hungarians in Canada. What was your childhood like? Did you speak Hungarian in the house? Is Gati the Hungarian name or was is shortened?

Kathleen Gati: Gati is the Hungarian name, and our first language was Hungarian at home as my parents left Hungary during the revolution and came to Canada where I was born shortly after. I loved that we spoke a "secret" language in a home that was colorful, musical and filled with lots of laughter and music!

When did you realize you wanted to go into acting?  I read that it was when you were very little. 

Kathleen Gati: I wanted to dance. Ballet was my first love! I heard all this beautiful classical music in our home, and wanted to express the emotions that the music evoked in me. According to my sister, at a very young age, I made her and our friends dress up in my mom's clothes and perform for the family! Then in the second grade, I wrote, produced, directed and starred in my first play at school. I was smitten with acting! And kept performing in school and in community theater while I was pursuing my balletic dreams! I wanted/needed to entertain people!!

What was the first job you had that realized you could succeed in this field?

Kathleen Gati: I always knew I would succeed, because I felt at a young age that performing was my calling, dancing or acting, or singing. Growing up in a family of artists and musicians tends to influence your choices I think! My first real break was on All My Children in 1989. I worked opposite Maurice Bernard for a few months. People paid attention.

About Music

Tell me about your love of music, how you discovered this type of music and where your talent came from.

Kathleen Gati: MY FATHER was a symphony conductor and MY MOTHER was an opera singer, and their passion for music inspired my path.

Your Acting Career

You have quite an acting resume. What stands out as one or some of the most memorable roles you have ever had?

Kathleen Gati: Each role has its special place in my heart. I loved my role as the First Lady of Russia, Anya Suvarov on "24" as I wanted to show another side to the cliché way in which Russians are usually represented in Hollywood, which is negatively. I grew up around amazingly gifted and brilliant Russian artists, who performed with my father. They were classy, disciplined, focused, professional, sophisticated and had hearts of gold. I wanted my character to present some of this class and elegance, and sophistication. There are several other memorable roles. Each one holds a special place in my heart.

I see you played Ivana Trump on Jimmy Kimmel. What is it like on that set? Do you enjoy doing the different accents? what accents have you done? 

Kathleen Gati: It was fun portraying a satirical version of Ivana Trump. I love to make people laugh! It was a blast to shoot! And yes, I am passionate about doing different accents. I do many roles without any accents, just in my original North American/middle American accent, but I feel I can climb into a role better with the accent of that particular character. I have done Hungarian, Russian, Croatian, German, British, Southern, Iranian and a few other accents over the years! Much fun!!

General Hospital

Were you a fan of soaps before you were on GH?

Kathleen Gati: I enjoyed working on All My Children but I honestly never watched much television in general because of being so busy studying and working for years! If I had time I would go (and still love) to the movies! I watch a lot more television these days and have my favorite shows!

Do you enjoy this role? How do you get into character for it? Do you think you are the most sinister lady in Port Charles or does one of the other characters have that distinction?

Kathleen Gati: I LOVE Dr. Obrecht! Ron Carlivati created this role that initially only had two days trying to keep Luke (Tony Geary) away from Anna Devane, and also hide Robin Scorpio-Drake from them. Ron and gang expanded this role and I've done about 200 episodes to date. I do not think I am the most sinister lady in Port Charles at all! In fact, my character has been softened quite a bit. There are a few characters that are darker, Ava, Helena Cassadine (before her death!), and maybe a few more!

Why do you think fewer people are watching soaps and what do you think can be done about it?

Don't know!

Fear of Walking Dead Flight 462

Let's talk Walking Dead. Wow. What a phenomenon. Had you watched it before you got the part? What do you think is the allure of this hit? Is is the story, the characters, the costuming?

Kathleen Gati: No, I had not watched too much, but I knew about these series. I think the allure is the fascination with the behavior and psychological examination of people in these vulnerable, frightening and desperate survival experiences. Frightening really.

Tell me about Fear the Walking Dead Flight 462. Do you film all of the videos at once? Can you tell me what it is like on this set? Where do you film? Is that a real plane or a set? Anything else you can tell fans of this show?

It's all about what happens on the plane.  Will Kathleen survive or become a zombie?           Photo Courtesy Facebook

Kathleen Gati: We filmed the Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462 over a period of time, long fabulous days of filming. One of my all time favorite work experiences. An awesome cast, strong, talented, professional, fun and team spirited. It was truly refreshing and an honor to work with such a  terrific group of actors. We shot at Air Hollywood, a sound stage that has a few airplanes. We were literally inside an airplane in close quarters for days on end, and LOVED every second of it. The first eight episodes have aired and the response has been fantastic and the next eight begin in February.

Your Entertainment 

If you had a spare afternoon, what would you binge-watch?

Kathleen Gati: Flesh and Bones.

Name some of your favorite movies.

The Holiday
It's A Wonderful Life
Pelle The Conquerer

Career Advice

Can you give some advice to a young Hungarian girl - or any girl right now - who wants to do what you do? What should they study? What is the key to success as you see it?

Study, study, study everything that pertains to acting.

Did you have a role model or mentor?

Never had a mentor…just plodded along on my own, but I have always looked up to Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, Lucille Ball, Carroll Burnett…the list is long!

Finally, do you have any trips planned for Hungary? 

My husband and I went to Hungary in July and hope to go more often, time allowing! It is a special place to me, a place where my parents came from and where my roots reach back, as well as my soul.

Follow Kathleen on Twitter @Gatitweets