Crimson Celluloid: Firstly, for the uninitiated can you give a bit of background information about yourself.
Gina La Piana: I’m from Brooklyn, NY but was raised by my father in Corona, CA. I had a challenging upbringing and found myself drawn to music and acting because it was my way of tuning out all the noise and dysfunction. It was my complete escape. My dad is an incredible musician, so obviously I was exposed to music early on. I also zoned out my surroundings by watching I Love Lucy. I wanted life to be fun like it was on tv. That’s why I chose this profession – to make people laugh and feel in the way Lucille Ball had brought light in some of my darkest times. In a weird sort of way, she feels like a surrogate mom, lifting my mood when I had a bad day and reminding me not to take everything so seriously. Even now, if I’m anxious about something, if I just turn on a little I love Lucy before bed and I’m all good.
CC: You’ve done a wide variety of work, from sit-coms through to soap operas and horror films, is there any particular genre you like more than others?
GLP: My ultimate goal is to work in half-hour comedy. But I enjoy it all. I would be great to be in the business of making people laugh. I would also be thrilled to somehow combine my experience with music on a scripted show; much like Glee but sexier.
CC: There’s so much I want to know. For instance, you worked with Rachel Hunter in the recently completed film Black Widow. She’s renowned for being one of the worst actresses working today, what was your experience with her like? Did you share any scenes? If so, did you stand away from her so you wouldn’t get splinters from her wooden acting?
GLP: The film hasn’t been shot yet. It’s currently in pre-production, so I can’t speak in regards to Rachel’s abilities. She’s a beautiful woman though.
CC: On your resume you are credited as being “hoochie #1” in Ali G indahouse, what was this experience like?
GLP: Well I did have a name in the film—it was “Rosa”. But it is nice how they gave me a nickname “Hoochie”. I get to live vicariously through my work! Lol. I laughed the entire time I was working with Sacha Cohen. Every take was hilarious! He always comes with something new and different from moment to moment. I learned a lot by watching him. He’s definitely a pro. He could learn to loosen up a little though. Don’t ya think?
CC: What’s involved in being a “hoochie”?
GLP: Wearing a very tight short dress, stiletto heels, and the willingness to do anything for Ali G at a moment’s notice. I basically showed that megalomaniac the ultimate gratitude for being my hero in the sexiest way possible of course. What? A little PDA never hurt anyone!
CC: Of course the audience here are most interested in the horror film 30 Days to Die, what can you tell us about this film?
GLP: It scared the sweet pajesus out of all the women working on the film.Of course I’m a tough chick, so I could handle it. I take an axe to the head while trying to protect us all. (I’m a real girl’s girl baby)
CC: The trailer has you in a lesbian tryst in the shower. What research went into this to make it accurate? I’m sure you’re aware that when a lesbian soap scene is being filmed the lather to breast ratio is critical for credibility and accuracy.
GLP: I didn’t even know that scene existed. I didn’t shoot the lesbian scene and it’s news to me that the scene was shot. It must have been a spontaneous re-write. Don’t you love how directors just throw those types of scenes in spontaneously while your already filming. Yikes!
CC: What are your thoughts about on-screen nudity?
GLP: I think nudity in film is beautiful when done right. Look at Kate Winslet in The Reader. If I felt my body was in the right physical shape, I would be okay with it as long as it wasn’t gratuitous and I was starring opposite Daniel Day Lewis, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, or Tom Cruise. Then it’s all good!
CC: What part of the film was most challenging for you?
GLP: The death scenes are probably the hardest. Taking an axe to the head is not an easy scene to shoot and if you don’t get it right the first time, things can get very messy.
CC: Director Griff Furst is, of course, the son of legendary actor Stephen Furst. How did you find working with Griff?
GLP: I found him to be quite talented. It seems like he can do anything. Not only is he a skilled director, but a fantastic DP/set designer/art director/Actor. You name it! He’s quite ambitious. It felt like one stop shopping with him. What surprises me is he’s so young! I liked how quickly he moved and made decisions as well. We’ll see how the film comes out. Hopefully I won’t have to retract this statement.
CC: I’ve died in person many times, and died in bed more times than I care to remember. If you die in Black Widow or 30 Days to Die what’s it like to see yourself die on screen?
GLP: I haven’t seen myself die on screen yet. I haven’t been to the screening for either film and I’m not sure I’d show up. It’s difficult for me to watch myself on screen to start with. But watching myself die on screen, I’m not interested at all. I’ll watch when it comes time to edit bits for my reel and only for the purposes of learning what not to do next time!
CC: 30 Days seems to have a relatively young cast. Was there a lot of camaraderie and support between the actors?
GLP: Yes, we had so much fun! We were on a huge empty compound – an abandoned camp on Crystal Lake. We could be as loud as we wanted to. We were constantly playing pranks on each other. At one point, a real rat ran across one of the actress’ feet and she basically lost it, had a complete melt down in front of us. It was too much fun!
CC: How did you prepare for the role?
GLP: Easy. I learned my lines and showed up on set. Yeah right. I did a lot of imagination work—playing and visualizing that reality within the circumstances of the story. Investing in the people I was about to share the experience with. Giving it all a full and rich “Imagined life” before I started the actual shoot.
CC: What advice would you give a young actress about to appear in a horror film?
GLP: Maybe don’t do it unless you want to be horrified 20 years later! No joke. Unless your making horror with The Wes Craven, John Carpenter, or someone like the Quentin Tarantino’s of the world, just say no! lol
CC: How was it working with Simon Baker in a recent episode of The Mentalist?
GLP: Sexy, sexy and more sexy! What a babe—a very specific, knows exactly what he wants, opinionated babe! I was disappointed that I didn’t have a kissing scene with him, but he made it a lot of fun for me. That whole cast and crew is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. They’re so warm, so lovely and fun. Hopefully they will find a way that “Chef Hannah Diaz” comes back with a kissing vengeance! Lol. I love those people!
CC: What projects do you have coming up?
GLP: I am one of the Executive Producer’s of a film called Audry which we are currently shooting locally in Los Angeles. It’s an incredibly fun quirky indie, which we hope to get placed in The Sundance Film festival (And of course be seen by a gazillion of you people across the land).
We ended up with a fantastic cast, a strong producing team, and very adept director, so I’m feeling rather excited to be involved! Of course, I play another hot headed fiery friend—best friend to the main character. Let’s just say I get to throw things. On the music tip, I’m working on various projects. I recently wrote and placed a few songs in Disney films, and I’m shooting a music video for my upcoming album that will be released in September. I like to keep it busy, ya know.