In STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX, which airs tonight on Lifetime, Alex McKenna stars as Kristen Carter. Kristen is a Santa Barbara hotelier who is in love with Ryan (Adam Huss) and adores Ryan’s young daughter Lisa (Joey Rae Blair) from his previous marriage. Kristen doesn’t realize that Ryan’s ex, Nina (Juliana Dever), has just been released from prison and is determined not to let another woman raise her child.
Los Angeles native McKenna has had recurring roles on MIDDLE AGES, THE TROUBLE WITH LARRY, YOU WISH, CROSSING JORDAN, and DALLAS. She also has an extensive career in voice work for animation and voice/motion capture for videogames, including the best-selling RED DEAD REDEMPTION II.
In an exclusive phone interview, McKenna talks her role in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX – including an alarming resemblance to a real-life incident – and more.
ASSIGNMENT X: How did you become involved with STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX?
ALEX McKENNA: Well, I was very fortunate that Dylan Vox, who is the producer, was familiar with my work, and directly offered me the role, which was very exciting, to be the lead in a thriller. So I said, “Absolutely.”
AX: Had you worked with any of your fellow STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX actors before?
McKENNA: Mike Erwin and I did a movie [SINGLE IN SOUTH BEACH] ten years ago and hadn’t seen each other since.
AX: Was that a fun reunion?
McKENNA: Yeah. There was already a familiarity, which was great.
AX: Adam Huss and Juliana Dever hadn’t worked together before, but they knew each other socially …
McKENNA: Yeah. It’s such a small, wild little world.
AX: How to you see Kristen as a person?
McKENNA: I loved her. I think she’s got such a huge heart, and it’s really rational and down to Earth. My favorite thing in thrillers is when people behave the way that you would behave in real life, not “Now we’re going to run upstairs, or down into the basement.” I think she behaves in a way that I would, if put under those circumstances, where you’re just trying to be the smartest you can with a really unfortunate situation, and to try to not blow it out of proportion. But then of course, invariably it does [become actually dangerous].
AX: Did you do any research into any aspects of your character once you were cast, either hotel management, or step-parenting, or being traumatized by being stalked?
McKENNA: Well, unfortunately – or fortunately, for this role – I’ve had experience with being stalked.
AX: I’m so sorry.
McKENNA: Thank you. It was not the most fun couple of years, but luckily it got under control. As far as [hotel management] goes, I have many, many friends that worked in hospitality. So I talked to them. I’ve also seen it firsthand behind the scenes. And then step-parenting, I’m also familiar with that, not because I am one, but because I’ve witnessed that up close and personal. I really connected with Kristen and her love of Lisa. The script really made sense, and no spoilers, but it’s got a nice twist, and I’m very fortunate to work with such talented actors. It was a really enjoyable couple weeks.
AX: Since you have experienced it yourself, how do you think Kristen deals with being stalked?
McKENNA: I think quite well. I really could relate to the intensified paranoia that comes when you feel like your private world is being intruded upon. I think you start to get concerned that there are shadows lurking that maybe are not [dangerous] in actuality because of the threat. I think she does a really good job of staying as grounded and stable as possible. When it becomes not just about herself, she really finds a call to action and does the right thing.
AX: Speaking of action, in the third act, you have some very physical scenes. How was that to do?
McKENNA: I have done stunts before, so that was really comfortable. I had just finished doing a play, Sam Shepard’s FOOL FOR LOVE at the Sacred Fools Broadwater Theater, that was very physical right before we shot this, so I was primed and conditioned. We had a stunts guy on set, so that we could make sure that nobody was being hurt. I know how to fall so that I don’t hurt myself, but it still looks pretty legitimate. As you saw, I really do fall hard and was knocked across the floor. I had a light bruise, but that’s to be expected [laughs].
AX: When you were reading the STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX script for the first time, did you guess that the third-act twist was coming, or were you surprised by it?
McKENNA: I think I was a little surprised. I write as well, so there was one moment where I went, “Huh. Now that we’re giving that information out, I wonder if that’s going to come back,” and indeed it did.
AX: How was working with Adam Huss and achieving that romantic chemistry?
McKENNA: Adam Huss is a delight. Truly the most wonderful energy, really focused, and wonderful work ethic. He’s very open, and he and I immediately came together to talk about how we could elevate the relationship, so that it didn’t feel one-note. And it was important for us to create the sense of family that we were cultivating with Joey, who plays Lisa. And it was really immediate. There’s that saying, “Is there acting required, or no acting required?” For us, we were very fortunate that there wasn’t much acting required as far as the warmth and the connection, from the beginning.
AX: How was it playing opposite Joey Rae Blair as your potential stepdaughter?
McKENNA: She is adorable. She reminds me a lot of myself when I was that age, because I was also acting at that time. She was so sweet, and knew her lines, and was very professional, and also was very playful, too.
AX: How was working with director Anthony C. Ferrante?
McKENNA: Anthony’s wonderful. He’s animated and open and a jokester, and it helps to keep the set really light, especially when we’re doing heavy scenes. I find that balance important, because when you watch the film, you’ll see that I am emotional for quite a lot of it, and for my instrument, it’s easier to be in it, be in it, be in it, and then have the set feel light, so then I can come out, and then when we start to get ready and start rolling, to then cross back into the other, than just stay there the entire time. Anthony was really collaborative, very open to hearing Adam’s and my suggestions for how we’d like to slightly alter something.
Again, Adam and I talked a lot about trying to create this real dynamic among the family, the three of us, and I said, “I find it problematic when you call somebody by their name more than once or twice, because in reality, that’s now how we speak to the people that we’re closest to.” I don’t call my husband “Josh” all of the time. We’ve got nicknames and other ways of addressing one another. So I asked if it would be okay that all the times I’m supposed to say, “Lisa,” if I can say, “Lisa-bug,” or just call her “Bug.” I think it helps to create that connection and that intimacy, so that when Lisa starts to pull away, you feel it more.
AX: Unlike a lot of low-budget films, the main characters in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX spend a lot of time very well-dressed. How did you feel about Kristen’s wardrobe?
McKENNA: I was blown away by what they were able to do on that budget. Both of our wardrobe women [Angela Solouki and Brittany Ann Cormack] were excellent. I asked if it would be okay to wear some of my mother’s shoes, because I inherited her shoes when she passed, and she had quite a collection, which I think also helps to elevate the look. So I’m wearing beautiful Chanel shoes, and Prada shoes in another scene. I’m more of a Converse and Birkenstocks kind of gal, but I have these beautiful shoes, and I was able to feel like Kristen in the wardrobe.
[Kristen’s fingernails] are not my normal nails, either. Because every time I get a character, I build them from inside out. I also find who they are and how they walk from the outside in. So shoes are always really important, and if there’s just one specific more “superficial” thing, for lack of a better term, such as, do they wear a certain kind of earring, do they need a certain kind of perfume? And for this, I was like, “I think, because she works in hospitality, and she is the boss, a very specific manicured nail.” And so I got to work with makeup on that, and they were totally for it. I put on acrylics. I asked Morgan Marinoff, who is our chief makeup, and I think I talked to wardrobe as well, “Would it be okay for me to do an updated French tip?” And they were like, “Yeah, actually, that sounds great.” And I think it really works. I mean, I noticed it [laughs], but also, I know that I was very specific about it.
AX: Did you have to handle things differently because of the nails?
McKENNA: Absolutely. It’s the same thing as shoes. You walk differently in different shoes, and when you have nails that are longer than your natural manicured ones, you handle your phone differently, you pick up things differently. When I’m running my hands through Adam’s hair, it’s different. It truly does create an affectation.
AX: Was there a particularly difficult sequence to do in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX? Do you have a favorite sequence?
McKENNA: I think maybe the most difficult to do, physically, would have been the night that we were filming the engagement party, because it was absolutely freezing, just frigid, one of those nights where it’s under forty degrees. And we were so cold [laughs]. Other than that, I think maybe one of the more challenging ones was my conversation with Lisa, when I’m talking about her mother. We worked on that a little bit, because we wanted to find a balance between being honest and also not being harsh when she’s talking about her mother and her mother’s addiction. That was difficult, because we were on a time crunch, of course, as often happens with low-budget films, and so we were trying to make that work in a short period of time, and it was such an important scene. As far as favorite goes, I loved the [finale] sequence.
AX: You’re also a writer. What kind of material do you write?
McKENNA: I have two pilots right now that I’m hoping to shop in the fall. One is a thirty-minute comedy, and the other is a one-hour drama. And besides that, I am working on two podcasts as well. And I do a lot of audio, a lot of motion capture, and then actual voice.
AX: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?
McKENNA: I do have a lot of audiobooks that are out. One is called STRAY by Stephanie Danler. It’s a really beautiful memoir. And then I’ll be the voice two books that haven’t been released yet, one by Susan Minot, and one by Eula Biss. And then I’m all over Audible. I think I have forty-plus books. It’s been interesting during quarantine. I’ve been recording them from my closet.
AX: Does doing audiobooks require a different type of acting than, say, cartoon voice work, because with an audiobook, you have to voice everybody?
McKENNA: Absolutely. It is a different skill set entirely. When I do animation, I’m able to gesticulate, and you can get loud, and you have somebody working on those [sound recording] levels. It’s mixed in the way that a television show would be mixed. Whereas when you’re doing an audiobook, not only do I need to prep the book by reading it the first time, and then mark it with all the different accents, if there are accents, the different characters, it needs to sound consistent. So I actually have to sit very, very still and not move my head, so that the sound doesn’t shift. Because when you’re listening to an audiobook, you don’t want it to sound like somebody is close to the mic, and then away from the mic. That’s just not how it’s done. So yeah, one thing is more like being a basketball player, and the other one is being a long-distance marathon runner.
AX: Do you like working in the audiobook format?
McKENNA: I love to storytell. As long as I’m telling stories, then I’m happy in the work I’m doing.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX?
McKENNA: I would just say that it is shot really beautifully. Our cinematographer, Damian Horan, did a phenomenal job of making it look like a theatrical release feature. So just grab some popcorn, and some tea, and cuddle up with a blanket, and hopefully we’ll get your heart racing.
STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX debuts on Lifetime tonight at 8:00 pm ET. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with actress Alex McKenna on STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX