chatting with Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds and is also using Kickstarter to fund her upcoming movie, the comedy noir Kill Me, Deadly. I've seen portions of it online and it look hilarious, so, if you like great comedy, I would recommend pledging some money to Kickstarter so the film can grace our cinemas.
1. Kirsten, let's talk about your passion project, Kill Me, Deadly. From the portions of it I've seen online, it looks hilarious. Do you have any favorite comedies? Any favorite film noirs?
Kirsten-You know, it's written by a bunch of my theater friends, who I've known since before Criminal Minds. We are all big fans of old movies. It's like Young Frankenstein meets Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid meets Airplane meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Doing this was so great because it was certainly a love letter to loving, but not pandering, comedy. I love Double Indemnity and The Maltese Falcon. What's cool about Kill Me, Deadly is that there are a lot of inside jokes. We actually have a scene with a character named Ida, who is the secretary who knows everything but no one knows she knows everything. She has the Maltese Falcon behind her in that scene.
2. What inspired you to use Kickstarter to fund the movie?
K-You know, we have been shooting for about four years and it’s half-filmed. Eighty percent of the money has come from me. It was important to me that everyone was paid the same amount. We have 11 more days of shooting and 20% more of funding to do. Our director, Darrett Sanders, is going back to teach school. I’m the only one out of the eight of us that has funds to be able to do this. This is what I love to do. It’s important that I paid for it, so my seven producer friends can contribute to it as well. The movie will be done in August. I’m almost done shooting it and I’m shooting it while doing Criminal Minds. It will be edited in September.
3. At what point did you realize that acting was your professional calling?
K-I didn’t realize that until I got Criminal Minds (laughs). If it’s your dream, you should be doing it. I started acting in high school. I was too shy, so my mom said I could take acting. This is beyond my wildest dreams that I can make my living acting.
4. You've also had work published in the Los Angeles Times magazine. What do you like to write about? Do you plan to write any books?
K-I started writing because it was hard to find acting jobs. I didn’t like any monologues in auditions, so I started to write my own things. Since then, I have written a couple of shows. I was nominated for playwright of the year for a play I wrote called Potential Space. I like writing about what to me are like questions that I have about myself and the human condition. I find quantum physics fascinating so I like to write about that, and I like things that make me laugh. I don’t know if I will write a book. I love doing other people’s work, but I am so into performing stuff I write.
5. You're involved with Theater of Note in Hollywood. How is that different from acting on the screen?
K-It’s different because of the popularity of Minds. Forty eight people watch Note and Minds is watched by millions. To have my cast members come to note and see plays there is so beautiful to me. On television, you have an intimate moment with the camera. In theater, you are making something live with people there. My brain doesn’t understand that you don’t get another take ever. I’m finally learning on TV that you can do something over if you make a mistake. I don’t believe it when people say theater actors can’t become great television actors.
6. Moving to Criminal Minds, do you have a favorite episode?
K-Goodness, usually the one we are shooting is my favorite because I love my job. I love the ritual of creating the scenes. We did a two-episode arc about Penelope, so that was a dream come true. But I love the people I work with because they are so funny. So it’s really hard to pick an episode. But this season, she went out with someone and dressed like Dr. Who, so that one was a lot of fun.
7. How would you say you're similar to Penelope?
K-We can both talk really fast. We are also energetic & we both think Shamar Moore is delicious. Both of us do not like violence & have a low threshold for it. But she’s more confident than I am & has computer skills that I don’t. We are both from outer space but from different planets.
8. Minds was recently renewed for a ninth season. What are your hopes for the show and Penelope?
K-Oh, gosh. The writers started work again last week. I was there to see what they were doing. They are really going to focus on origin stories this year & I’m really looking forward to that. I’m always so curious as to how they come up with things.
9. Many stars of hit series go on to direct one or more episodes. Do you see yourself doing that with Minds?
K-No, I don’t think that I’d be into. I don’t like telling anybody what to do. Not that our directors are like that, but they have a vision of seeing things in a really cool way & I’m not like that. I would like to write one, which would be cool.
10. Do you have any future movie or TV appearances set?
K-I’m going to start back July 8 on Minds. I don’t have anything on the burner but I have a bunch of charity things coming up that I’m excited about. I’m on the advisory board of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is a children’s cancer charity. I’m so proud to be on that and help them. Joe Mantenga and others from Minds come with me every year when I do that.
11. You also appeared on the show's spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Any fond memories of that show?
K-That was just so strange and wonderful. I already have a job and to get a call to play the same character on a different show was so great. The best part was to watch how different people interpreted a character I’ve played for years. It was really, really fun.