You may recognize Allison McAtee from Castle, Californication, or CSI: NY, but this blonde-haired beauty has more recently skyrocketed to every gay woman’s fantasy after steaming up our TV screens in the role of Catherine Stark, a smoldering psychology professor in the hit lesbian film Bloomington.
Catherine Stark is no stranger to rumors on campus; in fact, she’s dubbed a lesbian vampire from the very beginning of the movie. Despite the risks, Professor Stark wastes no time preying on ex-child television star turned college student, Jackie Kirk (played by Sarah Stouffer).
When asked to describe her character counterpart McAtee said, “guarded, strong, passionate and intelligent.”
And although both Allison and Catherine possess some of the same qualities, don’t get your hopes up girls, for starters she’s very straight, and it looks like Allison has more differences than similarities with her character.
“I’m super open with people,” said McAtee. “I’m pretty much hugs and kisses and open to strangers. Almost too much. I should probably be a little more reserved.”
“Fernanda, the director, gave me a little binder full of things – I watched a couple,” said Allison. “Other than that there wasn’t any particular preparation besides the script and to investigate the character.”
It turns out Allison wasn’t a complete stranger to the world of playing gay, and went into the movie with some experience under her belt. McAtee was in two plays, one in college and one in New York where she had to either play lesbian, bisexual or have a lesbian affair. But for some reason she had the idea that the movie was going to be different.
“I had the idea that the relationship would be different and that this would be some type of challenge for me,” she said. “It was really soon into the process, probably the first rehearsal, when I realized… ‘Yeah, not really.’”
McAtee added that the story in Bloomington was universal and that ‘love is universal.’
“It’s a love story, I think more than anything,” she said. “I don’t think sexuality really plays into this story very much. It can translate to anyone.”
And the sex scenes…how did that go?
“I think I had hesitancies, I suppose I was a little scared,” said McAtee. “I can be a little too serious sometimes.”
“Yeah, it actually did,” said McAtee of her Bloomington co-star. “When we were in the first scene in my house and I’m approaching her, kind of against this wall next to the bed and I walk up to her and in filming I started to unbutton her shirt and I had a huge internal pause and said ‘Okay, stop, we can’t.’ We had to cut the take and I said ‘This isn’t going to work for me, she seems like a child and I feel like a pedophile right now, so we have to do something about this. This isn’t going to work.’”
Allison said to make up for the height difference that Stouffer had to wear heels the whole shoot, and in addition to heels, they brought in apple boxes for her to stand on so she had a 6-inch lift in all the scenes.
“She’s 6 inches taller than she actually is because I am used to having my lovers be larger than me,” said McAtee. “I’ve never had a lover that’s been smaller than me and then looking at her and her being so little, I was just like oh my god she looks 10.”
But it seems Allison was able to get over her pedophilic aura and create the raunchy sex scenes we see in the finished product of the movie. Thank you heels and apple boxes!
It’s my understanding that Bloomington got a little slack for its speedy interaction in the beginning with the two lead roles. McAtee seemed to agree with its rather abrupt, unrealistic first meeting between Jackie and Catherine.
“I don’t know if that’s super accurate,” said Allison, “Jackie hadn’t really shown a whole lot of reciprocal interest, I mean it was there, but it wasn’t a clearly defined ‘Yes, I’m interested.’”
McAtee said that she has a cousin who is a college professor and her cousin believed that it wasn’t completely realistic because it’s your job and it’s important.
“I think in real life there might have been a little hesitancy or maybe that first kiss would have happened a little later and maybe it wouldn’t have been on campus,” said Allison.
For all the girls out there trying to seduce their teachers or professors, we’ve got a treat for you… Allison, who used to be super flirtatious in high school, tells us a little bit about her experience “chasing” teachers and some advice on how to land yourself one.
“I was always a big fan of lip smackers, and I think that’s the way to get the attention of the professors. In high school, I was really zealous in my application of lip smackers and mixed with the eye contact you can say a lot with that.”
Favorite scene of the movie?
“I like the library scene,” she said. “A lot.”
How about favorite line? I mean…Catherine and Jackie have some snarky one-liners in the movie that even made me spit out my vodka infused orange juice.
“I remember me saying ‘I forget I’m a vampire sometimes,’ and Jackie says ‘You’re old enough,’ I think that was improv. I would have had to look at the script but I liked that moment,” she said, “because it caught me off guard.”
Despite the abrupt, unhappy ending, Allison said that she would like to think that Jackie and Catherine are brought back together, perhaps in a sequel, and that Catherine has a chance to grow up.
“I think it’s funny even though it’s a story of Jackie’s coming of age, it’s actually Catherine growing up as well,” said McAtee. “Instead of avoiding her life she has to face it. See who she became.”
What about if you were gay? Who would your celebrity girl crushes be?
“If I was gay in real life…” she pondered, “Kate Blanchett, you know it’s funny I think I would prefer older women. I think I could learn something from her. Angelina Jolie because she’s just hot, I mean retarded hot. And Naomi Watts.”
“I enjoy psychological thrillers,” said McAtee, “I want to be the bad girl I guess, but in a sense I want to wield guns or knives, be like kind of a gangster. Maybe it’s because I like the idea of being a spy, a killer, someone tough, worlds that seem very far from my own world.”
Speaking of worlds, it’s no surprise that the world is changing and the way people communicate has been fueled by networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Despite the majority of the world looking to the internet for interaction, McAtee manages to stay in touch with her fans, but also in touch with the real world.
“I can communicate with people way easier,” she said, “The people who are writing to me are in Spain or Germany or Brazil and I don’t know other than having a fan page necessarily, how easy it would be to stay in touch with them. So it’s kind of amazing.”
But with the perks comes the disadvantages. McAtee mentions that her friend has a blackberry and that she is always on her phone when the two are together. Although Allison strives to keep in touch with her fans as much as possible, she doesn’t want people feeling like she isn’t with them, when she’s with them.
“I’m really in the moment of what I’m in, always,” she said. “I don’t answer my phone while I’m at dinner. If I’m in a meeting, I don’t look at my phone, I focus on who I’m with in that moment.”
Allison added that she likes to feel connected to someone, and describes herself as having really deep relationships with people.
“I have really amazing, great, friends that I only see a couple times a year,” she said, “but the relationship is really awesome because when I’m with them I’m really with them.
Allison chose to be an actor because she wanted to affect people’s lives in a positive way. Bloomington gave her a completely different fan base that has been deeply impacted by a project she was a part of.
“That’s why I chose to be an actor, so that someone didn’t feel so alone, at some point,” Allison said. “It’s pretty amazing because I think that that’s what this film is to a lot of people.”
It’s safe to say that both Allison and her character, Catherine Stark, have impacted many people across the globe, and because of it, people have reached out to her in order to share their journeys.
“I’m honored that they are sharing their stories with me,” she said. “And that I can be a part of their life in some way.”
But as an actor, have people come to you convinced that you are the character you portrayed in film?
McAtee concluded by saying that she’d like the opportunity to do more film.
“I’ve done a lot of television so far,” she said. “Which is great, TV is fun. It’s a more rigorous schedule though and film really gives you a lot more creative freedom, which is nice.”
Allison added that she auditions quite often so there’s always something in the mix but not to fear McAtee fans, for she will certainly keep everyone posted on any upcoming projects over at her fan Facebook page.
But in the mean time check out this hypnotic star in Bloomington, a coming of age story of growth and forbidden love.