Ellen Hollman is the first female German warrior to join the ranks of ‘Spartacus: Vengeance‘, and after talking to her, this lady is as much a force of nature as her character Saxa is!
“She’s fierce, fun, intelligent, and a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. In other words, she will kick your ass and have a laugh about it later,” is how new ‘Spartacus: Vengeance‘ star Ellen Hollman describes her character Saxa. Rightly so, as Saxa will have her eye on Gannicu (Duncan Clare), and she’s not one to take the word ‘no’ lightly. I think many women and male viewers of the show are going to be quite envious of Hollman, but I think after reading this interview, you’ll be more thinking like ‘Good on her!’
Born and bred in Detroit, Michigan, Hollman has kept that MidWest sensibility and take charge attitude with both her career and personal endeavors in her charitable work. So along with Gladiator training camp, shooting in New Zealand for ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’, this lady makes time for Visual Impact Now, a charity she created during the Writer’s Strike in 2008. Her infectious enthusiasm has attracted the likes of ‘Mad Men’s January Jones, ‘Star Trek 2′s’ Chris Pine and ‘Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” Taylor Lautner to join her cause.
BEST MOVIES EVER: Many of your roles have been women who are tough and know what they want; so was stepping into the shoes of Saxa easy for you? Did you tell your agent you wanted to be on the show since you were a fan or did you have to go through the audition process?
ELLEN HOLLMAN: Stepping into Saxa’s shoes was quite challenging not only because she doesn’t wear any shoes, but no amount of Gladiator Bootcamp can prepare you for such a hurricane of a character. I’m feisty and all, but she takes it to a whole other level! I had to stand in the bread line, er, I mean audition room just as I always have. Sheer tenacity and gull kept me in that room :)
BME: Did the producers give you much of a story for Saxa or have you been creating your own backstory and motivations for her?
EH: All I was told was that she was a ”Vicious, passionate, female warrior who can challenge any man on the battlefield and bedroom,” a handful all of it’s own! It was never even mentioned she speaks German, which happens to be my second language. Everything else from backstory, motivations, even some fight choreography has been created in this imaginative/looney mind seed of mine.
BME: You’ve obviously always been in great shape, but knowing that the producers of Spartacus feel that clothing restricts good battle scenes, did you have to add more hours to your workouts?
EH: I’ve always been a huge advocate of health first, beauty second. If you don’t make sure your machine is taken care of, it doesn’t matter what the camera sees, you”ll be a useless mess, unable to do your fight sequences 12 hours a day. Lots of vitamins, plenty of rest, Gladiator Bootcamp & bikram yoga to sweat it all out and you’re good to go!
BME: How was it stepping onto the set the first day of a hit show where everyone already knew each other and you were the new warrior on the block?
EH: I felt like the adopted kitten on set. Minus excessive petting, everyone was beyond sweet, gracious and more than willing to make me feel at home. I was very fortunate to become adopted immediately, being in a cage sucks.
BME: Fans of the show will be happy to know about your improvised scene with Katrina Law after a battle scene so I’ll assume that Saxa is the type of woman who just goes after whatever she wants without hesitating. Can you feel any kinship with this character or is she your polar opposite?
EH: Ha! Yes to the first question and um, well, not so much opposite but more of a kinship for the next inquiry. I feel that I embody much of who Saxa is, she simply takes it to an inappropriate yet exhilarating level, NEVER to be anticipated.
BME: Katrina Law spoke to us about some of the fan requests she’s gotten including having a scene where she and Lucy Lawless have their feet touching. Obviously, Saxa will draw a lot of fan interest, so are you ready for those types of requests…along with the more innocent ones?
EH: I’m up for the challenge either way, as long as my co-stars don’t decapitate me in the process.
BME: Growing up in a family of musicians, were your mother and father surprised when you chose acting over music?
EH: Quite frankly, I don’t think anything I ever did surprised them. I learned how to break out of my crib before I could walk and haven’t slowed down since. I was one of those fortunate kids who was never told I couldn’t achieve what I wanted. My parents have been an inspiration in their artistic, individual ways, despite being a different path than my own.
BME: While many people spent their time complaining when the Writer’s Strike hit in 2008, you used the time in a more fulfilling way. Can you tell us more about how that experience inspired your Visual Impact Now organization? Was it easy getting people like January Jones, Jessica Alba, Chris Pine, and Taylor Lautner to join your cause?
EH: Ah yes, Visual Impact Now, my first born child. The Writers Strike left me bored, bitter and riddled with idle time(dangerous or productive in my grasp). What began as a simple fundraiser has since grown into an official non-profit organization, the largest partner for eye care in LA, servicing our disadvantaged youth. As you know, every army needs it’s soldiers, mine just so happen to be pretty, famous and attracts followers. I adore and appreciate all of my hosts, who were inspired enough by our approach to jump on board for our cause. I believe it’s the sense of community, combining the entertainment industry & LA’s in-need community that creates a bond. January, Chris and many others that continue to follow have enabled that bond to keep growing. After all, we could just as easily be a pauper as we could a prince, it’s best to learn how to be the solution instead of scorn the problem.
BME: You’ve worked pretty steadily since you started acting which is rare for many actors/actresses. Do you have any words of wisdom for those struggling to break in and what to avoid?
EH: Never give up and NEVER compromise. Period.
BME: I can tell you’ve got a good sense of humor, so what’s your favorite joke to tell?
EH: My favorite joke is more of a psuedo-life-inspiring anecdote and it goes a little something like this:
A young mailman approaches his usual stop and heads to the doorway of a 100yr old ranch house. Sitting in his usual rocking chair, pipe in mouth, is the usual old man and next to him, his usual old hound dog whining impatiently. The mailman hands the stack of letters to the old man, glances at the dog for a moment, and after nodding his goodbye, heads back to his mail truck. A day passes and at the same tick of the clock, the same ranch house, the same pipe smoking old man carry on their usual ways. The mailman hands over the stack of letters only this time, the hound dog is screeching as if in pain. The mailman looks at the old man in surprise, “Is your hound ok??” The old man waves his hand in dismissal and the mailman walks back to his truck in confusion. Next day, same ranch house, same old man, same hound dog, only THIS time it’s wailing in sheer agony. The mailman clutches the stack of letters in a huff, “Sir, I’m going to report you to animal services if you don’t help this poor animal, what’s his problem??” The old man takes a long pull from his pipe and replies,”He’s sitting on a rusty nail.” Horrified, the mailman exclaims, “Well why the hell doesn’t he move?!” “Well,” says the old man,”I guess it aint in deep enough.”
As you’ve all come to expect the interviews to have a shout out to you all, Ellen Hollman did something a little different which I think you’ll enjoy. She set up a funny prank on fellow ‘Spartacus: Vengeance‘ castmate Lucy Lawless. Lawless was doing Xena Convention and during the Q&A, Hollman, in her best Xena outfit, begins asking her questions from the Saxa point of view. What’s really funny is that you can tell Lawless is used to getting all types of questions and gamely answers Hollman’s until it finally dawns on her what going on. It’s easy to see that Hollman will easily be on for another season of ‘Spartacus’ just for her beautiful spirit alone.