I’ve Got This Handled: Katie Featherston on Paranormal Activity 4
Spoiler Alert: Katie is back in Paranormal Activity 4. She had basically a cameo in Paranormal Activity 3 to transition back to Katie and Kristi as children. Paranormal Activity 4 picks up back with grown-up Katie again after the events of Paranormal Activity 2. Katie Featherston surprised the audience at Fantastic Fest’s midnight screening by showing up to greet them after the movie. The next morning, we got to chat with her about the latest adventures of demon Katie.
CraveOnline: Thank you for coming out late to say hi to everyone after the midnight screening.
Katie Featherston: Oh, we love coming to Fantastic Fest and I was thrilled when they asked me to come down to Austin. I will make any excuse to get down here so I was happy to do it.
Was that your first time seeing the movie?
It was. I snuck up to the sound booth and watched from up there so it was my first time. I’m definitely going to sneak into a theater opening weekend and catch it.
How do you feel when you see these movies, the end result after the experience of shooting them?
I always am sort of amazed at how well our team is at piecing things together and creating tension and making things so scary because oftentimes when you’re in the middle of shooting it, it doesn’t necessarily feel super frightening but they are great at building tension and really providing the audience with good scares. I think that’s so much fun and I always get scared, because as opposed to the first one where I was in every single scene, there’s still a lot of surprises in the sequels for me to enjoy as an audience member.
Since Paranormal Activity 3 dealt more with young Katie, was it good to be back?
Yeah, well now we have kind of the same group that comes back every year, crew-wise and what not. So there’s always that, a great feeling of coming home and seeing familiar faces so that’s always wonderful. I care so much about the people involved in this and the story itself and what this has become that I will do anything and everything for it. I love being involved when they need me.
I imagine from Paranormal Activity to Paranormal Activity 2 was big shift in popularity and recognition for you. By year four, is this just what you do now?
Well, there’s still the same level of fan excitement. That hasn’t changed. I remember in the first one, going into Starbucks or the grocery store and having people recognize me was shocking. Now it’s not as shocking anymore but it’s still exciting and lovely. We have really great fans who really care about the story and the world and love being scared. I think because the movies are so sort of slice of life and the character seems so relatable that people feel like they can approach me and talk to me, which I love. I really do. So I always get to excited people who like the movies.
Since you were so involved in the first one, what do you think of the way the mythology of this family and their curse has developed?
I think it’s great. It’s definitely bigger and grander than I would’ve been able to come up with on my own, or that even the three of us would’ve been able to do. So I think they’ve done a great job of really keeping the talent and the essence of the first movie throughout the sequels, but creating a world that can sustain continuing movies, at least until the audiences aren’t excited anymore but thankfully so far they really have been.
What can we say about Katie now in Paranormal Activity 4?
Ah, well, I don’t know what we can say about her. This is my feeling about Katie. Poor Katie got possessed way back in PA1 and is just a sad victim. There’s a demon inside of her that just will not let her go which is just, to me, sort of tragic. But I think audiences will be excited to see how things unfold in the fourth one. There are some, I think, great twists that the audience won’t be expecting and it’s a really, really scary movie so I’m excited for people to see it.
When new actors come in, do you get to brief them on how this works?
Terri Taylor does our casting and she really does most of the briefing. She’s great at finding creative people who can really jump in, just totally jump in head first and roll with everything. We’ve been really lucky to have strong people who are really fun to work with. They don’t need much briefing from me. Usually when I show up, they’re already well in the game.
As a working actor has this been a great gig to have a role every year?
Yeah, it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing that not everybody has so I am very, very thankful to not only have a great job but also to have the same people around me that I do. Like I said before, it’s like we’re family now. I’ve made true lifelong friends in the process of doing these so it doesn’t get better than that in my book.
Has it made it at all harder to book other roles, because Katie is real. How can Katie appear as other characters?
Right, but also how could Katie do interviews? At some point I think people figure it out and we were never trying to trick anyone. There is sort of a challenge in that at times, but I have a great set of managers and agents. They’re here to support me and they’ll take care of that. My job is just to show up and do good work and do good auditions and focus on that.
How many retakes do you have to do, just because maybe you enter frame too early or your arm slips and gives away where you’re hiding?
We are pretty meticulous in doing everything until we get it right. It’s not so stringent that it’s that specific. I’m trying to think of examples. It’s all about timing, so as long as we have the timing down and it can provide a good scare or a creepy moment then we’ve got it.
I won’t spoil the scene, but I just thought if you’d moved the wrong way, it would have given the reveal away.
It would’ve but we had bean bags down there that I had to maneuver my foot in and then pop up in the right spot, so you are right. There were some of those things but if it looks smooth in front of the camera and it looks scary, then it’s all worth it.
I always wondered, back on the first Paranormal Activity, did you have to shoot for hours to get time-lapse footage of you standing over the bed?
We did it for I don’t remember how long, maybe half an hour in darkness and then he would just loop that, but then we did do that over a sunrise. We started when it was dark and then waited until the sun was totally up. I don’t know how long that takes, an hour? So we did do that in real time.
How do you feel to see the found footage style prompt other genres, like we’ve seen it in a party comedy and a superhero movie now?
I think it’s really exciting and I think if they can do it well in that genre and make it work, then that’s a really cool thing. I also love sometimes I’ll see trailers that will have a shot of the audience and a green hue, which I first saw in the Paranormal Activity 1 trailers, so that always makes me smile when I see that kind of thing in other movie trailers. But it’s flattering. It’s flattering that people respond to the kind of movie that we’ve been making. I’d love to be it successful in every genre that it makes sense in.
That’s right, even the audiences become part of the found footage of the advertising.
Yeah, the advertising, we’ve got a truly brilliant team. They’re very, very creative. For the kind of movies that we do, most of the advertising is digital and every year they have to reinvent it a little bit and make sure it engages the audience and make sure it gets them excited because a lot of leading up to the movie, what gets people so excited is the little trailer that’s dropped or the weird tape that’s sent to someone, the little tidbits that are thrown out that get people really revved up for the opening. We’re lucky to have great people that can get creative things and really execute that well.
Did you shoot any sequences for Paranormal Activity 4 that didn’t make it into this cut of the movie?
Yeah, there were a handful of things that I was around for and saw that didn’t make it into the cut but that’s always how it if. It’s very creative. It’s a very fluid process and we shoot for a long time, we all throw in ideas. They have a great idea of what they want but it’s very collaborative and I don’t even know, for every 10 hours you film, 20 minutes makes it in. But it’s good because you always have a lot to choose from and the best stuff can make it into the final cut for the audience.
What does it feel like to you when you demon out?
[Laughs] I don’t really feel like a demon per se. I just feel powerful and strong and I don’t have to walk too fast, I don’t have to do anything to impress anybody because I’ve got this handled. This is my territory. It’s just a feeling of being in control and I think that would be scary if a demon was in your house and felt like that, so hopefully people will respond to it.
When is the last time you saw Micah Sloat?
Oh, I saw Micah, we had brunch a couple of months ago. We just talked on the phone last week but it’s been a few months since I’ve actually seen him. We try to go grab breakfast or grab a drink or something and keep up with each other. We text and talk on the phone a lot. He is one of my dearest friends and I couldn’t love him any more. He’s awesome.
Poor Micah can’t come back though.
Well, never say never, but he’s in a choir, this a cappella choir that travels all over the world so he’s busy doing his own stuff. I’m sure if they found a way, he would be thrilled to come back. He loves this franchise as much as I do.
What is coming up for you in the next year?
Well, right now just dealing with and enjoying the hoopla of PA4 and then looking forward to a really good pilot season which will happen in January. We’ll see what happens.
If everything continues to go well, would you be up for Paranormal Activity 5?
I would love to if it happens and if it makes sense for them to bring me back. I think they’re good at not just sticking me in there just to say that I’m in it. I think they’re good at making it make sense. If all those things worked out, then I would be thrilled, but we’ll have to wait and see what they come up with and see if they even want to do a fifth one, so fingers crossed.
What have you thought of the Paranormal Activity spoofs that have come out?
I have not seen a number of them, is what I’m going to say to that, because I think they’re great. In fact, my friend Joey Oglesby is in one and I haven’t seen his yet either, but it’s on my list. I’ve seen some of the YouTube ones and some of them are really creative and make me laugh. I think it’s flattering to have people poke fun at you or take the time to create something that’s semi-inspired by something you did. I think it’s pretty fun.