Tara Macken may not be a household name yet, but you're definitely familiar with her work. From motion capture work on the upcoming Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City to roles in Sons of Anarchy and The Hunger Games, Tara is turning up all over the place and we wanted to talk to her about her career in acting and stunts.
Continue reading to learn about Tara's love of zombie movies, motion capture for Operation Raccoon City, and recent stunt work on G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Battleship, and Star Trek 2:
Thank you for taking the time to talk with Daily Dead. Can you tell our readers a bit more about yourself and your acting/stunt career?
Tara Macken: Hey everyone, I'm Tara Macken, an Irish/ Filipina girl who was born in a car in Kuwait! I've lived all over the world, in places such as Brunei, Kuwait, The Philippines and the USA. Growing up I could NEVER sit still and I needed to perform or to jump off high platforms in an attempt to fly. I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, all I excelled in was playing and being happy. And I never listened to people when they told me to grow up. Luckily for me, in my efforts of play I discovered that work can coincide with such activities, that being stunt work and acting!
Do you have any formal martial arts / gymnastics training?
Tara Macken: I started off as a gymnast and a rock climber then I got into dance and martial arts. Now my training involves a combination of all these elements.
I noticed that your first credit was When Zombies Attack? Are you a fan of zombie/horror movies? What are some of your favorite films?
Tara Macken: Yes, one of my first credits was a short film called" When Zombies Attack". Believe it or not, it has always been one of my goals to be in a zombie movie! I enjoy the idea of playing the living dead out for human flesh. It's pure fun, the crazy makeup, zombie motions and good old action. Since then, I've been to comic con in San Diego dressed as a Zombie where I got to join in on a zombie walk through town. You should have seen the look on people's faces, it was priceless. I also got to play multiple zombies for the video game "Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City".
As for my favorite zombie films... I loved "Zombieland" and "Shaun Of The Dead". Horror films, I really enjoyed "Quarantine" and "The Ring" (Japanese version).
You recently had a featured role on Sons of Anarchy. How was your time on the set? Do you get recognized more for that role than your other work? Were you a fan of the show before getting on board?
Tara Macken: I had such a fun time on SOA, and everyone was really supportive and happy to be apart of such a cool show. Great crew and everyone on that show are legitimate bad asses, they all drive their Harley's to work! As for getting recognized for playing "Luisa", not at all! Even my close friends who are obsessed with the show did not recognize me. Primarily because in the show I had a broken nose for the whole season, a full sleeve tattoo and my character was a complete b*tch!! Once I told people I was "Luisa" the general response was, "oh I hated you!". So in the acting world, thats a huge complement, I did my job right. As for being a fan of that show, now I am! I'm completely hooked. However when I came in to audition for it, I had never watched an episode.
You did motion capture work on the Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City video game. How was that experience compared to normal stunt work? What characters did you play? Are you looking forward to playing the upcoming video game?
Tara Macken: Motion capture work is extremely fun and very intricate. I enjoyed wearing the mocap suit, I feel like I'm in my own version of "Tron" playing in the grid. There are many differences being between motion capture work and stunt work on film. The biggest difference I found is that when you do mocap work, you have to be so precise about every single gesture that you make. Specially if you are playing multiple characters on the video game. Now you have to focus on how this character in the video game walks, holds his or her gun, talks and reacts. You have to be able to distinguish your movement so that you can create new motions for every other character.
In film however, you can do the stunt, but you can only be one character, so the pressure and the attention to character details are more relaxed. In this video game, I did the motions for Bertha, Lupo, Willow, Party Girl, Tweed and Four Eyes and I played ZOMBIES!!! I am so excited to play this video game, it will be interesting to watch everyone move.
You have a few big movies coming up this summer, including Battleship, GI Joe Retaliation and The Hunger Games. Can you tell us a bit about each role?
Tara Macken: In The Hunger Games, I play the tribute from District 4 who has to fight for my life during the 74th Hunger Games. In, G.I Joe 2, I am one of the stunt doubles who doubled the character "Jinx". General Ninjary :)
For Battleship, I did stunts on this show: driving and explosions.
For any of our readers that might want to pursue a stunt or acting career, how would you suggest them getting started in the business?
Tara Macken: Train hard my friend! Whatever your specialty is, make sure that you are on top of your game and document it. The thing about stunt work is that you may have to perform your stunt multiple times as there may be 20 takes. So if you feel like you can do a crazy gag just once, train hard so that you can take the stunt a few more times. At the end of the day, stunts is a job based on safety. Like any other job you need to understand the history of it and the pros and cons, so research. Read about stuntmen, learn about the different facets of stunt work, from rigging, to wire work to fight choreography to filmography. Also, welcome rejection like an old friend. It happens more so then not, so take it as a learning experience and move on. Be prepared, as the old saying goes, "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity".
With your work completed on the upcoming summer films, what’s next for you?
Tara Macken: I guest starred on an episode on "Children's Hospital", for Adult Swim which I just shot. I've also done stunts this year on "Star Trek 2". So those are in the works. Also this year, I am planning on filming my own shorts with creative director and stuntman Matt Berberi (for festivals and just for fun). but we shall see what the 2012 brings, it's currently pilot season, so it's filled with auditions each leading to a complete different trajectory of the year.
What’s a dream project you’d like to work on or director you’d like to work with?
Tara Macken: Thundercats (If they ever make that cartoon into a movie)! And also the American remake of "Oldboy". Basically any Marvel movie too! as for directors, Darren Aronofsky, Baz Luhrmann, Chan Wook Park and John Woo.
Where can our readers learn more about you online?
Tara Macken: My twitter is @taramacken and I also have a facebook Fan Page. Just type my name. My website is www.taramacken.com