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Gina Holden – No Flash in the Pan

Gina Holden

No Flash in the Pan

by Jay S. Jacobs

When you think of the word “nerd,” in general the picture that comes to mind looks nothing like Gina Holden. After all, she is beautiful, poised, talented and successful – not usually traits that one associates with the term. Yet, Holden will openly acknowledge that she does have a bit of nerd in her. Somehow, this makes her all the more charming.

In a television and film career which has been gaining momentum by leaps and bounds, Holden is still – first and foremost – a fan. She still gets giddy thinking of favorite films and series. She is genuinely thrilled to work with her favorite actors and have the opportunity to play a part in new stories – projects that may move people watching her on screen to the same flights of fancy she felt watching Sigourney Weaver fighting off an evil space creature. She isn’t a grizzled show biz pro. She still revels in the glitz, glamour and fantasy – from both sides of the aisle.

Holden’s positive career thrust is even more impressive when you realize that she does it all on her terms. For example, she still lives in her native Canada rather than following conventional wisdom and moving to Hollywood for the big roles. However, the roles have continued coming at a dizzying pace since she has broken onto the scene. She has been in movies like Final Destination 3, Fantastic Four, Man About Town and Butterfly Effect 2. She has guested on series like The L-Word, Supernatural, Dead Zone and Psych.

Currently she is juggling regular roles in two cable TV series. She has finished the first season of the Lifetime network’s chilling Blood Ties and segued smoothly into the iconic comic role of Dale Arden in the Sci-Fi network’s re-imagining of the classic serial Flash Gordon. Flash is one of the big breakthroughs for the channel, helping them to weather the imminent docking of Battlestar Galactica by offering a new franchise based on an old favorite.

You wouldn’t think she’d have time to breathe, much less work more, but Holden also has three films on the way. Holden reunites with Jared Padalecki (star of the series that she considers her first big break, Supernatural) in the family film The Christmas Cottage. She plays a supporting role in the second movie in the Alien vs. Predator series. Finally, she took a small role in the upcoming buzz film Battle In Seattle – just to get to work with a cast that includes Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Rodriguez and many others.

Holden took some time off of the filming of Flash Gordon to check in with us and give us a guided tour of her life and career.

How did you first get involved in acting?

It was when I was really young. I don’t know if it’s something you’re just born with…. For me it seemed like it. I was only about five years old when I did my first onstage performance. I’ve just always really loved it. It just starts as a child, wanting to make believe and tell stories and stuff like that. It started very, very young for me and I really embraced it and did a lot of theater and all the high school plays, etc.

When you were very young, you originally studied dance and did some musical theater. Would you like to get back to those talents at some point?

Oh, I would love to. I’m very active. Physical activity is such a huge part of my life. I still dance – just for fun, recreationally. I do ballet classes. I’m not competing or anything like that, but for me, it’s something that is still a big part of my life. So, to do it actually for work – in a musical or something like that – would just be so great. I think that’s why I also love stunt work because it’s so similar to dance. Believe it or not, the choreography and how set it is as far as a final result – you’ve got to have everything together. It’s very calculated.

Has it been difficult to get a career going and still be able to stay in your native Canada? Have you ever tried to go Hollywood? As much TV and film as is done in Canada, there are more chances in California.

Absolutely, but for me I’ve always just done everything sort of my way. It’s just how it happened. I’ve never really said I’ve got to go to LA, or I’ve got to stay in Vancouver. It’s just every opportunity that’s come my way I’ve embraced. I’ve done it very freely and openly. It just happens that a lot of the projects – actually almost all of them – have been American but filmed here in Vancouver. So even though I’m very free – I travel a lot, I have no problem moving in a heartbeat, drop of a hat – but it’s just sort of happened that it’s all stayed within Canada. I have traveled down. I shot some of The L-Word first season in Los Angeles. So, I’m back and forth. But it’s never been, oh, I have to do this because that’s what everybody else does. Things have happened for me, just in my own ways.

I read that you have a great love of Japan. You lived there in your teens. How did you first go there? How did it help you start your career?

I was dancing and performing in Vancouver. A modeling agent had seen me and approached my mom and said we really think she’d do great over in Japan. It just all started that way. For me, it was just a wonderful experience. I’ve always been really independent and adventurous, so for me to fly over to Japan when I was fifteen was nothing. It was just – absolutely, no question, I want to do it. It was a wonderful experience. For me, it just set my work ethic up. The amount of hours and travel – for me for my career, it’s so invaluable, that experience. I grew up so fast, but in a wonderful way. Having all that responsibility was great for me. I embraced it. It wasn’t a challenge. It was just natural. It really helped me when I started acting, because the hours that you work modeling are just crazy and it’s just such a huge amount of energy. You’re telling a story in a different way. It’s a still photograph. You have to be so expressive and natural. It all really compliments each other. It was setting me up for something I didn’t know at the time. Now I know why I have all that experience under my belt. Even the dance background set up for modeling, because that discipline of ballet and the poise and how natural it needs to look – but underneath it all it’s very technical. Everything has sort of led to the next. I feel so blessed.

In your career, you seem to get a lot of roles in the sci-fi and horror genres. Is this something you’ve searched out or just the way it’s come up?

It just sort of came to me. I’m very happy about it. I have a brother who was very into sci-fi and comic books growing up, so (chuckles) I’m really excited about this genre. When I started getting these roles – Supernatural was a really big one for me, Final Destination 3 was sort of the big one that opened up all these doors – so when I see it comes to me in terms of a script that I go audition for, I do get really excited. I love it. It’s so challenging and fun.

Your first series was Reunion, which was getting good buzz but then Fox – as they often do – pulled the plug after just like five episodes. Was that disappointing?

It’s always disappointing when something you love to do so much is cancelled, but all that stuff is not in your control, so you just have to enjoy the process. What we did have was so great. It was so much fun for me to play that character [who is] so different than me – physically, even. It was just a great opportunity. Everyone is still wondering what happened. So many fans still want to know who actually [committed the murder]. It’s hard not to find out, even for me as the actor. I don’t know any more than anybody else, so it’s disappointing, because you get really involved with the characters and then they pull it for whatever reason, and you don’t ever really have closure. But it was still such an awesome show to be on. Great memories.

Most actors dream of getting a regular role in one series. What is it like to be starring in two at the same time?

I can’t believe it. (laughs) It’s so wonderful. I try not to sound too cheesy or corny, because it just sounds fake, but I’m very, very honored. It’s a dream come true. I worked so, so hard. I don’t take it for granted. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity. I really don’t know what else to say. It’s just so humbling and I’m honored. I work really hard, and I hope fans know that…. I really, really put all of my energy into a part…. To have two such different characters is nice. It’s a nice contrast and shows, hopefully, my versatility to fans. It’s not just an easy thing. It’s very different and it’s challenging. I’m loving it.

Coreen in Blood Ties is kind of a very quirky character for you – very dark, funny and sort of goth. Was it fun to get into the mindset of the character?

Absolutely. Absolutely. I just let myself get completely taken over by her. Some of the things that came out were so fun and amazing. But, again, that to me is such a wonderful challenge as an actor, just to go right in and give over [to the character] and see what happens. That’s a wonderful freedom to have. For me, it’s just so fun. I miss playing her; I really hope they go back for a second season. I hope I can guest star in it. I’m really close with the producers and although Flash is my 100% commitment and I’m so busy with that, you never know…. Everyone talks to each other and if it can work out, it will. It’s just a scheduling thing and we’ll see what happens. I’d love to continue to play her, even in a guest star scenario. Just pop in every once in a while, if possible. She’s so fun! How can you not… I miss her. (laughs)

Flash Gordon is such an iconic character in science fiction. How familiar were you with that story before getting involved in the show?

A little bit. Like I say, growing up, having the comic books around with my brother, I had known about it. What’s great about Flash Gordon is it’s got this huge history, but it’s been changed and updated so many different times. So for us, we can use all that as background in history but then modernize it so it’s believable in this day and age. Ours has the inter-dimensional rip rather than a spaceship – things like that just need to be updated. Of course I knew Flash Gordon and I’m just so excited to change it up and bring it a fresh new face.

When you do give it this fresh new face, do you feel a certain responsibility to stay true to the overall feel and story for the fans of earlier incarnations of Flash?

Oh, sure. The writers really are in charge of that and having the old characters from the comic books; they are all here and they are coming up. Especially in new episodes – that’s all there. They have done a great job of just letting the characters be fresh and new and updated. We want to honor the originals, but you have to update them. Especially my character; she was originally just… her character description was “passenger on plane.” That’s not a modern woman anymore. As much as that was important then and great, now women are running the world right along with the men. If I didn’t bring her up to speed it wouldn’t be believable and I don’t think anyone would really be that interested in watching. She’s got to have all sorts of things going on now. That’s great because that’s what modern women do. They are amazing.

Do you think the series will sort of tease the romantic tension in the storyline? Obviously, Dale and Flash are attracted to each other, but you also have a romantic interest, Joe there. Now the alien character of Baylin seems to have a spark with Flash. Do you think Flash and Dale will ever get together or that it will be just a long-smoldering passion that isn’t acted on?

I hope that they will, because historically they do end up together and they belong together. I think that’s always there. But, oddly enough, they’ve got so much going on (laughs) even if they wanted to act on that – Dale’s engaged now. Flash has got this huge responsibility to save the universe and save his father. Even though the attraction’s there and the chemistry is there, and we know there’s things we want to talk about and work on – we don’t really have time necessarily. Over time, through the series, if we are so lucky enough to go on and on, that will hopefully come out. But right now, there are pressing matters we need to deal with before love. So, even though that’s there and there are triangles and that makes it very interesting, we have to balance all of those things. The time… we just can’t even deal with that right now. It’s there, but it’s going to take some time to come out, I think.

Do you have any sort of fantasy storyline you’d like to see Dale involved with?

Wow, yeah. I just daydream all the time about future episodes. (laughs) I love action so much and Dale is such an adventurous woman and wants to get right in there with Flash and Baylin and all the action. I would love to see possibly Baylin and I – the other wonderful, strong woman on the show, the alien bounty hunter – maybe we could team up and save Flash from something together and have a great fight sequence. I think that would be really exciting. Give the fans a really good show. That might be neat.

You also have a few movies coming out. Speaking of sort of iconic characters, you are doing the latest Alien vs. Predator film. Were you a fan of those series and what is that role like?

I am a huge fan. Growing up, Sigourney Weaver was – oh, she’s just such a phenomenal actress. I’m such a huge fan of the Alien movies. When I found out that I actually got the part, I was so excited. I couldn’t even believe it. Even on the first day of filming, I was so star-struck because it’s the original crew that worked on Aliens as well. It wasn’t just seeing the aliens; it was just to work with the crew that had done those movies was so awesome. I had to really focus and say, okay, I’m the actress that they’ve hired to do this – so stop being a fan and get to work and get an autograph later. (laughs) But no, it was thrilling. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, for sure. I can’t believe it.

You’re also doing The Christmas Cottage with Jared Padalecki, who you also worked with in Supernatural. What was it like getting back together to work with him? This movie is a little less genre-driven, was it fun to do more of a family drama?

It really is. I love doing all sorts of projects. I’m really lucky that I can do both. It was so great to work with Jared again. I talk about him all the time. I just love him to death. I think he’s so wonderful. To have a relationship before – because our characters in The Christmas Cottage date in college and have a very passionate relationship – so to have a friendship already built with him just added so much to our characters, I think. It was very easy and natural. To work with him again was great. I loved it. It’s a great project and was very inspiring to work on.

I’m an old friend of Mary Aloe, who is one of your producers in Battle In Seattle, so it was kind of cool to see that you were working with her. It doesn’t appear that you have a huge role in that, but it has such a strong cast – Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Woody Harrelson, Channing Tatum. What is it like working with such respected actors?

It was great. That role came to me, and I said I absolutely would do it. It was a small role, but I have no problem doing that in such an amazing script. My scenes were with Michelle Rodriguez, who I am a huge fan of from Lost and all of her other stuff. I got to work with her, which was thrilling for me, actually. I tried to be all cool. I just said I love your work and that was it. She was really wonderful to work with. Overall, you have names like that, and you have my name in the mix – [it] is so exciting. That was such a great project. Oh, my goodness, what a great script. So, any bit that I can be a part of I’m there.

In a couple of interviews I’ve heard you refer to yourself as a nerd. Most people would just on first glance say she’s a beautiful woman and not really expect that aspect of you. Why do you feel you are a nerd?

Because I am. I’m a very excited person. I was not the cool kid growing up – but that’s okay with me. I love sci-fi. I grew up playing video games with my brother. I like computers and technology. Yeah, you look at me and people would maybe judge me a certain way, which is fine. But then as soon as you talk to me for five minutes, you go, oh, she’s down to earth. She’s cool. That’s just me. I don’t know what it is. It’s just always been my personality. I can play really glamorous. (laughs) They can dress me up and I can play great parts as glamour, but to me life is just too fun and exciting. I guess if that’s nerdy, then I’m definitely a nerd.

You went to Comic Con for the first time this year. What was that like for you?

Yeah, that fits in to my nerd thing…. I went home. It was my first time. Because our show wasn’t on the air yet, I didn’t get a lot of people coming up to me. I did get people approach me for Supernatural and a few autographs were taken and some photos – but I literally got off the plane, after shooting all night and walked straight onto the floor and I went and got myself some autographs that I wanted. Pictures with storm troopers and got a light saber and things like that. So, I was at home as a fan of sci-fi. I got to enjoy it on that level. Then in the evening, it was all the glamorous stuff. We did red carpet and had a Sci-Fi party. That was really fun, but for me, just to go onto the floor and see what was going on and see all the fans dressed up – it was just a really awesome experience. A great place for people to go and just be themselves and do what they love to do. It was really neat for that.

Did you get tired of hearing the joke about one of your older films – how can there be a third Final Destination?

No, what do you mean, sorry?

Oh, I’m sorry, there were lots of jokes going around, like how many Final Destinations can there be? The first one was supposed to be the final…

Oh, I get it. (laughs) I didn’t hear that one.

Oh, you didn’t? It made it onto Gilmore Girls, Ebert and Roeper; I heard it a lot at the time…

Oh, I’m sure. I think it’s great. You have to take pokes at things, for sure. You’ve got to laugh. Yeah, that’s an amazing series of movies for sure. But, yeah, that’s a good point. Sorry, that went right over my head. (laughs)

Say you were looking back at your career from 50 years in the future – how would you like people to see your work?

That’s a great question, thank you. If I’m so lucky to do that, I hope that people could just look back and say that’s somebody that worked really hard and had a lot of fun and just had a nice steady career and a great work ethic. Turned out some really great projects. Hopefully, people will just have a good memory of the projects that I’ve done. That would just be wonderful.

What are some things people would be surprised to know about you?

Well, I think the nerdiness is one, for sure. And… even though I’m in this business that has a lot of stereotypes attached to it, that I’m just a down-home girl who likes to do normal things – spend time with family and friends and just have fun and laugh and is a big geek at heart. (laughs)

Copyright ©2007 All rights reserved. Posted: September 19, 2007.

Photo Credits:

#1 © 2007. Courtesy of All rights reserved.

#2 © 2007 Dexter Quinto. Courtesy of All rights reserved.

#3 © 2007 Dexter Quinto. Courtesy of All rights reserved.

#4 © 2007 Dexter Quinto. Courtesy of All rights reserved.

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