‘Darkness of Man’ Kristanna Loken on blending action and emotion

Kristanna Lokken is no stranger to the silver screen, having made a name for herself opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger as the villainess T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Darkness of Man, the latest film from James Cullen Bressack, has the talented actress playing a role opposite another action star – Jean-Claude Van Damme, along with rising star Emerson Min.   In Darkness of Man, JCVD is Russell Hatch, an Interpol Agent who is still haunted by the death of an informant who died in a raid gone wrong. Years have passed, and he’s still vowed to protect the informant’s son. However, a gang war complicates everything and puts Hatch and others in great danger.

Claire, Loken’s character, a veterinarian turned love interest for Van Damme’s character, is a strong part of Darkness of Man’s emotional DNA and part of why this film is worth checking out. Over Zoom, we chatted with Loken about how she came onto the project and helped shape Claire based on her personal history. She also gave us a preview of her new projects, including a project with Billy Baldwin. Read on for the full interview.

The Interview with Darkness of Man actress Kristanna Loken

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Ayla Ruby: Hi, it’s lovely to meet you.

Kristanna Loken: You too. You too.

Ayla Ruby: I’d love to know a little bit more about how you got onto this project and what was the most interesting thing that appealed to you?

Kristanna Loken: Yeah. I met James Cullen Bressack, the writer, producer, director through a mutual friend of ours, a producer that I’d worked with. And I had a great chat with James and immediately liked him, and he pitched me the idea of the script. I read the script. Of course, was excited at the prospect of working with [Jean-Claude] Van Damme and James. And I saw that James is such an incredible young filmmaker with already a huge body of work. I got on board and I worked with James to really flesh out the role of Claire, really bring the heart and soul into her, and how she supports Van Damme’s character and then ultimately also Jayden [Emerson Min].

On Claire’s journey in Darkness of Man

Ayla Ruby: She’s such a super interesting character. I’d love to know more about where she starts out, and then obviously it ends in a happy place for her. Just if you can talk about her journey and your input onto the process on that too.

Kristanna Loken: Yeah. Yeah. We really collaborated together a lot on this. I think a lot of what you see in the film, we really worked on creating, bringing more and more. Because it’s important to me as an actress to have characters that you truly care about and are rooting for in one way or another.

Kristanna Loken: And I thought that we really needed to see this wonderful depth and range within Van Damme and how Claire could support him there. We thought, “What’s a great meeting place for them?” And we came up with the concept of her being this in-home veterinarian, because James has a cat and he has an in-home vet. And we thought this is a great way for them to meet. We see the softer side of Van Damme’s character, Russell Hatch. And Claire is compelled by this wounded soul that she sees in Van Damme’s character and is inspired to also nurse him back to health like she does with her animals in a way.

Kristanna Loken:  And through this process, they fall in love. And she sees that he’s guarded, and he’s gone through so much pain with his lost love previously. But she can feel that he really loves her too. He’s just maybe not able to say it right away. But she hangs in there. And then also through the meeting of Jayden, the teenage boy that Russell Hatch is entrusted with caring for after the loss of his mother. And they form this pseudo family of these three misfits that really end up filling a void in one another’s lives.

Kristanna Loken on blending action and emotional stakes in Darkness of Man

Ayla Ruby: Now, as far as filming this, I think I read that it filmed in LA, right?

Kristanna Loken: Yes.

Ayla Ruby: Can you talk about what it was like to film it, just any of that? Because there’s this very gritty action-y part, and then there’s this really complicated emotional relationship that you just talked about that I love so much. And I’d like to know more about what that was like bringing it to screen.

Kristanna Loken: Yeah. It’s interesting because my character really is there to serve the role of the heart and soul of JCVD and his character as we see it in the film. She’s removed from the action aspect of it. She’s aware of it, and she knows that something really bad continually happens to him, but she’s not quite sure how and why that this is happening. But she’s accepting of it no matter what, because she sees the good in him. She doesn’t really probe too much, but she doesn’t have to.

Ayla Ruby: Yeah. There’s a moment I think, where she answers his phone when he is in the hospital, and it’s like the bridging of the two worlds that I thought was super interesting.

Kristanna Loken: That’s right. Yes, she does. And again, it’s like she doesn’t ask too many questions, but just enough to get him the necessary information. And in the creation of my backstory of her character, my dad was a cop, and my mother was a social worker. It was like the blending of these two worlds. She was aware of the violence and the volatility around that, but then she was also supported and nurtured by this caring woman who worked with PTSD in vets. That to me was a great blending of, there’s stuff that I don’t need to know, but I know the heart and soul is what really matters.

On what you should know about the film

Ayla Ruby: I know we’re starting to get close on time, but is there anything else you want people to know about this movie or about anything that’s next for you or just anything about Claire?

Kristanna Loken: Sure. Yeah, A couple things just to wrap up. One is I think, I hope that people will watch this film and see something that’s a little different than just your average action movie. I think there’s a beautiful soul to the film. I think they’ll walk away with that, a little deeper feeling.

On Kristanna Loken’s next projects

Kristanna Loken: As for me, I’ve got three other upcoming projects. I’ve got a film that my company, Trio Entertainment produced called Vice & Virtue, in which I also star. That’s a dramedy. I got a film called Dark Night of the Soul, which is a survival film, my 127 Hours, staring death in the face. And will she pull through or not? Martin Kove plays my dad. And yeah, he’s great.

Kristanna Loken:  And then last but certainly not least is a film called No Address. And No Address underscores the homeless crisis that we’re currently facing in the United States. My character is married to Billy Baldwin’s character. We have a son. And it’s our journey intertwined with other people and how they end up homeless.

Ayla Ruby: Interesting. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciated the chat, and thank you.

Kristanna Loken: My pleasure. My pleasure. Thank you.

Darkness of Man is now available to purchase on digital.

Find out more about the film, including how to buy it so you can watch, at the official website for the title.

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