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Q&A: Sonja Kinski talks “DIAMOND ON VINYL”

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When you sport the surname Kinski, preconceptions of your character will follow. Just ask Sonja. The talented, beautiful young actress and model is the daughter of TESS and CAT PEOPLE star Nastassja Kinski and the granddaughter of the late, towering, talented and by all accounts rather mad Teutonic acting legend Klaus Kinski (NOSFERATU PHANTOM DER NACHT, FITZCARALDO, THE GREAT SILENCE and CRAWLSPACE, recently re-released on Blu-ray by SCREAM Factory). It goes to follow that when people learn of the younger Kinski’s lineage, fascination and maybe even intimidation will get the better of them. This writer, an ardent admirer and obsessive of the elder Kinski’s work especially, admits to such nerves when  he found himself depressing a series of buttons that made up her phone number for a scheduled interview last week.

Imagine my surprise then, when Sonja Kinski failed to claim to be Jesus, did not berate me in German, nor did she plot to murder me. In fact, she was charming, shy and, most shocking of all, quite normal.

Kinski is currently starring in the dark mystery/romance DIAMOND ON VINYL (out now on VOD and limited theatrical from Gravitas). While not a horror film outright, there are enough notes on the excesses of the human condition, as well as a genuine aura of unease to warrant the film being of interest to FANGORIA readers of a certain persuasion. The weight of the film’s interest rests on Kinski and she delivers a magnetic performance as Charlie, a sexy, unbalanced borderline sociopath who befriends a recently separated woman while sidling up romantically to her delusional, would-be fiancée. Charlie manipulates people around her to suit her own curiosity. Her intentions are not malevolent, but the results of her actions certainly are.

It’s a great, difficult to essay role that Kinski channels with ease and both she and the film have already earned some acclaim. Before her star rises to high for us to hold, FANGORIA opted to speak with Kinski about her film, her future and the enduring power of Michael Cimino.

FANGORIA: It’s hard to lock DIAMOND ON VINYL to one genre. How would you define the film?

SONJA KINSKI: I think it’s primarily a character piece and a movie about the weirdness of people, of realness and finding yourself…

FANG:  And for you personally, about finding yourself as an actress. This is not an easy role, but you nail it.

KINSKI: Thank you! I was lucky that [director] JR [Hughto] gave me a lot of space to create her. It wasn’t all that difficult because I am naturally drawn to weird, conflicted people and weird, conflicted things. JR gave me an idea as to who Charlie was, I thought about it and I just made her my own.

FANG:  Where does Charlie end and Sonja begin?

KINSKI: I think we’re both very different. I’m very private. I keep to myself and let others keep to themselves. Charlie is not, obviously! She’s very curious. I’m not like that, I’m a hermit sometimes. But that’s why I liked her. That’s why I like acting, because I can express hidden aspects of my personality in different ways.

FANG:  Was playing Charlie a challenge to break out of your comfort zone?

KINSKI: Well, I mean I’m reserved but I’m very emotional and angry and passionate, so there is a lot of Charlie inside me. I’m actually very extreme with everything [sighs].

FANG:  Did your mom ever try to talk you out of this acting thing?

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Kinski and her recorder in “Diamond on Vinyl”

KINSKI: God no! In fact, she’s always been supportive and I call her all the time. She always gives great advice and I’m lucky to have her as my mom. She hasn’t seen DIAMOND yet, unfortunately. I sent her an email about it though… It’s out now, so I’ll send her a copy.

FANG:  The movie has been doing the festival circuit all year. Was it unnerving seeing it for the first time with a crowd?

KINSKI: Oh yeah, I was so nervous. I hadn’t seen it before that and I think every actor is self conscious, I know I am. But I was so happy with it and so happy with how the audience embraced it.

FANG:  With a name as heavy as Kinski, do you find the audition process as difficult as other young actors might?

KINSKI: Oh please, yeah. I struggle the same as any actor. I don’t think having Kinski as a name changes anything. It all depends on your drive to succeed and I don’t have a free ride. I don’t know… maybe opportunities come via your talent and if you’re simply just right for the role.

FANG:  Does your surname carry too much weight sometimes? Do you feel like you have a familial reputation to uphold?

KINSKI: No, not at all. I feel grateful. I come from a lot of genius and I don’t think it’s a bad thing because we’re all very different and I am blessed. Each one of us has sometime different we bring to the table.

FANG:  What’s the greatest thing your mom taught you about acting?

KINSKI: To work with the best. But that’s easy for her to say, because she’s only worked for the best!

FANG:  How about you as a film lover. Have you seen any films recently that spoke to you?

KINSKI: I actually just watched THE DEER HUNTER for the first time and it devastated me. I can’t stop thinking about it; it’s wedged in my head. I’m like, washing my dishes and thinking about De Niro saying I love you to Walken.  That scene, the whole movie, was so intense, so moving, I just cannot shake that movie.

FANG:  And the music. The theme, “Cavatina”. So emotional…

KINSKI: Oh yeah, I was heaving, I couldn’t stop crying. It was intense. Oh my god, that movie.

FANG:  Any dream directors you want to work for?

KINSKI: I adore Martin Scorsese. That is my dream. I gotta work with Martin.

FANG:  Well, in the meantime, do a full blown horror movie so we can talk more.

KINSKI: [Laughs] I would do that! In fact, I will do that!

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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