Katherine McNamara on 'Natural Selection' and 'Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments'

Photo Credit: 2015 Disney Enterprises
September 16th, 2016

Actress Katherine McNamara has been really making a name for herself over the past few years and you will only see more of her in the future. She stars as Clary Fray in the television series based on The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare called Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments. Katherine is also known for her role in the 2015 film, The Scorch Trials. Her new film, Natural Selection, was just recently released and she recently took the time to sit down with us at the TheMovieNetwork.com to tell us all about the film, working with Anthony Michael Hall and dealing with the intensity sci-fi fans.

Nick Leyland from TMN: I watched it this morning. It's a pretty dark film. It's a weird one to start your day out on, I guess. [chuckle]

Katherine McNamara: It's very dark. Yeah, I would not recommend it on a Monday morning. [chuckle] But I'm glad you got a chance to see it.

TMN: I watched your character and one of the most interesting things in the film is that your character on paper is the popular pretty girl that everyone thinks has this perfect life and stuff, but she seems to get the hard end of the stick the whole movie. [chuckle]

Katherine McNamara: That's exactly it. And that's exactly the point of that character. In essence, that's kind of the whole point of the film is that we have all these characters that seemingly have lives that look one way, but in essence, every character has skeletons in their closet, every character has a dark side just as every single human being has a bit of darkness within them or in their life. And it's about how you deal with that darkness and about how you handle those situations that defines who you are and defines how you fit into the world.

TMN: What causes kids to turn into people like Indrid? And what do you feel to be the difference between Tyler and Indrid? 

Katherine McNamara: Well, that's really the whole question of the film is, is looking at those little moments. And it's just accumulation of these little seemingly nonchalant, seemingly insignificant moments and statements and opinions and things that over time accumulate into this radical opinion and this radical behavior and this almost desperation to do something. And it ends up lashing out obviously in a very negative and horrific way. But the scary thing in the film is that there's really not much difference between Tyler and Indrid. They're both bored, they're both young people, they're both boys that are trying to find their place in the world, they both want to belong, they both want to be loved, and they both want to be understood. And it's how they go about that and how they react to growing up that shapes who they are and shapes their mark on the world.

TMN: For me, it's almost like Tyler is looking for the good in the world, a little piece of it, and Indrid has just kind of given up on that.

Katherine McNamara: Exactly. What I love about the film is that it presents a situation and doesn't necessarily comment on it. But if it does say anything, it really makes a statement about perspectives and about how really a lot of what happens in your life does depend on your outlook and your perspective. And if you view the world in a positive way you will see even if something happens to you in your life, it will seem more positive, that your entire life will have a more positive spin because you choose to live your life that way. Whereas, if you have a negative spin on your life, it can be extremely detrimental and toxic.

(Katherine McNamara in Natural Selection - Photo Credit: Modoc Spring)

(TMN: One of the cool parts about the film for people like me that grew up in the 80s and stuff is that Anthony Michael Hall is in the film.

Katherine McNamara: Yes, it's cool for me too.

TMN: Did you ever watch his films growing up? 

Katherine McNamara: Oh, my god, absolutely! I'm a huge John Hughes fan.

TMN: Are you, really? 

Katherine McNamara: Oh, my god, yes. I could watch Breakfast Club all day, everyday.

TMN: Oh, wow. That's great. I'm a huge John Hughes fan, too.

Katherine McNamara: He never gets old.

TMN: It really just kind of solidified watching the film for me because I love him. I was always waiting for him to come on screen and see what he was gonna do.

Katherine McNamara: Yeah, exactly. Well, it's so neat when you get to see these people who did start off so young and have continued in their careers and have been able to evolve and grow, and continue adapting, and finding new ways to be a part of this industry. And that it's so great to see someone who has his wits about him and has a really great view on life and the industry. I didn't get to work with him much, obviously, but the time that I did get to spend with him, he's such a warm, generous human being.

TMN: The film is obviously based in high school life and what I've read about you is that you finished high school way before Eddie and the other kids your age or anything like that. Was that because you wanted to get your career up and going? Or was it because you were just ahead of everybody? 

Katherine McNamara: No, I had a really amazing teacher when I was very young and who followed this sort of veracity and this hunger for knowledge, and really took me under her wing and pushed me and helped me realize my educational potential. And so education became a priority for me at a very young age, even before I was an actor. Before I was an actor I wanted to go into finance. And I wanted to be the CFO of a company or run my own company or things of that nature. And then I found acting, but I wanted to continue my education. So, by that point I was already doing homeschooling and correspondence in that format because it allowed me to do schooling at my own pace and to really pursue things at a level that was beneficial for me. But I still went to public school and got all the social aspects. So I still went to recess, I still went to all the field trips and assemblies and before and after school activities, so it was really fortunate because I was able to do my academics at my own pace.

TMN: I can't imagine your parents' face when their 14-year-old daughter is like, "Okay, I'm gonna graduate high school and I'm getting into finance."


Katherine McNamara: Yeah. No, it was kind of a weird phenomenon. I didn't expect it either. I remember I was enrolling in what I thought was just my next semester and my adviser told me, he said "So, by the way, after this, you're done so you need to figure out what else you're doing." 

TMN: One other thing I hear you're really into is music, and I wanna know what you're listening to these days? 

Katherine McNamara: [chuckle] I'm listening to a lot of different things. I love to pull my influence from whoever I can to be honest, but I really love Halsey right now, I love Melanie Martinez. Bastille is one of my favorite bands, both I've been listening to. And there's so many... 

But some of my favorite artists are friends of mine, and people that I hear and things like that. So, I don't know, I'm trying to look at my playlist right now. So, we'll find out. Alessia Cara is one of my favorites, Playing in the Diner is another great one. It's a whole mix of a bunch of different artists.

TMN: I have to ask you about the Shadowhunters, The Mortal Instruments. Could you ever have prepared yourself for the intensity of fans of genres like this? 

Katherine McNamara: Absolutely not. I got a little taste of it when I did the Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials.

At least on social media, with the way they sort of accepted the character and welcomed me into that tandem. But then coming into Shadowhunters, where I'm a part of it from the very beginning and it's a character that people have such an attachment to and a story that really, it means a lot to so many people. I feel a lot of responsibility to do justice to the story and to the fans that are so dedicated to these characters and to this world that Cassie's created. But it's great because the show is so different than the books and the fans accept that. And so, we have a bit of freedom to find our own way and to take these characters in the story that people love so much and elevate it and bring it to a different level, and to make it our own and give it new perspective and new life. But something that I find really special about this is that, through what I do as an actor, I get to do what I love for a living. I get to go to work everyday and just play and enjoy and experiment and find amazing things on screen. And then to have that mean something to people and to have that affect people in a really positive way, it makes it so much more special and it makes it mean a great deal. So, I'm really thankful to have this opportunity.