Katee Sackhoff Tries To Survive The Night of the Animated Dead

Katee Sackhoff (The Mandalorian, Battlestar Galactica) provides the voice of Judy in WB Home Entertainment's Night of the Animated Dead. Usually typecast as badass alphas such as Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Bo-Katan, Sackhoff plays zombie fodder in this star-studded reimagining of George A. Romero's 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead, which not only created but defined an entire genre of filmmaking. Hiding in the basement of an abandoned farmhouse with her boyfriend Tom (James Roday Rodriguez), Judy is struggling to survive 1960's societal norms and a horde of the Undead in Night of the Animated Dead. Recently, while chatting with Bleeding Cool, Sackhoff explained her relationship with the original Night of the Living Dead, how she approached the role of Judy and compared the animated feature to Battlestar Galactica.

Katee Sackhoff Tries To Survive The Night of the Animated Dead
Judy (Katee Sackhoff) battles through zombies to reach her beloved Tom (James Roday Rodriguez) in a truck, hoping to help the gang escape the abandoned farmhouse in this scene from Night of the Animated Dead. Legal Line/Photo Credit: TM & © MMXXI NOTLDA, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Night of the Living Dead terrified me as a child, so I'm wondering what is your relationship to the original Romero classic? 

Katee Sackhoff:  I am deathly afraid of sharks because my father showed me Jaws when I was seven years old. When I watched this movie for the first time, I know I snuck in, so I was probably in junior high, even though I feel like I was in high school or watched this the first time. It was so important and scared the living crap out of me. It opened the door for a character type that is littered all over our film and television. To be a part of it is really, really cool. 

They're Coming To Get Katharine Isabelle In Night of the Animated Dead
Johnny and Barbara journey to a graveyard and end up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse in the opening moments of Night of the Animated Dead. Legal Line/Photo Credit: TM & © MMXXI NOTLDA, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

You are known for playing the badass, but your character Judy is quite the opposite, and you've really changed your voice a lot for this role. Can you tell me how you approached it? 

KS: The same way that I approach every character. I really try to figure out what it is that makes them complicated, what it is that they want, and then you just hold on to that throughout. One of the reasons I got into animation so many years ago was because I was being allowed to play characters that I would not be given the opportunity to portray in live-action. And this is no different. I think that we, for better or worse, get typecast when we do something well in this industry. That seems to be the thing that you get plucked for. Because I had the opportunity to work with Michael Luisi (producer) before, and he knew me personally, this was something that he called up and asked if I wanted to do. I jumped at the opportunity because to challenge yourself to convey something with just a voice is so much fun to me. I love manipulating my voice to elicit a response from the listener. 

They're Coming To Get Katharine Isabelle In Night of the Animated Dead
Escaping their fortified house, Tom leaps behind the wheel of a truck – with zombies hot on his trail – in a frightening scene from Night of the Animated Dead. Legal Line/Photo Credit: TM & © MMXXI NOTLDA, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Judy and Tom's death is one of the scenes that got plussed up for this animated adventure. What do you think the extra gore added to this animated version? 

KS: I love it. I love that sometimes when we change the medium, and we're allowed to do things that we wouldn't usually have been allowed to do or even change the genre. Battlestar Galactica was allowed to be as topical as it was in 2001 because it was sci-fi; it wasn't real. So we were left alone by the network to create stories that were ripped out of the headlines in 2001, thought-provoking and hard to watch at times. That's what you get to do when you slide under the rest of the package you're wrapped up in. This is just one more of those examples. 

Dule' Hill Fights Off the Undead in Night of the Animated Dead
Stranded in an abandoned home with no information other than zombies banging down the door, Katee Sackhoff and a group of strangers is finally semi-enlightened through a radio broadcast that details the zombie outbreak in Night of the Animated Dead. Legal Line/Photo Credit: TM & © MMXXI NOTLDA, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What do you think fans will be most surprised by in this animated version? 

KS: The pumped-up gore. I think that people will be excited and surprised that it's respectful of what Romero created. A package for the old audience to enjoy again, but for a new audience to find. It's perfectly timed at a time of year when everybody wants to watch scary movies. 

You touched on typecasting and Battlestar Galactica, which you have said changed your career. A lot of fans, including myself, think she was an angel. What was Starbuck to you? 

KS: She was a teacher. She taught me so much about strength, honesty, and vulnerability. It was a great role for me at that time of my life.

Get a glimpse of what Sackhoff is up against in this Red band Trailer:

Night Of The Animated Dead Gets Key Art, Releases This Fall
Katee Sackhoff stars in Night of the Animated Dead: Cover Credit WB.

Attempting to survive the farmhouse standoff is a mouthful of voice talent, including Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Jupiter's Legacy) as Harry Cooper, Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, American Mary) as Barbara, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as Judy, Will Sasso as (Mad TV, The Three Stooges) Sheriff McClelland, and Nancy Travis (So I Married an Axe Murderer, Last Man Standing) as Helen Cooper. The voice cast also includes a mini Psych reunion with Dulé Hill (Psych, Ballers) as Ben, James Roday Rodriguez (Psych, A Million Little Things) as Tom, and Jimmi Simpson (Westworld, Psych) as Johnny. Night of the Animated Dead is directed by Jason Axinn (To Your Last Death) and is produced by Michael J Luisi, Ralph E. Portillo, Robert Feldman, and Kevin Kasha. Executive producers are Richard Potter, Thomas DeFeo, and Jamie Elliott.

Night of the Animated Dead is available on Digital and on Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD now.

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About Jimmy Leszczynski

Jimmy Leszczynski has been blurring the line between comics and reality at SDCC every year since 1994, and was a nerd long before Lewis, Gilbert, and the Tri Lamdas made it cool. Middle aged father of 2 that REFUSES to grow up, lifelong Bat-Fan, and he thinks he's pretty funny.
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