Kristanna Loken was born in New York, and has spent much of her private life in the company of animals.
She has spent much of her working life in the company of Hollywood’s most famous faces, having appeared in Terminator III, In The Name Of The King and with her latest film, the dark thriller BloodRayne. She spoke to K9 Magazine about her tumultuous life with dogs. In fact, she was so forthcoming with anecdotes and stories that we couldn’t physically fit the whole interview into the magazine, so this is the complete interview for you to enjoy.
Hello Kristanna, thank you for taking our 20 questions.
1) Tell us about your pets. Names, breeds and ages, I know you’re a huge animal lover.
Well I have a dog called Bobby, she’s around a year old. I found her when I was in Romania filming BloodRayne, I found her in the oldest medieval town in Europe. She was teeny, tiny, she could fit in the palm of your hand, she must have only been a couple of months old, and she was covered in fleas, maggots you know she really wasn’t looking like she was going to make it. She travels everywhere with me from South Africa, to Van Couver – everywhere, she’s a very well travelled dog! Its funny you know, a lot of the other people in the production office all came back with an extra animal, Michael Madison, Michelle Rodriguez, our director was a huge animal lover, he came back with a dog too!
2) When did your interest in pets/animals begin and how long have you been a pet owner?
Well I grew up on in North New York state on my parents organic fruit farm and we had barn cats who were constantly mating and we had these cardboard boxes where they’d hide their kittens so we’d have to listen for the small meows to look after them and handle them to stop them becoming wild – tonnes of cats! We also had a petting zoo for kids with animals such as, llamas, baby sheep and goats. Growing up on the farm, animals were always around and we had wonderful horse rides.
3) What films and projects, are you currently working on?
Well I did a film, I mentioned it above, BloodRayne this is out at the beginning of January, it’s a vampire movie, we had a great cast, Michael Madison, Billy Zane, Michelle Rodriguez, a great cast. I’ve also just produced my first film and I also starred in it, its called Lime Salted Love, that’s just being edited and then that will probably go on the independent film circuit. And I have another film, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, with Burt Reynolds and Ray Liotta. So its been busy!
4) International and domestic attitudes towards dog ownership vary greatly from place to place. Growing up on your parents farm in North New York, how is dog ownership different there compared to other places you have been?
Oh, that’s very tough, before I had Bobby, I had another dog, a Lab x Rottweiler called Buster, Bobby probably weighs 20 kilos and she’s medium sized, Buster was probably 35 kilos, travelling was a little tougher with Buster because he was a larger dog, sometimes it was like smaller dogs are okay – bigger dogs aren’t always welcome, but you know that’s a sacrifice, especially if you’re staying in a particular place for a certain amount of time filming. My animals coming with me is so important, its like a piece of home and I find its grounding, I always like to explore and recently in Van Couver, I was working with the same director from the film in Romania and he is a major dog lover, his two dogs, one from Romania, the other from Germany, both ran free on set and so Bobby joined them and we’d get the flashing collars for night-time. I have to say, I have been no where more pet friendly than Van Couver, they had room service for dogs where you could order treats, there were so many walks and trails. All the costs for travelling from Romania back through South Africa and then home, its all worth while for the time we spend, walking or trekking, whatever we do, what they give back – it outweighs it all.
5) In which one way do you believe dogs to be a superior life form to humans?
There unconditional love. More often than not, they bring peace and clarity, you never had to make small talk with them, you’re not compelled to be anywhere other than where you are with them and there’s such a bond. They know your inner workings and you know theirs. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, you don’t have to explain anything to them, you can just pet them and they respond so well, they know how to give love. Pets bring such a good sense of grounding. I got Buster form a humane society in North New York, I’d decided to go there and donate some time volunteering, Buster leaned on me and it was like, oh no, I’m a goner, and that was it really. He died a little over a year ago, I ended up having to have him put to sleep, and I just wanted to mourn my loss, then three months later there I am in Romania! I think dogs pick their owners, Bobby picked me and there was no way I was leaving without her.
6) How proud were you when your action figure of the character you played in Terminator 3 hit the shops?
Well that was a little bizarre, you know, you don’t think when making a film, I’m going to be immortalised with an iconic view of a character at that moment, with magnets, key-rings, t-shirts – everything! The action figure was slightly Asian looking, but that was probably because of where it was made, it was pretty cool!
7) It was said some time ago on a well known British sit com that the perfect woman would have Kylie Minogue’s bum, Claudia Schiffer’s legs and Cindy Crawford’s face. Using this logic, can you please create your own perfect fantasy dog?
I think the word perfect if over-used, I think perfect, is in the eye of the beholder. I think flaws make you beautiful, you know you need to have flaws. Take little Bobby, she’s a pretty damn cute dog and she has these fantastic markings on her face, probably from a Collie or something, I think flaws build character and your past – it all helps to create who you are. She’s my Romanian street pavement dog!
8) Your motto in life is “Believe in, and follow your dreams”, what impact do you feel living by your motto has had on your life?
Well yes, my parents were pretty supportive and I thought, hey, if there are people out there doing it, why not me?! Not that there isn’t room for failure, you need to have a goal and surround yourself with good people. Be clear of your reasons and be positive. If you keep a clear mind – that’s the best advice I could give, and remain objective. Keep the bigger picture in mind. One of the best things I have ever done was a 10 day meditation in Cape Town, I fell in love there and even bought a house there, so I can spend time away from everyone! You know, never take yourself too seriously, in any job, any walk of life, especially this job, its easily to get inflated – one person can say one thing one time, the something else – so I’d say keep a clear perspective.
9) For this question, we ask our celebs to match up the following people’s personality to a breed of dog, for example, Winston Churchill = Bulldog or J.Lo = Afghan Hound, Frank Bruno = Boxer etc.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Well, the first thing which comes to mind is a Bulldog, because they’re tough, strong and playful. Yeah, a Bulldog.
Ozzy Osbourne – I once rode on a flight to London with his wife. Something like a Dobermann Pinscher x Pug.
George Bush – Oh jeez, lets see – a Dingo.
Pamela Anderson – Either a white Poodle or, yeah, a while Poodle, totally sculpted with pink bows!
Al Pacino – Oh I don’t know, more like a Lab, because he’d be quiet, but have such a deep roar. Buster, had such a deep bark.
Carmen Electra – Wasn’t Carmen on the cover of your magazine I saw? I’d say, maybe like a brown Chihuahua with big blue eyes.
10) Which do you prefer and why?
Big dogs or little dogs – It makes no difference really, maybe medium to large, because they have more stamina and you can play a little rougher and they’re nicer to curl up to.
Pedigree dogs or x breeds – Well I’ve always had mutts. I’ve never had a purebred.
Days off or days at work – Well you know I love to be invested in a project, just submerged in it, so it would probably be working, but I like a nice balance.
The quickest route or the scenic route – I usually find myself on the scenic route, I never plan but by default I normally find myself on the scenic route. I’ll get distracted by music, or leaves , or something, so yeah, normally the scenic route.
Lead and collar or dog running free – Oh definitely running free, running with the horses, I think if you have a good relationship and they come when called, I had to have Bobby trained, I’ve never had to send a dog for training before but she had no recall stability and she didn’t like to come when called but its been great and I’m just keeping up the training, I wouldn’t want to be an unruly mother.
11) Here’s where we go for our scoop, tell us something no one, or very few people know about you.
Oh well, okay, let me think, there’s probably quite a lot, okay hmm, well, I really, really like my alone time, that’s a no 1 priority. Keep things as simple as possible. I’m not really a phone person, unless I have to be. No distractions.
12) What has been your favourite project you have worked on to date and who have you enjoyed working with most?
I really loved working with Sir Ben Kingsley, I think it’s a great testament to who you are, he’s not only a wonderful, wonderful man, but such an amazing actor, a great man. I would definitely love to work with him again.
My favourite project would probably have to be Terminator 3, it was probably the most pivotal, to be able to work with such a huge, world-wide scope – it opened so many doors. It was a wonderful experience!
13) Describe the last time you…
Had to shout at your pet – Well probably, I mean her training hasn’t meant I’ve had to shout a lot, but well she seems to be teething, she loves her rawhides, but she ran out and started chewing one of my rugs, so that would probably be it, but she knows when she’s done something wrong.
Had to go to the vet – Well, here’s a story. I was dating a very in South Africa, and last Christmas, I said all I wanted was for him to spay my dog and for me to watch, I thought it would be fascinating. That was definitely a turn on!
Embarrassed yourself – Every day! Well, one time, what’s the word – oh I can’t think of the word, but I once left the house in my bedroom slippers, that was one to get around at the dinner table!
Were nervous – Well for the most part, I’m fairly confident, but I do sometimes get apprehensive, the last time was in Van Couver, I was there for my first time screen of BloodRayne and I thought, okay it would just be me, the director and possibly another actor, I got there and there was room full of investors – I was definitely sweating – but it all turned out good!
Laughed out loud because of your pet – This morning, I live with my friend and her 13 month old daughter, who’s my god-daughter. She loves Bobby, you know he must be like a life size teddy bear to her and I was in the next room and I could hear her giggling so hard and I went in and Bobby was just running around the room constantly doing laps! So funny to watch!
Trained your pet to do something new – Well, let me think, I’m just really keeping up the training work from before but from the beginning, she learnt to shake her paw and that seems to have stuck, even if she does shake with the wrong paw.
14) Robert Benchley famously said “A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” What have you learned from your dog?
Let me see, I don’t know if its just one thing, do you mean through all of my dogs? The thing which comes to me doesn’t really answer your question, but it was when Bobby was 3 months old, I was camping in South Africa with a friend of mine and you know when you’re in another country when you’re left saying, will we be okay here with the baboons? Anyway, we were in the tent and Bobby ran in and started licking my face and we were right near the stream and we looked out and there were probably around 100 baboons and the big daddy baboon was there, it was a real territorial thing. But she knew, and she woke us, I mean baboons can do a lot of damage! She was definitely on the look out – I like to see her with other animals, the other day she was in my garden and barking like mad, I went out and I could see the big eyes of a possum I thought, that would not be a good fight, I know who’d win that one, so I brought her inside!
I learnt a lot from Buster too, he had a major impact and was a huge influence on my life, for months before he died, it was all leading up to it, he had a tumor and there was nothing which could be done about it. I remember this one day, he wasn’t well, he wasn’t eating properly and I was sick with the flu, I was cuddled up in my hammock and Buster was laying on his chair, and even though he was in so much pain, he heard someone at the gate and he got up and started barking and they left, so he could hardly move and yet, he’d gotten up to do this and scare away the intruder, his last protective act. His death was the biggest of my life.
15) Tell us a little about your recent trek to Namibia, Africa.
What incredible horse trek rides! My room mate and I did a trek, we stayed in a cabin, no water, no electricity. Three of my girlfriends for 10 days also went to Northern Ireland, we had no guide and when we went to Namibia we got a brochure from this company called Equitour, they have a catalogue of rides, all challenging. We decided we’d go to a place we’d never heard of so Namibia it was! 10 days, 300 miles we saw spring boxes, zebras – going from that and back to civilisation when we’d seen no people, no cars, no mirrors, we then got back and discovered 9/11 had happened.
16) What is your dog’s current favourite…?
Toy – Rawhide chews probably. She also loves Greenies, green tooth brushed shapes, do you have them? She has a pet-tab, a multivitamin every morning. Oh my god, we also have a fig tree in our garden and it wouldn’t stop and it was dropping these figs for 3 months, she absolutely loved it – she must have been the most regular dog on the block if you know what I mean! She also loves broccoli, must be the Romanian in her!
Bad habit – Probably the chewing because of her teething. She normally has something to chew on but if she runs out, she has started on the rug or she chair leg. She also play bites, not hard, but that’s something we’re trying to curb.
Activity / Game – Hikes, she loves other dogs, she’s very social.
17) Finish the following sentence: My dog is….a Romanian pavement special!
18) What is your current favourite…?
TV show – Well I don’t tend to watch a lot of TV, but I tell you what, I love The Sopranos, its timeless. Did you also get Band Of Brothers? I love that too.
CD – Well, I don’t know if you get it, but on digital cable up around the 900’s there’s some channels which play music constantly with no breaks – I call it spa music, its very relaxing, it chills me out, the dog, the baby every – so I have it on a lot but I do think they probably repeat a lot of it.
Book – Its not my normal kind of book, but my friend Candice Bushell, she wrote Sex And The City, she has a book out called Lipstick Jungle and I’m noticing a few similarities to myself! I really do like her style of writing. It’s a good one!
Restaurant – In London, and actually here too, I like Nobu, but I moved to LA few years back and I love this Italian restaurant La Loggia, its run by a Peruvian and a Columbian, so typical American, they’re not even Italian! But I love going there, its so friendly, it feels like you’re going home to see the family!
19) Each year we run a competition to find the UK’s Coolest Canine, last year’s winner was a Cocker Spaniel named Tangle who has been trained to detect bladder cancer in humans, if you were to nominate your dog, how would you sell her to us, what would you tell us that makes her unique?
Really, he can do that? Wow!
Okay well, I would say she’s a total people dog, on set people loved her, she has such smile, the twinkle in her eye – and I always knew I could find her near the food!
20) This is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but….
If your dog(s) had the ability to speak and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask them and what do you think that they would say?
Oh boy, this is a tough one, she has such an expressive face, I can normally tell what she’s think, I’d probably, oh I don’t know, I don’t even know if I’d need to, her face tells me if she likes the food, if she’s comfortable. Maybe if she likes her name?
Okay, how about, “Is she comfortable in her kennel while we’re travelling, because I know that’s a vulnerable time?” and I think she’d say “I’m getting used to it, and I’m alright!”.
Many Thanks Kristanna
This interview appeared in K9 Magazine issue no 15 – More information on how to purchase this edition at the link below