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Interview – Catherine Kustra – ‘Under The Flowers: Circle Of Hell’ – A Web Series


Posted July 1, 2018 by

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Interview – Catherine Kustra

Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell is the second thrilling series of the Under the Flowers webseries from Mad Shelley Films. The second season of the award-winning supernatural web series finds Poe (Lauren LaVera) attempting to transform her tortured soul and move on as ‘Rose’ in a hellish odyssey set in the In-Between, led by the darkly mysterious Nerissa (Kirsten Lee Hess). Bravely facing down her many demons, Rose’s journey soon grows even darker, rapidly sending her to the outer edges of Hell, and threatening the very destruction of her soul. Will ‘The Halloween Girl’ come to her friend’s aid, or will even Charlotte (Catherine Kustra) find the price too high in the Circle of Hell…?

The first thrilling episode of Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell is available to view for free, thanks to Mad Shelley Films, with the entire two seasons of Under the Flowers now streaming at OPPrimetv. We spoke to Mad Shelley Films’ veteran actress Catherine Kustra. Catherine’s Under the Flowers character, Charlotte, has not only appeared in both seasons of the webseries, but debuted in Mad Shelley Films’ first horror short, The Halloween Girl. Here’s what she had to say about embodying her spooky persona, the latest series of Under the Flowers and her plans for the future.


Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell is your third outing as ‘Charlotte’. How would you describe her?

I could tell right away from the script that Circle of Hell’s Charlotte was going to be a much softer, introspective, self-assured and insightful character than we’ve seen in the past. Having seen the footage, I stand by those statements and have to add that she’s even more clever and witty than before. I think there’s a ton of great little moments during her interactions with The Darkness to show off this “hard shell, soft center” type she’s grown into.

How do you think Charlotte has evolved over the past two seasons of Under the Flowers?

Charlotte’s been multi-faceted from the beginning, but Under The Flowers has really revealed parts of her personality not seen before. Whereas HG really focused on her resentment and slowly stewing rage, both seasons of Under The Flowers peeled away some of those defensive layers to reveal softness and empathy not really seen before. The audience saw glimpses of that empathy in her interactions with Poe in Season 1, but her protectiveness of Rose in Season 2 really drives her transformation home, I think.

Fans might not be aware of the fact that you’re also a talented make-up artist (with many of your looks on your Instagram account). How did you get into makeup FX?

I appreciate the kind words! I signed up for a Stage Make-up course my junior year of college, thinking it would be a fun way to close out the year and offer me some cosmetic skills I could use on myself for future roles. We learned very basic concepts like understanding facial structure and how to create simple wounds with liquid latex, Ben Nye grease paint and thin layers of napkins. I didn’t expect to be any good at it but I ended up surprising myself and as the years went by, I started to experiment with more “advanced” tools like silicone modeling compound. Richard was the first one to really push me to pursue FX Make-up in addition to acting, so I have him to thank for my new double-life.

Under the Flowers: Circle of Hell features a predominantly female cast. How do you think this assisted with the dynamic of the finished series?

I think having a predominantly female cast helps keep the story flowing effortlessly, considering a lot of the themes from The Halloween Girl that have carried over for Charlotte seem to be related to feminine archetypes (motherhood, guardianship, unbreakable love and loyalty between sisters/girl friends). Nerissa and Zelda, on the other hand, kind of represent other facets of femininity to me: depth, patience, mysteriousness, etc. – which make them very fun villains to watch. The Girl Power vibes that Charlotte and Poe/Rose bring to the table are also a little reminiscent of Horror/Sci-Fi movies and shows from the ’90s, which to me was a breakthrough decade for female representation in entertainment. This easily could have been a story about men and their bonds, but the whole “feel” of the season would be different, I think.

Let’s put it out there – what aspirations do you have for your career, and what’s next for you?

I’ve had a pretty transformative year, honestly. Last summer and fall I was spending most of my time in the hospital or various doctors’ offices and had to put acting – as well as the rest of my life – on hold while I figured out what was next for me. It gave me the opportunity to reevaluate what I still liked about this industry and what what was just making me unhappy and consequently putting my health at risk. All of this thinking eventually led me back to writing, something I had abandoned after college when my main focus was booking acting work. I’m very much in limbo at this point – I’m still auditioning, but really only for things I feel good about, and I’m in pre-production for a comedic web-series I’m producing with some of my friends, and I guess pre-pre-production for a play I’ve been writing about my parents’ experiences as political refugees from the Soviet Union, something I plan to submit to festivals in the long run. I’m on a mission to create the work I feel is missing from the entertainment world, and while I’m not really sure what my next 5-10 steps are, I’m definitely headed in the right direction.

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