If you’re a music lover, Kathleen Hanna has probably been on your radar for years as the dynamic singer for bands Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin and for her passionate work as a feminist activist. In 2013, out filmmaker Sini Anderson‘s acclaimed rock doc The Punk Singer introduced Hanna and her music to a whole new generation of fans and brought her legend to the big screen. Now, Hanna is back in the movies again, this time as the voice of the title character in Myrna the Monster, a short animated film that recently made its debut at Sundance.
Written and directed by Ian Samuels, the film tells the story of a brokenhearted alien (Myrna), grieving for her old life on the moon and trying to find herself among the actors, hipsters and fellow dreamers in Los Angeles.
AfterEllen.com recently chatted with Kathleen Hanna about giving voice to Myrna, the possibility of being an action movie star and what we can expect on the next album from The Julie Ruin.
AfterEllen.com: Congratulations on the premiere of Myrna the Monster at Sundance! Were you able to go to the festival?
Kathleen Hanna: I’m writing a record right now so I wasn’t able to attend, but I was definitely there in spirit and I followed Myrna on Instagram and she was being adorable.
I wore my hat in solidarity with everyone who was freezing cold at Sundance. The last time I went, I actually went with friends who were playing. They had a movie showing and I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have any press so I just skied the whole time. So I was like, “I don’t know. What if I go?” I just knew I’d want to ski the whole time because I like film, but sitting in a dark theater knowing there’s a mountain full of snow? It’s hard!
AE: How did you get the role of Myrna?
KH: Through my [Julie Ruin] bandmate and keyboard player, Kenny Melman. His fiancé, Brendan Kennedy, brought the project to me and asked me if I would try to voice the character. I believe MTV is developing it and he works at MTV, so he just emailed me, “Hey, do you want to try to do this?” and I was like, “Yeah, that sounds like a crazy challenge, ’cause I’m terrible actor.” I warned him first, I said “I’m a really bad actor,” but when I got there Ian Samuels, the director, just coached me and helped me understand Myrna’s character and use things—I guess it’s method acting—but use things from my own experience to get what he wanted from me.
But it was a really awkward experience because I didn’t know if it was an audition or if I was actually working, you know? We only finished half of what we needed to do and I was like “Oh, was I too slow? Does this mean I didn’t get the job?” and then they were like “OK, see you tomorrow!”
When I filled out the paperwork to receive the check, then I knew I got the job. Or at least they’re gonna pay me for doing this, even if they replace me later!
AE: So you had the real actor’s experience of not knowing what the hell was going on and not knowing if you even had the job.
KH: Yeah, it’s totally awkward. You never know, especially with film and stuff, if later on they’re going to be editing and go, “Ooh. Sorry to waste your time, but—” I was like, Keira Knightley‘s going to just come in and do this.