Kiwi actress takes on Nazis from the Moon

TimeOut talks to Stephanie Paul, the LA-based New Zealand actress-comedian who plays the US President in Iron Sky, in a web-sensation sci-fi spoof about Nazis from the Moon.

Stephanie Paul as the US President in Iron Sky. Photo / Supplied
Stephanie Paul as the US President in Iron Sky. Photo / Supplied

When remnants of the Third Reich who have been hiding out on the moon decide it's high time for another go at world domination, Stephanie Paul's Sarah Palin-like president welcomes the invasion as a boost to her poll ratings.

She's one of the stars of Iron Sky, the low-budget Finnish-German-Australian film, which was partly crowd-funded with about 10 per cent of its $11 million budget raised by appealing to potential fans. Their contribution helped pay for a film of impressive space-battle special effects and B-grade schlock tactics.

Paul got the role after the movie's Aussie backers, who knew her from New Zealand film Separation City, suggested her to Finnish director Timo Vuorensola. Cue an audition tape and Paul heading to Frankfurt to play the leader of the Free World then back to Germany for its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

TimeOut tracked down Paul back in Auckland this week visiting family ...

So are you taking them to the film?

Yeah, I've got a whole bunch of family and friends coming to the film with me on Friday.
Will you have some explaining to do afterwards?

I don't think so. I think they have all seen the trailer ...

Your performance of this Sarah Palin-like president - is it strained through the Tina Fey version?

No, thank God, because she does such an amazing job of doing Sarah Palin. I was terrified when they told me they were going to make me look like Sarah Palin and I was like "do you want me to act like Sarah Palin?" And they were like "no no no". The director was "we are going to make you look like that but I want you to develop a character completely original and away from her".

So it's been quite funny to hear some critics say she's nothing like Sarah Palin at all. I wasn't supposed to be playing Sarah Palin. The whole movie is pretty much a piss-take. So it hasn't stuck to the book on anything. I ended up channelling a little more George Bush that Sarah Palin. Some of his mannerisms were very funny to me so I thought it would be funny to have his mannerisms with her look.

Was there a point where you thought: golly, I am in a movie about Nazis from the moon?

I was with my ex-husband - we are still very good friends - when I booked the movie and he's German and his parents grew up during the war. So it was kind of interesting to see how his parents were going to react to this movie. And at the first screening in Berlin the Germans just ate it up. It was that someone had finally made light of [the Nazis'] ridiculousness and how awful they were and I think it was only the Finns that could have possibly done it. I thought they had a really good take on how to make Nazis funny.

Well others have tried by putting them in musicals ...

Yeah exactly. It's almost a musical.

How was it dealing with with the Finns similar sense of humour?

Oddly enough, I have had a Finnish girlfriend since I was about 19 and I have spent a lot of time hanging out with Finns and I find their sense of humour very similar to Kiwis'. They are very shy when you first meet them, they are not very forthcoming and once you get a few drinks in them they are actually dark and mischievous, so I find them very similar, culturally, to Kiwis.

You filmed your scenes where?

I was in Frankfurt. They made Frankfurt look like New York and the Oval Office was in this beautiful castle.

It wasn't particularly oval, that office.

No, it was not.

It must have been heartening being involved in what is a partially crowd funded movie - you've got a fan base even before the movie goes out.

Yeah, it was actually really cool. I was at the American Film Market in Los Angeles and I was chatting to some guys who were a combination of German and English and they asked me what I was doing and if I was involved in anything. I said I am involved in Iron Sky and they didn't believe me because I was a Kiwi and I was in Los Angeles. So they asked me a million questions and I passed all the questions and they finally decided I was telling the truth and I was their best friend for the rest of the night.

And after I finished shooting it I decided to take a few weeks off and travel around Europe. I was in a bar in Prague and the guy behind the bar said "what's a Kiwi girl doing in Prague in the middle of winter?" I said I just finished on this film in Frankfurt. And he was "Not Iron Sky!". And I was like "yeah" and he pulled up his sleeve and he's got UFOs tattooed all over his arm ...

So effectively, you've joined a cult.

Yes, pretty much.

Who: Stephanie Paul
What: Iron Sky
When: Opens at cinemas today

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 24 Nov 2014 00:17:30 Processing Time: 631ms