At the movies

Brick Mansions star Catalina Denis: Paul Walker’s death taught me to live in the here and now


Catalina Denis is ready for her Hollywood ride. The Colombian model-actress costars in Brick Mansions, a gritty action thriller about the nefarious goings-on in a walled-off housing project in 2018 Detroit. Denis (seen in such French movies as Taxi 4, Coursier and Go Fast) plays tough waitress Lina in the movie, which is a remake of Luc Besson’s 2004 French film District B13 and Paul Walker’s penultimate project.

We talked to the gorgeous former law student from the Soho Beach House Hotel.

You have a major scene where you have to kick butt in a miniskirt. How was that?

Physically, I don’t know what I was getting myself into! We had one day to shoot, and it was a lot of hard work. Once you get your energy up and the choreography done, you have to deal with the acting part, the lines, the cameras, the lighting and the wardrobe, which in my case was very short! I was in so much pain I couldn’t get out of bed for two days. But after I saw how the scene came out I was amazed. I would totally do it again.

How did you prepare? Did you do any particular exercises?

Not really. I’ve always worked out. That’s just a part of my life to get my head in a good place and the bad energy out. I do all kinds of things, depending on the day. When you’re here in Miami all you want to do is get your sneakers on and get on the beach. If it’s cold, I prefer yoga, then cuddle up and watch TV and drink hot tea.

That’s right; you live most of the year in a fairly cold climate, Paris. How is that?

I split my time, living part of the time in New York and L.A. as well. It’s a long flight! [In a French accent] interminable. You watch three movies, eat and then look at your watch and go. ‘OK, we’ve got six hours left!’ But hey, you get used to everything in this life. What’s the point of complaining? I’m so blessed. It’s all good!

Where do you feel most at home?

France and the United States are two different worlds. To be honest I feel more comfortable in a place like Miami or Los Angeles. First of all, it’s the sunlight. It took me awhile to understand that, but I get affected by the lack of it. Sunlight makes a huge difference on how I feel. And the energy isn’t like how it is here. Both have great things, both have downsides. It’s always better to see the glass half full.

Is your family still in Colombia? They must be so proud of your success.

They are. I go as much as I can. Family for me is the one very important thing. I need to see them. I speak to my mother every day, sometimes more than once. My mom is so crazy. You know Google Alerts? Anything that goes out there about me she gets it and calls me! I feel blessed. I’m happy to make her proud. My parents have done everything for [me].

What’s next for you?

Everything. I want everything! I just shot a pilot for a series Steven Spielberg produced so things are happening. I’m just trying to keep a cool head because you really don't know. If Paul Walker’s death taught me anything it is that there’s no point in planning. Like one night after shooting we were sitting having a beer talking about how the world tour is gonna come, and he told me, ‘It’s crazy, it’s nuts. You’re going to have so much fun!’ and then he was gone. You have to just enjoy the here and now. Tell people you love them when you have them in front of you.

Madeleine Marr

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