GLAMOHOLIC: You’ve been acting in L.A. for just about a decade, what was the first acting gig that made you feel like this dream was real?
ELLEN: One of my first acting jobs ever was NCIS. I was agent Tina Larson and despite it being a one day guest spot, it was absolutely thrilling to be really doing it.
What made you want to pursue a career in acting?
I went to school for business and marketing with a minor in German. I figured I could wear a suit whenever I want, so why not go to New York and see what happens. I was nineteen years old, went out to New York and studied in various studios. When I felt I was ready I took off to Los Angeles to pursue the dream.
What has the pursuit of the dream been like for you here in Los Angeles?
It’s been hell! The funny thing is people only see the end result. They don’t see the blood, the sweat, stress and tears that go into getting to that. I think what a lot of people also take for granted is the discipline required to be a successful actor. You have to be so confident. If you think about it, your job is mostly to be rejected as opposed to be a performer. I have been rejected thousands of times, and yes, it’s for that one chance to be on screen and do what you love. You have to learn “no” just means try harder.
Did you do a lot of training as an actress before auditing?
It was the sort of thing I didn’t grow up wanting to do, so my entire life’s happiness wasn’t predicated on my success as an actor. It was more of a challenge. I’m the kind of girl that dives into the deep end of the pool just to see how deep it actually is.
How long was it before you finally became a working actress?
Everyone has the dream of making it big or something they break out in. I’ve been steadily working for the past ten years, on sitcoms, comedies, dramas, independent films but nothing that I got to quite sink my teeth into. Spartacus allowed me that platform which I have been thankful for.
Were you always into fitness or did Spartacus get you into great shape?
I mean, ever since I was a kid I beat up the boys in the playground. I’ve been a track runner my whole life. I’ve always been interested in action and fight cheoreography, hence why I was drawn to Spartacus. I was able to do all my own stunt work on it.
Was it your choice to do your own stunt work or did you get casted because you could do your own stunt work?
They cast me not knowing what I was capable of doing, just pure irony. It wasn’t until they shipped me over to New Zealand. I did so much training with reverse grip double daggers then they asked if I wanted a double. My reply was, well if you can find somebody that is the same hight, colouring, size and moves like me go for it. So they came back to me and said they had a little bit of a problem finding someone in that category. [Doing my own stunts] was a discipline all in its own. It’s about sustainablity, yes you can do it for hour after hour, day after day, month after month, for seven months? The answer was yes. I was crawling to the finish line.
Was there anything you couldn’t do or were you able to pick up everything they threw at you?
I’ve done MMA and I’ve always been highly athletic but I’d never done reverse grip double daggers. I looked at it as a challenge. When I see a challenge I become obsessed with it. It was a lot of off season training, we have one of the top stunt teams in the world.
What else can you tell us about your time on Spartacus?
We had such an incredible cast of romans this season. We all became such a close nit family, because we’re all thousand miles away from anyone we know. We became each other’s support system. It’s a hard enviroment to be around, you’re constantly surrounded by carnage, death and pillaging. It’s vital to have a support system.
Were you able to keep in touch with family and friends while working?
You’re in an opposite timezone. Keeping in contact on weekends was important but during the week I was a hundred percent there with no distractions. If you don’t stay focused, in my case you could poke someone’s eye out, I could break someone including myself.
Are you dating anyone? Were you able to maintain a relationship?
Yes actually, one of my co-stars from last season. He is known as The Egyptian. It’s hard because he’s been on Mad Max for the past year. It’s difficult to say when we even started dating.
What is next for you now that Spartacus has wrapped?
I’m no able to focus on my non-profit organisation which I’ve been running for about 6 years. In 2007 I founded Visual Impact Now. A non-profit dedicated to providing eye care to L.A. youth. We have our clinic March 18 to the 21, where we will be servicing 1200 kids with eye exams and glasses. That’s a full time job on top of pilot season. I’ve got to give back!