INTERVIEW: An Old Friend Torments Up On The Glass Star Chelsea Kurtz

Up On The Glass, a thriller from director Kevin Del Principe (Fashion of the Wolf), co-writer Nikki Brown (Those Little Monsters), stars Chelsea Kurtz (The Flash, Scandal) as a woman fighting back against the dark desires of an old friend.

Up On The Glass introduces viewers to Liz Shelton (Chelsea Kurtz) and husband Hunter. They’re a married couple who are doing well for themselves. The couple reunite with old college friends, including Jack (Chase Fein), who’s life is on the rocks. Jack’s fond of Liz and envious of his friend Hunter who seems to have it all. It’s a thriller full of characters with demons to face.

PopAxiom spoke with Chelsea about becoming an actor, learning on the fly, and surviving Up On The Glass.

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New York Or Los Angeles

Chelsea Kurtz is from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she “got introduced to theatre early. I was in school plays when I was five or six. When I was 12, I started working with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and I fell in love with Shakespeare and the classics. I was super nerdy.”

“I knew from then on,” Chelsea concludes, “that I wanted to go to school for acting and pursue it as a career.”

The road to making acting a career began at Boston University, where she studied acting. By the time those studies were at an end, Chelsea “intended to go to New York … But I asked the head of the program, a very 22-year-old question, ‘Where do you think I will work more?’ and he said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question.'”

“Forget about that,” Chelsea’s recalls the head of the program saying, “and think about where would you rather have a really bad day?”

Chelsea pondered the question. “I thought about being in N.Y. and getting on the subway back to an apartment, which I probably worked three jobs to afford. I thought about L.A. and being within 30 minutes of the ocean or desert or mountains.” Chelsea’s internal debate decided, “I would rather fail and struggle in Los Angeles.”

Chelsea was off to the City of Angels. “I hit the pavement and slowly but surely started working in T.V. and film. I’m a member of the theatre community.”

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Being An Actor

The effects of the global pandemic altered how many things operate, particularly the T.V. and film industry. Today, more auditions or meetings take place over video calls. “It definitely becomes a full-service production that you’re putting on entirely on your own,” Chelsea says about making your video look its best.”

She adds, “You have to be aware of the rhythm of your neighborhood. Where I live in L.A., there’s a rooster next door, so you can’t do morning takes. If it’s a nice day, everyone lets their dogs out around 5 PM, and so there’s barking.”

Chelsea’s played a lot of different roles. How does she connect with roles as varied as superhero Black Bison on The Flash and campaign videographer Jennifer Fields on Scandal? There are some roles that I have an intuitive way into, and there are some that require a lot more attention and specificity and text work or research.”

“In The Flash,” Chelsea says, “I was playing a Lakota Sioux woman. To assume all Native American culture is the same is ridiculous. With a role like that, I put a lot of attention into making sure I understood the people I’m portraying.”

However, for Scandal, she “had to do a lot of stunt training and do underwater work.”

“I was learning how to lay in the water to look dead,” Chelsea shares, “and to make it so that air bubbles don’t come out of my nose. I had to be at one point in a trunk that goes underwater. I had to learn how to roll my body in such a way that looked like the car had fallen in, but also didn’t look like I was moving my own body.”

“That’s my favorite thing,” Chelsea declares about acting, “Different roles require different things, and that’s exciting.”

Is there an acting class that prepares actors for underwater action? “The kind of technical work that you do as an actor in training has to be applied improvisationally in pretty much everything you do.”

In the end, there’s only one simple truth about working through those on-the-fly experiences as an actor. “You can’t know how to do it until you try it.”

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About Up On The Glass

Chelsea’s path to her role on Up On The Glass connected her with an old college friend. “We connected my senior year of school and stayed friends. She invited me to come in for Up On The Glass. I responded to the script and loved Kevin and Nikki. They asked if I wanted to come film in beautiful, small-town Lake Michigan, and I said: “F yeah!”

“Nikki and Kevin are ‘actors directors,'” Chelsea says, “They were diving into character work in the audition.”

The process of becoming Liz Shelton involved a lot of discussions and pondering “About Liz’s strength, and when you meet her in the film, she’s at a breaking point in her marriage. Also, the history that’s there with Chase Fein [Jack]. And how to bring to life all their history.”

Making Up On The Glass was an “on-going collaborative process … it was great. Because sometimes you do show up on set and just hear ‘stand over there. This is your framing.’ And that’s fine, but it’s great when you can build something together. I think it makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

Chelsea shares a personal influence that helped bring Liz to life, “Liz is a character that reminds me of my mom. A good woman, who works hard and maybe carries some pain around and feels maybe made some choices she regrets, particularly about the men. I wanted to bring her energy. That’s something I tried to bring to Liz.”

In Chelsea’s words, she’d describe Up On The Glass as “a dark, emotional and psychological thriller. It explores the lives of people who feel trapped and end up wandering down the wrong paths.”

Wrapping Up

“When I was growing up loving Shakespeare,” Chelsea recalls some inspirations early in her acting experience, “there were two actors, Jeremy Dubin and Giles Davies, who could do anything with language. They introduced me to so many technical aspects of acting that’s also the most creative and spontaneous like animal work and mask work. They showed me that it was art and not just play.”

“I’m a huge Gary Oldman fan,” Chelsea replies when asked about an actor she admires. “He’s such a chameleon, and there’s nothing he can’t do. So often, in his performances, I won’t recognize him. I have such admiration actors who can do that kind of work.”

What’s a dream project for the Up On The Glass star? “Well, this is funny because it’s already happening, and I’m pursuing it to the best of my abilities. I’m a huge Trekkie. I love Star Trek. So, if they want to put me anywhere … make me the janitor of the Enterprise, and I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. I’m a Next Generation diehard. I like Voyager, I like the Original okay, but I’m a Star Trek with Picard and the Enterprise girl.”

Up On The Glass is streaming on iTunes and Amazon. So, what’s next for Chelsea? “I was recently on an episode of Magnum P.I., which was a lot of fun. I got to film in Hawaii. I worked on Station 19. Since COVID, it’s been a lot of Zoom readings of plays.”

Is Up On The Glass on your watch list?

Thanks to Chelsea Kurtz and October Coast
for making this interview possible.

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Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.