Zipporah, the spitfire cult leader all of us wish we had as a friend.
When I got involved with the MISS WISENHEIMER AND THE ALIENS movie, I thought about it as a writer: Is the concept good? Is it rich enough to put in good character? Does the milieu have story producing potential?
I didn’t think so much about the movie product part, the part where I’d get to meet and work with rich talent from around the world! Playing co-main character beside Galactic Ranger (and grouch) Babbage is Zipporah. She seeks Babbage out for directions because she’s lost on her way to lead her cult to their communion with Saint Bob Dylan. But she gets ousted by her followers and Babbage gets stuck with her. The two go on an adventure to prove the other wrong about whether everything was built by God for man or if there is intelligent life other than man.
Elena Kolkutova (pronounced Yell-en-ah Coke-oo-toe-va) is the acting talent behind Zipporah and I was lucky enough to catch her for this interview.
Elena Kolkutova, the voice actor playing Zipporah
Not many science fiction films have a woman as a main character so this film is bucking the trend.
I adore her character. She’s a tomb-boy with a slight likeness of Lizzie Bennet mixed with Jo from the Little Women movie: stubborn, straightforward, going for what she thinks is right and caring. Zipporah is quit appealing to both genders.
It’s a thousand years in the future and spiritual growth rather than science has been the trend for the past 80 years. At the start of the film, Zipporah is at the cusp of achieving all of her life goals: graduated from seminary school, leader of her own cult, and minions ready to lay down their lives to join the Almighty. Did you enjoy being a Christian cult leader?
Why yes! Wouldn’t you?
She strongly believes in the righteousness of her cause and actions, and she is ready to go to the end for it. I have controversial feelings about that because it is admirable however a bit dangerous.
Zipporah trouncing through Babbage’s well-cared-for garden.
Zipporah performs yoga to connect with the Almighty. She is amazingly graceful, thin, and beautiful like yourself. Has any of Zipporah assertive personality rubbed off? Do you feel any compulsion to barge into yoga studios and, through force of charisma, press entire yoga classes to be your followers?
First of all, thank you for the compliment! I wish I had such a charisma as her. I have yet to try to press a yoga study… who knows. I do yoga at home in the mornings sometimes before going on to my busy life. I’ll consider your advice about recruiting followers.
The two main characters are Zipporah and Babbage. Is Zipporah Babbage’s sidekick or is Babbage Zipporah’s sidekick? If push came to shove and the characters decided to duel to the death, would Zipporah or Babbage win?
I think Zipporah and Babbage complement each other and switch the “who’s dominant” role from time to time. What well-balanced relationship doesn’t? Regarding a duel, I think they’d die together or save each other…from each other. Zipporah is stubborn and if she decided to have Babbage by her side (or to be by his side), she’d do it no matter the cost and he couldn’t do anything about it.
What’s your first exposure to science fiction and did you worry that you’d have to wear a funny futuristic uniform?
My brother loves science-fiction, so I kept stumbling upon those books with funny futuristic cover pictures when I just started to stumble. For some time I thought those places really existed.
I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to wear any tin-foil suit for the movie.
I’ll get wardrobe on that for the next time you enter the voice booth.
Tell about the start of your life so the public can understand that despite your parents’ good intentions in raising you well, you fell in among expats producing an independent film instead of focusing on working your way up the ladder of a wealthy company.
I grew up in Eastern Siberia, Russia. During summers, my older brother and I stayed in the countryside of the south with our grandparents. We were lucky because we have seen both a city life with its technology, as Zipporah prefers, and we’ve seen the country life with its pastures, horses, geese, apples, grapes, peas, and strawberry growing in the backyard, as Babbage lives.
I think that like Zipporah, I’m more performance oriented than corporate. When I was five, my parents took me to ice-skating classes. I was spotted by the local figure-skating team and they took me in for serious training. I was getting ready for my first real town competition, when the coach told me I can’t miss training and have to choose whether I want to go to school every day or train to become a great figure-skater. I thought about it but I got scared that I wouldn’t go to school and learn everything I should and decided to quit skating. I don’t know whether it was a wrong choice and what could have happened were I to stay skating instead of going to school. I still love skating and go about once a month. Luckily Xiamen has a proper skating rink.
Zipporah leaves her civilized and religious life to live with Babbage, cosmologist, atheist, and inveterate hermit.
Most of the film work is being done in Xiamen. What brought you to this beautiful island and China’s ancient city of romance?
Pirates. Definitely pirates. Who doesn’t want to get on board with some treasure seeking adventurous one-legged or hook-handed guy?
Really? You find one-legged or hook-handed men sexy?
Why not? They have an interesting story to tell. But seriously, I wish it was that romantic. I came to visit my friend, fell in love with Xiamen, and moved here.
Working on the film all this time gave me so much excitement, fulfillment, and satisfaction that I even secretly started to believe that I’m as good as they say.
I’ve learned a lot from Hal: voice-recording, movie-making, and acting. We had lots of fun! The biggest challenge was how well the film’s dialogue brought humor into the drama, because quite often I had to keep myself from laughing during recording sessions.
Elena taking time off at one of Xiamen’s waterfronts.
What was the most enjoyable moment you had playing Zipporah?
Oh my…I loved every moment of it!
Fabulous! Congratulations Elena Kolkutova on your role as Zipporah and best of luck on your next project!
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MISS WISENHEIMER AND THE ALIENS movie poster