Sé Marie proves she can do comedy in ‘Movers Ultimate’

Sé Marie headshot by Tony Moux.

Sé Marie began her career as a stunt double and now she’s starring as Susan in the comedy feature film Movers Ultimate. Movers Ultimate is about two best bros who must get off work in time to make it to their 10 year high school reunion and reconnect with the girls that got away.

Sé can also be seen in the upcoming feature film Unsinkable about the aftermath of the Titanic (release date TBD). She also leads the sci-fi short film Artificial Existence as Evelyn, which is currently making its festival run and has won many awards around the globe, and just finished production on the short film NWL, in which she plays Mad Maxine.

Check out our interview with Sé!

I want to start off with a little background with your career. You started off as a stunt double for Rachel McAdams and Vinessa Shaw. What brought you into stunting?

Sé: That is a funny story. Um, it was a happy accident, actually. I didn’t go out to become a stunt double. I had just graduated from college with an acting degree but I had never stepped foot on a set before. I had gotten advice from my acting coach at the time to just do anything I could to get on-set experience while continuing to work on my craft, so that I could kind of learn the ropes of the world I’d be living in. And so from that advice, I went out and there was a production that Rachel (McAdams) was in called Southpaw. And I went out to actually be her stand in and I did get that job. 

I have a very physical background. I grew up in a motocross family. I competed equestrian tours, I just had all these things under my belt like handgun training, sword fighting, scuba diving, skydiving, all that jazz, just because I’m an adrenaline junkie. And so I got the stand in position because we happen to be the same height, weight, skin tone, all that stuff. They just had to change my hair color for the film. But I didn’t know that they were also looking for a stunt double for her. And so they proposed it to me and I sat down with the director and had to meet her and all this stuff and try and figure it out. And I eventually accepted that as well. And then they sent me to get my certifications for that. And I just loved it so much that I ended up staying on for a good two and a half years. I did stunts for her, I did stunts for Vinessa Shaw on a show on A&E called “Those Who Kill” and I loved it so much. We had such a good rapport and relationship going that it would have continued to go forever if I hadn’t had to do the tough thing and put my foot down. So, eventually I had to do that and say, ‘you know, thank you. I’m eternally grateful, but I set out to be an actor. And I learned everything I needed to learn from this experience.’ And so at that point, I just kind of transitioned full time into acting, but it is pretty cool now because I do all my own stunts in my projects. 

Sé Marie headshot by Tony Moux.
What was the transition like for you in going from stunt work to full time acting? Was it hard for you to shift your focus?

Sé: That’s a very good question. I’ve never had to think about it because  I have continued to work on my craft at the same time, and through stunt work, I also made a lot of important industry connections. So, you know, when people talk about the film industry, acting in particular, a lot of people explain it as a half business, half art and so I was kind of working on both at the same time. So, the transition into acting for me wasn’t anything but pure excitement. I don’t know if this was luck, but I happened to book a project almost right away after I made that decision. One of the first things I auditioned for I got. It was a film called Agents Anonymous and it went on to win a lot of awards. And so I kind of got thrown into the world headfirst which was really cool, and it was a spy film, I got to play a spy and I got to handle a weapon and stuff like that. So, it kind of felt really natural.

I felt like I was acting when I was doing stunt work already. So, the transition was more adding things to my plate. I wasn’t taking anything away. I was just adding and I was very excited to take more on and I love having a full plate. So if a script comes to me that has a whole bunch of stuff in it that is challenging, I will be instantly drawn to that project. I hope that answers your question.

It does. When I read through your bio, I pictured more of a definitive transition from stunting to acting, but since you’re doing a bit of both it’s like a nice smooth transition. So, are you almost expected to do your own stunts on projects? 

Sé: I’ve never really felt an expectation because I want to do it, I make it known ahead of time that I love doing my own stunts. There have been a couple of times where I haven’t been able to purely because I wasn’t trained in those areas, like acrobatics was one of them. But, I do make it pretty well known that I love to do my own stunts. And I think that there’s a freedom in that for the character too. You know, nothing against people that use stunt doubles, I still have to use a stunt double for certain things, but if I am able to execute the physicality of it as well, then not only does production not have to worry about making sure the stunt double has the perfect leg and they cut the shot at the exact time, but also I can fully experience the character. I don’t have to remove those moments from the character’s journey. I get to experience that too. So just me personally, I prefer it that way. We’ll see if that sticks but that’s how it is right now.

What was something that you learned from stunt work that you’ve kind of taken with you and kind of brought to your acting?

Sé: Well, I mean from a production standpoint, I learned a lot about how much goes into getting one shot, or like two seconds of screen time. So, that’s something that I definitely still consider as an actor because I think it’s harder as an actor. As a stunt woman, I would just have to repeat an action over and over and over again, but as an actor, I have to fully be in the character. And I’m the type of actor where I like to immerse myself so deeply into the character that instinct takes over. And so I never really know what’s going to happen. Each take is different. And so, stunt work, my experience as a stunt woman will sometimes play a part mentally where I have to kind of remind myself, ‘okay, there is such a thing as continuity in film.’ Like you can make things a little bit easier for them by maybe trying to repeat the same things over and over again, sometimes. I also just have a much better idea of what is going on, on the production side of things. And so from having that front row seat as a stunt person, there’s also a ton of waiting around in making a film. So, as a stunt person, I was the person who was the first person to step on set that they, you know, tested everything with, and then they would bring in Rachel or Vinessa or whoever, show them what I was going to do and how they have to go in and out of it. And then I would be standing there waiting in the middle of the action while they figured everything out. So, from that experience, as an actor, I really am hyper aware of what’s going on from a production standpoint. And so I don’t let it affect my performance, if that makes sense. Like I know, based on the camera position, or how they’re capturing sound, or things like that, what they’re trying to get, so I’m able to give them exactly what it is they want. And I’ve been told many times that, you know, I will walk this way perfectly, or the timing will be exactly what they wanted. How did I know? And I say, ‘Well, I watched you do that dolly shot so I knew where it was going to go. I knew what you were trying to capture.’ That’s all stuff that feeds in from doing stunt work. But that’s why I did stunt work to begin with was to learn all that stuff.

Photo courtesy of Ben Rood.
How different is doing a comedy like Movers Ultimate from what you have done in the past?

Sé: It’s very different. Um, 95% of my resume is deeply dramatic work. That’s just what I’ve been drawn to at that phase in my career, but for some reason, lately, I’ve been drawn more to comedy and I think it’s because it is challenging for me. If I see a challenge I just run to face it head on. And Movers Ultimate was definitely one of those for me… in the comedy of the film, you’ll see she’s (Susan) almost like the dramatic relief of the film instead of the comedic relief because this film is just chaos and ridiculousness from start to finish. Every single character in the film projects whatever they’re dealing with in such a funny way. My character Susan and Ryan, who’s played by Shawn Knox, they’re just very down to earth and calm and see the world in a very different way than other characters. And so I think they were very good vessels for the lessons that are learned in the film, which is exactly what happens. I don’t want to give any spoilers for anyone reading this but also you haven’t seen it, so you’ll see what I mean by that.

I’m trying to figure out if I want to say this. Um, I used to have a coach who teaches mainly comedy, and, when studying with them briefly, they actually said to me, ‘I could teach you to do anything, except maybe comedy.’ And that was the second that I decided I was going to do comedy, not just comedy, but I wanted to pursue projects with that element. And ever since then, I’ve gotten several projects. I worked really really hard on that part of my craft, and eventually came to realize that, like a lot of comedic legends will say, comedy is serious, in a way. The character in the situation is very serious about themselves and what’s going on. It’s the situation usually that makes it funny, or how they approach that situation that makes it funny. And I really took that to heart and ran with that. So I studied with a new coach since then, and really, really learned that that is so true. And I have learned that I can do comedy. I don’t know if that was just a way of pushing me or not, but, that particular moment really, just, it struck me. Again, I’m a challenge person. So tell me I can’t do something and I’ll show you the 10 ways I can do it.

I love that. I am the same exact way. There’s a certain satisfaction in it, for sure. So I heard that you had the premiere for Movers Ultimate in Pittsburgh. Why have the premiere in Pittsburgh versus LA or New York?

Sé: The original plan was to happen in Los Angeles. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, and there’s a theater there, a nonprofit movie theater called the Tull Family Theater. My fiancé is on the board of that theater, and so through him, I learned about all of the amazing things that they do with independent cinema and they also give back a lot to the filmmaking community. They have programs where they bring in disadvantaged youth and teach them how to make films, giving them a skill set, and then they premiere the films as well. So I had a really good impression of this theater. And when the producers and director of Movers Ultimate started setting up the premiere and saying they wanted to have it in Los Angeles, I basically asked ‘why?’ And you know, the answer was, ‘well, everybody has an in LA, that’s where you do it, what do you mean?’ And then I was like, ‘I really feel like doing something different could be to our advantage.’ And I kind of pitched the idea to them of doing it in Pittsburgh because we didn’t film in LA so, you know, it’s the same thing. Why have the premiere in LA if you didn’t film in LA? 

It took a lot of convincing but eventually I did show them the advantages to it and it just, it worked tenfold. And I think it had a lot to do with the fact that it was at this particular theater, they had a true, you know, love for what we were doing instead of just an event that was being held there and also we held it in a location that doesn’t have film premieres. So, everyone in western Pennsylvania was talking about this and trying to be involved or come somehow. It was like on all the news stations and all the newspapers it just, we really brought joy to a place that never really gets that type of experience. There are a lot of television and films now that will have their production in Pennsylvania because Pennsylvania has a really good tax incentive, but they don’t do their premieres there. They say they will but they do it in LA, they do in New York or London or wherever, so we just kind of saw an opportunity. And because it’s my hometown, I knew the people to make it happen. And everybody flew in there instead. And I still think it’s the best premiere I’ve ever been to. It was a lot of fun.

If people want to stay connected with you or stay up to date with your projects. How would you prefer they connect you? 

Sé: Absolutely. I’m on social media @se_marie. And my website is just officialsemarie.com

With social media, are you on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, like all of it, or just on certain ones?

Sé: What I gave you is my Instagram. My Facebook is different, it’s @officialsemarie. I’m not on Twitter. Everybody says I should be… I started this thing a few years ago, I saw this thing, I don’t remember where, but you basically let your thoughts pass through three filters before they come out of your mouth. And the three filters are, is it true, is it necessary, and is it kind? And I have found that the necessary one is the one I struggle with the most because I’ll say things that are not necessary at all. They might be true in time, but I’m just like, yeah…

I know exactly what you mean. I find myself drafting a lot of stuff thinking, ‘oh, if I remember it then I’ll post it,’ but then I have like hundreds of drafts so I totally get it. 

Sé: Yeah, I used to do that. I used to have such a toxic relationship with social media where I would feel like, you know, if it had been a few days since I posted something like, ‘okay I have to post something. Let me find something to post,’ and that just, it was such a weight lifted when I just like shed that and I realized social media can be used for good as much as it is bad. And now I just use it as a tool to, you know, promote things and share the good things that are going on. 

Sé Marie as Susan in MOVERS ULTIMATE. Photo courtesy of Ben Rood.
Movers Ultimate is now available via Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and Vudu.