From playing a flight attendant in Iron Man to appearing alongside Julianne Moore in Freeheld, Jeannine Kaspar is making her moves in Hollywood. She was drawn to Freeheld for the story, about New Jersey police lieutenant Laurel Hester’s fight to secure pension benefits for her domestic partner after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She’ll next appear as the lead in Supermoto, a thriller that takes her on a motorcycle adventure. Get to know the actress below.
Cliché: What is your favorite superhero?
Jeannine Kaspar: My favorite superhero? Would it be the norm to say my dad? He is a superhero to me. Father to nine (yes, nine!) kids who was not only been a pillar in the community but also taught all of us kids early on about the importance of equality, family, and about striving to be an all-around good person. I am inspired by him to choose roles that have some kind of overall message for the audience, like hope, acceptance, perseverance, etc.
What’s the best part of having so many siblings?
The best part of having eight siblings has to be that everything, and I mean everything, is shared! Growing up, I remember writing in an essay in school in the fourth grade that we share everything from broccoli (because ew!) to colds! No really, we did and still do.
On a softer note, you never really are alone in the world and there is always someone to call on. My older brother even insists on flying me in for family time during the year when I am not filming to make sure I get time to see them all. I am the only lone wolf of nine that doesn’t live in North Carolina, so making time for them is close to my heart.
Favorite fashion designer?
Miu Miu. There’s something about their designs that are always on the edge of timeless, classy, and sexy all in one — a delicate balance.
Who would you love to see perform live?
Oh, that is a tough one. As an actor, it makes me think of the greats. I would love to see Meryl Streep in a play, the raw real-time performance unedited or tweaked by editing and needing to fit a storyline — some of the benefits that stage provides. She is incredible at transforming herself, and I love her movies. In some ways, I saw Julianne Moore perform live, watching her on set in Freeheld. I can’t put my finger on it, but her take on characters is so layered, so deep and full of life that I was in awe watching her work. When the cameras are about to roll she really goes somewhere else, beautifully, entirely. In-between takes, you would see her come out of the “state” of the dying Laurel Hester, a mood shift. A look in her eye would shift and she’d be back to her amazing sweet self, so it was quite surreal.
What was the experience like filming Freeheld?
It was jaw-dropping to see how seamlessly Julianne could transition from a bubbly effervescent woman into the pain, both physically and mentally, Hester may have felt at the time near her death. She gives the character such truth that it really makes you feel the struggle and love that was present in the relationship at the time. I loved working with Steve Carell too [with] his kind demeanor and humbleness — even remarking how being late on the first day was almost a reality and how scared he was — I mean, how adorable?! Also, being based on activist Joan Hervey, the real-life counterpart to Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) that helped create the movement to change the law in New Jersey for same-sex couple pension benefits, felt so special.
What drew you to the script?
I was drawn to the script because it gutted me to hear their story, how upstanding a citizen Laurel Hester was, putting away drug dealers and killers for 23 years, only to be told upon dying that her pension benefits couldn’t go to her wife. It felt like such an injustice, and I wanted to be a part of a film that I know has and will reach many who are in same-sex relationships facing persecution and similar injustices that tear at the fabric of humanity. I hope it makes them feel less alone and that it humanizes love for those who for whatever reason, are unfamiliar with same-sex love. All Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree wanted was a home and a dog, a family like any other couple.
My dad loved Corvettes and this little plaque he had in his corvettes stuck with me: “May you drive no faster than your guardian angel can fly.” It always reminds me to value my safety, on both two (motorcycles) or four wheels. I definitely reminded myself of this while recently filming the lead in Supermoto, where I am on a big Suzuki DRZ400 racing around North Dakota for many scenes of the film.
What is the best vacation spot?
I love Italy, especially Rome. Everywhere you look there are incredible monuments. There are such incredible architectural works of art everywhere, from the Colosseum to the Vatican City. Every inch has a story to tell. I went with a historian once on foot to learn lesser known facts, like there is a street that was renamed after a statue commissioned by Pope Pius V in the 15th century that was so ugly the locals started calling it the street of the baboon or Via del Babuino. Sailing is also a passion of mine. Being in the middle of nowhere off the coast somewhere in Europe, dropping anchor on a quiet uninhabited island — it is so peaceful to sleep that way.
What movie can you always re-watch?
Cool Hand Luke. Paul Newman is one of the original rebel heroes, and he doesn’t have to work it, he is it, especially in this. This film has some incredibly emotionally jarring performances. You feel for a lot of them.
What is the best season?
Fall in New York. The subtle changing in colors of leaves to full on hues of orange and yellow coupled with the cool breezes really makes me want to get my snuggle on!
What is your favorite animal?
By far my favorite animal would have to be my doggy Teddy Bear. I rescued him from a high kill shelter in California, and he is my constant trusty sidekick. He teaches me that everything can be fun, from riding the packed subway to just taking a quick walk around the block.
What is the best song to jam out to?
Well, I am an American born and raised southern gal, and I love the 4th of July, so naturally I rock out air-guitar style to “Born on the 4th of July” by Bruce Springsteen or anything by Creedence Clearwater Revival. For my go-to for get-up-and-go music, I love rap. I love me some Nas and Eminem. I feel like in some ways they’re like the modern poets of our day.
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Getting to Know Jeannine Kaspar: Photo courtesy of Aaron Smith