July 11, 2009 - 21 years of Santa Barbara : le site Francais
July 30,
2009 - 36 years of Santa Barbara

Maria Ellingsen : «It was great working on this show.»

 By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, July 2020

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On July 26 2020, Maria Ellingsen agreed to take on her time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The actress talks about her debuts, the Santa Barbara years as Katrina Ruyker, and the continuation of her career since her departure from the show.

The beginnings before Santa Barbara

At first, I'd like you to tell us a little about you : do you still live in beautiful Iceland ? Do you live in couple or have children ?

I am born in Reykjavík in 1964. My father was Norwegian/Icelandic and her mother is from Faroe Islands. So I am brought up speaking many languages. I live in Iceland with my husband Christopher Lund who is a photographer. With my two daughters Lára and Kristín. 

How did you start your career as an actress and moved to the United States ?

I started early to act both on stage and in films and went to study in New York when I was 20 years old. I chose The Experimental Theater Wing at New York University and at the same time I trained film acting with the Film Department at NYU and had at the time of graduation played in many short films as well as two full length Icelandic features. At my return to Iceland I worked at The National Theater and among my first roles were Miranda in The Tempest and Cecile in Dangerous Liaisons.


The time of Santa Barbara

How did you start in Santa Barbara ? How Katrina was introduced to you ?

I returned to New York University to study directing and also got an acting agent who sent me off to Los Angeles to play the East European Katrina in the daytime series Santa Barbara at NBC in 170 episodes.

What did you think of the producers' idea to hire an Icelandic actress to play a German character ?

This was around the time of the Berlin Wall coming down and the producers of Santa Barbara decided to bring a European sensibility into the show.

Katrina knew many love interests during her time on the show before finally falling in love with Dash, known to be Julia's rapist. What did you think of this storyline ?

I therefore thought it was important that Katrina represented a modern European woman, educated, independent and strong. She had her own carrier and a strong sense of purpose. And  when she got betrayed by her boyfriend she became furious at him rather than blaming herself for not being good enough.  I got strong positive reactions from women fans for her strong sense of herself.

What are your best remembrances from the show, on a relational and on a professional level ?

It was great working on this show, great crew and cast and some of us still stay in touch.

You left the show one year and a half after your arrival. What were the reasons of your departure ? Did you enjoy the end that was reserved for Katrina ?

I had come to Hollywood to do movies so I thought it was important not to stay too long on the show so I was glad when Katrina had had enough and "decided" to leave.


These last years after Santa Barbara and now

Can you come back on the following years of your career since your departure from Santa Barbara ?

I then went on to do movies : Mighty Duck 2 for Disney, The New Age for Warner Brothers and Deadly Currents for Showtime. It was the film Agnes that called me back to Iceland where I played the title role, Agnes the servant girl that kills her untrue lover and is executed. I won the Best actress prize at the film festival in Verona for my performance. Since then the roles have been many in theater, film and television in Iceland and abroad.

I also created my own theater Second Stage in 1988 and keep it in my pocket ready to be taken out when something calls for being put on stage. In my company I have most often taken the role of actor and producer until I produced, wrote and directed a dance/theater production called Úlfhamssaga. It got nominated in seven categories at the Icelandic theater prize Gríman and won two.

Other Second Stage productions are Fool For Love, Waiting for Beckett, Salka - a Love Story, Vagina Monologes, The Swan, The Journey of the Phoenix and Nobody Meets Somebody. I directed Pleasure Island at the National Theater, devised a production called Mammamamma along with an ensemble of actors and artists. Returned to the stage of The National Theater in the award winning play Honor and directed My name is Rachel Corrie shown at the City Theater of Reykjavík.

Do you have upcoming projects for this year ?

Currently I am working on three new pieces. My eyes, about three women poets that try to mend their broken hearts at the turn of the 18th century. Artic Women about the relationship between women and nature and Faith, Hope and Love a TV series about my great grandfather, a famous priest.


Once again all my thanks to Maria Ellingsen for her time and her memories.