Yancy Butler was one of TV’s coolest superheroes when she starred as Sara Pezzini in TNT’s Witchblade. Now, two decades after that TV-movie that led to an incredible TV series, she’s embarking on a new adventure in the film Emerald Run.
The movie reunites her with her Witchblade co-star David Chokachi, and she plays his spouse in the film, caught up in his character’s desperate plan to save their daughter’s life by engaging in illegal trafficking. It’s a nail-biter, but it’s also fun for people who remember their prior work together to see them collaborating yet again.
Yancy spoke to Nerdophiles about the movie, why she enjoys working with David, and whether or not Witchblade may have been ahead of its time 20 years ago. Plus, would she be interested in a revival?
Learn the answers to those questions and more in our interview with Yancy Butler below, and then see Emerald Run in select theaters now.
Nerdophiles: How did you and David Chokachi come back together for Emerald Run? Were you looking for another project to do together?
Yancy Butler: David and I have been friends since Witchblade. He actually brought the project to me, because he was on board long before I was. It was an offer, he brought it to my desk, and I said absolutely. I’d do anything for David. I love that man.
NP: That preexisting familiarity can help actors. Especially since your characters in the movie have a close relationship, was that the case for you on Emerald Run?
YB: Very, very much. Very much. David and I have worked together now several times and it really does help, especially when you’re supposed to be intimate with that person or kiss that person. When you meet somebody on the day it’s hard to do. David and I just go so far back and we were so close during Witchblade. All of us were. Working with David was great and working with Eric [Etebari, who played Ian Nottingham on Witchblade], as our director, was wonderful.
NP: That’s one great thing about this movie. Aside from the three of you, there are a number of recognizable actors in the cast. What was it like just to work on this movie with so many familiar faces?
YB: It was so cool. I’ve been a fan of Michael Paré forever. Chris Mulkey’s in it. And everybody did a fantastic job, but Michael is a really funny guy and we just had a blast on set. I think it shows. You can really see it. Even though [the film] was laden with all this heavy stuff, we just had a blast. Going to work was a treat.
The whole thing is such a great ride. If you’re a fan of Chris Mulkey’s, you’re going to love this film. If you’re a fan of Michael’s, you’re going to love this film. If you’re a fan of David or myself, you’re going to love this film. It’s cops and robbers and you can only extrapolate on that so many times for a plot, but this questioning of [David’s character’s] faith, his whole belief system and his morals adds an interesting twist to it.
NP: Since we’re mentioning Witchblade, we should discuss that it’s been 20 years since the TV-movie. With fans still talking about it now, it feels like the show was ahead of its time, as far as superhero TV.
YB: I think so too. What’s interesting, though, is that it was just supposed to be a movie. It got the best summer ratings ever or something for a summer film, so they decided to make it into a series. We really got an extra two years out of it that we didn’t expect. We couldn’t be happier with that outcome.
NP: It became such a huge part of your career; it remains one of your best-known roles. So how are you different now for having played Sara Pezzini?
YB: That show aged me. We would work about 19-hour days on that show. I worked a 24-hour day. They just had to give me 12 hours off for union rules. One-hour episodic television is no joke, and we worked extremely hard on it. Everybody does. What did I learn? That I’m just the visual cog in a huge wheel called production. There’s so many other jobs that go into that.
I think that it spoiled me because our production value was so high and we had the luxury of spending money on that. Some things pale in comparison, to be honest. I think it was such a great show, the writing, the directing of it, that it spoiled me for some future projects.
NP: With TV revivals being a trend, and the popularity of superhero shows now, would you do a Witchblade revival if there was a chance to bring it back?
YB: Some people have approached us and we’re still talking about it for sure. Yes, we would be and everybody would be on board. I think it’s long overdue actually.
We really were a family on that show. When you’re working those hours, you can’t help but be a family. You’re seeing them more than you do your family. We became so close and we cared so deeply for each other. Talk about going to work being a blast – it would be wonderful and I think that it would be marketable.
NP: In the meantime, what’s next for Yancy Butler after Emerald Run?
YB: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two of my projects that are coming out as well. Both horror films because that seems to be the genre of the day. One is called Dembanger, and we won a spot at South by Southwest in Austin so we’re very proud of that. It’s a great film. The other one is called Severed Silence. That hasn’t been released yet, but I’m really looking forward to those two films.
Emerald Run is in select movie theaters now. Witchblade is available on iTunes and Amazon Video.