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Karen Allen

Karen Allen made her film debut in Animal House, playing the role of Katy, “the voice of reason” among the din of the foul-mouthed frat boys of Faber. Best known for portraying Marion Ravenwood in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Allen stepped behind the camera to direct her first film, based on the Carson McCullers short story A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. Allen will be at The Avon Theatre in Stamford on Nov. 14 for a screening of her debut, followed by a Q&A and an introduction to a special screening of her 1984 film Starman.

Allen on McCullers and A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.:

“I wanted to read everything she had ever written. And she died quite young, so it’s a fairly small but quite extraordinary body of work. I found the collected stories and started reading through them, and this particular story made an enormous impact on me for a lot of different reasons. It just stayed with me over the years and I always somehow thought I would have some sort of journey with it. I couldn’t ever really put my finger on what that would be. I used to sometimes read it out loud to friends and I was always talking to people about it.” 

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Jackson Smith in a scene from A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.

Allen on her directing style:

“It’s a very unusual film for this day and age. It takes its time. It’s very unhurried. It really asks the viewer to breathe and calm down and listen to the story and to become engaged with the characters. We went out of our way to really go toward a kind of simple form of storytelling, both in terms of the camera and how we use the camera, and in terms of the way in which the story unfolds.”

Allen on Animal House:

“It was my first film. I can’t say it’s one I’m identified with a lot. There’s so many characters. It’s also a film that has really stayed very much in people’s awareness. I call it the film that doesn’t stop celebrating itself. It’s constantly being feted in one direction or another. For that to have been my first is quite extraordinary. Until I did Animal House, I had never met an actor who had ever been in a film. I had never been on a set before. And it was true for a lot of us. For that whole group of actors, it created a possibility of working in films. Had I not been cast it would have taken years for me to be able to move into the film world. All of a sudden we were all very much in vogue. We were all very much in demand.”


This article appeared in the November 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine.You can can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here.

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.