published Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

City Beat: Cleveland native cuts swath in Hollywood

Like a lot of actors, Christian Pitre tries to learn something from every experience. So, after taking a real knife to her initial audition for the leading role of Mary Death in the new "Bounty Killer" movie, she discovered that was a no-no. For her callback, she bought a retractable one to use in the fight scene she was to do.

"The thing is, it's only retractable if you push in," she said in a phone interview. "It doesn't work if you stab sideways. I didn't realize that. I broke it on [co-star] Matthew Marsden's stomach."

So knives are out for her next audition. While she might not know too much about the retractable variety, Pitre said she grew up around knives and guns in Cleveland, Tenn.

"I grew up shooting. Out here in Los Angeles, they look at guns differently," she said. "They make them really nervous. They're kind of weird about knives, too. I remember the first day on the set I needed a knife to cut something, and growing up I would just ask my daddy for one, and he'd have it in his pocket. I asked for one on the set, and they looked at me weird. Like, 'Why would I have a knife?"'

Pitre moved to Cleveland at age 3 and grew up there, graduating from Bradley Central. Her father, who died when she was 18, built a cabin near Red Clay Historic State Park.

"I love Cleveland," she said. "I intend to have that cabin again one day."

Her mother remarried and now lives in Soddy-Daisy. Pitre and her musician husband, Robbie, send their 7-year-old daughter, Presley, back to Tennessee for a couple of months every summer to stay with Pitre's mother.

"I love for her to go back and get that foundation that I got," she said. "It's a different place. The buckle of the Bible Belt, and I want her to know that people don't all live like we do here."

Pitre actually landed the Death role three years ago. "Bounty Killer" was first made into a short and then picked up and filmed as a feature-length movie last summer. It opens in select theaters and on video on demand on Sept. 6. In it, Death is the most famous of all bounty killers, who are treated as celebrities in a post-apocalyptic world.

It's sort of "Mad Max" meets "Kill Bill" with lots of violent killings presented in an almost cartoony way, Pitre said. She is hopeful that a screening can be arranged in Cleveland.

"For me, this is about having fun and going home with Mom and family and friends and letting everyone see it and have a good time."

One of her co-stars is Gary Busey, and one of the first questions she gets about the film is what it was like working with him..

"He was a hoot," Pitre said. "My husband actually introduced me to his work. I'm a little younger, and he caught me up on Mr. Busey. You don't know what to expect from him."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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