‘Love Lies Bleeding’ Star Katy O’Brian Found the Queer Bodybuilder Role of Her Dreams


Name: Katy O’Brian

Sundance project: “Love Lies Bleeding,” which stars Kristen Stewart as a gym employee with a complicated family history who falls for a new-in-town bodybuilder, played by O’Brian. The film, from A24 and directed by “Saint Maud” director Rose Glass, will next be shown at the Berlin Film Festival.

Notable past projects: O’Brian has been seen in “The Madeleorian,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Black Lightning.” 

O’Brian first learned of the role when a fan sent her a post on social media about a casting call for a queer bodybuilder. 

“They tagged me and they’re like, look, Katie, do this,” O’Brian recalls. “And then I just commented under it, ‘I’m free,’ and I posted a picture of me working out, which is really douchey, but I did it, and then I put a PowerPoint together with my bodybuilding history and all of that. And I told my agent, if she didn’t get me an audition for it, I would riot.”

Luckily for her agent, O’Brian got the role, and soon dove into the character Jackie, who she immediately connected to.

“I happen to be a queer bodybuilder. She’s from the Midwest, I’m from the Midwest. She’s got a lot more of a traumatic past than I do, but that kind of thing makes you want to hold someone close,” O’Brian says. 

Despite her own history in bodybuilding, the training required for the shoot was completely different from what O’Brian was used to.

“I’ve competed in the past. I’ve kicked my ass. I’m just dying at the end of the day. I have no energy, whatever. This was the total opposite,” she says. “He catered it toward on camera. In a normal bodybuilding competition, we would want these muscles to pop more, but when you’re on camera, the light will highlight these. It really was just like a gift that wound up with [my trainer] because he just really knew, for my specific needs and scenarios, what to do.”

Her chemistry with Stewart was initially tested over a chemistry read, and from there the two knew they could play off each other.

“I think we just had a good time playing in the room. And then we met up with Rose a few times before and even during filming to kind of go over the script, go over scenes and talk about…a lot of where your character is personal, but it’s just how our characters were kind of feeling in the moment,” she says. “So it was a really cool collaborative experience and everyone was just willing to give up any amount of time to make the movie happen.”

This summer, O’Brian will be seen in “Twisters,” from “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung, which is the sequel to the 1996 film. The cast consists of Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, Kiernan Shipka, Sasha Lane and more.

“It’s a huge 180 from this movie,” O’Brian says, “but a totally fun family summer movie.”



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