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updated: 5/16/2011 4:31 PM

Aurora's Stana Katic wraps up 'Castle' season, moves on to 'Big Sur'

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  • West Aurora High School grad Stana Katic enjoys success on both the small screen (TV's "Castle") and big (the upcoming drama "Big Sur").

      West Aurora High School grad Stana Katic enjoys success on both the small screen (TV's "Castle") and big (the upcoming drama "Big Sur").

 
 

Sure, Stana Katic looks like she's having a bundle of fun playing Detective Kate Beckett on ABC-TV's mystery series "Castle."

Each week, she verbally jousts with Nathan Fillion's glib and witty crime novelist Rick Castle, indulging in some sexually charged repartee before getting down to the business of solving crimes and catching criminals.

But don't mistake Katic for your standard-issue TV/movie star from West Aurora High School.

When it comes to acting, she's as dead serious as the homicide victims on her TV series.

You can tell this from the characters she's dying to play before she, uh, dies.

"I'd like to play Cleopatra," Katic said, quickly noting that Angelina Jolie has already snagged the character for an upcoming movie. "And I'd like to play Kate in 'The Taming of the Shrew.' I'm already playing another Kate."

And?

"And I'd like to play Antigone."

Antigone?

The rebellious ancient Greek girl who buried her dead brother against the King of Thebes' commands, thereby unleashing woe and gnashing of teeth in the house of Creon?

"I like the classics," Katic said. "I think the classics help us create the present day ones."

Katic was talking via telephone from a hotel room in Carmel, Calif., about 30 miles from the legendary Big Sur, which is also the title of the movie she's working on.

In "Big Sur," she plays a poet who becomes a catalyst for the Summer of Love during the 1960s. The movie details her meeting with Beat writer Jack Kerouac (Jean-Marc Barr) and Neal Cassady (Josh Lucas).

Just how did a girl from West Aurora High wind up here?

"I've always been involved in drama, since I was very little," Katic said. "I used to put on plays on the patio. It's been part of my life. It wasn't something I necessarily immediately pursued. I've always done plays, done theater."

She studied international relations, pre-law and biology before she finally succumbed to the lure of the performing arts.

Blame it on Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

"They did a really great job of breaking the actor down and starting from scratch," Katic said. "Letting you experience the world in a very new, childlike way. Not that that wasn't already natural to me."

How so?

"We witness the world through our senses. Observations we actors have to be open to. To keep our tentacles out there, feeling the world around us, experimenting and engaging with it. It's part of who we are asked to be, whether it's onstage or in a film. Those are wonderful building blocks in school."

Before West Aurora, Katic hailed from Ontario, Canada. She grew up the daughter of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia.

"They had to start from the ground up, and succeeded in making a wonderful living for all of us, my siblings and myself," she said.

"For us, it was a valuable lesson in hard work and how one can achieve one's goals. I couldn't have had a better pair of people to raise me. They're very kind and loving people who've lived the American dream."

"Castle" wraps up its season tonight with a finale tied to the murder of Kate's mother years earlier. Katic likes playing Kate.

"I love that she's flawed," the actress said. "I love that she tries to do the right thing, but she doesn't always do the right thing. I believe in characters who aren't perfect. I believe in people. And I believe in playing characters that are like people."

Asked to name the greatest achievement of a person in the performing arts, Katic had this to say.

"I sincerely believe that the greatest achievement that a person in the performing arts can do is help people transcend," Katic replied. "To help people come out of themselves for a moment, and, perhaps, change through an experience that the performer provides."

Antigone might be closer than she imagines.

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