Karen Allen is an actor, director and a textile designer. We caught up with Allen at 2019 SFFILM in San Francisco where her new film Colewell by director Tom Quinn had its world premier. Colewell is a poetic film with a touch of melancholy on how economic change is re-shaping small towns in rural America. The changes in many of these small towns comes at a steep price and shreds the social glue and fabric of tight-knit communities.
We spoke to Allen on how she got a break as an actor in Hollywood, how she came to be play the part of Marion Ravenswood in Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and why she went back to her first love: textile designing.
Allen studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology before branching off to study acting. She got her first acting role in the 1978 film National Lampon’s Animal House directed by John Landis. The film starred John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Thomas Hulce, Donald Sutherland and others. Animal House became a surprise box office hit and a cult classic. Before starring in Animal House Allen had never met a film actor. Animal House is a film that she watches once every couple of years.
After National Lampon’s Animal House Allen went on to act in many feature films and worked with Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Albert Linney, Bill Murray and others. One of Allen’s most memorable character was as Marion Ravenswood in Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and later on in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
A few years ago Allen went back to her first love – textile designing. She now has a store in Great Barrington, MA, where she sells her work along with other designers from around the world.