Three Great Things: Alexis Knapp

The actress, who can currently be seen in the horror movie The Accursed, on some of the spiritual beacons that guide her in life.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the current release in theaters and on VOD of The Accursed, the new horror film starring Sarah Grey, Mena Suvari and Alexis Knapp, actress Knapp – who broke out in films like Project X and Pitch Perfect – shared some of the forces that have shaped her life. — N.D.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman is the only physical item I own that belonged to my father, who passed away when I was 15. It was a book he encouraged my older brothers to read and I learned about it through them because I wasn’t reading about mindfulness yet. It’s a book that I refer to everywhere I go, in every walk of life. For instance, I’ve always been a slow eater. I can scarf down food faster than anybody if I’m in the mood, but most of the time I like to eat slowly and over long periods of time. That’s not a popular way of eating and I get made fun of a little, but in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior it says that when you’re taking in food, it’s a meditation just like anything else. That you should really take the time to taste every single flavor profile, every ingredient, every atom that makes up the food you’re ingesting, because you essentially become whatever you’re putting in your body. That’s just one aspect of this book which I love more than any other in the world.

I don’t want to overdo anything that is precious to me, because that spark can wear off, so I’ve kept The Way of the Peaceful Warrior fresh by not rereading it too much. I read most of the book when I was in Peru for the first time; there were no distractions, no wifi, and it was really the most beautiful experience. I really relate to every aspect of the book, both the Socrates character (the wise mentor), and the protagonist Dan, a student who’s also a gymnast. Dan is young, healthy, talented, no allergies, strong, fit, attractive, on top of his game, doing everything the Western world says makes you a winner, yet he has no control over his mind and no control over his anger. I’ve had ADHD forever, and it’s something I’m still getting a grasp on. Every day, I need to do things to ground my focus, otherwise I can get really scattered. I’m very sensitive to my environment, to other people’s thoughts and feelings, so I see a lot of myself in Dan, and when I read the book, Socrates was the kind of person I wanted to become. Except I have much higher goals now. Socrates was happy being enlightened and working at a gas station, but I want to be enlightened and build my own castles, have my own empire, and give back to the world 1000 times more than I’ve ever received from it.

I love being surrounded by nature, living in nature, being near water sources. I’m most myself, most alive, most activated, when I’ve spent a lot of time in nature; the more separated I am from the city, society or civilization, the higher my vibes go. My genius activates its ideas and my brain power is unbelievable when I’m in nature, especially if I’m moving. I have to activate my body. I remember being in Mexico one time and walking back and forth on a little trail and feeling connected to my innermost genius. Nothing was really going on, except in where I was and what I was doing – I was simply returning to my source. We have too many distractions in our city lives, and electricity and wi-fi disrupt our electromagnetic frequencies, our natural emanations. (There’s a fascinating book called The Body Electric, about what EMFs actually do to human beings’ natural energy system.)

I live in nature and also own four acres in Topanga Canyon, surrounded by Topanga State Park, which is my getaway when I need even deeper nature. But I essentially live in a tree house, anyway. I can’t really see my neighbors too much because I’m tucked up on a mountain and have got trees everywhere. My ex-boyfriend tried to convince me to buy a cool apartment in downtown Calabasas instead of buying this less fancy house up for the same price, but the trade-off for me was that I need to live in nature if I can. If I’m just existing on my own and self-motivating and auditioning and writing and living my life without being on a production schedule, then I want to be in nature.

I don’t have a Japanese bloodline, but I always say my soul is Japanese, because it is the dearest culture to my heart. I remember seeing the Hayao Miyazaki classic Spirited Away for the first time, and it was as if time stopped. I thought, “Oh, my God, this style of cartoon feels like home to me.” I’d already been watching cartoons forever, but I hadn’t been introduced to anime, so once I saw Spirited Away, I dove into the world really hard.

I love Japanese food – it’s my go-to. I love Tsukemen, which is dipping ramen and just amazing if done right. Japan has a culture of deep honor, introspection, gentleness and precision. I bought a house which was partly furnished and the only new paintings I have in it are of Samurai, which are scattered around the house. I have multiple vehicles and they’re all named Bushido – Bushido, Baby Bushido and Sumo Bushido – after the samurai code of honor, which is pure beauty to me.

I haven’t been to Japan yet, but only because I have to be ready with money to buy an apartment, as I’m not going to want to leave. I’ve been to other Asian countries that don’t speak to me on that level, and I didn’t want to leave them. My soul needs to be in Asia, and Japan is the Mecca for me, so I’ve purposefully been holding out on that. Once I do go, though, I’m going to need to be able to make it a regular thing or I’ll get depressed. That used to happen to me when I would come back to L.A. from Europe. Being in other cultures and unfamiliar territories is a sure way to advance your own maturing process. In Europe, my eyes and heart and soul were open – expanded, uplifted, evolving fast, growing up – but when I would come back to L.A. where there is such a lack of culture, I would get into bouts of depression that only ever lifted when I would leave the country again. I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then, but I still know that I would be depressed if I came back from Japan and wasn’t able to go back there again whenever I wanted.

Alexis Knapp can currently be seen in the horror movie The Accursed, also starring Sarah Grey and Mena Suvari. She is known for playing Stacie in the Pitch Perfect franchise and had her breakout role in the cult hit Project X, in which she starred alongside Miles Teller and Thomas Mann. She also starred alongside Ashley Greene and Pierce Brosnan in the thriller Urge and can be seen opposite Ian Somerhalder and Luke Hemsworth in the sci-fi action thriller The Anomaly. Knapp’s other film credits include Couples Retreat and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. She can currently be seen starring in Phobias, released by Vertical Entertainment and available on Hulu. She also starred in the Lifetime movie My Christmas Prince and earlier this year had a memorable appearance in the season premiere of Hulu’s The Orville.