Holland Roden trades scares for suspense in her latest role. Dark Star Pictures

Movies

Holland Roden Lives in a Van, and Her Acting Career is Rolling Along

After a series of horror films, the Park Cities native plays an FBI agent hunting down serial killer Ted Bundy in a new thriller debuting this weekend.

Holland Roden’s acting resume wasn’t supposed to be quite so frightening.

That’s why the Park Cities native welcomed a break from a recent run in the horror genre by playing Kathleen McChesney, the FBI agent who hunts down a notorious serial killer in the 1970s biopic Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman.

“I get way too scared of horror movies to watch them, but I do appreciate thrillers with an element of surprise,” Roden said. “I’ve gotten sort of lucky in the horror genre that they’re all things that I’m genuinely interested in.”

That includes a recent role in the sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which conjured memories of birthday parties during her years as a student at Hockaday and Highland Park High School.

Roden, 34, enjoys projects with a basis in history or nonfiction, which is part of what drew her to playing McChesney, who was a decorated criminal investigator on many high-profile cases before her retirement.

“I was honored to play someone who was such a trailblazer,” Roden said. “In Hollywood, women especially are portrayed in a very particular way aesthetically — tall and lanky like models — and that’s just simply not true. I loved that she happened to be a 5-foot-2 redhead.”

Roden’s affinity for performing began as a teenager, when she began taking classes with renowned Texas-based author and actor Ken Farmer, who remains her acting coach today.

“He was the one who really urged me to do this professionally. That’s where I really found my footing and learned how much I enjoyed storytelling,” she said. “Growing up, I was always so depressed when a movie would end and the lights would come up. I wanted to see more of that story. It had a big effect on me.”

Roden’s first professional audition was for a role in the Friday Night Lights movie, which she didn’t get. However, she subsequently landed bit parts on series such as “CSI,” “Lost,” and “Community” before her breakthrough as a main character on “Teen Wolf,” which ran for six seasons on MTV.

More recently, some downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic enabled the California resident to indulge in another of her passions by building a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter camper van with her own hands.

After completing the conversion, which she documented extensively on her social media channels, Roden has enjoyed living slightly off the grid on four wheels for much of the past year.

“It’s definitely harder than normal living, but it’s been awesome. It’s a bit of a meditative practice,” said Roden, who enjoys skiing and rock climbing between acting gigs. “The community online is incredible, and you make instant friends wherever you go.”

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