What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? What was the
first movie to really scare you?
We went to the drive-ins as a family. My sister and I would be in our
jammies in the back seats. I think my parents assumed we'd get bored
and fall asleep, but we never did. I remember "The Hand" with
Michael Cain. I had terrible nightmares about that one! There were a
couple of Vincent Price movies that scared me pretty bad as well.
|Do you remember
your initial reactions to seeing the original 'Night Of The Living
I hadn't seen 'Night Of The Living Dead' until I was in college.
But by then it was already a classic. And at first, I didn't want
to go because scary movies always freaked me out & had given
me bad dreams! (laughs) So, of course I was pressured into going
to a midnight show on campus & it WAS one of the scariest
things I had ever seen. Terrifying. When I heard George was doing
this remake in 1990, I thought 'Why?' because the original was
so effective and scary. But it turned out it had to do with some
Howd you initially
get involved in acting? From what I read on your bio, you started
at a very early age with your fathers radio show?
I have always
wanted to act. When I was little, I used to reenact TV commercials
and musical numbers for my family and the neighborhood. I played
Star Trek with my Barbies and acted out Dark Shadows with my
cousin. So no wonder I ended up in horror and sci fi!
You came to New York City to pursue acting after college
& started out by doing both theatre and television work.
Howd this all lead to you becoming a stunt woman?
I always wanted to be Errol Flynn. I had taken fencing lessons
in college, and loved stage combat. When I got to New York,
I took period sword technique classes, as a hobby. I met some
stunt people in those classes and it all went downhill from
Do you remember the first stunt gig you got and how you went about
I'm pretty sure it was a soap opera. Although... hmm... I'm trying to
a soap opera?
Yea. A soap opera and then I met some other stunt people. And
usually the way it is with stunts is you kind of apprentice
with people that are already doing it. They teach you what you
need to do, and if it looks like you show promise & can
do the work & have the right attitude, then they'll give
you more small jobs. So, I started with the soaps, which didn't
have major stunts because of the budgets and how quickly they
shot them. So, stunts would mostly involve falling & small
fights & things you normally wouldn't want to do with the
actors. That's the kind of thing we did and I was very good
at fights. Because it's choreography like with dancing. I actually
subbed Tina Louise from Gilligan's Island in a really terrible
movie called 'The Pool' falling out a balcony. And I had the
right height and color to double for her. It was really exciting.
I remember I had to just topple over this balcony & I fell
into boxes, because it wasn't that high of a fall. 20, 30 feet.
I remember the stunt guys being very indulgent and sweet with
Has there ever been a stunt that you approached that you perhaps
felt a bit nervous about doing? Or maybe even one that youre really
I am always a bit nervous. That's how you stay safe. You treat each
stunt with respect no matter how simple it is or how many times you
have done something like it. I am proud of doing the work, all of it,
and the fact that stunt people I respect called me to work with them.
Was any particular
project more difficult to work on then the others, due to perhaps
the amount of stunts or workload involved?
Of ever? My God, yes! There were a couple that left me thinking
"Why am I doing this? This is crazy" Probably
the hardest was 'The Long Kiss Goodnight'. It was a brutal environment,
because it was so cold. We shot that in Toronto. And I was doubled
Gina Davis. The stunts in that were very involved and I think
I was the 5th stunt double brought in because the other one's
kept getting hurt. That was tough.
|Tell us a bit
about your working relationship with George Romero, which started
on his film Knightriders? Is that also where you first
met Tom Savini?
I auditioned for Chris and George in NYC for Knightriders. My
boyfriend at the time knew George, so we both got an audition.
I ended up with a much better part! I knew Tom also from this
boyfriend. Tom taught a make-up class at C-MU, where I went to
college. That's in Pittsburgh, where Tom and George lived. I got
to know Tom better on Knightriders, and see what a fine actor
he really is.
I read you were in Creepshow
2. I love Creepshow 2! Can you tell me a bit about some of the things
you had to pull off on that film?
Ummm...let's think back a bit now...
The most colorful
stuff for me was in Arizona where we did the Blob part of the
film. We had a lot of water safety to do for the cast and the
crew. The water was extremely murky, there was NO visibility.
I did the part where the girls got eaten by the blob. Lots of
nasty make-up. But I loved the area, the west. I love living
in California now.
First and foremost, let me say you kicked so much ass as Barbara
in the 'Night Of The Living Dead' remake. Now, howd you get involved
in Night Of The Living Dead? Did you audition for Barbara
initially or were you always a choice of Toms for the role?
|I had to audition.
They were only seeing people in NYC, and I had moved to LA, so
I sent in a video tape. My friend, Marty Schiff shot my audition,
he really directed it. He was in Knightriders and works with Tom
now on the series he is doing. Tom has said he always wanted me
for the role. I choose to believe him!
Your version of Barbara was obviously far different from the version
portrayed by Judith ODea in the original. How exactly did
you approach your Barbara?
I just constructed a character based on the script. The writer
puts the black on the page, I fill in the white. I never wanted
her to be the same as the original. What would be the point in
that? The original was so perfect as it was!
Were you surprised
to see such a different version of Barbara in the remake's script
as opposed to the one from the original? Didn't George actually
write the script to both the original and remake?
Well, I was really pleased that he updated it. He wrote for
the time period when he did the first one in 1968. I wasn't
interested in playing that girl. And when I read the new one,
I thought "Ok! Much Better!". (laughs)
Theres a slew of phenomenal actors in the remake from
Tony Todd to Bill Mosley, Tom Towles, & William Butler. What do
you consider some of your favorite moments in the film? Both from your
performance and maybe some from the other actors?
you should say that because I think I take all the performances
for granted. Everyone was great. It's the relationships I remember,
our off screen bond. They were all just remarkable folks. I should
watch the film again and just look at the acting. I don't think
I have ever done that. The movie is so scary, I don't enjoy it
on that level! And I hate watching myself.
Do you remember
much about all those great performances or the behind-the-scenes
stuff on NOTLD?
It's really hard to have enough distance from a movie you're
working on. I know that if there were a bad performance, then
it was stick out like a sore thumb. And there was none of that
in 'Night'. Everyone was just so solid. I knew that when we
were doing it. Here we are in this very surreal situation, where
most people would not take it seriously, but everyone did take
it very seriously. And was very creative with it. And also everyone
had a really great sense of humor of things during our downtime.
There are times you work on something where you'll notice an
actor does not want to ever socialize or have too much fun with
it. Who are always trying to be so serious. But we had a really
good mix of both. When we were working, everyone was on top
of it, well prepared and well rehearsed. And when we had to
wait for a long set-up, then we'd get goofy because it was the
middle of the night.
|Tony was the most
serious guy & he'd often just kick back while we were waiting
for a set up. And often, we just couldn't let him get away with
that! The guy who lived in the house we shot in, I believe really
did have a hobby in taxidermy. The whole place was filled with
real stuffed animals! Animals that were once alive and now stuffed.
We used all of them in the movie. All the one's on the wall were
already there & they were really creepy. So, anyway, I would
find a stuffed alligator or something and stick it on Tony while
he was trying to sleep. But he was really a good sport about it.
You go a little nuts when you're shooting all night, every night,
6 days a week. You just need some sort of comic relief.
Everyone was really great about that.
The only sad thing is that I don't see everyone. Tony and I are the
only one's that really cross paths at the conventions. I just saw
Billy Butler for the first time in 15 years. Katie was asking about
him too. Savini, I still see and talk to. And George and Chris...
Speaking of, are you excited for 'Land Of The Dead'? Isn't it time
George came back to the genre?
Oh, I'm sure
the fans are absolutely thrilled. He created it, and he's the
one who SHOULD be doing it. And I'm sure it'll be awesome because
it's George! Of course! Some people asked if I was sad
to not be in it, but I say "As what?! As grandma of the
living dead?" You can only be a zombie hunter for so long.
I do think it's going to be a great movie. George should really
be doing more of everything. I think he's a phenomenal filmmaker.
Agreed. I love all
I know. I hope he gets the career he deserves with this film.
Theres some great social commentary, both in the original &
remake versions of Night Of The Living Dead. I love your
line Theyre us. Were them and theyre us.
Followed by your sarcastic smirk and the Having fun?
comment. Whats your opinion of what these films are trying to
say? Do you think this is perhaps the reason that Romeros original
has become such a classic?
|It's something that
I believe we can do in the film and television industry;
make people think while entertaining them. Sometimes if you show
a subject, or and idea out of context it gets into the brain easier.
Like if you watching a show that takes place on a space
ship, and you see a storyline about prejudice against an
alien race, how wrong it is, some people may be able to get the
point. They don't want to hear about how prejudiced they are in
real life, but maybe we can get them to see it if we put it in
a less threatening setting like sci-fi.
I get all tense when asked 'what do you think George is trying to say?".
I guess it's because I don't want to tell anyone what to think. It's
each persons job to decide for yourself, think for yourself. It doesn't
matter what I think. My experience of the film is completely different
from what anyone else's could possibly be. You who didn't act in it
have a much purer vision of it.
With Tom Savini involved, obviously the creature effects were going
to be top-notch. (Which they were!) Any zombies or effects really
stand out to you as impressive or memorable while working on the picture?
They were all
so gross. I didn't want to hang out and see how it was being
created. I wanted to experience it as an actor. So I didn't
hear all the stories about the people who wore the make-up.
The person who was the zombie I shot in the head was a real
towns person who wanted to be in the film. He was just so scary
to me. And he really got into it...following me around and whispering
about how he was going to get me. Oh yeah...it was fun being
Greg Funk who is a make-up artist and won an Emmy for his work on Babylon
5, was the graveyard zombie that I fight with and stab with the flower
arrangement. I forgot about his make-up because we were working so hard
on the action. He was so wonderful to work with because he understood
completely all aspects of what was needed in the scene. I loved working
with him. Maybe because of that, his make-up affected me the least.
I really feel that the 1990 version of Night Of The Living Dead stands
the test of time, and in fact was maybe a bit ahead of the time, considering
all the current crop of remakes. What were your reactions to first seeing
it on the big screen and how do you feel about it when you see it now?
|I was very proud
of our work. I felt like the acting was as honest and real as
we could be. The reaction from the audience was so satisfying.
And people still talk to me about it. Yeah, I feel really good
about it. Joe Straczynski said he wrote the part of Lyta for me
based on seeing me in Night.
I feel a common mistake made in horror movies is that the filmmakers
don't take the subject seriously enough. The actors don't try
to be real. So you don't end up caring about anyone and just wait
for the next gross thing to happen. You don't go home with any
Didn't you recently get to work with Katie Finneran again, who played
Judy Rose in the 'Night Of The Living Dead' remake?
Yea! That was
so great. Because I got a call from this stunt coordinator,
Doug Coleman I've known him since he was first getting started,
and now he's a huge stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director.
He just did work on 'The Aviator'. And he was working on the
new 'Bewitched' and called me out of the blue. You know, I got
this actress I think you'd be good to double. And I thought
"Doug, you haven't seen me in forever. I'm not the same
size!" But he still told me to just come down to the set
to catch up. So, I went down to Culver studios where they were
shooting 'Bewitched' and he took a look at me and said "You'll
be fine". So, I show up for a costume fitting a few days
later & he told me the actor you're doubling is Katie Finneran
and I said "You're kidding! I haven't seen her in 10 years."
So, when she showed up we were both in make-up at the same time and
it was just so much fun. Awesome to see her again. So, in the movie
she plays Will Ferrell's ex-wife. And the Nicole Kidman character, who's
playing Samantha gets angry with Katie's character and causes all these
mishaps. I stunt for some of those mis-haps. And it was fun, we had
a great time. I hope everyone goes to see it, because I think it should
be a pretty cute gag. And I know they were very, very happy.
I'm a big Will Ferrell fan, so I'm going to check it out
for him. And now you, of course!
|Oh, I LOVE Will Ferrell. He was just so sweet, really
easy going. And very, very funny. At one point, I'm laying on
the floor at the end of the stunt. With this huge light on top
of me. I had been squashed like a bug. And it looked very dramatic.
It was not a difficult stunt, but it was very technically involved
from my end of it. So, he comes running over in character &
all his friends come over and lift this light off of me like I'm
the wicked witch of the west, and... the look on his face... was
SO funny. Because he really was concerned, because it looked very
dramatic and it looked very real. So, I look at his expression
& started to laugh, which came off as inappropriate. But he
was just so cute. It didn't ruin the take or anything, but it
was just very, very funny. He was great with Katie too. Even from
a fan perspective, I love that. When an actor you really love
turns out to really be a nice guy.
You got to throw down with Ash in Army Of Darkness as the possessed
witch. What was it like to attempt to kick Bruce Campbells ass?
Well I sure don't
think I came out on top!
Bruce is a hunk, he's totally fab, and he's funny which makes
him irresistible. I wish I wasn't in so much pain at the time
so I could have really enjoyed it. I was in make-up for over
17 hours, had horrible contact lenses in ( so I couldn't see)
,couldn't eat or pee, and was working 2 stunt jobs at the same
time. I really wanted him to shoot me for real and get it over
So, while working on 'Army Of Darkness', you were also simultaneously
doing other gigs?
I did that a lot back then. There was a time when I was just working
so hard and I couldn't turn anything down. So, often I did what they
call double-dipping. That just means that you're doing as many jobs
as you possibly can all at the same time. I don't recall what I was
doing at the same time. All I know is I was not sleeping! And
it was tough! But that was a bread & butter job. And it was all
union, so it went toward my pension & health plan.
|Army Of Darkness
definitely seemed like a fairly big production. Were there a lot
of difficult stunts to perform on that particular show?
It was intense! The puppets were so cool. Stuntmen were flying
all over the place. I was the only stunt woman in the army.
So, you were (pardon the expression) the 'she-bitch' in 'Army Of
Darkness'. Did you also come back as the S-Mart ghoul for the reshoots
on the alternate ending after the film wrapped?
No, I was just the she-bitch. And I was in the army. KNB built all the
costumes around my body for the skeletons, so I had my place assured!
You were the only female in the army?
Only stunt female in the army. They had a lot of skinny people cast
for the skeletons for anyone with a skeleton like body. So, if it was
a woman they didn't care. But in the stunt army I was the only female.
You instigate one of the most
memorable lines in the first Austin Powers film. Youre the waitress
that gets punched before Austin says Thats a man, baby?.
What can you tell us about working on the Austin Powers films? Are sets
on comedies really as tense as people claim?
I thought everyone seemed to be having a really good time. Mike Meyers
was very sweet, and in character he was adorable as Austin. It was all
good. The stunt coordinator, Bud Davis is a good friend of mine. We
had fun. I loved my outfit!
I got to see more of Mike's acting style on the second one. I was in
the fight scene on the Jerry Springer set. Mike first did the scene
as written. Once they had that in the can, he'd get creative. I was
fascinated. He was so funny and Seth Green could keep up with anything
Dr. Evil threw at him. Awesome.
I had told my son (who was 6 at the time) that I was going to go to
work with Dr. Evil and his son Scott. Julian said, in awe,"Scott
Evil?!!!!" Like he was a rock star!
You also have a huge fan base from playing Lyta Alexander on Babylon
5. Series creator Joe Straczynski apparently had the entire series
mapped out when he pitched it to the networks. What were your initial
reactions to stepping into the sci-fi world?
|I loved the pilot
script. I never thought I'd get the part. I was blown away. I
didn't know anything about the series. I only had "The Gathering"
script. And I knew it was very special. I love sci fi. I read
it constantly. I'm a total geek, squid, nerd.
Joe Straczynski is my FAVORITE writer working in comics today.
What can you tell me about him from working on Babylon 5?
Joe was always easily accessible and generous with his time.
Unless his door was closed and he was writing, his door was usually
always open and it meant, "Come on in. If you have a question
or want to talk". He was amazing that way. Our producers
were right there on the set with us, so it wasn't like they were
in another building or another lot. They were always right there
for us. Joe was always tight-lipped about what was coming next.
We were kind of on a need-to-know basis. Because he didn't want
to spill any secrets before we shot. Which makes total sense.
||With his writing
in general, I tend to notice he has everything planned out wwaayyy
Oh yea! He's amazing that way. And so, there were times when you'd
be acting, you say to Joe, "What exactly do I mean by this?
I don't know what this means!" (laughs)
And did he ever just say "You'll see."?
Nah. He felt if he could trust you, then he'd illuminate you. But if
it was something he really didn't want to let go of, well he would give
you as much as he could and then we'd have to figure it out. I don't
recall ever having too much of a problem with that. He would always
give us enough as actors to make sense out of it.
|You've done a
lot of convention appearances in the past few years. What's the
convention experience like from your perspective?
It's actually very draining. Doing the conventions is hard work.
But most conventions, they try to treat you really well, but it's
almost very necessary because you have to put out so much energy.
And you don't always get energy back. So, sometimes it feels like
a level of energy is sucked out of you, because everyone wants
a piece of you. That's why they're there! And I understand that
& I know that going in. There was a point I had to stop doing
conventions, because I didn't feel I was being as assessable and
friendly as I wanted to be. The down side is people do make fun
of the conventions. Some people can't separate reality from tv
and sometimes that makes it very hard too.
any people you've either bumped into or always wanted to meet
at the conventions?
I've always wanted to meet James Marster (from Buffy) &
we have the same convention manager, but we always seem to miss
each other. I haven't really had a chance to meet him. I mean,
it always fun to meet other actors, and most are very sweet.
We're there for the same reasons, so it's like we're in the
same little club. Last Chiller, I got to meet Glenn Shadix,
who had done BeetleJuice and Carnivale. It was great to meet
him because he's such an accomplished actor. And we talked a
lot about Carnivale because I have some friends that work on
that show. I love to meet other actors. Mostly they're really
great, but there's a few that think they're too big for their
britches, and that's hysterical! Who DO you think you're fooling?
(laughs). And you hear these stories about these actors being
really rude to the fans, and you think, "oh get over yourself".
But most of them are totally cool.
You do a lot of work for an organization called Penny Lane. Tell
us a bit about them and how you got involved with them?
I've been working with the kids from Penny Lane for about 12 years now.
It's a home for kids who don't make it in regular foster care, they
have been so abused, they just don't function normally. I run a program
for them called "Be A Santa". And fans helped me build them
a computer lab. It become a community project, with our community being
fans from all over the world. You can check it out on my website www.thegalacticgateway.com.