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Exclusive Interview: KEVIN SORBO
By
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR

Source:

Sep 14, 2008, 6:28 PM


Kevin Sorbo is one of those people that, after talking with, you feel like you have known your whole life. In a career spanning almost 20 years, Sorbo first shot to fame for his work as the title character in HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS. Sorbo followed up that massive success with the role of Captain Dylan Hunt in Gene Roddenberry's ANDROMEDA. Sorbo, who easily crosses over between TV and Movies (MEET THE SPARTANS), has two new fright films out: SOMETHING BENEATH (available on DVD now) and NEVER CRY WEREWOLF (Available on DVD September 16th).

Kevin was kind enough to talk with HOUSE OF HORRORS about these films, his work with kids and what it's like to be known as Hercules.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. 
 
KEVIN SORBO:  It's my pleasure! Where are you located?  Where do you live?
 
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  About two hours out of Seattle, just below British Columbia. 

KEVIN SORBO:  Really?  It's so pretty up through there.  I shot "Andromeda" up there for five years, up there in British Columbia. That whole coast line with all the islands; it's just really beautiful.  For boating, sailing, it's just a great place to be.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  It really is, I am so lucky to be here. I mean, tourists come here. When you live in an area where tourists come to visit, that's a good thing.  I'm from Minnesota, originally.
 
KEVIN SORBO:  Really?  Where?
 
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  I was born in St. Paul and raised in Apple Valley.

KEVIN SORBO:  You're kidding!  You know, I'm from Minnesota.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Yes. Mound, Minnesota. 

KEVIN SORBO:  I grew up on Lake...Have you ever been on Lake Minnetonka?

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Yes, I have. Minnesota was a great place to grow up.

KEVIN SORBO:  Isn't that funny?

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  A lot of good people come out of Minnesota. 

KEVIN SORBO:  That is really cool.  I remember this girl I dated from Apple Valley. Her name was Jill. It was kind of my first love.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Hey, that's my mom's name! (Implying he could be my father)
 
KEVIN SORBO:  How old do you think I am anyway? (laughs)

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  (laughs)

KEVIN SORBO:  Twenty year-old girls will stop me in the store and say, "Oh, we loved you in "Hercules!", and then I realize they were five when the show went on the air.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  You have two thrillers coming out. SOMETHING BENEATH that came out the 9th and NEVER CRY WEREWOLF which comes out on DVD September 16th. Can you tell us a little about both?

KEVIN SORBO:  Well, SOMETHING BENEATH is kind of a tribute to the 50's sci-fi movies. You know, with the giant tarantulas?  All that stuff.  It has that feel to it. David Winning directed it.  David is a good friend of mine.  He directed quite a few episodes of "Andromeda" and we've always kept in touch, he emails me on a pretty regular basis. Actually, we are putting together this project right now and I hope this happens.  A very cool project.  I can't talk about it right now, but if we get this thing going - It comes down to financing right now, everything is crazy with the financing. But he called me up and said, "Look, I've got this part and it's a fun film."  He sent me the script and I liked it. We went up there and we shot it in Toronto and down in Hamilton.  We shot all around the suburbs of Toronto.  Winnipeg was just so cold.  It was November and December and the script pretty much calls for a springtime setting and there was nothing springtime about it!  Our lips were frozen. I guess it's a politically correct piece in a way dealing with how we overbuild and overuse the earth. It's sort of, in a way, the earth fighting back against humanity and the over expansion of us just trying to take over every nook and cranny of this beautiful planet. It deals with that and the creature is a tar creature, kind of like the Thing, it's like the Blob. It works with your mind than anything else. If you touch it or come in contact with it in any way it manifests your greatest fear. If you fear spiders suddenly there are thousands of spiders crawling over your body. The victims usually die of fright and, you know, how do you deal with your greatest fears?

Sorbo in a scene from SOMETHING BENEATH

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Is NEVER CRY WEREWOLF in the vein of FRIGHT NIGHT in a way?

KEVIN SORBO:  Yes.
 
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  You're almost playing the Roddy McDowall character. Like, you're having to really confront these things in real life. Things you were only pretending to before.

Sorbo and Nina Dobrev in NEVER CRY WEREWOLF

KEVIN SORBO:  Yeah, I play a character who has a television show that has been playing forever, a hunting show, sort of in the vein of Steve Irwin and everybody thinks he is a real hunter and he's not, he's an actor.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   That's what I love about it.  It's someone saying, "I have no idea what I am really doing, I'm just acting like I do."

KEVIN SORBO:  I know. Nina Dobrev is the main character who comes up and I just happen to be in their town. I'm going from town to town signing autographs at hunting and sporting goods stores. The show is on at 3 am and nobody watches it anymore and they want to cancel me now and my career is over. My wife took everything in the divorce, I'm living out of my crappy van and Nina's character tries to talk me into tracking a real werewolf and I'm like, "You've got to be friggin kidding me". She [Nina's character] says, "You can fight this thing!  Remember that time you fought that polar bear?" and I'm saying, "Honey, I'm an actor."  That's pretty much what my character is. You know he's struggling with alcoholism and he's got a lot of things going on in his life and he sees this teenage girl who is going to go risk her life and he kind of has a change of heart. He decides he needs to do something with his life so I come in and try to help save the day.   Well, she really is the one who saves the day but my character definitely helps. He is there to help create just one more problem for the werewolf to have to deal with.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Brenton Spencer directed that.  Wasn't he also a cinematographer on "Andromeda"?

KEVIN SORBO:  He was.  He directed a couple of episodes as well. He is another guy who sent me a script not too long ago, actually it has been awhile. We're going back and forth with sci-fi cable to make it a TV series.  It's a great idea, the script is phenomenal. We're hoping to make it work but, once again, I can't elaborate on it. It just gets out there but it's not real yet. I'm hoping it does happen. I would love to get back up there and shoot because I really enjoyed Vancouver, we'll see what happens.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  It's like a game of telephone sometimes when things get out on the internet.  It comes out as being this whole other project.

KEVIN SORBO:  Yeah, it's funny how much stuff is already out there about it.  It's like, how do they find out about it?

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   I know, that shocks me too!

KEVIN SORBO:  I've got five projects I'm sort of juggling right now and the fan club gets a hold of these things somehow and I think, "How did you find out about that?"

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Back to David and Brenton.  Does it help the film making process along when you have familiar faces on the set?

KEVIN SORBO:  I think so. Yeah. I did an episode of "Psych" and half of my crew from "Andromeda" is now working on that series. It just makes it easy to walk on the set and see a bunch of familiar faces.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   The same goes for working with your wife Sam, I'm sure.

KEVIN SORBO:  She gets popped in there once in awhile for things. She got to do the beginning of a western I did called "Avenging Angel".  I had always wanted to do a western and I got to do two last year. Now, I've got three more on my plate.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Oh yeah, "Avenging Angel" was on the Hallmark channel. That was really good.

KEVIN SORBO:  Yes. It was their highest-rated movie in the history of Hallmark. I'm going to brag about that and now they want to do a sequel to it. I have always wanted to do a western and it was a lot of fun.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  I love westerns. 

KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, me too. 

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Speaking of Sam, do you ever get out of doing stuff around the house by reminding her you're Hercules?

Sorbo as Hercules

KEVIN SORBO:  (laughs)  I think because of that fact I have to do a lot of stuff around the house.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Yeah. "Could you go pick that up, move that over there..."

KEVIN SORBO:  "Yeah, could you go pick those things up over there. (groans) I am so sore right now, we have been moving boxes for three weeks now and I'm still moving boxes."  It's just a mess!

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   Are you a fan of the horror genre?

KEVIN SORBO:  I like all movie genres, to be honest with you. I remember being a kid and watching old 50's reruns and stuff, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. I'm not a big fan of the slasher stuff. You know, gore for the sake of gore. I like a good mind thriller, you know? Look at THE SIXTH SENSE, I love stuff like that. What was the one with Nicole Kidman?

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   THE OTHERS. 

KEVIN SORBO:  Yes.  That was pretty cool. 

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   I like the ones with a little twist.

KEVIN SORBO:  I like intelligent thrillers. Now, I like Eli Roth and I have respect for the man but he wanted me to be in the original HOSTEL.  I was reading through the script and they needed me for like a week in Bulgaria and I said, "You know, I have a problem getting paid to torture a 13 year old black girl". I was supposed to blow torch her face off and that kind of stuff is just sick to me. Actually, I find it sad that people like that stuff so much. It's like watching the beheadings from the Middle East where they capture these people, they put that one on the Internet. I couldn't watch it, I had friends that watched it. I can't watch that.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   Yeah, I can't watch stuff like that either. 

KEVIN SORBO:  Yeah, and knowing it's real. I like a smart horror film. I like THE BIRDS. I don't know if it would classify for that genre.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Like PSYCHO, the classics. 

KEVIN SORBO:  Right, but to watch teenagers get sliced and diced?  Nah.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  What made you turn to acting? How did you get your start?

KEVIN SORBO:  I was always interested in it, always. Partly because of my mother. Nobody in my family has acting in their bones, I don't come from any kind of lineage of that. I remember watching old movies with her. I always watched the Katherine Hepburn's and the Spencer Tracy's.  As a kid growing up I just really liked it. Even then I knew, I looked at how it was filmed. If you look at the old movies, they use very few cutaways. They were filmed like more of a live theater back then.  If you look at ROPE and if you watch what Alfred Hitchcock does with that. He just sets a camera down that looks over the top of the casket.  And it stands there forever and people are coming in and out of the room. It's unbelievable. It was like real theatrical acting put on tape back then. I kind of like that. When I directed "Hercules" I did one scene like that and they said, "We need close ups!" but I thought that was cool to have the actors kind of move in and out like that. Woody Allen does that, I like that kind of stuff. It's a long range shot where the people are walking through the woods and you know they're there, you watch them from 100 yards away but you can hear the conversation. It's interesting, it sort of makes you watch it even more.  But I was always interested. I knew since I was 11 that I was going to be an actor. I just knew it.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Are there people you haven't worked with yet that you have always wanted to?

KEVIN SORBO:  Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Probably two of the biggest reasons why I wanted to act. I watched all their movies.  I love BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, one of my favorite movies of all-time, followed closely by JERIMIAH JOHNSON.  If you've never seen it go rent it.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Actually, I have never seen that. 

KEVIN SORBO:  Go rent it. It is a great Robert Redford movie.  It is beautifully shot.  It's where he fell in love with Sundance. That's where he started Sundance. That's where it all started. But that movie is phenomenal. Sydney Pollack, who was the director, is also someone I wanted to work with but he passed away, which just shocked me. I met Sydney once when "Hercules" was on the air and he knew me from that.  He congratulated me on it and I said, "Sydney we are going to work together one day" and he said, "Yes we will!".

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  God I loved him in TOOTSIE!  I just loved him in that!

KEVIN SORBO:  Yeah, Dustin Hoffman wanted him to play the part of his agent and Sydney didn't want to. Besides from being a phenomenal director he started as an actor and he had a very natural talent.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  That scene in the restaurant where he says, "Michael, I begged you to get some therapy". That line was delivered perfectly.

KEVIN SORBO:  (laughs)  Yeah, when he saw him in drag for the first time. 

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  (laughs) He just looks at him like, "Oh, my God."

KEVIN SORBO:  Very funny. 

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   You've done your share of comedy and drama. Which do you prefer? Is it true what they say, "Death is easy, comedy is hard"?

KEVIN SORBO:  You know, I'm naturally kind of a smart ass. Four boys in my family and we were all like David Letterman clones in a way. We were so sarcastic with each other. All of my friends are that way, too. I'm kind of drawn to people like that, people who are kind of jerks.  But they do it in a loving way. I went golfing with three of my buddies last weekend and every hole we are just being assholes with each other. You know, play mind games with each other. It's very stupid but there was money on the line. But, it's, um, what was the question?

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  (laughs) Drama, comedy, which do you prefer?

KEVIN SORBO:  You know what? I did a lot of guest spots during hiatus.  Everything - "Two and a Half Men", "Just Shoot Me", "Will and Grace" and all that stuff. I love doing that stuff and what I love about it the most is the live audience. I love that every Friday it's like a little play.  When "Andromeda" finished in 2005 I did a pilot for the 2005 season for ABC called "Bobby Cannon".  Now, "Bobby Cannon" was phenomenal only because it had such an amazing cast and an amazing show writer in Berry Kemp, who was a very accomplished writer on "Taxi", "Newhart", and he was the creator of "Coach".  He was a really good writer and we did this pilot and - sorry, my little two year-old girl just came up to me...

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Awww

KEVIN SORBO:  (talking to his daughter)  You go ask mommy for that, ok?  Say hello.

THE SWEETEST LITTLE GIRL VOICE EVER:  Hi, Hi.  

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Hi there!

KEVIN SORBO:  There, you got to talk to my two year-old.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   Oh, cute.  Awww....

KEVIN SORBO: Now my 3 year-old just came in the room.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah it's like, "Hey do you want to talk to my other kids!"

KEVIN SORBO: Yeah (laughs), You know if I am getting too monotonous for you...

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Nah.

KEVIN SORBO:  We did Bobby Cannon and they shot 28 pilot episodes which they're kind of not doing anymore because the form of television has changed so much. That was kind of average, 25-30 pilots, the studio would pick up each year. Then they would pick up seven or eight of those for the fall season. We tested it and we were number one in every market. Then they brought it to New York and the president of ABC, in his infinite wisdom, decides he doesn't want to do the show. Years later I am still shocked. Right now we should be shooting season four of it. There is no doubt in my mind. The only show it would be competitive with, and I honestly believe this, is "Two and a Half Men". It would be us two as the top two sitcoms. It was a very funny show about a 42 year-old quarterback from the Chicago Bears who thinks, should he retire or should he keep playing?  He wants to keep playing. In the pilot episode they draft the next college stud and I think my days are numbered. Kate Walsh was in it as my potential love interest and she, of course, went on to "Grey's Anatomy" and then to "Private Practice".  I'm shocked to this day that they never picked it up. It was a very, very funny pilot. But, there you go.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   That kind of stuff sticks with you.

KEVIN SORBO:  Welcome to the business! This is the guy that said no years ago to Jerry Bruckheimer with "CSI". He said "No, that will never go".

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   Yeah, that show just didn't sound like it would be any good.

KEVIN SORBO:  (laughs) Yeah, so, you know what I'm saying?  They had the good fortune to put "Desperate Housewives" on the air but he didn't like that either.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  This guy's got the magic touch!

KEVIN SORBO:  (laughs)

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:  Come on Kevin, tell me how you really feel about this. 

KEVIN SORBO:  I'm really bitter about it.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR:   Well, I would be too. It would be really hard to shake that. 

KEVIN: (Talking to child) Daddy's on the phone.. I'm the pied piper for my kids.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Does your oldest realize your on TV and in the movies?

KEVIN SORBO: They all do.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What is their reaction?  It's probably the most normal thing in the world for them. 

KEVIN SORBO: I think they think everybody is on TV

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, everybody is almost.

KEVIN SORBO: I know, especially with reality TV. The real kicker for them is that I played "Hercules". They can say, "My dad played Hercules".

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That will close down every playground argument. 

KEVIN SORBO:  (laughs) They want me to reenact every fight and I did like 500 fight scenes over the 100 plus episodes. Guys, sorry, I'm too tired to do all that.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Speaking of kids, you've got a really nice and much needed non profit organization called A WORLD FIT FOR KIDS. Can you tell the readers what that is all about?

A World Fit For Kids

KEVIN SORBO: They can definitely go on the website at http://www.worldfitforkids.org/

I have been spokesperson now for 12 years. We have a very good foundation run by Normandie Nigh, Normandie is great. Back in 1996 I was looking for a foundation that basically dealt with kids living in unhealthy environments. Inner city schools, most of them being raised by one parent or a grandparent. A vast majority of them don't have a father figure, which is very sad. It's a cycle we need to fight and try to end. That's one of the things we deal with. We also deal with childhood obesity. We deal with education, keeping music programs alive, drama programs alive, art classes. Everything that is dealing with the artistic world that is being cut out of the school curriculum right now.

In L.A. County, where we started this at, we've got a 5 year plan to go nationwide. Going out to different counties and states that are interested in what we do. Just less than a year ago we received the Gold Medal Top Starlight award from Governor Schwarzenegger. We're in a public school county and public schools are in horrible shape. That's a whole political thing we could get into.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah

KEVIN SORBO: It really annoys me. We should not be 57th in the world in public education, we should be number one. We're the most powerful country in the world, the richest county in the world and our public education is 57th in the world. That's bad. LA county has a 54% drop out rate. We have a 100% graduation rate with kids involved in my program.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That is great.

KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, that is pretty cool. I love it. It's a mentoring program, basically choosing and living a healthier lifestyle. Making the right choices. Oh, hold on (Talking to child) Are you alright, did you fall down?

Well, we had a little accident already. Some are bad, you know? 90% of them are not. It's more like, oh come on, quit crying. They must cry 20 times a day.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Yeah, walk it off, come on!

KEVIN SORBO: Come on, you're not bleeding much. (laughs)

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Is this one of the bad ones? Should we wrap this up here?

KEVIN SORBO: No, we're ok.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What is something people don't know about you that they would be surprised to find out?

KEVIN SORBO: I play guitar and piano. Not great but I am taking lessons and I love to cook. There, I gave you 3 things.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: More than I expected!

KEVIN SORBO: (chuckles)

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Are there any projects coming up that you can mention?

KEVIN SORBO: I worked with David Zucker (AIRPLANE). I did a movie coming out October 3rd with Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight called AN AMERICAN CAROL. It's very funny. Hollywood will get upset about it and it's like come on you guys can we not laugh at both sides of the political fence? It takes on Michael Moore. Michael Moore is played by Kevin Farley, Chris Farley's brother. The political ghosts from the past show him how fucked up his politics are.   I'm sorry, it's hilarious. Look, I can laugh at both sides. I have voted on both sides in my life. I'm actually one of these true independents in Hollywood which is like, "Oooh!". If you don't vote for the democrat then they're going to crucify you and I'm just saying, "Why cant I vote for who I think is the best guy?"

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: If people are honest they are a little bit of both.

KEVIN SORBO: You know what? exactly. I grew up in a very democratic household, my parents are old democrats. I would sit there and say, "Ok dad, let's talk about this and this and this". We'd throw out about 10 issues and I'd say,"Six of your issues are really conservative issues dad". You know? I mean I'm for helping people who need help but I'm also for less government, I don't want more government....

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: ...and helping people to help themselves, that is just as important.

KEVIN SORBO: Yes! We are such a self-entitlement country right now, it is pathetic, and the fact that we sell mediocrity. My 7-year old, they give out trophies for football and baseball and it's like why is every kid getting a trophy? They were in 5th place. They'lll say, well we don't want any kid to feel left out. I said, "Well, if they didn't win......"

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I actually agree with that.

KEVIN SORBO: I show my trophies to my kid and he asks how I got them and I say, "I won them". That day on the golf course I was the best golfer that day, I worked hard to get that. On the baseball team we were the best baseball team all year, they have to learn that competition is a good thing, not a bad thing.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: It takes away from the winners too.

KEVIN SORBO: Exactly

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I apologize in advance for this next question. For the fangirls, what did you wear under your "Hercules" costume? Boxers or briefs?

KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) Boxers! I always wear boxers but with those leather pants on...you gotta wear something that breathes a little bit.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) That's a great answer.

KEVIN SORBO: Heh

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, there really is no wrong answer.

KEVIN SORBO: Three layers of leather pants, it was 12 pounds kicking and running in those.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: No thank you.

KEVIN SORBO: Ha, you have to find some way to stop the chaffing.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR (laughs)

KEVIN SORBO: So, there you go.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, thank you! I really enjoyed talking with you. Thank you so much Kevin.

KEVIN SORBO: My pleasure, thanks much!

SOMETHING BENEATH is available on DVD now and can be purchased at AMAZON

NEVER CRY WEREWOLF will be available September 16th


 

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Exclusive Interview: Michael Baldwin
By
Jonathan Stryker

Source: Jonathan Stryker

Aug 24, 2008, 7:18 AM

Actor Michael Baldwin has had a long and varied career.  Beginning in his early youth, he appeared in many commercials for McDonald's, Oreo's, and Cheerios to name a few.  Bitten by the acting bug at an early age, this decision brought him to the attention of film director Don Coscarelli, effectively solidifying his position as a major character in one of the most influential and successful horror films of all-time, PHANTASM.

 

House of Horrors caught up with Michael at the Monster Mania 11 convention to discuss where he has been and where he sees himself going.  Michael is an extremely personable and approachable person and is not at all bothered to be discussing silver spheres after nearly 30 years.  

 

Michael Baldwin - 2008

 

Jonathan Stryker: Where were you born and where did you grow up?


Michael Baldwin: I was born and raised in Los Angeles and lived there into my twenties. I grew up in Tujunga, which is the northeast section of LA in the foothills.  I do own a home in LA now, and I also live in Austin and Miami.  I grew up in an entertainment family.  My parents were both in the business.  I began working professionally when I was seven years-old.  My father, Gerard Baldwin, is a pretty well-known animator/producer/director.  He has won Emmy Awards for his work.  In the old days, he was a director on "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "The Smurfs".  He had a fifty-year career in animation. 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  Were you a big movie fan during your early childhood years? 

 

Michael Baldwin:  Yes, definitely.  I love Woody Allen movies, I'm a big fan of his stuff.  I remember being in the sixth grade and seeing SLEEPER with my friend Adam Bernstein and falling out of my seat from laughing so hard.  I just thought it was the funniest movie I had ever seen.  It may not be the funniest movie of all-time, but when I was in the sixth grade, I never saw anything funnier than that film.  I noticed that Keir Dullea is here with us this weekend, and my dad used to take me to see 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY every year, without fail, at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood



Jonathan Stryker:  Wow.  2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is the best movie I have ever seen. 


Michael Baldwin:  So, it would be an event for us to see that movie.  Those were the movies that I really dug from my childhood.  And, to meet Keir earlier today was great.  I know that I am in this business and I am supposed to be too cool for words and not be affected by all of this stuff, but there are certain movies and certain people that I am just a fan of, like anybody else.  Keir is one of those guys where I thought, Oh, my God - I cannot wait to meet him!    


Jonathan Stryker:  Did you ever see BLACK CHRISTMAS?


Michael Baldwin:  No.

 

Jonathan Stryker:  Keir is in it, and it's one of the scariest movies ever made.       

 

Michael Baldwin:  Really? 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  Yes, you should see it.  Do you remember the first movie you saw in a theater?

Michael Baldwin:  I do!  It was DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, with Sean Connery. 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  And Janet Munro (smiling internally)

 

 

Michael Baldwin:  It was a Disney movie, of course.  And the second movie I saw was THX 1138.  It made a distinct impression on me.  I guess that I was seven or eight when I saw it.  I never, ever forgot that film.  And when I saw it again as an adult, I was amazed at what a stunningly beautiful movie it is.  It's a lovely, lovely film.

 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  I saw it on television in 1978 after STAR WARS was a huge hit, and I was confused by it, to be perfectly honest.  2001 was confusing, too, and I saw that on TV, which is really not seeing it at all!  But after seeing it at the Ziegfeld, it's, like I said, the best movie I have seen to date. 


Michael Baldwin:  Yeah, you really have to see those films in a theater. 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  Did you go to drive-ins?


Michael Baldwin:  Oh, sure!  I saw a double-bill of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and HAROLD AND MAUDE.  HAROLD AND MAUDE is still a fabulous movie that easily stands the test of time.  THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE not so much, but it's a pretty good movie still.


Jonathan Stryker:  I loved all of that Irwin Allen stuff as a kid, seeing THE TOWERING INFERNO and EARTHQUAKE. 


Michael Baldwin:  Yeah, and I saw that double-feature I just mentioned with my friend Danny Peterson and his whole family in a giant station wagon at a real drive-in. 


Jonathan Stryker:  What are some of your favorite movies?


Michael Baldwin:  I think that it's unfair to have a list of favorites because movies are so different and so varied, but if you were to ask my top favorite movies, in no special order, would be 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THE WIZARD OF OZ, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE GODFATHER, CITIZEN KANE, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and I would probably throw PHANTASM in there just because.  (laughs)


Jonathan Stryker:  I was wondering if that was on there.

 

Michael Baldwin:  Yeah, I'm a huge, huge movie fan.  There are a lot of films that I love, so it's hard to narrow it down to a few.


Jonathan Stryker:  Was there anything else that you wanted to be when you were a child, or was acting always it?

 

Michael Baldwin: No, when I was a kid I always wanted to be an actor.  That was it.  I told my parents that this was what I wanted to do, and I got an agent and that was it.


Jonathan Stryker:  KENNY AND COMPANY is one of just a handful of the best films that I have seen made about children and childhood, and it takes place during my favorite decade, the 1970's.  It's quirky and it comes straight from the heart.  Along with Francois Truffaut's L'ARGENT DE POCHE (1976) from the same year, KENNY AND COMPANY, which has an obvious American sensibility about it, beautifully captures life in America for kids during that time.  Although I have never lived in France, one gets the feeling that Truffaut achieved the same thing for French children with his film, because KENNY AND COMPANY does have dramatic moments and scenes of great poignancy that I have not seen in any other film. 

 

Michael Baldwin:  Well, first of all, the fact that you would put KENNY AND COMPANY in the same sentence as Truffaut's film says that you're either an idiot-

 

Jonathan Stryker:  (Laughs)


Michael Baldwin: - or you have amazingly good taste.  (laughs) I'm not sure which!

 

Jonathan Stryker:  (Laughs)  So many of us can relate to the shenanigans of the main characters, such as making prank phone calls with the tape recorder and dressing up for Halloween, I mean, what kid during the Seventies didn't do those things?


Michael Baldwin:  When I think about KENNY AND COMPANY, I think about the summer that we shot the film, which was 1975.  I think I was going into the sixth grade, and I was eleven, and it was just a fun, fun summer.  What better way to spend it than to make a movie? 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  What really makes KENNY AND COMPANY so interesting is that came out during the same year as THE BAD NEWS BEARS, and this was, from what I recall anyway, the first time that kids in American cinema talked the way they did in real life to each other.  Essentially they cursed at each other and were crude, although KENNY AND COMPANY is fairly tame compared to THE BAD NEWS BEARS. 


Michael Baldwin:  Yes, these were real kids in a non-Disney movie.  THE BAD NEWS BEARS was a big hit here in the States, although KENNY AND COMPANY did little business here but was a huge hit in Japan


Jonathan Stryker:  In 1979 my friend, Chad O'Connor, was one of only two people I knew who had HBO, and he used to tell me about the movies that he saw on it, like THE BOYS IN COMPANY C, THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES, C.H.O.M.P.S., and KENNY AND COMPANY.  I think it might have also been on Wometco Home Theater, also known as WHT.  It took me another 20 years before I caught up with it on Cinemax and saw it for the first time. 

 

Michael Baldwin:  Yeah, people have responded really well to it.

 

Jonathan Stryker:  PHANTASM struck a nerve in me in a way that few films ever have.  What is your reaction to the fans of this film nearly 30 years later? 


Michael Baldwin:  Well, it's amazing.  It's shocking and gratifying that it affected people so much. The film hits a certain particular kind of guy, you know?  It's usually a guy who saw that film between twelve and fourteen years of age and they really identified with Mike who was this alienated kid.  His family is broken up and he is paranoid that his older brother is going to leave him.  People tell me all the time that PHANTASM affected them more than any other film. 


Jonathan Stryker:  I remember when it came out.  I saw ads for it in the newspaper  with the black hand coming out of the ground.  I didn't see it until 1983 when it was on television.  I remember pestering my father to get it for me on the RCA SelectaVision CED home video system we had, and I just watched it over and over again.  

 

PHANTASM CED Cover

 

Michael Baldwin:  Yeah.  The shooting schedule was about a year.  It was such a low budget, and a lot of it was shot on the weekends. 

 

PHANTASM CED Rear


Jonathan Stryker:  You run an acting school in Austin TX.  What inspired you to found the school?


Michael Baldwin:  I think that I had something to offer.  I have been in the business for a long, long time.  I have worn many hats over the years, and I just felt that I wanted to offer aspiring actors an easier way to get noticed.  And I think I'm right. 


Jonathan Stryker:  Are you familiar with Michael Imperioli's acting company in New York, Studio Dante?


Michael Baldwin:  Yes, I am. 

 

Jonathan Stryker:  If someone wanted to get information on your school where would they go?  I Googled a website but couldn't find one.

 

Michael Baldwin:  That's because our website has been in development for, you know, five years.  (laughs)  It should be up soon. 


Jonathan Stryker:  What would you like to do that you haven't done yet?


Michael Baldwin:  Well, I'm working on a TV show right now called "Time Channel" which I'm pretty excited about.  We're going to be doing a cross-platform web-isode to comic book to gaming promotion with the show.  So, I'll be busy the next few months! 

 


 

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Exclusive Interview: Michale Graves
By
Jonathan Stryker

Source: Jonathan Stryker

Aug 21, 2008, 3:55 AM

Michale Graves is a singer who began his career with his band the Mopes in Lodi, New Jersey, and is probably best known for singing for the late 1990's re-incarnation of the horror punk rock band The Misfits.  While in the band, Michale wrote songs with titles like "Dig Up Her Bones", "The Shining", "The Haunting", "Witch Hunt", and "This Island Earth".  Given that most of these song titles are derived from some of the most famous horror films ever made, House of Horrors recently spent a few moments with Graves while he busily signed autographs prior to performing at a horror convention. 



Jonathan Stryker:  What horror films do you like? 

Michale Graves:  I like the old ones, you know, like POLTERGEIST, FRIDAY THE 13TH. 

Jonathan Stryker:  "Old stuff"?!  I grew up on that "old stuff"!  (laughs) 

Michale Graves:  (laughs)  I know!  SALEM'S LOT was a good movie.  I don't like a lot of the new ones.  The horror films that are coming out now - to me, the gory stuff doesn't cut it if there isn't a good storyline behind it or interesting characters.  I find it to be just like porn, you know, you're just getting the blood and guts.  I need a good story to go along with that. 

Jonathan Stryker:  What were some of the movies that you saw when you were really young that impressed you? 

Michale Graves:  POLTERGEIST was the first movie that I ever saw and it scared the hell out of me.  I saw it on Betamax. 

Jonathan Stryker:  Betamax!  Oh, jeez!  (laughs)  The loser to VHS.  I saw POLTERGEIST twice in a row with one of my best friends two days after it was released in a theater.  I remember that KILL SQUAD was playing next door and he wanted to sneak in and see that, but I pressed him to sit through POLTERGEIST again.  I then owned it RCA's CED home video system, a format which probably only myself and Bryan Norton remembers! 

Michale Graves:  I also loved the FRIDAY THE 13TH series and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.  I was one of those kids who was heavily into vampires.  As I got older I saw THE SHINING and HALLOWEEN. That's when I was in my teens. 

Jonathan Stryker:  Are you a fan of the films that have been made from Stephen King's work? 

Michale Graves:  Some of them.  That's gotta be one of the toughest things in the world, you know?  To take a Stephen King novel and turn it into a film. 

Jonathan Stryker:  Have you seen any of Dario Argento's films?


Michale Graves:  No.

Jonathan Stryker:  You should seek out PROFONDO ROSSO and SUSPIRIA because Argento likes to work with people in the music industry.  Goblin is a group that he helped put on the map, and they wrote some wild score for those films.

Michale Graves:  I'll have to look those up!



 

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Exclusive Interview: Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni
By
Jonathan Stryker

Source: Jonathan Stryker

Aug 18, 2008, 3:27 PM

Die-hard Italian horror film enthusiasts will recognize actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni from Lamberto Bava's DEMONS 2: THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES and GHOST SON, and Dario Argento's OPERA and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  She also appeared in THE ROOM NEXT DOOR and THE CHILDHOOD FRIEND for Pupi Avati which both co-starred Mary Sellers of GHOSTHOUSE and STAGEFRIGHT.  


 

Coralina is also an accomplished musician in her own right, having written and recorded an album, LIMBO BALLOON, in 2005.  Currently, she is appearing in Dario Argento's THE THIRD MOTHER, the follow-up to SUSPIRIA and INFERNO, as well as a short film called THE DIRT, directed by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin and Simona Simonetti.  Coralina currently divides her time between Rome and New York (sorry, no Freiburg!).  She has also contributed to "The Book of Lists: Horror" which is due for release in September 2008. 

 

House of Horrors recently caught up with Coralina during her promotion of Dario Argento's THE THIRD MOTHER. 

 

Jonathan Stryker: You were born in New York City and raised in Rome.  Did you learn to speak English and Italian simultaneously?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Well, I learned English first.  Then, when I was four my parents decided that they were going to move to Rome.  A decision I loathed.  My father started to teach me Italian.  Not something I was willing to do.  At all.  So, he would say things such as, "Albero. Tree. Albero." And he'd wait for me to respond.  I would stubbornly just repeat, "Tree!" (laughs).  When I went to Italy, at that point I just had to learn Italian in order to survive.  You know, being a kid - kids tease you. I had no choice.


Jonathan Stryker: What was it like growing up in Rome?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: It was magical. Rome is just such an enchanting place. I had some of the most beautiful moments of my life there and at the same time some of the most difficult ones.


Jonathan Stryker: Can you ask elaborate on your experiences?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  I grew up in a household filled with music. My father is an opera stage director and also teaches voice.  I remember doing my homework underneath the piano.  If needed, I learned to shut out the music, so I could concentrate on studying.  I did that for many years.  Like a psychiatrist's office, my father's students would come and go every hour on the hour. With the only difference of a real psychiatrist's office, I would be part of these "sessions" as well.  When deciding not to shut out the sounds in that room, I would not only assist to their lessons but all the "adventures" that these opera singers would confess to my father. The stories of these temperamental opera singers were filled with intrigue, passion and were often forbidden.


Jonathan Stryker: What did your mother do for a living?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: My mother was an opera singer.  She now teaches voice.


Jonathan Stryker: I watch these Italian films such as LA RAGAZZA CON LA VALIGIA and the people live in these incredible palaces. Was your house as large as this?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  I lived in an apartment that could have been a set in PROFONDO ROSSO.


Jonathan Stryker: What type of opera music did you hear throughout the house when you were a child?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Just about everything, from Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi to Giacomo Puccini, depending upon the students' needs.  Living in New York City, my father also taught Broadway singers.


Jonathan Stryker:  I love Rossini's LA GAZZA LADRA and Puccini's TURANDOT, those two for me are incredible works. I was introduced to classical music and opera through Stanley Kubrick's films.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Yes!


Jonathan Stryker: When I saw Dario Argento's INFERNO and the β€œVa, pensieroβ€? chorus from Verdi's NABUCCO swells on the soundtrack, it has a hypnotic effect.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Oh, I know!


Jonathan Stryker: I remember running to the store and actually finding a very good digital recording of it on CD and it just sounds wonderful. It almost sounds identical to the arrangement that appears in the film. And then of course, when OPERA came out, his use of Verdi's MACBETH was equally stunning.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Very true. 


Jonathan Stryker: What is one of the earliest films you remember seeing in the theater?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: BORN FREE was my first movie. Even though my parents said I sat looking at the audience instead!  I loved the music, the animals and I noticed a common theme with me. I love movies that have to do with freedom.  As far as scary movies are concerned...PINOCCHIO. My father had and actually still has an old wooden Pinocchio that I am convinced to this day moves and has a spirit of it's own!  They had to remove it from my room. I am sure I would not sleep with him in my room today, either!


Jonathan Stryker: It's so funny because a lot of people I talk to who are my age really grew up seeing Walt Disney movies as kids. And a lot of those cartoons, particularly SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES, scared all of us.  Even Dario Argento was afraid of that stuff when he was a kid!


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: I know! Walt Disney, fairy tales, children's stories - all those things were scary. They messed me up. I'm so mad! (laughs)


Jonathan Stryker:  I loved the DEMONS films by Lamberto Bava.  How did you come to play Sally in the second film? 


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava cast me. 


Jonathan Stryker:  Did this bring the role of Giulia to you for OPERA? 


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Yes. 


Jonathan Stryker:  The IMDB lists you as being in THE CHILDHOOD FRIEND and LA STANZA ACCANTO, both with Mary Sellars.  I cannot locate these films anywhere. 


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  I never saw them myself!


Jonathan Stryker:  You die a truly awful death in THE MOTHER OF TEARS.  How difficult was it to film this? 


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Staying alive was way harder! 


Jonathan Stryker:  GHOST SON was recently released on DVD here in the States. Tell us a little bit about it.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: I don't really like to refer to it as a horror film. I don't really even call most of the movies I've made horror films per se.  Horror films are about love. Love for the preservation of oneself and the preservation of others or also the love of the destruction of oneself and destruction of others.


Jonathan Stryker: That reminds me of what Dario says in Michele Soavi's documentary about him. The question is posed to Dario why does he make movies, and his response is that he makes movies because he wants to be loved.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: I also like the horror genre because I really like to escape, as an artist. When you're escaping you're also running towards something, you're not necessarily running away to avoid something. When I am watching a horror movie I can escape and not worry about things that are going on in my life, but at the same time I'm also running towards myself because I get so much more in touch with my inner feelings and my fears which are the most important ones.  Just as my feelings of love or preservation or my lack thereof.


Jonathan Stryker:  The bulk of your filmography is horror films. What attracts you to horror films?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  They were attracted to me.


Jonathan Stryker: How would you describe working with Dario Argento?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Quantum physical. 


Jonathan Stryker: You've been in some particularly brutal films such as OPERA and THE MOTHER OF TEARS. Do you find it difficult to perform scenes wherein you have to be terrified? Do you tap into your own personal memories for that sort of thing?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Any personal memories have now become part of what feeds my instincts. I go by instinct.


Jonathan Stryker: Who are some directors you would like to work with?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: I really admire Darren Aronofsky, Steven Shainberg, Vincenzo Natali.


Jonathan Stryker: What are some of your favorite horror movies?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: PROFONDO ROSSO, of course. THE BAD SEED.  CARRIE. DARK WATERS.  REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.  THE OTHERS. 


Jonathan Stryker:  That's a great movie. It harkens back to films like THE INNOCENTS and THE HAUNTING, the real quintessential black and white ghost stories.


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni: Yes.


Jonathan Stryker: Much more than THE UNINVITED.   You just finished filming the short "THE DIRT" can you tell us something about it?


Coralina Cataldi-TassoniYes.  Directed by legendary Goblin Claudio Simonetti and his sister Simona.  Music by Simonetti and special effects by Sergio Stivaletti.  I am a woman that holds many secrets but not many as this unusual plant she has growing in her living room.


Jonathan Stryker:  What's next for you?


Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni:  Going to have dinner (laughs).


 


 

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Exclusive Interview: Shawnee Smith - SMITH AND PYLE
By
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR

Source:

Aug 11, 2008, 4:54 PM



You don't know me, but I know you. I want to play a game. Here's what happens if you lose. A device strategically placed inside of your monitor will leap out at you and sever your vocal chords if you don't read this interview all the way through. Think of it as my insurance policy that every word I write gets read. There is only one key to deactivate the device in your monitor. It's in the stomach of the dead body behind you. Look around reader. Know that I'm not lying. Better hurry up. Live or die, make your choice. OK, OK, I'll stop. Hey, I never said I was a serious journalist.

Thank god for people like Shawnee Smith, who make my job very easy. She is a warm, genuine, down-to-earth old soul who calls you personally to tell you she is running late for an interview. Starting in the business as a child, there isn't much she hasn't done. Best known for her work in the SAW movies, this talented actress was twice-nominated for the young artist award for her work in the 1985 TV-movie CRIME OF INNOCENCE and in 1985 for THE BLOB. This year she added a producer credit to her resume with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DUST TO DUST, a project in which she also stars. There are many topics to discuss with Shawnee but SMITH & PYLE was the topic of choice during our discussion.

SMITH & PYLE are Shawnee and actress Missi Pyle (GALAXY QUEST, HEROES) respectively. Their rousing country rock/ folk album IT'S OK TO BE HAPPY is creating quite a buzz since its recent release and has been embraced by the horror community Shawnee is so popular with. This isn't her first parley into the music business however; she fronted the rock band Fydolla Ho, with whom she toured America and the United Kingdom.

The wonderful Shawnee, who is busy working on the VH1 reality show SCREAM QUEENS where she shares judging duties with James Gunn (SLITHER), was gracious enough to chat with me about her new album, what drives her creatively and long walks with Jigsaw.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: IT'S OK TO BE HAPPY was released July 29th. How did you and Missi discover you wanted to make music together?

SHAWNEE SMITH: We met doing a TV-pilot last year. Missi was on another show and they couldn't cast this role and Jhoni Marchinko, from WILL AND GRACE created the show and she kept disagreeing with the network and the studio people and she was like,"What am I gonna do Shawnee?" and Missi was on another show, THE WEDDING BELLES, that got canceled and she was like 'Oh I found my girl, Missi Pyle, her show just got canceled we're bringing her over!' We were ready to go, so excited. I knew who Missi was, I had met her before and thought she was really cool and she was very talented. We just really hit it off and during that week of filming we went to the Coachella Music Festival, got a feather up our rears, and decided to do like a 24-hour mission. We got stuck in traffic and had a lot of time to talk and she shared with me that one of her life's dreams was to be in a rock band. I've had a few rock bands and was like 'Really?, are you sure?' and she went on and on and on and finally I said. "Alright, I'm going to be in a band with you just so you can see that, you know, you should have a different dream" (laughs)

Here we are a year later, with this inspired, beautiful and fun record, having the time of our lives. All the stars aligned, its been such an incredible experience. It has got its own mission, you know? This incredibly talented tribe of musicians came together. I called [Music Producer and Musician] Chris Goss who is a friend of mine and said "Hey, are you ready to make a white trash record?"

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Yeah, Chris has produced everyone from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE to STONE TEMPLE PILOTS.

SHAWNEE SMITH: Yeah! He's booked two years in advance but he said he had a 4 to 5 week window coming up in a couple of weeks and said he would love nothing more than go to the recording studio up there in Joshua Tree and would love nothing more than to make this record. So, within two weeks, we hadn't even written a song yet. I had a bunch of songs that I had written a year or two before that. Jerry Cantrell [ALICE IN CHAINS], who plays on the record, took me through the old country records and I was totally re-inspired musically and wrote a whole slew of country songs, well my version of country songs. But I didn't have anything to really do with them so they were just kind of sitting there. I sent them to Chris and he just kind of flipped out over them and said Missi and I should come down to the studio, next thing you know Missi and I start a record label! [URBAN PRAIRIE RECORDS] Chris pulled all of these musicians together and we wrote our first song behind Gram Parsons' memorial at the Joshua Tree. We were making a record together and we hadn't even sung together!

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Once again, The stars aligning.

SHAWNEE SMITH: I'm telling you, every step of the way. It's crazy! It's like a tribe of sweethearts.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Do you have a track that is your favorite or is that like asking a parent which kid is their favorite?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Probably the most highly personal song for me on that record is FRUMPY FLANNEL and then FLOWER IN MY HAIR. One of my favorite lyrics though is from I WISH YOU WERE DEAD. (Starts singing) I know in the end you're gonna wanna be my mother fuckin' friend...

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (sings back, tries to anyway)..But right now I just wish you were dead.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR AND SHAWNEE SMITH: (laughs)

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That is one of my favorite lyrics. It's hard not to love that lyric actually.

SHAWNEE SMITH: I love that Missi Pyle, who had never been in a band, she had played some guitar performing on a sketch comedy thing, you know. But all through this process she would have bouts, every once in awhile of, 'what the heck am I doing!' Like the musicians are literally virtuoso rock musicians, I've had 3 bands and have written a lot of songs and she's like 'I do not belong here'. Meanwhile, there is one of the only songs on the entire record that is 100 percent one songwriter and that is Missi Pyle. That song is I WISH YOU WERE DEAD and I think that is the biggest selling song from the album on iTunes so far (laughs) so I'm like, 'Do you think you belong yet?'

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I don't know but to me that song feels like the Indigo Girls meet Alanis Morissette.

SHAWNEE SMITH: (laughs)..Maybe more Gilda Radner meets The Rolling Stones, I don't know.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Yeah, that is actually better.

SHAWNEE SMITH: Also, when we play that song live I play the drums so throw a little Tom Waits in there. I'm not a very good drummer; it just has that sideshow feel. We are just having a ball, we are having a BALL.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well the music is fun, 100% desert rock

SHAWNEE SMITH: Absolutely, the way in which it was made is in the record. It translates and it is so exciting to us that people are getting it. It's translating to people who listen to it and they come to the shows and every rehearsal we have is like a friggin' Sunday church BBQ and a tailgate party after.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Have you had the experience of people singing your lyrics back to you?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Well, back to I WISH YOU WERE DEAD, one of our fans recorded himself...

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Uh-Oh...

SHAWNEE SMITH: (Laughs)...He was singing it and we put it up on YouTube. That IS the highest form of flattery. But hopefully that will start happening; the record just came out, so hopefully that will start happening. The world now is so different; these days people know your songs before they come to the concerts. The universe is different and I am SO excited for that to start happening.

Now we are working on the SMITH AND PYLE show, some form of episodic TV, it depends on how we want to do it. We're not sure how we want to do it yet. Maybe we do an actual episode where we go to a network; we're just kind of exploring. We actually have a lot of footage that we are going to be putting on the SMITH & PYLE website real soon.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: There are some great behind the scenes film of your Joshua Tree recordings on the URBAN PRAIRIE [Music label started by SMITH & PYLE] MySpace page.

SHAWNEE SMITH: Those are clips we put together for a 10-minute movie

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Do you find that making music or songwriting is something that consumes you? Do you have periods where you need to write?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Yeah, definitely. Sometimes I will be inspired by one thought. I wrote a song a couple of months ago, I was walking by this beautiful tree and all of these honeybees were lying on the ground, dying. It just struck me, that it was such a beauty and such an honor, the sacrifice. These bees just spend their whole lives working and then when they are done, they (starts to recite lyrics)...lay down to die after a life time of work, so dignified... It just kind of took my breath away and I thought, you know, there's a song in there. It's not finished yet but I see these things a lot, like FLOWER IN MY HEAD or SUGAR. So, sometimes it's an idea, sometimes it's an intense phase or part of life that i'm going through. That's how I work it out.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Who are the children we hear on the song THE SHOW?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Those are my kids! Verve and Jakson, I love you mama! That's my daughter singing at the end of ANTHEM.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Awwww, that is so sweet.

SHAWNEE SMITH: I know, right? (Sounding very peaceful) Ahhh!

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah, It's like, come here you!

SHAWNEE SMITH: (laughs) Yes, ahhh! It's like a punch in my gut! Yeah, my kids, ah! I could just eat them up.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What has been the response from the fans at the conventions?

SHAWNEE SMITH: People love it! They are so horror centered but Missi came and we played, SMITH AND PYLE is like the party bus, you know? The party train. Or the party BOAT, It's like wherever we go. It's not me by myself or Missi by herself, it's the combination of the two of us that sets off this trail of happy, partying folks. Whether it's a band or people we meet at the conventions for the weekend, Saturday night there is this big gaggle of us going out and finding some bar or club, you know, just laughing, having a good time. It's ok to be happy!

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What upcoming shows or conventions can we see you at?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Going to Rue Morgue, August 22nd in Toronto. I'm doing the vh1 show [SCREAM QUEENS], focusing on the record and getting OUR show off the ground. There is also October Screamfest, in Orlando, I'll be there.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Who shot the photo for the album cover? It is absolutely adorable.

SHAWNEE SMITH: A dear friend of mine, an incredibly talented photographer, Alison Dyer. I met her at the local Starbucks where I live. Missi and I were just waiting for our coffee, I saw her, and said, "Hello, do we know each other? I feel like we should know each other". We exchanged numbers, she looks real rock-n- roll and, we knew a couple of the same musicians, and she said she took pictures. She is a very well known photographer in the rock-n-roll world, dated Jerry Cantrell [who plays on the album] from ALICE IN CHAINS. I mean it's this small circle. It's wild! What would it be called, a vortex? Like this energy is just pulling people where they're meant to be with SUCH a force. It's wild, it's a trip, it's a TRIP. There's some work involved but....

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What is meant to be is exactly what will happen

SHAWNEE SMITH: Yeah! I really believe the force is with us, for whatever reason.(laughs)

 


THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Can I get off topic and ask you about working with Tobin Bell?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Absolutely

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Is he intense to work with, methodical?

SHAWNEE SMITH: Yes, he is. Which is why SAW 3 was what it was.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yes.

SHAWNEE SMITH: We really lucked into working with each other because we both kind of have this vicious search for the truth. (Light laughter) It's not even an option for either one of us to feel like a fraud up there [on screen] so we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it, try to give it some sense of reality, emotional reality. When they came to us with the script for SAW 3 it was like this apprentice, student thing. It sounds more cliche then anything but that's not how it looks on screen.

Our rehearsals consisted of 'well how have they [Jigsaw and Amanda] been spending their time since we last left them?'.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I'm so glad you took it in that direction because you really made it work. Such a tragic and perverse but almost beautiful relationship between your characters.

SHAWNEE SMITH: Yes, there are a lot of details that you never see on the screen because it's palpable in the relationship between them. We would walk the streets of Toronto as a part of rehearsal, we would just go for 3 hour walks, up at the cafe, have coffee, talk. Just walk and talk. We figured that's what they did, they shared ideas, you know, worked at stuff and read. They were there for each other.

The first thing when you see Amanda in SAW 3 she's walking in and it was written in the script like the cloaked figure, imposing, all bad ass but I'm like um, im going to come in with a bag of groceries, you know? They're human beings, they gotta eat. We both looked for the humanity in it which was a challenge because they're serial killers, though jigsaw actually doesn't kill anybody himself. But, it was an absolute dream and a real challenge working with him, an honor.

THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR : Shawnee thank you so much, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.

SHAWNEE SMITH: I appreciate YOU taking the time.

IT'S OK TO BE HAPPY is available now for download at Amazon.com and iTunes



 

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