DG INTERVIEWS BARBARA CRAMPTON – PART TWO

“We’re as big of fans as you guys are.”

 

 

DG:  With RE-ANIMATOR out of the way, is there a film or any of your work on TV you feel fell undeservedly under the radar?

 

BC:  I really loved my character on The Young and the Restless.  I played Leanna Love, who was a very colorful, psychotic, almost borderline schizophrenic woman.  She was very smart and wrote books about people, and also had a television talk show.  She tried to kill a few people.  She had sex with everyone she could.  When it first started, that role was only supposed to be for three months.  Then they cast me in it, and after two months they said, “You know, it’s kind of working.  We’d like to keep your character for another year.”  So I said OK and I worked on it for a year.  Then they said, “You know, it’s really working.  We want to hire you on for another three years.”  I did it for another three years, and then I did it for another two or three years after that.  She had a good long run for somebody who wasn’t married and in a family on a soap opera.  Usually it’s the core families that get the twenty-five year runs.  She was a troublemaker, and to have a run on a show for six years as a troublemaker is pretty good – not being related to anybody.  So I’d say that was a really fun character for me.  I had to do some investigating about what types of personality disorders she could have to make this character interesting, and I talked to a lot of psychiatrists about it.  I came up with a personality profile for her that I played.  It was a great, wild ride of a character, and it’s nice in Hollywood to have a regular job for a while, too.  That was a character that I have fond memories of.

 

 

DG:  How did they eventually write-off this wildcard character that stuck around for so long?

 

BC:  She’s still around, actually.  Maybe as few as three years ago, I popped in for a day or two, here and there.  So, every once in awhile, she comes back.  She’s just not part of the regular landscape anymore.  Who knows?  I could be back on there.

 

DG:  I wanted to touch a little bit on your eclectic resume.  We were talking about the soap operas…you’ve done a lot of work in horror and sci-fi, straight- up drama, and even some wacky comedy in the vein of THE GODSON.  Is that kind of transition difficult – jumping from genre to genre?  And how do you end up picking your roles?

 

BC:  I don’t pick any of my roles, they sort of pick me.  In Hollywood, you’re an actor for hire.  You audition for something, and you hope to God you get it.  If you’re right for a role, it might be because you look right, or because you’re the right age or you’re the right body type.  You just go for the roles your agent sends you out for.  I have a theater training background – drama, comedy, Shakespeare.  Hopefully, I can play all the different genres.  When you start in Hollywood, if you happen to be in a movie that takes off or does well, they will keep putting you in roles in that genre.  Although I have done comedic roles, drama, and horror, I just happened to be in a horror movie that became a classic.  That’s why I think my fans and people who make movies see me as a horror movie person.  I tend to get more of those roles than other ones.  That doesn’t mean that, as an actor, I can’t play hopefully anything.

 

 

DG:  Obviously, you’ve had a very long, distinguished career and I was going to try something a little new, if you’re game.  I was going to just briefly touch on some of the personalities you’ve worked with over the years and I was wondering if you can give me a sentence or two, an anecdote, or maybe what it was like working with them…or even if you have some dirt, because we have no shame.  Just some names you’ve worked with over the years, if you’re game for that.

 

BC:  Ok, good.  So we’re all set.  Did you have a list of people you wanted to ask me about?

 

DG:  Yes, ma’am.  Number one, from FRATERNITY VACATION, can you tell me a little bit about Stephen Geoffreys?

 

BC:  Stephen Geoffreys was quirky and odd, very much like his character.  He kept to himself a lot.  I only remember being with him onscreen, working with him.  He didn’t really hang out with us too much when we weren’t filming.  I didn’t get a real sense of him as a person, other than he was a bit distant from the rest of us.

 

 

DG:  The new FRIGHT NIGHT just came out, and I watched the original again, and he did strike me as quirky.  That’s why I kinda wanted to ask about him.  Here’s someone you collaborated with a couple of times:  from POISON and CHOPPING MALL – Jim Wynorski.

 

BC:  Jim is a character and a half.  He is hilarious and fun.  He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, I have to say.  He’s very smart.  I don’t think a lot of people get that about him.  He loves everybody he’s working with, but he will also say to you in a scene, “What the fuck was that?  What are you doing?  That was horrible.”  He’s very opinionated and he’ll sort of lash-out if you’re not doing the scene the way he thinks is good, or if he thinks it could be better.  He sets up this adversarial relationship between you and him.  It was just funny, because he’s not like that really.  It’s like a role he’s playing as the director.  You can’t take it too seriously.  You just have to have fun.

 

 

DG:  I do have to admit, though, a lot of people bring up RE-ANIMATOR, but I love CHOPPING MALL.  I’m surprised that doesn’t come up in more interviews.  That’s such a great movie.

 

 

BC:  I think more and more people are starting to look back at that movie and say they really like it.  It’s such an 80’s horror movie.  It’s so fun and cute.  I think people are looking at that now and revisiting it and saying they really liked it.

 

DG:  The next on our list – I actually lumped two of them together, because they’re family –  I was going to ask you a little bit about:  from TRANCERS 2 – Charles Band, and from ROBOT WARS –  his father, Albert Band.

 

 

BC:  Those guys are great.  I’ve know Charlie for twenty-five plus years, and he and I share the same birthday.  Charlie is the ultimate showman.  When you’re in his presence, everything is positive and glowing and fun.  I think he’s known for selling his movies by creating the coolest poster he could possibly create, or the coolest action figures that you would ever want to buy.  He’s like a big kid.  He’s just always out to have fun – always has a smile on his face, always in a great mood – just a really nice guy.  Albert directed me in ROBOT WARS.  He’s passed away now, but he’s from that old school.  He used to work in Italy making a lot of movies in the 60s.  He was a fatherly type of guy, really nice.  His grasp of film history – you couldn’t believe.  He knew every movie, and who was in every movie.  He was really an under-the-radar kind of guy, but very talented.  He knew a lot about what was going on in Hollywood back in the day.

 

DG:  Another prolific filmmaker – from THE SISTERHOOD, David DeCoteau.

 

BC:  He’s a funny guy.  He’s really fun – a silly kind of guy, very engaging, and very interested in people, and seems to keep working and making lots of movies.  Great for him.  I had a fun time working on THE SISTERHOOD, although I don’t think it was a very big movie.  We had a good time.

 

 

DG:  I was going to ask you about Wynorski, Band, and DeCoteau.   It seems like their filmographies are so expansive, they must shoot with a camera in each hand – two different scenes at once.   Sometimes they came out with three or four movies in one year.  Was it a quick process, making movies with those gentlemen?

 

BC:  Pretty quick.  Often, you don’t have a lot of money to work with, and you can’t take a lot of time with too many takes.  Pretty much all of them knew what their storyboards were, and they just had to go in, shoot what they needed to shoot, and get out.  Of course, with Jim Wynorski, he’s worked on so many movies under assumed names and shot so many times, he’s really good at knowing exactly what he needs to get and getting that and moving on.  The same with DeCoteau and Band.  Charles Band – how many movies has he made?  Hundreds and hundreds, and he’s still making movies.  He keeps reinventing himself.  These guys know what they’re doing.  They all have a loyal following for whatever movies they make, and I think all three of them will die on a movie set.

 

DG:  Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like working with the late, great Dennis Hopper on SPACE TRUCKERS?

 

BC:  That was so exciting for me.  I was working on The Bold and the Beautiful at the time.  Stuart was going to Ireland to shoot the movie, and he said, “Barbara, I want you to come out for this small part playing opposite Dennis Hopper.”  I said, “Oh my God, I’m on a TV show.  They’re never going to let me do it.”  I went in and begged for them to let me out.  I was working.  I was working two or three days a week.  I had about two weeks notice, and I went to the producer Brad Bell and said, “Brad, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.  How often am I going to get asked to be in a movie with Dennis Hopper and play opposite him?  You’ve gotta let me out.  I know I have scenes next week, but I’ll pre-tape them or post-tape them.”   In soap operas, they don’t really do that very often.  They don’t like to do that, because they don’t want their people coming and going.  It’s not cost-effective for them.  But he said, “Yes, I get it.  That would be a great opportunity for you.”  So they worked around me, and I went to Ireland for really all of the week.  I have just three scenes in the movie; one really nice scene with Dennis, where he falls for me.  I had to get over the fact that I was going to work with Dennis Hopper, so that I could actually work with Dennis Hopper.  It was nerve-wracking.  He’s a master.  He’s a great.  He’s a Hollywood icon.  But it was really nice.  We had a great time.  We had a great rapport.  From the moment I got on set, he just treated me as if he was in character.  He was asking me if I needed a bagel.  Did I want butter on it?  Could I get you some coffee?  You’re so beautiful, you’re so wonderful!  He was flirting with me the whole time.  It made it really nice.  Our characters have to fall in love in like two minutes onscreen.  We basically see one another and it’s love at first sight.  It was not a difficult scene to shoot, believe me.

 

 

DG:  OK.  I have one more I wanted to ask you about.  Just to be current:  What was it like working with one of Hollywood’s currently most wanted actors, Jesse Eisenberg, in LIGHTNING: FIRE FROM THE SKY?

 

BC:  Hello!  Nobody’s asked me that.  And thank you for noticing.  Look at his career and what he’s accomplished.  The Facebook movie – he was incredible in.  It was awesome.  His performance took my breath away.  I worked with him on one of his first movies, back in Rutland, Vermont – my hometown – for a production company that only shoots there.  I think Jesse, at the time, was living in New York and they hired him.  He was, like, a high school student.  In the movie, that’s what he played and I played the mayor of the town.  I had a couple of scenes with him.  He was extraordinary.  I remember coming back and telling my husband, “This guy’s really good.  He’s really good in this movie.  I don’t know who this kid is, but he’s wonderful.”  His career just exploded.  I’m happy to say that I was in a movie with him.  One of his first.

 

 

DG:  Is there an actor or actress or director, currently in mainstream cinema, that you particularly enjoy – the kind that forces your hand to get a ticket whenever they have something new come out?

 

BC:  I’d say anything Nicole Kidman is in, I really like to watch.  I think she really has two qualities that really work well together, that she works with in her characterizations of people that she’s portraying, and that’s vulnerability and strength.  She’s got both.  She can play either one, and she can switch on a dime.  She’s a very clever actress.  You never quite know what she’s going to do in a scene and it’s always a pleasure to watch her.

 

DG:  She actually lives in Nashville like I do, and I run into Ms. Kidman occasionally at the movie theater I frequent.  Just as beautiful in person, and classy.

 

 

BC:  I’m really quite fond of her.  I also have to say, from this movie YOU’RE NEXT, that’s playing now at the Toronto Film Festival, there’s an actress – her name is Sharni Vinson – and she plays the heroine.  A lot of people know her from STEP UP.  This movie is going to change her career.  She is amazing in this movie.  She is a bad-ass.  She kicks ass.  She’s sweet.  She’s strong.  She commands every scene that she’s in, and she’s wonderful.  Everybody should just watch out for her, because her career is going to get very big.

 

DG:  I’ve actually seen scenes from STEP UP, and though that movie’s really not my cup of tea, I thought she was good in it considering, you know, the highlight is the dancing, as opposed to the drama.  I thought she pulled off both very well.

 

BC:  People are going to fall in love with her.

 

 

DG:  Any chance of you two collaborating on STEP UP 4?

 

BC:  Ha!  I don’t know.  My dancing days are over.  I’ve hung those shoes up.

 

DG:  Is there anything you wanted to let our readers know about that you’re working on – movie or non-movie related?  Any future projects?  Anything you want to plug?

 

BC:  You know, I don’t really have anything.  I’m just really enjoying my life living outside San Francisco with my family.  Doing a lot of gardening.  Working and helping the school with their 1/3 acre sustainable garden.  Teaching kids about great food and where food really comes from.  Very active in the garden at their schools, so I’d like to promote good eating, while I’m not acting.

 

 

DG:  I’m sure a lot of our readers should definitely pay attention to good eating habits.  I’m speaking for myself as well.  We could definitely have one burger less, every now and then.  It probably wouldn’t kill us.

 

BC:  Eating more food in its natural form is the way to go – not processed.

 

DG:  Before I let you go, is there anything in these kind of interviews that doesn’t get touched on?  An anecdote or a fact you’d like to bring up?  Anything like – Gosh, I wish they would have brought that up.  They never do.  They just want to talk about RE-ANIMATOR.  Is there anything along those lines?

 

BC:  I think it’s fun for people to know that actors who work in movies – especially in genre movies like myself – I’m as big a geeky fan as the person who’s watching me in a movie.  I love horror movies.  I love when I see a great performance.  I love when I see others top others in scenes in movies.  The slash ‘em, dash ‘em movies.  It’s just great fun for us all.  We’re as big of fans as you guys are.

 

 

Speaking to Ms. Crampton was both an honor and a pleasure.  I’ve been a huge fan for years, and interviewing her was beyond amazing.  She’s a class act, and incredibly patient with my fanboy ramblings and completely inappropriate heavy breathing.  I’M KIDDING.  I didn’t ramble that much.

 

 

 

Special thanks to

for her transcription services!

 

 

 

 

 

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