Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Dee Wallace regarding her recent turn as Lilith in Asylum’s HANSEL AND GRETEL and various other roles past, present and future (including Rob Zombie’s upcoming THE LORDS OF SALEM). Always working, Wallace has starred in countless classic films, horror and otherwise, including E.T., THE HOWLING, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and the list goes on and on. She has worked with the likes of everyone from Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg, all the way to Rob Zombie and Ti West and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Dee was nice enough to talk to us via a phone call and went into detail on her career, her fans and the films that have stood the test of time.
SMITH: A lot of your films have left huge impressions on viewers, whether it was CUJO scaring the hell out of people as kids or even myself, I mean literally, my first memory of being alive is going to the theater with my parents to see E.T. as a kid, how does it feel to have such a body of work that stood the test of time and has touched so many people?
DEE WALLACE: It feels awesome and it feels like a responsibility that I’m happy to have, and want more of. It feels like a blessing you know? I was born with this talent, I came in with it, and I had a lot of great people guide me, so I could use it in the best way, so it’s been a joyful, sometimes hurtful, but always fulfilling journey that I’m happy is still continuing.
In a good amount of the films that you’ve done, you’ve played the roles of the heroine or mother-figure, what attracted you to HANSEL AND GRETEL, which is quite a contrast from those roles that a lot of people know you for?
Because it WASN’T those roles (laughs). If you’re an actor, you like to break out and you like to do different things. Before E.T. I played all kinds of characters: hookers, and call girls..and then I became the quintessential mom and that stuck with me as my definition for years. So now that I’m “maturing”, I’m getting to play again, a lot more colors in my acting. I just did a movie for SyFy where I’m the real badass, strong ballbuster for this secret service operation that’s going down. I just loved HANSEL AND GRETEL. The reason I was initially even interested was because Anthony Ferrante (director of HANSEL AND GRETEL) called me and I had worked with him once before and I think he’s a real up and coming new director who has a lot of integrity and he’s just a really nice guy. I said “look, I don’t want to play the pointy nose witch” and he said “no no, that’s why I wanted you for this. Let me send you the script, we’re still doing a lot of rewrites, but you’ll get the idea”…and I read the script and I loved it. I thought it was a really creative take on the old story, where they stay faithful to the story but they update it for the 2013 horror genre.
Another one of your upcoming films that’s a different type of role is Rob Zombie’s film THE LORDS OF SALEM. This being your third time working with him (First in 2007’s HALLOWEEN remake then in THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO) was the atmosphere this time around different than it was with HALLOWEEN being that it’s such a different movie, tonally, than that was, and how do you like working with Rob?
Well first off, I adore Rob. Anyone who works with him adores Rob. It WAS different. I really loved the way Rob worked in HALLOWEEN with all of the steadicams and movement and improv, just the experience and you know with LORDS OF SALEM, he WANTED a different look, that was his intention. He wanted to have a different look that what he’s “always” done. Have you seen it?
I have not, I’m quite anxious to though.
Well he certainly achieved that, It’s VERY different, it’s almost like an homage to the ‘70s, and it’s beautifully shot, amazingly shot. I love my character, again she’s a witch, but she’s not any kind of witch like HANSEL AND GRETEL, and it’s about the whole witches of Salem but you track the bloodline all the way forward, a lot of it takes place in today. At the same time, some of my favorite stuff in the film, is the flashbacks to the witches before.
That’s great. Have you read the novel that Rob wrote for the movie?
(surprised) No…I should get that, shouldn’t I? I didn’t even know that he had done that.
Yeah yeah, it comes out a month before the film does.
The guy is so frickin’ talented.
He is living creativity itself (laughs)…and what I love about him is that he is just so nice, and so genuine…and it’s not just to the stars and not just to the actors, he’s like that to everyone he comes in contact with, if he has time to be that way. I think if everyone keeps an open mind, and allows him to show the other stuff of what he can do, ya know, they’re going to really love this film.
Yeah it looks great. You’ve worked with some of the biggest directors, genre or not, but are there any filmmakers or people in general that you’ve always wanted to work with but haven’t yet?
Well I can tell you an actor I’ve always wanted to work with and that’s Anthony Hopkins. Oh god there are so many…I would love to work with George Clooney, I would LOVE and ADORE to work with Clint Eastwood and be directed by both of them. There’s so much talent out there..Ben Affleck. I’m so freakin’ happy he got so much attention at the Golden Globes this year.
Oh yeah, totally, it was well deserved.
I don’t know what the hell is up with the Academy but they certainly overlooked him…and there is an amazing competition this year. He should have been a part of it.
I agree. Being that you’ve worked in it so much, are you a fan of the horror genre, and if so, have there been any recent horror films that have stood out to you?
That’s always an interesting question. I AM a fan, and I’m also a wuss. A really TRUE horror film, I love. The slasher films, I am not a fan of at all. The SAW’s and all of that stuff, those are slasher films to me. It’s like ‘here’s six or seven characters and we’re going to see how much we can gross you out in the different ways we take them out”. A good horror film has characters, and it has a story, and that story evolves and goes somewhere. I think one of the most frightening films ever made is DON’T LOOK NOW. In that, you almost see nothing, it’s all created in your mind, and how it’s built and edited and crafted. My other highest pick would be THE EXORCIST. A really good horror film…I think the closest we’ve come in a long time is Scorcese’s SHUTTER ISLAND. THE ORPHAN was a good idea, so we’ve had some good ones but most of the time these days they’re slasher films and I don’t do slashers.
Your daughter is an actor now, were you surprised at all when she decided to follow your footsteps?
Not at all. I have a sonogram of her dancing in my stomach, and that is not a lie…and from the day she could walk and talk, she’s been putting on shows and dances and choreographing shows. It doesn’t surprise me at all , she has every bit of the emotional life that I do, I really proud of her work in some of the films I’ve seen her in, Some of them aren’t out yet but I’ve seen them. I really want to find a kickass film that we could do together.
Awesome, well my last question I had was that with being a working actress, you’ve also written self-help books, you have your own radio show, you teach workshops, all of those things are really impressive on their own, so how do you juggle being pretty much a modern day jack of all trades?
(Laughs). If I had to give one answer to that, I would say I love everything I do, because if you love everything you do, you always find time for it, and it’s never work, and you always have so much energy because you WANT to do it. That’s how. I just finished my fourth book, which will be coming out, I think I’m going to put it out as an e-book. The first three were published, yeah. You know, just love life, and love who you are and love what you do. If you do that, then you’re able to find time for all of it and most people do in their lifetime. I’d love to invite everyone to come to my website, http://www.iamdeewallace.com , there’s a lot of healing stuff and acting stuff. Of course all of the horror/sci-fi stuff coming up, like Texas Frightmare, I’ll be at Rock & Shock, I think I have four or five of them scheduled so far. So yeah, I would love for all of you guys to come down and see me and let me know what you think of everything.
Alright well, cool. I definitely appreciate you taking the time to talk, and have a great day.
Thank you, you too baby. Bye-bye.