Quantcast Ellie Cornell interview - HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5

Ellie Cornell
from Halloween 4 & 5
Most genre fans know actress Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers of both 'Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers' and 'Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers'. But she also currently runs a production company with her husband called 'Mindfire Entertainment'. They've produced the films 'Free Entertprise', 'The Specials' and most recently 'House Of The Dead', in which Ellie also made an appearance. We caught up with her to hear about her Halloween experiences and what her company has been up to. Details ahead. - by Robg. 9/04

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre?

I remember as I child a film called "Sweet, sweet Rachel", and a Kim Darby movie-of the-week called "Don't be afraid of the dark", about these creepy litlle guys who lived in her basement chimney shaft.  Both films scared the pants off me, and yet I couldn't NOT watch them either.  Horror films can be so fun for the fright experience!

Tell us about how you initially got involved in acting?

Acting was something I knew I wanted to do even before I started kindergarten. It just kept being a reoccurring theme throughout my school years, it became part of my personal identity.  I was never, however, a musical comedy gal.  I remember being in a one-person show in grade school called "The Last Flower", about being the last living thing on earth, it felt so cutting edge at the time, and such a priviledge to do something so enjoyable and seemingly edgy!

Your first role on film was in "Married To The Mob". Tell us a bit about working on that?

"Married to the Mob" was my first feature film experience.  I met Jonathan Demme through Bill Murray, who had become my friend when I lived in NYC, and he gave me the part of a pushy reporter who interviews Dean Stockwell's character.  Blink, and you'll miss it, but the experience was invaluable.
"Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers" was your first lead feature film. What were your initial reactions to the script for "Halloween 4"?  Were you familiar with the films that preceeded Part 4?

I thought Alan McElroy wrote a good, scary script.  The screen test was such a thrill, I had to wait an unbearable weekend and on Monday they gave me the role of Rachel Carruthers.  I had seen bits and pieces of "Halloween", which is a classic, but the plot line went astray in "H3".
You were only in a few short scenes with Donald Pleasence, but what was it like working with him? 

Donald was a consumate pro, soft-spoken with a wonderful quiet sense of humor, which you need during night shoots!!!

You spent a good chunk of time with Danielle Harris during Halloween 4, which was also her first feature. What do you remember about your experiences together during Halloween 4?

Danielle and I worked very hard, under some pretty tough conditions, the roof top scene, for example. They had a roof built to match the real one, but it was still high up with barrel tiles to slide down! Dwight Little was a fabulous director who mentored Danielle and I. I learned a great deal from him. His insights were invaluable.

You had a bit of an on screen rivalery with Kathleen Kinmont's character, Kelly Mecker. How'd you get along with the rest of the cast when the camera's weren't rolling?  Did you manage to stay in touch with anyone involved in the production?

We all got along beautifully. I try my best to get along with everyone on some level because you're all in it together, woking long hours together.  The crew on that movie was awesome and supportive.  A good tone was set from the get-go. My co-star, Sasha Jenson, and I went on to do an Afterschool Special together for ABC right after "H4"...what a small world! 

There's a story from the set of Halloween 4 that involved you injuring yourself badly during the imfamous rooftop scene.  What exactly happened there?

I slid down the tiles and got a slice down my torso. But no stitches, no guts,  just alot of sympathy from the crew and a panicky on-set medic.

What was it like to see "Halloween 4" for the first time on the big screen with friends and family?

I went to Westwood to go see it, with my agent at the time, the wonderful Philip Carr, and this line of people went around the block.  I asked someone what the big fuss was, and they said "Halloween 4". I thought I would bust out of my skin, I was so excited.  It's a huge kick to have a first big job where folks actually go to see it.  I'll never forget there were policemen at the back of the theatre, I guess there had been riot threats...

Were you surprised by the success of "Halloween 4"?

I knew Dwight was on the right track because he honored the scipt, he didn't order huge changes mid-stream, and the characters were ones you cared about.   Sometimes simple is better.

What would you consider your favorite scene while watching "Halloween 4"?  And what was your favorite scene to work on behind the scenes?

I thought the scene when I mow Michael Myers over in my truck was soooo cool! The audience was yelling "Hit him!, hit him!"...so that was fun. The great part of that sequence was that while we were shooting it, some fellas were bouncing on planks propped under the truck to make it look as though I'm driving for the close-ups. You gotta love the movies!

What are your thoughts on the radical direction the series COULD have taken, as implied by the ending of "Halloween 4" in which Jamie would've carried on as the killer?

I'd go see it, continuity is a good thing when the product's worth the keep.

Your character Rachel has always been a fan favorite. Was she always scripted to die in Halloween 5? It it true you agreed to come back only if they killed off your character?

Rachel was scripted to have scissors shoved down her throat, which I wouldn't agree to do. I was reluctant to do the sequel because Dwight Little wasn't on board, and the tone of the story had changed. 

"Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers" is considered a very odd entry into the series.  What's your take on that particular film?

Obviously, what I took away from the "Halloween" experience was under Dwight' Little's direction. I still get a kick of Rachel running through her yard in "H5", wrapped in a towel, and getting Mr. Cornish to help her.  I always think of Cornish Game Hens!

You worked with both George Wilbur's version of Michael Myers and Don Shanks version of Michael Myers. What were the differences in the two Michael's you went up against?

I liked George's Michael Myers because I KICKED HIS BUTT for a while there!  Don was a sweetie, especially during the death scene which was less than pleasant.

Is it true you had a part in "A League Of Their Own", but had to drop out at the last minute? Which part were you initially cast in?

I have no idea where they wanted to put me, but somehow I ended up on the "A-list" of actresses to play for the USC coaches, I caught a fly ball from heaven, and next thing I know I'm interviewing with Penny Marshall because I can play good ball!

When did your production company "Mindfire Entertainment" first come together?

In the late 90's, two very funny knowledgable movie nuts sent my husband and I a script that we fell in love with.  We shot it during the rainiest January in LA history.  It was renegade filmmaking at it's finest.

The first feature you produced was the cult favorite "Free Enterprise". How'd you meet both Mark Altman and Robert Burnett?

We read their script, and had tea at the Plaza with them. We share a mutual love of the movies and working with good honest folks.  Mark and Robert are the real deal.
"Free Enterprise" had an excellent cast including Eric McCormack, Rafer Weigel, William Shatner, Audie England and Patrick Van Horn.  What was the casting process like on that film?

Christine Sheaks is a casting genius. Eric got "Will and Grace" about a week later.  Who knew? Christine did!

You had a little cameo as Robert's ex-girlfriend in "Free Enterprise". How'd that come about? Was it a given that you'd appear somewhere in your production or was it Mark & Robert's idea?  

Thankfully, Mark and Robert knew my work from the "Halloween" films and thought it would be a kick to dust off the ol' gear and put me back in the game.

Is it true you're working on a sequel, "Free Enterprise: My Big Geek Wedding"?

Only Kirk knows!

Tell us a bit about your second production, "The Specials"?

A very funny script...I actually laughed out loud when I read it. That's rare.

How'd "House Of The Dead" come together?
We worked diligently to acquire the video game rights from Sega...a script was written, a German director(Uwe Boll)  came aboard, and we set sail....
Were you always keen on the idea of taking the role of Jordon Casper or did you just want to play a bad-ass?
What housewife doesn't dream of playing a bad ass?  I'd do it again in minute, but I'd shoot it in LA.  Vancouver was chilly and damp, especially at 5 in the morning, the sun's coming up after a 12 hour day, and I have to get on a plane.

You made an appearance last year for the "Return To Haddonfield: 25th Anniversary of Halloween" convention. What's the convention experience like for you? 

Surreal!  We have such supportive fans!  It was well organized and attended, as it should be.

I think just about every male Halloween fan has at one point had a crush on Rachel. (Ourselves & our friends included!) Are you surprised by all of Rachel's fans and her popularity in the series?
I don't consider Rachel "crush" material, but rather a character you respect and pull for, attributes I'd take in a  minute over the "flavor of the month" gals. I liked her, too!

You're going to work with another "Halloween" victim (PJ Soles) on the upcoming "The Second Line."  What can you tell us about that project?
It shoots in the Spring if our schedules line up...I might be in Prague but I'll find my way to Illinois!

What's up next for Mindfire Entertainment?
Our cups runnuth over!  I start "All Soul's Day" this week, fittings tomorrow, rehearsals the next day. Is this fun, or what?  "House of the Dead 2" starts in November.  Check out the website, it rocks.  And by all means check out CFQ magazine, THE magazine for Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiasts and Femmes Fatales for the latest and hottest gals in the Biz!

Special thanks to Tony Masi.
Halloween Movies.com & Mindfire Entertainment.com

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