Quantcast P.J. Soles interview - HALLOWEEN, CARRIE, STRIPES

Everyone TOTALLY knows and loves actress PJ Soles. She's been in the comedy hits 'Rock N' Roll High School', 'Stripes' & 'Jawbreaker'. She's also appeared in genre related films such as 'Carrie', 'The Possessed' & 'Uncle Sam'. But all horror fans know her best as Lynda, one of Michael Myer's first victims in the original John Carpenter classic, 'HALLOWEEN'. She'll be returning to horror by appearing in 'The Devil's Rejects", the upcoming sequel to Rob Zombie's 'House Of 1000 Corpses' . Here's what we learned from the lovely PJ Soles! - by Robg., Mike C. 9/04
What are some of your earliest recollections of the horror genre?

Anything Hitchcock..."THE BIRDS" and "PSYCHO". Films having to do with werewolves...

When did you initially decide to persue acting? Can you tell us a bit about your experiences starting out?

I always acted in school plays, starting in 6th grade when I lived in Venezuela... I played the witch in "HANSEL & GRETEL", and my dad made a special magic wand with a lightbulb at the end with a battery and a switch... my first real prop! It was a night performance, and we had a huge fake oven that they pushed me into, and my little brother who was only three thought that was the end me and he started screaming... I was very proud of my performances, because I beat out an eighth grader for the coveted weekend shows.

I was in plays in high school, but it wasn't until I was in college that I spent some time in NYC and realized that people actually get paid to do this... since I lived overseas for most of my childhood, I wasn't up to speed on a lot of things. But I went by the Actor's Studio and there was a "spotlight" position available, so I ran the spotlight on Joanna Miles and Scott Glenn for the summer. I got an agent and started doing commercials, and that made it easy to not go back to college. My parents were living in Turkey at the time, and communication back then was not like it is today, or they would have marched me right back to studying languages to become an interpreter for the United Nations. 

Were you a fan of Stephen King's work before going in to audition for "Carrie"? (If so) do you still follow his books?

No, I had never heard of him. I don't think he was as well known in 1975. I don't read those kinds of books. I like biographies and non-fiction.

Tell us about the audition process for "Carrie"? Wasn't it was a dual audition with George Lucas for Star Wars?

Yes. Brian de Palma and George Lucas shared a desk in an office and met every teenager in town. It was a massive line....but it was worth it.

"Carrie" was one of your first feature films. What was it like working with Brian DePalma early in his career?

I bet he hasn't changed. He was quiet and commanding. He knew exactly what he wanted from each set-up. You could see extreme delight in his eyes as he sat in his director's chair.....he seemed like he loved the process and the challenge of telling through showing a story on film.

Despite the way the characters treated each other on film in "Carrie", what was the working atmosphere like with all the other cast members? Did you manage to stay in touch with anyone from the production after the shoot?

We really became close right away - all of us. We had a lot of fun. I was especially close with Michael Talbott, John Travolta and Betty Buckley. Betty and I remained friendly for a long time... but you know, she's a New York theater person, and I am an LA mother of two. Michael Talbott was like a brother to me, and he is the funniest man alive.

Did your friendship with John Travolta lead to working with him again on "The Boy In The Plastic Bubble"?

John recommended me for that film. He loved people that made him laugh, and when we would watch the "dailies" of "CARRIE", John would howl at my scenes... it really made me feel good. He is a genuine and caring person.
What do you remember about filming the imfamous "blood bath @ the prom" scene at the end of "Carrie"?

It took days, but it was fun because nobody knew how their characters were going to die until the day of their scene, so De Palma kept us all in suspense and speculating. And I remember how intense and focused Sissy Spacek was... she is amazing!

You worked on a made for television horror film called "The Possessed" with Harrison Ford in the late 70's. What do you remember about that project?

That Harrison asked me and another actress out to dinner. We were having a great time until he started playing footsies under the table... I knew he was married with two young sons, and I didn't know what to think. That was the first time I realized I had a lot to learn about "show biz". Other than that, I don't remember even seeing it on TV.

What were your initial reactions to the script for "Halloween"?

"TOTALLY" cool.....couldn't wait to play Lynda.
You seemed to have a great on screen friendship with both Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Loomis. How'd you get along with them when the camera's weren't rolling?

We all had a blast...really. There wasn't time for anything else. Jamie got along with everyone - she was very happy and carefree back then. The set atmosphere had a constant focus on collaboration and effort and originality.
Debra Hill takes credit for writing most of the dialogue between the girls in the film. Did you get to improv at all with your lines? Was the "totally" thing always scripted or something you came up with?

I definitely added more "totallys" - I told John to tell me if I became annoying. The scene in the bed was pretty much improvised. John asked me to taunt the "shape" and then get upset... it worked out... totally!

You spent a lot of time with John Michael Graham, who played your boyfriend Bob, on screen. What do you remember about working with mister Graham? Were the "love" scenes difficult or uncomfortable?

As with any love scene in a film... it is always the most unsexy thing to make it look like you are being intimate onscreen... you don't feel anything remotely sexual. Mister Graham and I spent only two days together, so I really didn't get to know him at all... although I chose him with John Carpenter during the casting session.
Even though you didn't share any scenes together, did you get the opportunity to meet Donald Pleasence?

Yes, we all ate lunch together on the set. He was reserved and polite. He didn't seem interested in conversation, but now I realize he probably didn't know what on earth to say to us giggling girls.

What was it like to see the original "Halloween" for the first time on the big screen? How'd your friends and family react?

It was great fun. I thought it was amazing, considering how quickly we filmed it - I was blown away by John Carpenter's soundtrack. My friends loved it. My family was upset that I took off my blouse - not exactly United Nations behavior.

Did you follow any of the Halloween series after the first?

I've never seen any of them except the original.

You had addmitted to not being a huge fan of The Ramones, until half way thru filming the cult favorite, "Rock N Roll High School"? Looking back now, what do you remember most about The Ramones?

Really it stands out how shy they all were. I was amazed by that, because to me being "punk rock" meant you had to be brave, especially since they were forging new territory in the world of "rock n' roll", so I assumed they would be confident and cocky. But I was happily surprised that they were huge film buffs, and they couldn't believe they were in one, especially a Roger Corman film!
How close are you to the character of Riff Randell?

Like I said, I grew up in foreign countries... I had not experienced a high school life like RIFF. But she was such an Anerican girl in the script, so we merged. She has my heart and my energy, and I just acted her out as written on the page... oh yeah, I bought all her clothes, but they were definitely RIFF'S not mine!

You got to reprise the role of "Riff Randell" in a video for "The Donnas". How did that come about?

A friend of mine, Dave Besdesky was working on the shoot, and the director said he wanted it to look like "ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL" and Dave told him he could do better than that - he could get RIFF RANDELL to be in it! They called me and I went down the next day. It was fun, even though I barely fit in RIFF'S jacket anymore, but Dave does.

Are you involved in any way with the remake for "Rock N Roll High School", which is being developed by Howard Stern's production company?

I don't think that's happening anymore.

You worked on the comedy classic "Stripes" with director Ivan Reitman and a stellar cast. Was it a fun picture to be a part of?

Yes, it was a lot of fun working with Bill Murray, but Harold Ramis is the bomb!
Bill Murray is well known now for his improvisation on films. Did he stray away from the script a lot during your scenes together in "Stripes"? And is it difficult to work with someone who's constantly making everyone laugh?

Yes, Bill changed everything all the time, but that was exciting. Our whole stovetop scene was improvised at 3AM... It is not difficult if you are in character... STELLA wasn't amused most of the time, until she fell in luv... but seriously, Bill is very funny when he's acting - he's really more a somber guy in real life.

You took a little bit of a break from acting at one point. Were persuing other interests and spending more time with your family motivating factors in this?

Raising my son and daughter has been the most important thing to me, but now they are older, and I hope to work more often.....it's a long story!

You did a few more genre related films in the past few years, including William Lustig's "Uncle Sam". How'd you get involved in that film?


You made an appearance last year for the "Return To Haddonfield: 25th Anniversary of Halloween" convention. What was that experience like? Both meeting so many fans, and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original movie?

I always enjoy meeting fans, because they are so nice to me. They really love all these movies - it's great. Even though it's been 25 years, it's always nice to hear fans tell me "you look exactly the same"!!!!!! HA! HA! HA!

Are you surprised that the character of "Lynda" from "Halloween" is a fan favorite?

She's the girl every guy wants to be with and every girl would like to be... "totally" fun!

Looking back, why do you think a film like "Halloween" has endured thru-out the generations as a horror classic?

It really is a perfect piece of art.

Since you started out in what is now seen as a very important, influential period of cinematic history, can you look back and tell us some things you think contributed to that generation of actors and filmmakers being so successful in what they accomplished?

Simply looking for an original way to tell a story on screen. Every generation does it their way... it was time for a fresh voice.

Have you heard about the recent Local H album being named after you? Is it surreal to have a band with an album titled "Whatever happened to PJ Soles?"

It is awesome. I saw them perform in LA. They are great guys... I am totally flattered. My kids think it's crazy..."what do you mean what happened to PJ Soles - she's our mom, duh!"

How'd you get involved in the upcoming sequel to "House Of A 1000 Corpses", "The Devil's Rejects"? Was Rob Zombie a big fan?

Auditioned -  And I signed a "CARRIE" photo to Rob Zombie at the casting session saying: "DEAR ROB, PLEASE LET ME SCREAM AGAIN FOR YOU. LOVE, P.J."  I think that helped get me the part. Honestly, he wanted to cast 70's actors for the various cameos. Rob Zombie and his wife are extremely caring people.

What can you tell us about your role in "The Devil's Rejects" & working with Rob Zombie?

I got to work with Sid Haig, the clown... he punches me out, but I LIVE!!!!! That is so rare in a Rob Zombie film. Rob is great - I hope to have a bigger part in his next film... he is a definite 100% pure genius.

You're going to work with another "Halloween" victim (Ellie Cornell) on "The Second Line", what can you tell us about this project?

It's going to be fun and creative. I think the idea of having lots of actors from all the different HALLOWEEN movies is brilliant. And the film makers are so passionate - it's going to be great. ....."TOTALLY!"  So how many times did I use "totally" in this interview???????

Umm... 6 or 7 times? (laughs) Thanks again PJ!!!

Special thanks to Tony Masi.
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