Friday, June 4, 2010

A Very Candid Conversation with Lynn Lowry

Lynn Lowry and myself at Cinema Wasteland, October 2009

Lynn Lowry was the captivating star of several 70s cult films. In addition to showcasing her striking beauty and her sensuality, her roles were very unorthodox. She made her debut as a mute hippie who gets rabies in I Drink Your Blood. Her most memorable scene in the film comes when she kills a housewife with an electric carving knife. She followed that up with a dual role in Sugar Cookies where she played an actress who is killed at the beginning of the film and a naïve innocent who’s a dead ringer for the murdered actress. Subsequently, she appeared in George Romero’s The Crazies as a young woman, affected by chemical warfare, who is raped by her father after he too succumbs to the effects. Then, there was Score, which is a take on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Like Virginia Woolf, the story is about two couples who entertain the idea of switching partners. However, in Score, instead of pairing a man and a woman, the two new parings are same sex couples.

Lynn’s work was also distinguished by the directors she worked with. In addition to Romero, Lynn would go on to work with David Cronenberg (
The Fly, Eastern Promises) in one of his first films, Shivers. She also worked with Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) on Fighting Mad, and her co-star and love interest in the film is Peter Fonda. Finally, she got to briefly work with Paul Schrader (American Gigolo) on Cat People.

Lynn spent little time in front of the camera during the '80s and '90s. However, in the 21st century, she returned to her awaiting public, at conventions and in several low-budget films. This year, she made an effective cameo in the remake of
The Crazies. The remake is distinctive in two respects. First, it is a big budgeted remake of a film that was made on a shoestring budget in the '70s. Second, it is actually a good film and not redundant. More importantly, for Lynn, it shows that her body of work from the '70s has not been forgotten.

In the following candid conversation, we talk about Lynn’s work during the '70s, her time away from the silver screen, and currently, her time back in the movies. I want to thank Lynn for taking the time to do this interview.

Jeff Cramer: Alright, so where and when were you born?

Lynn Lowry: October 15, 1955. I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois.

JC: And what made you decide to get into acting?

LL: Well, when I was a little girl, I was very, very shy and I needed some kind of outlet. So, first off, I started getting up and giving reports in class, and I found that when I was up in front of people, I wasn’t shy, because I had a script or other words that I could use. I think I was maybe seven years old when I discovered that. From that point on, I just started trying to get up in front of people as much as I could. I did a play in grade school. And then from there, I went on to do plays in high school, and then college, and then summer stock.

JC: I understand that you were a Bunny before you started acting.

LL: Oh, yeah. When I was 20, I was hired at the Playboy Club in Atlanta, Georgia. I actually turned 21 on the floor as a Bunny. I think I worked for them for about a year; didn’t like it. It was very hard. I had to wear really high heels all the time, and it was just really uncomfortable. The Bunny costume’s very uncomfortable. They called me Bunny Mia because I was very skinny at that point in my life.

JC: I just find it funny that you would be called too skinny for it, because that’s a rare criticism for a Bunny.

LL: They want you to be skinny, but they want you have to a big bosom. So, I didn’t have a big bosom, but they would try to make me look like I had a big bust. I even had people come in sometimes who, when they got me as their Bunny, would request another Bunny because they wanted a more voluptuous one. They put me in the back room a lot of times to play bumper pool with the customers, and when you bend over the table, you look like you’ve got a bigger bust. I made a lot of money playing bumper pool.

Lynn during her Playboy days

JC: Did you meet Hefner?

LL: No, I never met him. I was in Playboy a couple of times, and never was I just a Playmate or anything, but in, like, a special kind of article that they had. I actually did a very, very famous Playboy shot in a poem called “Monday’s Child,” and I took that picture and turned it into a lithograph. It became extremely popular. It was sold all over the world and was in calendars and everything.

JC: Okay. Tell me about your first role: The Battle of Love’s Return.

LL: Well, at the time, Battle of Love’s Return. But at the time I did it, it was not a feature; it was just a short. Actually, my first feature film was I Drink Your Blood, but then, after I did that, Lloyd Kaufman decided to make The Battle of Love’s Return the feature, so then it turned into a feature film. So, my very first acting job in New York was The Battle of Love’s Return.

JC: And how did that part come about?

LL: Well, I was up for a part in a film called Joe, directed by John Avildsen but Susan Sarandon got the part. I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my turn, and Lloyd Kaufman, who was working with Avildsen, saw me and came over and introduced himself, and told me that he was doing this short film. They had just lost the actress who was playing the dream girl and he thought I would be perfect for the part and wanted to know if I would be interested in doing it. So, that’s how I met Lloyd and got involved with that project.

JC: And how did I Drink Your Blood happen? [To see a trailer for I Drink Your Blood, click here.]

LL: Well, I saw an ad in Backstage, which is a magazine for actors. The ad said that they were looking for people for this horror film, and so, I met David Durston. I was actually the very last person who showed up that day, and he was just getting ready to close up. He had cast the entire film and there were no parts left. He tells this story rather well. He saw me and he just thought I was so beautiful that he just had to have me in the movie. He told me that he would call me in a couple of days and let me know what he’d worked out, and of course, I didn’t think I would ever hear from him again. But sure enough, he did call me and he said that he had decided to put me in the movie as a mute so that way, he wouldn’t have to write anymore lines or another part. So, that’s how I got the part.

JC: Now, some actors have told me that it’s hard to act without lines. Would you agree?

LL: Sometimes, but I think it depends on what’s going on around you. If there’s a lot of activity surrounding what you’re doing that you can react to, I don’t really think it’s that difficult. And with that particular film -

JC: I know; a lot of activity.

LL: There was a lot going on with all the different characters, and it was very colorful. So, it was actually pretty easy to just kind of be real and just react to what was going on and not have any lines.

JC: Okay. The next film was Sugar Cookies. How did that one happen?

LL: Well I had already worked with Lloyd in The Battle, and they just asked me if I would be interested in doing a part. Actually, I turned the part down at first because I didn’t really want to do that kind of nudity. I didn’t wanna become known as an actress who does that sort of stuff, but they kept talking to me about it, and I read the script a few times and I thought, “Well, gee, I sure do have a lot of camera time, and I get to play two different people, and I know that I’m a good enough actress that I could pull it off, so, it wouldn’t just come across like some terrible actress taking her clothes off.”

And Mary Woronov was in it. She was an actress whom I admired a lot and respected and was interested in working with. So, I finally decided to do it with the rule that they would not really focus on anything below the waist. That was the one thing that I stipulated in my contract- they weren’t allowed to show that sort of stuff.

JC: Mary’s then husband Ted Gershuny directed it. It must have been strange to be doing love scenes with the director’s wife.

LL: Honestly, I was at some sort of show with Mary at one point when she laughingly said something about how her husband was dreaming of having her play a lesbian with another woman or something- something to that effect. But at the time of the movie, I didn’t really focus on that at all. It was just a part, and I was doing my part and she was the other actress. I didn’t even feel as if the film was about lesbians. I never even thought of my character as a lesbian. I thought of her as just this woman who happened to fall in love with this other person who happened to be female.

But as far as being uncomfortable or anything with Ted directing, I never felt that. Mary was always very professional, and we just did everything as believably as we could.

JC: One of the people involved was Oliver Stone. Do you have any recollection of him during the making of that film?

LL: He’s also in The Battle of Love’s Return. I think he has an actual acting part in there. Honestly, I had no idea who Oliver was. I had no memory of really working with him or anything. Funny story: In New York, I was on the bus one day, and I think this was after he was on a couple of things; I’m not sure what. But he came up to me on the bus and introduced himself and said he was Oliver Stone and that he’d worked with me in Sugar Cookies.

And I didn’t recognize him and didn’t know what he had done. So, I said, “Hi, how are you doing? Nice to see you.” Of course later, I realized who he was and I thought, “Oh man, I should have given him my resume or something.”

JC: Oliver would not be the last of the many directors you encountered who would go on to bigger things. The next film was The Crazies, which was directed by George Romero. Were you familiar with Romero? Had you seen Night of the Living Dead? [To see the trailer for The Crazies, click here.]

LL: I had seen it. I was somewhat familiar. I didn’t really think of him as this incredible horror genre director at that point. I don’t think that he was at that point. I guess it had gotten a lot of attention, that film at that point, but I really had never met him and didn’t really know anything about him except that he’d done that film.

JC: Your roles in Sugar Cookies and I Drink Your Blood were not typical roles to begin with, but this would be a new direction with The Crazies.

LL: It was really an interesting part because she actually has the symptoms the very first time you see her, but I didn’t want the audience to know that right off the bat. So, I tried to find a line where I could show that she was a little hyper sensitive, but not so much that she would be considered crazy. That was my goal with the character. I wanted to let those senses build as the film moved ahead. Working with Richard Liberty, he was so great because he was such a good actor and so supportive and all of our scenes were, or almost all of them were, together, so we had to really roll it back to a very believable relationship between the two of us.

JC: You and Liberty were father and daughter in that film. After coming off love scenes with Mary in Sugar Cookies, now, you were going to have to do an incest love scene.

LL: Yeah. I knew that that’s what we were gonna have to do. I never really try to think about things like that or how I’m gonna do it exactly because we really can’t rehearse or figure out things like that. We just have to kind of take it in the moment and see what it is, and again, try to look for the honesty and the believability of where the characters are at that particular point. At that point, she’s pretty crazy, and he has no idea that he’s her father and she’s his daughter. So, I think that that’s sort of how we were able to pull that off; we were imagining that we were really other people rather than father and daughter, which is very disturbing.

It was interesting because when I was doing the remake, I talked to the director about it and about the original. He told me that when they were putting the script together, they weren’t sure whether he was going to do the incest scene. He didn’t because he felt that incest at this point in today’s time would not be a good thing to have in the movie. I like to think they eliminated it because, again, our characters are so memorable and recognizable that too many people would have been saying, “Oh, Dick did that part and Lynn did that part,” and that sort of thing.

JC: You have a very unique death scene in the film. First, you start off with a monologue and then when you’re shot, you simply go, “Oh.” Describe shooting that scene for me.

LL: Well, so, first off, that monologue leading into me being shot was not written. So, George said, “You know, improvise.” At that particular point in my life, I really hadn’t had a lot of acting experience. I mean, I studied acting in college, I’d gone to stock and all of that, but I hadn’t really studied a lot of acting in New York. Improv was not my forte at all. I was just a wreck, like, “What am I gonna say?” and all of that. But then, I kept thinking, “In the end, I’ll get to die and I’ll get to have this great death scene, and I’ll get to crawl toward the soldiers and beg for my life, die and get up, and crawl some more, and these big dramatic things.”

So, I thought, “Well, that’ll save it if my improv is bad, and I’ll get to do that.” And then when George told me what he wanted, I just couldn’t believe it. I just thought, “Oh no, that’s not gonna work. That’s gonna be really bad. It’s just gonna be lame,” but of course, George was the director, and you do what the director wants you to do. So, I did that and when I saw the movie - when I finally saw the whole movie finished - I still even thought it at that point; and my friend who was with me, he just laughed when he saw it. He just couldn’t - he thought it was silly.

And as the years have passed, and I’ve seen the movie now many times, I realize that you couldn’t really – because of the rape scene and then going into that scene, you really couldn’t fill this in another way. The simplicity and the innocence of that “oh,” it just is perfect. And I can’t tell you how many fans have told me that that’s their favorite moment in the movie. And also, when I autograph people’s pictures they’ll want me to share my “oh” on the picture. So, George was definitely right, and it just shows you that you’ve gotta listen to the director a lot of times because they know what they’re doing.

JC: Now your next film was Score; talk about that one, because as I understand it, the film started off as an Off Broadway play and became this X-rated film and it was based partly on Virginia Woolf. Talk about how that happened. [To watch the trailer for Score, click here.]

LL: Radley Metzger spoke to Lee Hessel, who was the producer of The Crazies. He had seen me in Crazies and he spoke to Lee and he recommended me. So that’s how I got the part but it was an Off Broadway comedy, and actually, Sylvester Stallone was in the Off Broadway comedy. He played the telephone repairman. And Radley didn’t want him in the movie because I don’t think he thought he was good looking enough, so he cast Carl Parker, but my understanding was that it was not an X-rated film-it was going to be R-rated and everything was going to be soft.

And again, I had specifically put in my contract that nothing below the waist was really supposed to be shown of me. So, I went into the film thinking that that’s what it was gonna be, and Claire Wilbur and I really didn’t do anything that was hardcore in any way, shape, or form. There is one shot of a curl in the pubic area in the film that’s supposed to be me, but it’s not me. It was some shot he put in. So, what happened was the men, Cal Culver and Gerry Grant, who were both absolute dolls and both gay, I guess when it came time for them to do their scene, they just really got into it and they really did it. So, the film became this X-rated film because of the two men.

JC: Did they both decide they really wanted to do the scene for real, then, at that point, or was it scripted?

LL: Well, I don’t know if Radley really wanted it to be for real or if it just sort of escalated into that, and he just decided, “Well, you know what, yeah, they’re doing it for real, so let’s get that on film.” I don’t know if he had intentions beforehand of doing that, because he certainly never tried to prompt either myself or Claire to do anything that was that pornographic. So, I really kind of think it just sort of accidentally happened, but the funny thing was that when the film debuted, it premiered at this porno house on 42nd street in New York, and I was at that time, starring in an NBC soap opera called How to Survive a Marriage, and I was just absolutely petrified that the NBC people were going to find out that I was in this porno on 42nd Street and I was gonna get fired, but they never found out. Since then, Radley had brought out another version of the film which I think actually works much better for the overall feel of the film, because the goals are not hardcore; so, I think it’s a much nicer film now. I love the film. It’s very funny. I saw it one night with, like, an all gay audience and had no idea how funny the movie was, but they just loved it, and it was just such a treat to hear all the laughs and really see how it was supposed to play out.

JC: Well, that actually is interesting because a director’s cut exists, but you can tell that it’s cut. Some people who were reviewing the DVD didn’t understand why he preferred this version as opposed to the uncut version.

LL: Yeah, I don’t know. I know he’s bringing it out again because we did an interview. I did an interview for it last year to go in the extras, and I think he’s bringing out the same version that he brought out before, but with a lot of behind the scenes stuff and all that kind of thing. So, I don’t know.

JC: When Matthew Broderick did Torch Song Trilogy with Harvey Fierstein, someone went up to him and said, “How did it feel doing a same sex love scene?” His response was, “It’s equally as uncomfortable as with the opposite sex. It’s with a stranger.” Would you agree with that, from your experiences in Score and Sugar Cookies?

LL: Well, Score was very uncomfortable because Claire Wilbur hated me.

JC: She hated you?

LL: Yes. She totally hated me. When we were on the airplane flying to Yugoslavia - I was very naïve at that point - somehow or another, the subject of what everyone was making money-wise came up and I was very open about what I was making, thinking that everyone else was making more, or definitely that she was making more, because she’d been in the Off Broadway show. It turned out that I was making more than anyone else, and she was livid. Yeah, she was livid at that point. I mean, we weren’t making very much. I think I was making, like, $600 a week. So we’re not talking about, like, hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she was very unhappy, and when we got to Yugoslavia, she, like, went right to Radley and she was furious. From that point on, she was very jealous of me and felt that I was always getting the close-ups and I was always getting the attention and that Radley liked me better, none of which was true because Claire is gorgeous in the film and she’s got many close-ups and she was fabulous. It definitely put a very negative thing on the love making scene, because she didn’t want me to really touch her. She didn’t want me to touch her hair. It was very difficult. And one time, we did amyl nitrate, and I had never done it, but we actually had some so–

JC: Are you saying that wasn’t simulated?

LL: No, no, that was real. We did amyl nitrate in that scene and I felt that kind of crazy and I messed her hair up. She was so mad that I messed her hair up and it just was very, very difficult. When we were kissing or anything like that, she would always want to be covered if it wasn’t showing. So, it was very uncomfortable doing the scenes with her, whereas it wasn’t uncomfortable at all doing them with Mary.

JC: Okay. Your next film was Shivers, which was also one of David Cronenberg’s first films. Shivers is actually the first film I saw you in. How did Shivers come about?[To see the trailer for Shivers, click here.]

LL: Well, I don’t remember how they came across me. They must have seen one of my other films, but Ivan Reitman came to New York and met with me. We had lunch, and they wanted me to do the movie. So I flew to Montreal to shoot with them and it was great. It was incredible. Unlike not remembering who Oliver Stone was, I did know who David Cronenberg was, and he was just a wonderful director. And it was one of his first films, if not his very first, and he was very enthusiastic about everything, but pretty much let me run my course.

I think he felt that I knew what I was doing and could get in where he needed - unlike Susan Petrie, who was a comedic actress, who David had to, like, slap around to get her to be emotional and cry. Susan asked him to do that, so it wasn’t like he just walked up and slapped her. It was just that Susan needed that to help her prepare. One time, he asked me though; he said, “Do you need some help with that emotional scene, Lynn?” And I said, “No, David, I can act.” So, that was kind of our joke, but it was great.

It was funny because for a long time, I didn’t seem to like Paul Hampton’s portrayal of the character in the film. Paul was a little bit difficult to work with because he was just very kind of - he always seemed to be sort of not involved. He sort of seemed to be kind of unemotional or that kind of energy, and I was used to working with people who really gave you a lot. It wasn’t my favorite work experience, but I saw the film actually not too long ago, and I realized that he actually was very good in the film, because how else could you respond to what’s going on around you except to kind of go away from it? So, I think that the choices that he made as an actor were very good and that they worked well in the script.

There is a funny little anecdote about the scene that I had where I’m getting undressed and changing out of my nurse outfit. So, I’m supposed to be looking at Paul Hampton while he is on the phone talking. I was actually looking at David - David was actually doing that. Paul was gone and David was sitting there pretending to be on the phone while I did that scene. So, I just thought that was sort of fun.

JC: That’s interesting because that was when I really noticed you. You were undressing in front of him while he was on the phone, and it’s clear - you really come across like you really want that guy. You really want his attention, though you certainly didn’t have a problem getting my attention. You know?

LL: Right. He was really kind of indifferent towards me but I guess at that point, I just wanted him to be in love with me in the script. I guess I thought that that’s the way it should have been played, and he didn’t play it that way. I think now, it’s made it even more interesting that he didn’t.

JC: There’s a similar type of scene near the end when you’re in the swimming pool and you’re possessed.

LL: Right. Well, actually, the swimming pool scene, I was not supposed to be in that scene. They had wrapped me and sent me back to New York from LA. That’s where I lived then. I guess they decided that it would be more interesting to see me give him the parasite, so they brought me back, which I’m so glad they did, because that’s just my all-time favorite scene. I just love where I come up out of the pool and turn and start towards him with this. Every time I see that, I get goose bumps, and I just love the mixture of the evil and the sensual quality that I have in that. It’s just my favorite film moment of anything I’ve ever done.

JC: Your next film was Fighting Mad. You have two really good scenes in it. The first one is after you and Peter Fonda make love. From the way you’re eating the apple, it’s clear that the bedroom activity wasn’t that great. The other scene is near the end. Peter is finally gonna get his revenge. Before he goes on his quest, you slap him. Even though you’ve seen all the damage the bad guys have done, you’re not supporting his quest for vigilante justice. You’re not a “stand by your man” type of girl in that film. [To watch the trailer for Fighting Mad, click here.]

LL: Yeah. I thought my part in that film was pretty interesting, and I’m sorry it wasn’t more successful and more people didn’t get to see it, but yeah, in that first scene, she’s obviously not happy about his attentions. In the last scene, Jonathan Demme wanted me to slap Peter Fonda, and Peter was very adamant about me not doing that. He did not want to be slapped and really just said “no.” Then Jonathan took me aside and told me to do it anyway, which put me in a really bad situation there, because I didn’t wanna do something Peter Fonda didn’t want me to do. But I needed to do what the director wanted me to do, so, I did it, and Peter was very angry - very, very angry with me. So, I explained to him that I had to do it, and he got over it, but he wasn’t very happy about it.

JC: Could you tell me about your relationships with both Peter Fonda and Jonathan Demme on that film?

LL: Well, Jonathan was just great because it was one of his first films. He pretty much let me - I think that the directors that I worked with were very good in casting the right people in parts, so that they sort of - not that they didn’t direct them, but that we were already kind of that part and we were able to just deliver what they needed. So, he was just great. I went there to meet him in Arkansas before we actually started shooting, and we went around to the different places, and I just had a very good relationship with him. I saw him again afterwards, in New York, on many occasions. I thought it’d be real cool to work with him again, and I was very sorry that that didn’t happen. Although, it almost did happen because I was actually cast in The Last Embrace, but, Roy Scheider, at the last minute decided he wanted his girlfriend to do the part. So, I didn’t get to do that part, but I still get residuals for it because I was actually under contract and everything.

Peter was a very interesting man. He was very private. It was hard for him to go out because a lot of people would come up to him and a lot of them were unsavory, although a lot of those types were really his true fans. It was a little bit dangerous for him. I remember one time, we did go out for dinner and these two guys came over, and they were, like, insisting that he come with them to their house or have dinner with them. It was that kind of thing. And he said that he would love to do that and maybe they could schedule that for later in the week. I think that was actually the last time he went out and had dinner in a restaurant. But he was very professional- always knew what he wanted, what his lines were and everything-very easy to work with.

JC: Now, there was a six-year gap between that film and the next one, Cat People. What happened during that time?

LL: Well, what happened was, I was living in New York City. I was doing a lot of theater and I decided to make the move out to California.

Lynn doing a play

So, I did that and I can’t remember if it was the writers who went on strike or the directors, but it was a very difficult time because it was California and the agents who I was trying to get to represent me were mostly people who were just interested in what the last television show was that you did. Certainly, the big casting directors in Los Angeles who were casting all the TV and major films were not interested in knowing that I did I Drink Your Blood.

I just never really even told anyone that. And it just was very difficult to get established, so there was a big period of time that passed. I did a soap opera called Generations during that period and I also did a film with Lynne Littman called Once a Daughter. I did that and maybe a couple of TV movies of the week. It was pretty difficult to get represented.

JC: How did Paul Schrader get you for Cat People?

LL: My agent got me an audition and I went in and saw what they wanted. I saw what was called for in the script. That sort of thing’s always been very easy for me: to show peril and scream and all that sort of stuff. So, when I got in the office with Paul, they wanted me to do the scene, and I said, “Well, do you want me to do the scene full out?” because it was in their office, and I thought, “There’s people in the other room, and will they really want that?” So, he said, “Oh yeah, sure; go ahead.” So, I did. I did - pretty much what you saw in the movie, I did in their office that day.

I used the door to get out to the outer room. Everybody in the outer room was just sitting there with their mouths open looking at me crawling out on my hands and knees, and they all like broke into applause when they saw me. That was it. They loved it. They thought, “Well, God, if she can do that here in the office, she sure can do it there.” So that’s how I got that part.

JC: You wouldn’t have many credits after Cat People until we reached the 21st century. What happened during your time out of the limelight?

LL: Well, what happened, basically, was I sort of at that point gave up. But I still did theater. I never knew during that little period, that I was a cult horror personality. I didn’t know that there was this huge base of horror films that were done and that those people might be interested in using me. I just had no idea. I was wrapped up in the theater, trying to get into the mainstream and it just never occurred to me there was this other need. It just got to a point where I actually went up for a role on Roseanne and the part had, like, five lines. I could have phoned it in. It was such an easy part, and I got right in there, and they probably had about 200 actresses there to read for this five-line part. They were like every shape, size, hair color . . . It wasn’t even like they had decided on a type. I said to myself at that point, I said, “You know, if I get this part, I’m gonna go on with this, and if I don’t get it, I’m not.” Well, I got a call back and I thought, “Wow, I got a call back. That’s cool.” So, I went back for the call back, and I think that there were 100 actresses there for the call back. They were fat, short, skinny, red haired, blond haired, you name it. I didn’t get it, and I’d just had it with really pursuing it, so I just took a break. I started teaching acting and commercial workshops, and was still doing my theater, and just got involved in that aspect of my life.

JC: Well, I know that one of the things was that you were a jazz singer. How did you get into music?

Lynn performing at a nightclub.

LL: Well, my dad, who passed away last March, was a jazz trumpet player, and he loved to go out and sit in with groups. He always wanted me to come and sit in with him. I actually played the trumpet, by the way, when I was age 5, until, like, 15. I decided to learn how to play so I could go with him and share that world of music with him. Really, all I wanted to do was get to a point where I could actually go out with him and sit in, but we started doing shows together in Atlanta, and then I started doing shows out here, and I had a jazz trio. I would just play music in the evening, mostly all from the '40s, but '30s, '40s, and '50s music, and told jokes and changed clothes and started to learn how to be improvisational, because that’s what it’s like being in a night club and never knowing what’s gonna happen. You had to be able to do that and be in the moment. That was a lot of fun, and I still go out and sit in with people, but I’m not really pursuing doing the shows any longer.

JC: I did notice one credit that appears in the middle of the '90s and it’s a film with Brigitte Nielsen and Dana Plato, Compelling Evidence. How did that film come about?

LL: I had seen an ad in Backstage for a monologue for a horror film that was casting, so I sent my picture. Donald Farmer was the director and he was a big, big fan of mine and knew me from all of my previous films. And that’s actually when I first started thinking, “Oh, he knows who I am and blah, blah.” I don’t know if they actually did that film that I sent him the picture for, but they decided to do this one and he had a part for me and wanted me to do it. So, I flew to - I think we shot it in Tennessee. I didn’t have any scenes with Brigitte, but it was fun and I hadn’t done anything film-wise in a long time, so it was kind of an interesting and fun experience.

JC: Donald Farmer gave you a hint there, but at what point did you realize that there were a lot more people who remembered what you had done?

LL: Well, actually, two things happened. I was in my room in my office, and I decided one day to type in my name on the Internet to see if there was anything on me. So, I typed in my name and, like, I don’t know, 30, 40, 50 pages of stuff came up of me and the stuff that I had done. And I was just like - I was really floored by it.

The second thing that happened was Bob Murawski, who was the editor for the Spiderman film and recently won the academy award for editing The Hurt Locker, called me one day out of the blue and said, “Are you Lynn Lowry who was in I Drink Your Blood?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Oh my God, I’m such a fan. I’ve seen it, like, 25 times.” I almost hung up on him, and he said, “Oh wait, wait, I’m the editor of all these films.” So, I listened and he said, “I just met with David Durston and he’s got the original 35 millimeter director’s version of the film and we’re gonna put it out on DVD and we wanna know if you’ll do an interview.” That was really sort of the beginning of it. Then, I did another one for Blue Underground for The Crazies, and then I started to do conventions, and then people started asking me to do movies. That’s sort of how it all happened.

JC: Now, one of the films I notice you even produced. It was called Schism. Can you talk about that?

LL: Well, the truth is, I came up with the original idea for the film with the director and his wife Erika Purtell, and Erika actually wrote the script based on my ideas. I helped her with it, but she mostly wrote it. Derek and I put the money up, so that was kind of my producing part on this, because I was in LA and they were in New York. So, I really didn’t have as active a part in it as I would have liked, had I been there. I really have to give them credit for truly producing the film, even though I have credit on the film. They really did all the work and got the crew and the cast, the locations, and everything together for when I was able to go there for the ten days I was there to act in the movie. It was a great opportunity for me to play the different roles in the film, which was very challenging, and I have a lot of screen time, and I hadn’t really had that much screen time in a long, long time. Doing the work on the film was much harder than some of the other things I had done, because it was, like, 14-hour days, and everybody I worked with was, like, 25 years old. They could have worked for 24 hours straight, and I was always the one going, “No, I gotta go to bed. I’m tired.” So, they were such a great group of people, and they did so much work on it. It’s still not quite finished, and we’re working on the extras at this point.

JC: Okay. One film that you were in I did catch at the Philadelphia Film Fest Terror Festival: Basement Jack. I thought that was a small film that worked pretty well, and I also liked your portrayal of this sort of crazy mother who made Basement Jack what he is.

LL: I won the best supporting actress award at that festival for that film. I love that film. It was a lot of fun for me because I’d never done a part like that before. She’s just, like, totally an evil person and just a mess. So, it was interesting for me to work on it, because I didn’t want the character just to be mean; I wanted to make her seem like she was mentally ill, so I tried to work more towards that angle, rather than portraying her as just a mean, cruel person. The people on the set were afraid of me at first because they thought I was like that, but later, I would hear them saying, “My God she’s so nice. How does she do that?” It was good. Working with Michael Shelton was great because he’s such a big FX person and so good with the special effects and everything. I thought it came out really well and looked really good for what it is.

JC: Now let’s talk about The Crazies remake. Here’s a small film that you did back then that’s now a big budget remake. [To watch the trailer for The Crazies remake click here.]

LL: Right. I was very excited about it. I learned about it a couple of years before they actually did it, and I e-mailed the producer at that time. I don’t remember exactly, but I introduced myself and told him that I was really interested in being involved in it, so they would have my name. They sort of knew who I was, and then, I guess after they saw the original a few times, they began to realize who I was because it’s this big Hollywood movie. The film had, like, a $21 million budget. They did cast me and it was thrilling to be a part of it, and I think it was great that they were paying homage to the original film, but of course, I would have liked to have had a little bit bigger of a role in it. I might be crazy if I didn’t say that. There were a couple of other parts in the film that I felt that I could have done and would have loved to have done, but I sometimes think that they don’t want so much recognizable - they don’t want the people in the audience to be going so much, “Oh, that’s Lynn. She was in the original.” So, by just giving you a cameo, they get you in and out real quick, and they don’t have so much of that. I was told that when my part came up, the audience yelled and whistled. So, I think everybody pretty much knew I was in it and it was me.

JC: Even though it’s very little screen time, I think you are used very effectively in the film. You’re on the bicycle, in your own little world, and singing some song.

LL: Yeah, it’s a nice little vignette. I actually didn’t get that song until the night before, so I was up at, like, midnight trying to learn this song.

JC: Now, after The Crazies, what are you doing? What are you working on next?

LL: Well, I did a film last year called George’s Intervention. I just finished a film called The Super, and I think it’s gonna be very good. I’m getting ready to do Dante Tomaselli’s film Torture Chamber. Right after that, I’m doing a film called Next Door, which we’re shooting in New Hampshire. Immediately following that, I’m doing a film in Long Island called The Wicked Little Princess, which is a musical comedy horror film based on an old Shirley Temple movie.

JC: You’ve got quite a lot of roles coming up! You haven’t been this busy since the '70s. At the same time, they are honoring your past by doing a $21 million remake of one of the small films you did back then. It’s like things have come full circle. Your thoughts on that?

LL: Well I’ll tell you, those movies that I did in the '70s are remarkable. It didn’t occur to me at that point that any of those films that I was doing were ever going to be part of the “cult genre” of films, which they’ve become. I was just sort of using them as a stepping stone to hopefully move on to some more mainstream films and different kinds of parts than those. It’s still a complete surprise to me. I’m really proud that I did all of them, but I’m still amazed at how many people know them and know my work in them and everything.

As for remakes, I think everybody now is trying to remake and kind of recapture what that was, and you really can’t recapture it because it was an adventure then. It was new. It was different. People were doing it not just because it was a job, but because, obviously, the money wasn’t that great, but we were doing it because it was an art and we wanted to do it. We didn’t rely then on special effects and all the things that everybody relies on now. When we did the original Crazies, we didn’t have seven levels of makeup to show that you were crazy by the end. You had to act it. You had to be it. We actually tried to do a remake of I Drink Your Blood -

JC: Really?

LL: David Durston wrote a script and he put a really nice part for me in it, so we’re hoping to do that, and I’m sure that there’s gonna be a remake of Shivers at some point, and I just hope that with each one, the people who do it really wanna pay homage to that film and will give me a part, because I’d love to do them again, but it was great to be a part of it the first time, and it’s great to be remembered for all those roles.

I’m just hoping that the new things I’m doing will become part of my legacy and that people will remember those as well, because I’m actually a much better actress now than I ever was. I’m sure that that shows and comes through. Now, I’m playing a character, whereas back then, I just played myself being crazy. I’m getting to play all different kinds of people, and that’s very exciting and challenging.

Lynn has a website at Readers who want to ask her more questions or request an autograph can contact her through the site.


Anonymous said...

You have a very good way of getting the people you interview reveal their innate personalities and give very honest answers.

jervaise brooke hamster said...
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