Hello bloody readers!. Tonight I bring to you an exclusive interview with Jill Schoelen. Yes, Jill Schoelen, the “Scream Queen” and who in part inspired the creation of this blog almost 4 years ago.
First of all, I want to mention that Jill is very kind, sweet, and nice. Ok, that’s obvious but I wanted to point out the fact that she liked the blog and she was enthusiatic to know that she has a wide fan data base from different parts of Latin America.
I sent her some questions via e-mail and I want to thank her very much for having the patience for answering them and also for sharing with us a little about her personal life and her music project. We are interested in Jill Schoelen as a Horror movies muse, as an actress, and as a person.
It has been widely discussed that the “Scream Queen” title is only given to special actresses that could carry an entire film on their shoulders, and make an impression in the always demanding Horror fanatics. Jill is one of the most respected Scream Queens.
Although she didn’t star in a genre-defining movie such as “The Exorcist”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Halloween”, to name a few; she managed to make herself a name in the Horror genre thanks to her unique beauty, acting skills and charisma.
Jill was my first “major crush” and also my first Platonic love in Horror Cinema. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Plus I’ve been a fan of her work for a very long time, specially in the Horror genre. So far I think she’s an excellent actress. Even the first official post of this blog was dedicated to her.
So that gives you an idea of how happy I am to publish this post.
Jill, thank you very much for taking part of your time to answer my dull questions.
Welcome to nightmares boulevard!
Nightmares Boulevard: People at conventions, internet forums, web-sites, blogs, etc. Assure to have followed your career since the beginning. How do you feel about your “Scream Queen” status to this day?. And how did it feel back in the 80’s and early 90’s?
Jill Schoelen: I don’t really know about how I feel about the status of a “Scream Queen.” I know, probably more in the ‘90’s, this title started to be attached to me on a regular basis from my previous films, and that was fine. The ‘80’s were kind of a wash for horror movies. I believe in the peaks and valleys in all pf life, and I think horror film, thrillers, were in their “valley” in the 80’s. I can’t help but wonder if some of the films I made, in particular, “The Stepfather” and “When a Stranger Calls Back,” had been released 15 years later, their mass public appeal would have been far, far greater than when those movies actually were released. But that’s life!!!
It’s funny though, I didn’t really scream too much in the films I made. Anyone is welcomed to correct me, but the only one I remember actually “screaming” in, and it was one scream, was when Robert Englund as the “Phantom” revealed his face to my character, Christine, in Phantom of the Opera.”
NB: How did you get involved in acting?
JS: I started singing very, very young. Maybe by 7 years old I was jumping on every coffee table I could in order to perform for family and friends. As a young teenager, a teacher at my brother’s school, left teaching to become an agent. He had heard me sing and asked for me to be a client at the agency he was now a talent agent at. He was not there long, but I was, and started getting jobs in singing/dancing commercials and then graduated on to theatrical jobs, which at first, also were acting jobs where the actor needed to sing and dance. The first was a pilot I did, with fellow first timers and co-stars – Nicholas (Cage) Coppola and Crispin Glover. From there, although throughout my career, music always floated in and out of it, my work progressed to more and more straight acting jobs.
NB: What are your favorite Horror movies?
JS: I’m not quite so sure I like straight “horror” movies, but more thrillers. For modern films, I love “Signs, “ “The Sixth Sense,” “Dragonfly.” It was a thrill for me to be asked to film “When a Stranger Calls Back” because “When a Stranger Calls,” has ALWAYS been a favorite. It’s the opening 20 minutes that are absolutely unforgettable for me.
NB: You also starred in mainstream movies and t.v. Is filming a Horror movie more intense emotionally and physicaly draining?
JS: Filming a horror movie can be more physically draining for sure, with all the running around. I have been hurt on a couple of films – “Cutting Class” and “The Bite,” but these movies do not call for the emotional and psychological depth of films that are less horror but more suspenseful like “The Stepfather” and “When a Stranger Calls Back.” The characters in both those films required a depth to jump into and discover emotionally and psychologically, and that is draining but in a very gratifying and fulfilling way.
NB: What is your “Top 3 Jill Schoelen Horror movies?” ;)
“When A Stranger Calls Back”
“Phantom of the Opera” (especially if it was re-cut and the gratuitous blood and killings dramatically being tapered down)
NB: Why did you pick those movies?
JS: I didn’t really pick them. I am an actress wanting to work, and when I got the call to audition, especially for the first two named above, after reading the scripts, went in ad read to get them, hoping I’d be hired and I was.
NB: And your favourite role?
JS: That’s a tougher question to answer, as sometimes the characters are much better than the movies, so I’ll make it simple. I loved the character “Stephanie in “The Stepfather.” She was so intelligent and strong, while still a young feeling girl. She is a favorite.
Other favorites are from different genres of film, television and theater.
NB: Your movies are vastly underrated although some of them have a cult of followers. For example, “When A Stranger Calls Back” is in my opinion a great and scary movie, simply one of the best from 90’s Horror (The lost decade) . What do you think is the reason for some of those movies’s underrated status?
JS: Wow, I pretty much answered this in the first question not realizing this question was coming up. Most of the 80’s and 90’s, when my films were being released were just a very weak time of the suspense thriller and horror genres. That’s again; I think just the nature of life. Look at musicals – they are the greatest example of this in the film business.
NB: Who is the best actor you ever worked with?
JS: The best actor I’ve ever worked with –ooh – that’s another tough one, but let’s see. I think Dermott Mulroney is terrific. Terry O’Quinn is an exceptional actor, and although I love working with Sean Penn as an actor, I REALLY liked him as a director. He has a gift for working with actors as a director, perhaps because he is one, and I have a wonderful soft spot for Robert Englund. He is identifiable as “Freddy Kruger,” that I imagine, getting past that is difficult for fans and maybe employers, but I think he is so gifted and his talents are missed not being seen in genres outside of horror.
NB: What is the most surprising or unexpected thing about how people react when they see you?
JS: I have no idea how to answer that question. Not really sure what you mean, but in the last months, getting out again, and meeting some of the fans, I am most surprised to learn of the cult following and love for the movie “Popcorn.” I am most happy to learn about that though because I always felt that movie, like others I made, should have received more recognition, as it is unique, but the fantastic horror genre fans have breathed life into it and have kept it alive and more people see it today than ever did when it came out. That’s what it seems.
NB: How do you feel about the Horror genre in these days? I mean, back in the 80’s and early 90’s it was completely different. What do you think has changed ever since those decades?.
JS: I don’t like the gratuitous nature then or now in the horror genre. Most of the time it’s just not necessary and often takes away from a deeper meaning that’s waiting to be felt and understood. I think it’s gotten worse with all the technology that is readily available to filmmakers. I think what was so good about movies like “The Stepfather” and “When a Stranger Calls Back” – what makes them “scary” is the intelligence that the films are made with. Those directors set a table of intelligence; therefore everything that came out on the table mattered.
NB: Would you like to share with the readers of nightmares boulevard about a funny or scary story during the shooting of a movie?
JS: That’s difficult to pt into writing because of the time it takes to tell those stories – that’s more like book material. Let’s safe that for another time.
NB: You were the entire reason for people to watch the Horror movies you starred in. Any tips/advices for potential Scream Queens?. It’s been said and well known that you’ve always been very down to earth. (Answering these questions for these blog is a prime example!).
JS: My advice is, if you’re an actor and love to act, then go out there and put your heart and soul into it. I have learned the importance of choosing parts to take that you will always be proud of, and this a very subjective experience. What makes one person feel proud may be that they got a part and made money at acting and provided for themselves and/or loved ones. For another, proud may be completely surrounded in how they feel about acting in the movie they did and the part they played. So follow your heart while being mindful of your hopes, dreams and wisdom you’ve acquired.
NB: Do you regret about anything?
JS: I don’t think regret is the right word, but sure, I am happy I have made the decisions I’ve made, including crappy to very rotten decisions because I have learned and grown from all, but given the same choices today with all that learning and growing, I most likely would make some different choices than those in the past.
NB: It’s also well known that you left the movie industry in order to focus on your family. Still, would you return to make a Horror movie?.
JS: I am currently in route for working again. Just started – so we’ll see where this new path takes me. Yes, given the script and part, it would be lovely to make a horror/thriller again!
NB: Tell us about your Jazz project.
JS: I am giving you the liner notes from the CD. They pretty much say it all. And I love music – I love singing, so it’s great doing that again. Here are the liner notes:
Liner notes –
One late afternoon some years back, while at home with my two young boys, I received a phone call, like I had many of afternoons, well, frankly, for decades, from my girlfriend, Kelly. This phone call would not be like the thousands of conversations we have had that preceded it. No, this one would be different, unforgettable, and life altering, nothing to ever be the same again. “I have cancer, Jill.” Two and half years later, Kelly was gone.
As long as I can remember, I sang. As a child I jumped onto any coffee table I was allowed on so I could have a stage to belt out a tune. I realize now the Angels were up to their synchronistic work when at twelve years old, our family moved across the street from the great jazz legends, Julie London and Bobby Troup, and their three children, Reese and Jody, the twins, and Kelly. Kelly was like the sister I never had. Bobby had more energy than anyone of any age, and was so quick and clever. He had the best sense of humor. Julie was enormously gifted, quiet, highly intelligent, and a mysterious woman. For years, perhaps daily, I sang over at Kelly’s house. Julie gave me the best singing lesson any teacher could give a student, “There’s only one place to sing from Jill,” and she held her heart. Bobby’s enthusiasm to play music with me and ask me to sing for their constant company was pure joy. That’s how Bobby and I came to perform “If” together.
The truth is, to me at the time, they were just Kelly’s parents. Little did I understand the magnitude of those experiences. The Troup’s were just like family, asking me to do what I did at my home with my own family - sing for company. When I knew I wanted to record a CD inspired by Kelly and our friendship, I started researching who might produce it, and which songs from Bobby’s catalog to perform. Like many synchronistic happenings throughout this process, one name kept popping up, Dave Carpenter. “He’s a huge Bobby Troup fan, and a west coast jazz historian…” “I don’t know if he produces, but what about Dave Carpenter?” Soon, Dave was on board as the producer.
Dave and I had endless and tireless hours of fun, learning and performing Bobby songs and Julie recordings (and a ton of other music). We did all our preproduction, all the arrangements, and all our demos in my home with just voice and six-string electric bass. The songs on this CD are primarily written by Bobby, however, there are songs as well from other composers. Each of these has a connection born from my relationship with Kelly.
The title track is a song Bobby wrote for Kelly. This is the first time “Kelly’s Smile” has ever been recorded. I hope Bobby and Kelly and Julie would be proud of how we have done it.
Kelly was and is an Angel. To know her, you cannot help but love her. She was the most likable person. Everyone wanted to be Kelly’s best friend. She was a wonderful friend, caring sister, a dream daughter, a loving wife, and a devoted mother. Her daughters were everything to Kelly. She loved them so much. She wrote beautiful poetry, could make anyone smile, loved her family and friends, was an intimate person who got to the heart of someone because she so willingly shared hers, and like her dad, Kelly had the best sense of humor.
In Spirit, as in person, Kelly’s light shines! She is the reason for this CD!
NB: Do you know anything about Mexican Horror cinema?
JS: Nothing, but I am very curious and interested to know. We are neighbors and I love that!!!!!!!!!
Jill, I would like to thank you again for taking part of your time to share your experiences with my readers. You are nightmares boulevard’s Official Muse.
These are the posts related to Jill Schoelen in this blog:
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2009/09/vampiresa-del-blog-jill-schoelen.html (Jill Schoelen: Muse of the month September 2009)
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2010/01/alguien-ha-estado-en-mi-departamento-y.html (When A Stranger Calls Back review)
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2009/09/phantom-of-opera-el-fantasma-de-la.html (Phantom of the Opera review)
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2009/09/christine-daly-jill-schoelen-cantando_06.html (Jill Schoelen singing as Christine Daly)
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2007/05/pesar-de-ser-una-herona-poco.html (The first official post of the blog)
http://nightmaresboulevard.blogspot.com/2008/10/cutting-class-clase-sangrienta-1989-de.html (Cutting Class review).