AICN HORROR: No trick! PJ Soles treats Ambush Bug to an interview about the new 35th Anniversary BluRay of HALLOWEEN!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS interview. This time actress PJ Soles gave to the chance to ask her a few questions about her iconic role as Lynda, the Valley Girl babysitter who meets her end at the hands of Michael Myers in a sheet in the very first HALLOWEEN film. HALLOWEEN is celebrating its 35th Anniversary and to commemorate it, there’s a new BluRay released this week. The new BluRay’s got a new commentary track from both John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis as well as a new featurette called THE NIGHT SHE CAME HOME focusing on Jamie Lee Curtis and an On Location featurette looking at all of the locations where the film was made, plus the usual TV footage and trailers. It’s a pretty fantastic presentation of the film as well as the Shape can be made out clearer than he has ever been before. But let’s talk with PJ Soles about her HALLOWEEN experience…
AMBUSH BUG: Well I’m here with PJ Soles from the original HALLOWEEN. This year being the thirty fifth anniversary of the film, there’s going to be a new BluRay coming out because of that. Ms. Soles, how are you doing today?
PJ SOLES (PJS): Very good, thank you.
BUG: Good, good. So it’s been thirty0five years. Does it seem like it’s been that long since you were in HALLOWEEN?
PJS: No, not at all. (Laughs) Only when I’m reminded it’s one of my kid’s birthdays and I go “Okay, time to march on.”
BUG: Going into HALLOWEEN, can we talk a little bit about how you were cast for the role and how all of that came about? What was John Carpenter looking for?
PJS: Well, I guess he was looking for me. It’s very unusual to have a casting appointment and then just meet with a director. Usually you meet with the casting person, they put you on tape or whatever and then you have a second audition, a third audition, but with this I just went up and my agent said “You’re going to meet with John Carpenter” and at that time he wasn’t a name, so it didn’t mean anything, but anyway I walked in and he said “Can you just run through the scene? I’ll read it with you.” So he read the scene with me and of course it had a lot of “totally”. in it and he said, “That’s great! You’re the only one who read the word totally the right way” and I said, “Well how else would you do it?” He said, “Well that’s how come you got the part.” “I have the part?” That was unusual, too. Usually you don’t get told on the spot that you have the part, so it was very exciting and he asked me if I would be interested in doing it and I said “Absolutely, of course.” I had only done CARRIE and a couple of TV things, so I was definitely wanting to get my career going and he said “Could you wait and help cast your boyfriend? The actors are outside. Can you read with them?” I said, “Absolutely.” So I read with them and we both agreed on John Michael Graham and that was my audition. I went home really happy, because I didn’t have to wait for my agent to call. I called him. (Laughs) It was exciting and then I got the script. I loved it and I thought “Wow, this was really fun. I can do this. I can bring something special to the part” and I couldn’t wait to get started.
BUG: As you read that script, did you get a feeling that this was something that was going to be such an iconic horror film and a horror role for you?
PJS: No. It was obviously a very different script than CARRIE, because CARRIE was this pretty intense story and a lot of characters and this was definitely much more simple. Definitely in reading the script you had no idea that “Oh my gosh, this is going to last 35 years now,” so definitely not. I thought it was just going to be fun, it was going to give me a chance to be another character and to get another credit under my belt, but I never thought “This is going to be great.” Back in those days, as a young actress, you were just excited if you got cast and that would open the door for the next potential movie that was coming down the pipe. But none of these people…. Nobody knew of Dean Cundey. Nobody knew really John Carpenter. These weren’t names like “Oh my god, you’re getting to work with them?” “No.” It was just the beginning of everything, so no.
BUG: And so you did bring a valley girl aspect to that role. Is that part of your background? You would think so the way you say “totally”.
PJS: (Laughs) No. I think… I’ve always written poetry. I’ve always been very much into language and English, so I think I just said it the way I imagined it should be said… My father was from Holland… MY mother is from New Jersey. I was born in Germany. I grew up in Morocco and Venezuela and went to high school in Brussels. I knew a lot of Army brats. I knew a lot of embassy kids and kids that came from Illinois whose fathers worked for Caterpillars. So I knew a lot of American kids, but I never really moved to the US until I was eighteen, so I’m the farthest thing from a valley girl that you can imagine. It’s just having been in LA for, at that point, two years. I moved from New York to LA in seventy-five and I just kind of got the vibe and from watching other teenage types around you… That was definitely constructed.
BUG: So what made you want to be an actress in the first place?
PJS: You know, it’s nothing that I ever thought about doing until I moved to New York with my parents. We moved from Brussels to Istanbul and they wanted me to go to college there. I said “no,” so they had me go to college in New York state and happened to meet my roommate... You know, but all of the countries that I mentioned I lived in I was always in a play. It was something I was drawn to as a hobby, you know “swimming, water skiing, and I’ll be in that play!” But it was nothing that I ever thought that I was going to do in the future, since I did live in these foreign countries. In Morocco I spoke French. In Venezuela I spoke Spanish, and I always spoke English… My major in college was Russian with a minor in French literature, so I was always kind of counting on a career as being translator working in the UN or working n politics in some capacity, but definitely never ever thought “I’m going to be an actress.”
But as I said, my roommate in college in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year my parents were still in Istanbul and so I spent the summer with her and walked by the actor’s studio in New York City… There was a sign near the World Trade for classes for running the spotlight on their weekend production. I got the job. I ran the spotlight on Joanna Miles and Scott Glenn and the Seagull and from there I met a guy that said “Hey, would you ever think of acting?” I said, “I like it, but why?” He goes “Well my sister is an actress and let me introduce you to her agent and he introduced me to her agent. The next week he took me out on a commercial. I got it that summer. Between my freshman and sophomore year I shot four commercials and I made a lot of money and I went “Hmm… This is fun.” So it started from there.
BUG: Great. Did you have much contact with Donald Pleasence? I know you didn’t have many scenes together.
PJS: Sitting at the table at lunch, yeah. I had no scenes with him and he was very quiet anyway, even when we all did sit together at lunch. Obviously we’re three giggling girls and he’s there trying to concentrate and he kept pretty much in character and you know, none of us really knew anything about him. We didn’t even really know him from the movies, but obviously he played a big part in the success of HALLOWEEN. (Laughs)
BUG: As far as Jamie Lee, where you guys hanging out during the filming of this?
PJS: Yes. Jamie, Nancy, and I were always together and always having fun. You have to remember it was a twenty one day shoot, so we are talking a very short amount of time, but there were plenty of weekends in there and Jamie afterwards would come over to my house and we were very good friends for a long while and then you kind of lose touch, you know, when you go your separate ways. I actually knew her husband, Christopher Guest before she did, because he was in my second husband’s, Dennis Quaid’s movie THE LONG RIDER, so we had become good friends, because of that film. I adored him and then I heard that he had met Jamie and they were getting married. I was like “Oh my gosh, that’s so funny!” But yeah, if I saw any of them today there would be big hugs and the camaraderie you build together on a movie set is much like the kids you meet in college make for really good friendships.
BUG: So I’m kind of curious as to when a character is killed in the movie, how does that feel once you have your scene and you know that they are still filming the rest of the movie?
PJS: Like I said, it was 21 days, so I don’t even really remember what time in the shooting was my final scene, but then I did have to come back to be stuffed in the closet for that shot. I think we were there the whole time. I remember just going to set every day and just waiting around, because you never knew how fast they were going to go or when they would need you or if John might come up with a shot like you walking down the sidewalk or whatever. So I think we were just called to set every day, so I think we were there till the end. I don’t remember specifically, but yeah of course it’s sad when they do the final scene and they go “That’s a wrap on PJ” and everyone claps and then it’s “goodbye,” but you’re allowed to hang around, even if you don’t have another shoot for another week, you could always come visit the set.
BUG: So at that point, after shooting CARRIE and then HALLOWEEN, were you looking for roles that you didn’t die in?
PJS: Well yeah, but in between that I had done other things. I mean after CARRIE I did OUR WINNING SEASON that Joe Ruban directed that Joe Roth produced and Joe Ruban went on to do Julia Roberts in SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY and that was a really sweet coming of age movie and that’s actually where I met Dennis Quaid. He was on that. You know, I did a bunch of movies in between, so it wasn’t like I was thinking “Gosh, I’m only doing horror movies.” I didn’t even think of that ever. I know people think that of me, but I don’t think like that. I was on AIRWOLF and SIMON AND SIMON… There were so many television shows and other things in between those two movies. It wasn’t something where I felt I was being typecast in. Plus at that time when HALLOWEEN first came out, it wasn’t this huge hit. It took a long time to get going and wasn’t like an instant “Oh my gosh, this is amazing!” It just took some time, but obviously after that I was offered ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and so you know… the problem there with getting typecast. Although it was another teenager. Then again, someone far removed by my experiences as a straight A student in Brussels. (Laughs)
BUG: Very cool. So with the 35th anniversary coming up, were you apart of any of the special features that are going on with the film?
PJS: I think they asked me to be part of the commentary with Jamie Lee and John Carpenter, but the day they were doing it I was out of town, so unfortunately I couldn’t participate in that, but you know that would have been fun. I think the night she came home, Jamie’s experience at a horror convention last November, Horror Hound that she did her first and last signing for all of the eager fans that had been waiting for years and years to get her signature on a HALLOWEEN poster. So they finally got their dreams come true, but I think there’s something about it twenty five years later and I did that one where we were walking around the locations.
And then of course, I’m in the movie.
BUG: Yes, you’re in the movie too. There's that too. [Laughs]
PJS: (Laughs) Yeah, I’m in the movie.
BUG: At these horror conventions that you go to, what’s it like to see this movie impact so many people?
PJS: You know what? It’s still amazing to me, because what has followed with all the TEXAS CHAINSAW and the Rob Zombie movies and all these really… WALKING DEAD… all these zombie movies… There are so many frightening movies out there and for some reason our little movie, without any blood and gore, has stood the tests of time and everybody comes to my table to tell me that it’s still their favorite movie, they play it every Halloween, they show their kids, they love this movie… It’s just amazing to me, so it just really was a perfect little movie that appeals to everybody. I mean I get teenage girls, guys in their late twenties… They are all coming up shaking to meet me and telling me how much they love this film across the board.
BUG: Would you ever do another HALLOWEEN movie? Possibly come back as another character?
PJS: Well that would depend on the script. I mean our situation was so different, because it was the beginning of John Carpenter and Dean Cundey evolved their careers, so there was magic in the air with that project, but obviously it would have to depend on the circumstance and the script and the situation, but I would certainly consider it. I obviously couldn’t’ play Linda. (Laughs)
BUG: So what’s going on with you right now?
PJS: Well this weekend I’m going to be at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh. That’s a convention that they hold there. It’s going to have cool people there, like Heather Langenkamp, you know the scream queen. And I’ve been working on my book, THE TOTALLY GIRL and you know, everybody is always writing their books. I’m trying to work on that. I just recently did a little pilot called UP FROM DOWN where I’m the host and it’s got Corey Gonzalez and helping people come back from the depths of whatever their situation is. That’s a very interesting show that I hope gets picked up. So I’m doing lots of stuff as well as writing lyrics for a band called Cheap Rodeo, it’s a country band and I’ve written six songs.
BUG: Fantastic. Well I am one of those people who watches HALLOWEEN every October, so I will be watching it again and I can’t wait to see the 35th anniversary version of it, so thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with me today. Have a great day.
PJS: You are so totally welcome. Totally.
BUG: “Totally.” Thank you. See you later. The 35th Anniversary Edition of HALLOWEEN BluRay is available this week!
I leave you with this rare deleted scene from HALLOWEEN that was unearthed by Adam Green of HATCHET fame last year.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
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