Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Conversation with Actress Dey Young about Rock N' Roll High School, Star Trek, The X-Files and the cult film classic Strange Behavior

Michigan native and actress Dey Young speaks with TV STORE ONLINE about her work in films Rock N' Roll High School and Strange Behavior as well as on television series like The X-Files, Star Trek and Melrose Place...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Hey Dey, thanks for your time today...I wanted to know what you were like as a kid and when did the acting bug bite into you?

YOUNG:  I grew up in a really beautiful part of Michigan and as a kid I went to a private arts school and having had that experience has been really inspiring to me now as an artist today.  Then my older sister,who is ten years older than I [Leigh Taylor-Young] is an actress too, and she's been a big influence in my life.  My mother too, was always interested in the theater, so I spent a lot of time seeing shows when I was growing up.  I've always felt the need to be creatively expressive so in high school I got involved in dance, and then also I did a little acting. I think I really caught the acting bug in college and from there I went off to England to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts to study for two years.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  I know that you've done and continue to do a lot of great work on the stage.   Is that something you enjoy more than working in front of a film camera?

YOUNG:  Yes, for sure.   In fact I'm a member of the Actors Studio out here in Los Angeles and I'm currently developing a piece with Martin Landau.  I enjoy working in both film  and in the theater. Unfortunately, there is more money for an actor in film or television then in the theater but I really enjoy both, I don't prefer one over the other.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You just mentioned Martin Landau....You did that strange film with him called NO PLACE TO HIDE (1993)...

YOUNG:  Yeah, that had a stellar cast.  It was a bit strange I guess.  Did that even come out ever?

TV STORE ONLINE:  On's not on DVD though.

YOUNG:   It did have an amazing cast.  Drew Barrymore, Kris Kristofferson, Martin Landau....I had a great time working with everyone on that movie.  I thought that movie had such great potential but I think the producers ran out of money.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   And you got to hang out with O.J. Simpson!

YOUNG:  Oh my god!  I did.  It's funny, O.J. came to my wedding.  He came with Nicole Brown Simpson.  My husband at the time [David Ladd] had been good friends with O.J. while they were in college together.

Dey Young as "Kate Rambeau" in
TV STORE ONLINE:  I don't want to spend too much time on it because you've been asked to death about it, but how did ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979) come to you?

YOUNG:  I had just come back from school in London and I had moved to Los Angeles.  In that time I had gotten myself an agent as well.  I went to this party and ran into this casting director.  We started talking and she had asked if I had went up yet for this movie called ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL  and that if I'd mind if she put me up for it.  So I went in and met with the director Allan Arkush and "Kate Rambeau" was the only part that hadn't been cast yet.  I went in on a Thursday and the movie was supposed to start shooting on that coming Monday.  They hired me in the room, and it was really a cool experience.  I had no idea who The Ramones were before shooting the film so Kate Rambeau was really me playing myself in ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Are you surprised all these years later by the following that ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL has today?

Dey Young Today

YOUNG:   It's shocking to me.  Over the last couple years I've been going out to these movie conventions for ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL.  I've been going out to these with P.J. [Soles] and I just had no idea how much people loved the movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've always loved how Allan Arkush gave you, P.J., and Mary Woronov cameos in that Showtime movie, SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROCK (1994)...He's such a great director and  I love that bit with you and P.J. and Howie Mandel in SHAKE in that courtroom scene and the music is so hot and bothering to your character that she takes off her glasses and wipes her lenses...

YOUNG:  Laughing...That was so much fun.    Allan is so great.  I've worked with him a few times.  I worked on Crossing Jordan (2001-2007) with him as well.  He's very clever, and he's so brilliant about music. He has a massive collection of vinyl record albums.  He's also a film buff too.  I always like to get the opportunity to work with him, and I wish I could work with him more.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Right, and what I think is so great about both ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and SHAKE, RATTLE and ROCK is just how fun those movies are.  They really capture the essence of Rock N' Roll I think and I love that about them.    What about shooting the gym dance sequence in ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL?

YOUNG:  That was a lot of fun.   That was done on the last day of shooting, and Allan had gotten really ill.  He had to go to the hospital.   So Joe Dante came in and directed that.  It was just brilliantly choreographed too.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  I read once where you originally were up for a part in James Cameron's THE TERMINATOR (1984)....Any truth to that?

YOUNG:  I did go up for something on THE TERMINATOR but I can't remember the details now but I did meet with James Cameron at one point for that. 

2005 ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL Cast Reunion
From Left to Right:  Mary Woronov, Rodney Bingenheimer, Allan Arkush, Dey Young and Clint Howard

Johnny Ramone R.I.P. (Back)

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a huge fan of STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) too...

YOUNG:  That was the second movie I ever did.   I remember...I was at a bank in Los Angeles.  I was standing in line and I was trying to write a check and I noticed this guy looking at me.  I was really uncomfortable because I thought the guy was trying to look at my check.   Finally he said to me, "Are you Dey Young for ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL?"   I said, "Yes.."  It turned out that it was Bill Condon.  He then told me how he had just written me a part in a movie and that he wanted me to call the director of the movie.  So within a month's time I was in New Zealand and we were shooting the movie...

Dey Young and Dan Shor in

TV STORE ONLINE:  STRANGE BEHAVIOR also marks the first time where you're smoking in a movie, and you smoke in so many movies....

YOUNG:  I do?   

TV STORE ONLINE:  Yeah, you smoke in STRANGE BEHAVIOR, THE RUNNING MAN (1987) and Tobe Hooper's SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1990) to name a few...

YOUNG:  Oh my god! You're right.  SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, my god that was a weird funny movie.  I go to these conventions and it's amazing what people bring up to your table to sign and to date no one has ever asked me to sign anything from SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then on STRANGE BEHAVIOR...How was it working with Michael Murphy?

YOUNG:  He was great.  He's fantastic in the Robert Altman and Woody Allen movies that he's been in.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   What's your process for bringing a character to life?  For example...What do you think that you brought to that character in STRANGE BEHAVIOR that wasn't in Bill Condon's script?

YOUNG:  I don't think I was really thinking about that then.  I was such a new and naive actress that I don't think that I really put too much thought into that.   I was just really focused on being present in the scene and listening to the other actors.  Also, working with Dan Shor really helped too.  He always had me laughing and we had a great chemistry together.   The director of STRANGE BEHAVIOR, Michael Laughlin, didn't give any of us much direction really.  He used to say, " I cast who I think is perfect for the role, and then I let them do their thing."  Being a young actress I kinda looked to the director for a little guidance but there wasn't any of that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm totally obsessed with the "Lightning Strikes" dance sequence. Were you around the day that they shot that?

YOUNG:  I'm not sure now, but it's an incredible dance sequence.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  It's so great because it breaks the fourth wall...

YOUNG:  I know.  You know Bill Condon didn't direct that sequence.  But he worked very closely with Michael Laughlin on that.   They worked very closely together, and Bill is the first one to get killed in the movie too!

TV STORE ONLINE:  I know, he plays that kid at the beginning of the movie and he's smoking in it and he looks like he's ten years old!

YOUNG: laughing...  I know...I know...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Up until a couple years ago I had never seen STRANGE INVADERS (1983), and I was so surprised when I saw it for the first time and both you and Dan Shor from STRANGE BEHAVIOR are in it with that fun little cameo at the beginning of the film...

YOUNG:  I loved that.  It was so cute.  I just remember now doing that part where I take my gum out and stick it on the dashboard for the kissing scene with Dan...laughing    We did that up in Toronto and it was so much fun.  We were up there for two weeks.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I also really love your work in DOIN' TIME (1985).   That film you did with comic Jeff Altman...

YOUNG:  That was so much fun.  I played a doctor didn't I?

TV STORE ONLINE:  Yeah, you play a therapist that is extremely sexualized  visually but you're also the straight man in it...

YOUNG:  Yeah, I've gotten that a lot.  I'm quirky too, but for some reason I'm always cast as the straight person...laughing  

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about BACK IN THE U.S.S.R. (1992), the film you did with Roman Polanski?

YOUNG:  I've got a great story about that one.  I went over for eight weeks to Russia for that.  It was made by the company Largo which was a part of 20th Century Fox.  We were over there when Gorbachev was still in office and you could feel the tension in the air there.  You could feel that there was going to be a revolution.  It was such an interesting time there, and it was very poor too.   You'd see people lining up for bread, and you could hail a taxi cab by holding up a pack of cigarettes into the air.  Roman and I played the villains in the film, and my character worked for him in the movie.   After we finished shooting I went home, and months later I got a call telling me that we had to re-shoot some stuff.  Of course, Roman couldn't come to the States so they flew me to Paris to shoot.  

There was a scene where Roman and I were in this car and we were supposed to kiss, but it was a scene that had a lot of dialogue in it. We both had no idea how we were gonna learn all of this dialogue in such a short amount of time.  So, Roman took the script pages and tore them up!  He said that he wasn't going to learn all of the dialogue, so he took all of these little snippets of script and he started to paste them up all around the back of the car that we were in.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then what about working on THE RUNNING MAN (1987)?

YOUNG:  That was just something that was short and sweet.  I had just that one scene, but I really enjoyed it.   I was hired by one director but it was directed by someone different.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Yeah, and your character makes those weird rape comments...

Dey Young in
YOUNG:..laughing  I know.  "Bring it on!"  laughing... That was weird dialogue, Oh my God!  Seeing Arnold for the first time was fun.  He's got such a strong presence.  I think they're doing a remake of it now..

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then you had that cool cameo in that made-for-television movie, THE RAT PACK (1998) where you played Dean Martin's wife...Did you do any research for that?

YOUNG:  Yeah, that was great.   I had actually met Jeannie Martin before.  I had dated their son years before.  I did do some research though, but I think meeting her helped me get her essence, but I had no clue until I researched it just how much of a workaholic Dean Martin was.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you memories of working on The X-Files (1993-2002)?

YOUNG:   That was a great experience.  I got to go up to Vancouver and do that.   I just remember that one scene where I had to do all of that crying in the police station.  Working with all of those guys on that show was incredible.   

Young on Melrose Place (1992-99)
TV STORE ONLINE:  What about working on Melrose Place (1992-1999)?

YOUNG:  I loved that character!  She was so sassy and she knew how to put those guys in line.  She really cracked the whip on both of them.   My dialogue was so wonderful and sassy.  I really love playing kick ass sassy women...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Because Melrose Place was so soap opera like...Can going into a genre of sorts like that as an actress...Can that influence how your going to portray a character?

YOUNG:  I never looked at it that way.  I had never watched the show before working on it.   I just really got into the character from reading the script.  My character loved to give those guys shit and she loved to play them off of each other.  It was very much about trying to "one up" each other and in the end the guys got her!   I had so much fun playing that character.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about your work on the various episodes of Star Trek that you did?

YOUNG:   I loved working on all of those shows.  You had to be very disciplined to work on those.  The dialogue was so technical and it was challenging.   I mean, I had no idea what I was even saying but I knew it was important.  Working with Rene Auberjonois on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-99) was great.  He is such a lovely man, and a wonderful actor. I can't be certain but I think we shared one of the only love scenes on that series I think.  Working with someone like him makes you better, and it really elevates what you do as an actor.  Then working with Scott Bakula on Enterprise (2001-05) was incredible too.   You're only as good as the actor that you're working with and both of those guys really made it a very memorable experience for me.

Rene Auberjonois and Dey Young
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about playing Shirley Jones in the made-for-television movie THE DAVID CASSIDY STORY (2000)?

Star Trek Enterprise T-shirt
YOUNG:  That was great.  Jack Bender was the director on that, and Malcolm McDowell was wonderful to work with.  It was interesting because David Cassidy was very involved in it.  He was involved in the casting and he was often on the set during the shoot.  Having him there was kind of like a wonderful added pressure to have.  But it was fun. I got to wear that wig and I got to go back and study all of those Partridge Family (1970-74) shows.  It was a lot of fun.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then you've been sculpting for a long time as well.....Can the work of an actor effect the work of a sculptor and vice versa?

Dey Young at work sculpting in
her Los Angeles studio
YOUNG:   I think creative expression in all forms feeds one another.  As I've gotten older I think I've really claimed sculpting as my profession because there are less roles out there for older women, and the business is imploding to a certain degree. It's a different business now then what it was when I first started out.   There's so much reality television now and there are fewer movies being made.  I have a studio here in Los Angeles and I go there a few times a week and I just keep creating.  If you need to express something in your life and you have this creativity that needs to get out, you need to find a venue or means of expressing it, so I'm very fortunate to have my sculpting work.  I'm in a bunch of different galleries and I'm hoping to grow that.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  What else are you working on?

YOUNG:  Well, as I mentioned, I'm developing a project for the stage at the Actors Studio, and I just shot a CSI (2000-current) where I played a very bad grandmother who murders her grandchildren...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Wow!  How does that make you feel?  Are you comfortable getting older?  I mean you've gone from playing Kate Rambeau to this murderous Grandmother on CSI..

YOUNG: Laughing..I know.   I've had a very nice career.  I feel better as I get older.  I feel more comfortable in my creativity.   I feel like I know how to approach a character and role now. I really feel seasoned as an actor, where as when I was young and playing Kate Rambeau I was just in the moment and listening.  I think I'm aging gracefully and I'm not uptight about it.  Even though there aren't that many roles for us women as we get older, you have to embrace it because it is a very youth oriented industry.  I'm just grateful when I get the opportunity to work. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is there anyone that you'd like to work with in the future?

YOUNG:  Of course.  I'd love to work with Bill Condon again.  We've been friends for so many years .   I worked on a movie with Robert De Niro and Barry Levinson called WHAT JUST HAPPENED (2008), and I'd love to work with Barry again.   I'd like to work with Baz Luhrmann too. I think it would be a trip to work with him.

For more with Dey Young please visit her IMDb profile and her official website HERE:
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