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 VHS....it'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
ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979)
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
STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981)



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
THE RUNNING MAN (1987)
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
Available At TV STORE ONLINE
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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Monday, June 24, 2013

Dr. Who's Cathy Munroe Talks with TV STORE ONLINE about The Horns Of Nimon


Actress Cathy Munroe from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, THE SHINING, and THE KRAYS talks with TV STORE ONLINE about working with The Fourth Doctor Tom Baker on Dr. Who

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did your involvement in Dr. Who come about?

CATHY: Well, I worked on three Dr. Who shows.  I worked on two with Tom Baker, and then on one with Sylvester McCoy.  The two I did with Tom Baker were "The Horns of Nimon" (1979) and then "Full Circle" (1979) and then I worked on "Ghost Light" (1989) with Sylvester McCoy     I actually couldn't use my real name when I worked on Dr. Who because there was already someone in Actors' Equity with a similar name, so I began using the name Katy Jarrett, and that's how it appears in the episodes of Dr. Who that I worked on.

When I was cast on Dr. Who I had already done a couple of films.  I played one of the bounty hunters in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) and I also had a part in Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING (1980).  So by the time that Dr. Who came up, I already had an agent and I got asked to go into the BBC and audition for it and I got the part.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What was your experience on the Dr. Who "The Horns Of Nimon" set?

CATHY:   It was fun, but it was very cheaply made at the time.  You can see it when you watch it now and look at the sets. In fact, the director [Anthony Read] would scream at us "Don't Touch The Walls!"  Because when you'd running down these corridors on the set the walls would wobble.   It was quite humorous because when we did those scenes in those corridors they didn't have enough money to build the full sets, so we'd have to run down these corridors then they would stop shooting, move to camera to the other end of the corridor and they we'd run by the camera again so it looked like we were going down a different corridor...laughing    It looked like we were running down endless corridors but it was really just one single corridor that they just kept shooting over and over again with us.

Tom Baker (L) and Cathy Munroe (Right/Center) and Cast in
"The Horns Of Nimon"  Dr. Who (1979)


When it first aired I can remember just how tacky and cheap I thought it was...I had just done THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK where no expensive was spared on anything.   

The sets on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK were just fantastic, so I couldn't quite believe how cheap the sets were on Dr. Who.   

I was told once that "The Horns Of Nimon" was voted one of the worst episodes of Dr. Who of all time.  I'm not sure how much truth there is in that but I guess it figures.   Then I was told that this was a good thing because it makes the episode more memorable to the fans...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about working on the episode "Ghost Light" of Dr. Who?

CATHY:   I just remember that was all set in Victorian England.  Sylvester McCoy played The Doctor in the show.  I just had a small part in "Ghost Light" where I was all throughout "The Horns Of Nimon".  I played a maid in the episode, and I just remember that all of the characters had to be ushered out of this house before nightfall, and I remember having to go down these stairs.   

Cathy Munroe (L)  Dr. Who (1979)
Photo Courtesy CathyMunroe.com
TV STORE ONLINE:  How was your time working with Tom Baker?

CATHY:  He was very quirky.   He wasn't overly friendly, but I liked him a lot.  He was also a very kind and generous actor.  He was nice and he would approach you to talk about the scene. I liked him a lot, and I have always had quite a bit of respect for him.   He was always in conversation with the director and he always seemed to be very deep in thought.   It was a great experience to work with him and I was quite thrilled to be working with him because I had a been a fan before I got to meet and work with him.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Why do you think that the show has developed such a following over the years?

CATHY:  I honestly couldn't tell you.  Probably because it's been a part of so many generations.   I can remember watching it as a child myself growing up.  I really liked John Pertwee as The Doctor but I think the new series is wonderful.



TV STORE ONLINE:  So you're watching Dr. Who as a fan these days?

CATHY:   Yes I am! I enjoy it. I try to watch them whenever I have some time.  I quite enjoy the new series.   It really makes me laugh when I watch the new series and I see how wonderful it is and then I think back at how low budget the shows I took part in were. My whole Dr. Who experience was wonderful.  Everyone got along well, I was really young, and it was a job and I got paid, so it was overall a fun experience.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you have a favorite Doctor?

CATHY:  I do.  Tom Baker would be my favorite.  He was just brilliant.

For more with Cathy Munroe please visit her official website HERE:
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Remembering The Final Scene in Star Wars: Actor Derek Lyons Puts TV STORE ONLINE there...

Actor Derek Lyons talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his first  job as an actor when he was cast in STAR WARS...


TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you come to work on STAR WARS (1977)?

LYONS:  I was studying drama at university and I had gotten a call from my agent and I was asked to go out to Shepperton Studios.  I went out there and they took some Polaroids of me and then STAR WARS Assistant Director Terry Madden chose me for the part and I ended up taking two weeks off from my schooling to do it.  I ended up being one of the two medal bearers in the final scene in the movie.   The other actor that they chose to be in the scene with me was this guy named Robert, and I sadly can't remember his last name now.  Robert was a ballet dancer but he wasn't particularly coordinated.   When we started to rehearse that final scene in the movie Robert started tripping about. It was quite comical actually.  It was like something out of Jerry Lewis movie.  So they had to replace him.

This was my first experience on a film set so I was very lucky to be there.   The Massassi Temple Set was on H Stage at Shepperton Studios.  It was a massive set.  There were about two hundred supporting artists or background extras as you may call them dressed in all of those costumes as Rebel Guards and  X-Wing Pilots and such.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Being in that scene...It must have been an incredible vision to be up on that stage and look out at all of those people dressed in those costumes that we see in the final scene...Or was that an insert shot ?

Star Wars  T-shirt
Available at TV STORE ONLINE
LYONS:  Actually...It was empty.  All I saw was a half empty soundstage.   There wasn't anyone standing there.   They were all off having their tea.   It really just depended on the angle that they were shooting.  For example, when they were shooting the scene from Harrison Ford's angle you can see everyone in the background, so in that situation everyone was in place for the scene.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Were there a lot of rehearsals for that scene?

Actor Derek Lyons [Far Right]
LYONS:  Yeah...Everything was specific.   We had to hit our marks perfectly of course.   Originally I was supposed to be in the middle of the scene and we had rehearsed it that way, but then I went off to lunch and when I came back they had asked me to change where I was with the other medal bearer.   The medal that I carry in the scene was the one that was given to Mark Hamill, who of course was Luke Skywalker.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you get to spend any time with Mark Hamill?

LYONS:  Yes I did.  I got on with him very well because we found out that we shared the same birthday.   Because of all of the supporting artists in the scene the studio's canteen couldn't support everyone at once, so they put up some massive tents outside the soundstage.  Behind the STAR WARS set there were the sets for one of THE PINK PANTHER movies and also the set from the movie, OLIVER! (1968) One day were were having lunch and I told him that I was going to bring in my camera and take some photographs.  So Mark and I and Peter Mayhew went and walked around those sets and I took some wonderful photographs...

Mark Hamill and Derek Lyons on the set of STAR WARS (1977)


TV STORE ONLINE:  You got to spend time with Peter Mayhew as well then?

LYON:  Sure.  I had lunch with Peter Mayhew most days at the Shepperton pub. We had pub lunches outside as it was a very hot summer. He told me about his past and what he did and how he got the part of Chewbacca.  He had told me about the size of shoes and how he used to be a porter in a hospital...

Unknown Actor, Mark Hamill, Derek Lyons and Peter Mayhew
on the backlot at Shepperton Studios in England

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you get to spend anytime with Carrie Fisher?

Final Scene in STAR WARS (1977)
Massassi Temple Set Shepperton Studios England



LYONS:  She was very nice.  Harrison was very nice but he seemed sort of miserable.  I was only eighteen years old when I worked on the film...And in that final scene...Carrie was very sexy.   Her costume was sort of see through when you got close up to it and she wasn't wearing much under it.    During the close-up in the scene, Carrie seemed to be in some discomfort with her foot.  I was very shy in those days, but I offered to help her.  She told me that her foot was hurting, so I got down on one knee and looked at her foot and I noticed that she had a splinter in it.  So I removed it for her.  She asked me what my name was and I told here.  Then she kissed me on the cheek and said "Thank you Derek, that's very kind of you." I then went as red as the Emperor's Royal Guard!

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's your favorite memory now of having had the opportunity to work on the first STAR WARS movie?

LYONS:   Just that I was lucky enough to have been a part of it!   My favorite memory would be just when I would arrive at Shepperton Studios and then walk onto the Massassi Temple set in my costume and makeup.   It seemed so realistic and I became totally immersed in the STAR WARS universe.

For more with Derek Lyons visit his official website HERE:
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts!: TV STORE ONLINE talks with actor Ernie Hudson about Ghostbusters, Weeds and his thirty year career


Actor Ernie Hudson from such films as GHOSTBUSTERS, THE CROW, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, CONGO, and WEEDS talks about his incredible career as well as his early days growing up in Michigan.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Hi Ernie...Thanks for your time today.    I know that you were born and raised in Michigan.  Could you tell me about growing up in Michigan and the types of things you experienced that made you want to become an actor?

HUDSON:  I'm from Benton Harbor, Michigan originally.   I'm sure that most people know that Benton Harbor was and still is one of the most economically depressed areas in Michigan.  When I was growing up there in the 1950's the city was doing well and thriving for some people.  I grew up in the projects, and we didn't have any money. Benton Harbor also  was very much a segregated city.  There wasn't really anyone around to sort of inspire you then.   Hollywood was like Mt. Olympus and even thinking about being in the movies was a million miles away for me.   When I was a kid I always loved playing good guys and bad guys with my cousins and my friends.  We loved westerns, and we'd act those out.  Then we had Easter plays and Christmas plays in church.  I was one of those boys that went to church consistently so I was always cast in those too.  I was raised by my Grandmother and she was very involved in the church.  We would go to church six or seven times a week.

I also had four uncles who were all very different from each other.  They all had their own unique weaknesses and strengths and I really loved to hear their stories.  I really liked the idea of telling stories too.   And I think that's were my interest in story telling and acting comes from.

Hudson in GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
Growing up in Benton Harbor you just assumed that you'd grow up and get a job in one of the factories.  When I was in my Senior year in high school I got a job in a foundry.  I'd go to school until noon then go home and my brother and I would go to work at this foundry from like 2 p.m. until midnight.  My job was to shovel dirt.  I literally would work for hours in this basement and I would just shovel dirt all day long.  It was the worst.   I can remember one day when I was at the foundry....They came around and gave out these packets.  In the packet there was some information about retirement.   It basically said that if you worked for them for forty years you'd get four weeks vacation.    Then also, when it came time for me to graduate from high school the foundry wouldn't even give me the time off to attend.  I knew then that the foundry wasn't a place for me.

TV STORE ONLINE:   You left and went into the military didn't you?

HUDSON:  Yeah...A couple of friends and myself went over and signed up for the Marine Corps.   One of my friends couldn't pass the aptitude test and he didn't get in, but my buddy and I did.  I thought that joining the Marines was the way out for me.   It seemed like the perfect step for me because they paid for your education. and you got to travel the world.  But the problem I had was that I had Asthma.  I  developed Asthma when I was a kid, but it was never something that came up in any of the screening questions.  About two weeks in, I started to get these attacks and because of that I was discharged.  Oddly enough, once I left the Marines my Asthma went away and when I got back to Michigan I found myself not knowing what I was going to do next.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Once you got back from the military you decided to move to Detroit, Michigan?

HUDSON:  Right.  I had managed to get into college.  I went first to Highland Park for a semester.  I wanted to go to Wayne State University.  The deal with the counselor was that if I got good grades in Highland Park I'd be admitted into Wayne State.  The idea that I could be in college was so amazing to me.  I graduated high school with a 1.87 grade point average.  It wasn't because I couldn't do the work in high school it was because I was working in that foundry at the time.  My Grandmother who raised me was born in 1895, and she used to tell me that if I finished high school I could have a great life.  While that may have been true in 1895, it wasn't true in 1964. I wanted to go to college, and by the time I moved to Detroit I was already married and my wife was pregnant.  We got this little place off of Gratiot and Sylvester that was forty dollars a month.  I took some jobs. I tried to sell insurance, I worked in a couple factories and everything I tried, I failed at.   When I got into college I was allowed to take one elective and I chose an acting class.   Once I got up on a stage I felt like I was at home.

I had gotten a pretty good job while I was in college.  I went to work in sales for one of the telephone companies.  It was a really good job but I was awful at it.  They gave me this little green car to travel in, and I got sent up to Saginaw, Michigan for a while.   I'd go to businesses and install these telephone systems but I'd screw up the order and then the customer would get upset and call into the office complaining that they didn't have their phones.    One day I was driving into work and I missed my turn.  It was  a nice day out and I remember thinking to myself that I had grown up in Michigan but that I had never seen the capital building so I just kept driving.  By this time my brother had moved to California too. As you can guess, I lost the job, so I gathered my wife and kids up and we drove out to California.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What happened when you went out to California?

HUDSON:  When I got to California I just kept trying different things.  I took a job doing sales but nothing seemed to work out.  I just couldn't connect with anything.   My then wife at the time told me that I should pursue acting.  I told her that actors were always broke.  She just said, "Well you're broke now. What do you have to lose?"      So we went back to Detroit in 1968 or 1969, and I started to get involved in various theatres around Detroit.  Once I committed myself to the theatre I found myself making a living at it, and that's what I've done for the last forty years.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back to your short stint in the military...When you enlisted were you concerned about the possibilities of maybe having to go off to Vietnam?

HUDSON:   It was 1964 and that whole thing was just heating up.   There was no mention of it until I first got off the bus in San Diego for training.   But you could see that things were moving quickly in that direction.   They were cutting training times for guys down from twelve weeks to nine weeks, and after I was discharged my entire platoon was sent off to Vietnam.  I can still remember the day I got back to Michigan.  The bus had dropped me off, and I hadn't told anyone that I was coming back, not even my Grandmother.   There was a big field behind the projects where we lived and once the bus had dropped me off I had to walk through the field. When I got closer I saw my Grandmother outside and she was hanging up some clothes.  I walked up to her and told her that I was home, and she told me that she'd had a feeling that I would be back and that I should go inside and get myself some food.  I asked her how she knew that I'd be back and she said that she had prayed to God.

TV STORE ONLINE:  It's a good thing you never went off otherwise we may not have ever got to experience your incredible performance in WEEDS (1987)...

HUDSON:  Thanks for that.   I don't hear a lot of people talk about WEEDS.   The movie never really got a decent release.  WEEDS came to me after a lot of frustration.  I had done the first GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) film and where I thought that GHOSTBUSTERS was going to give me that big career bump it did the opposite for me.  I couldn't get hired on a movie after GHOSTBUSTERS. I couldn't even get arrested.  I did a bunch of television after that.   It was the way I found to make a living.  When WEEDS came along, I had just signed on to do a television series with Stephen J. Cannell. When I went in to meet with the director of WEEDS John Hancock and Nick Nolte, I knew it was something I had to do.   So I had to go to NBC and Stephen J. Cannell and ask to be let out of the series I had just signed on too and Cannell being the nice guy that he was let me out of it.  He was a wonderful guy and a good friend.  WEEDS never got seen really because Dino de Laurentiis and his production company who put the film together were on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and packing it all up in North Carolina and moving off to Australia.

TV STORE ONLINE:   For me WEEDS is all about your performance and that of William Forsythe.  Because of your background in the theatre....Was WEEDS a bit of art imitating life for you?

HUDSON:  Yeah it was great to be part of the company.   Actors in movies don't usually get the opportunity to be part of a company like they do in the theatre.  In movies, you meet another actor and you do a scene with them and then they are gone and you may never seen them again, whereas in the theatre you spend six weeks with the other actors rehearsing.  I've always found love in theatre.  With WEEDS we had a lot of rehearsal time, and  we shot it at various locations in North Carolina and then also at the Maximum security prison in Joliet, Illinois.     I'm still very close with many of the guys that I worked on WEEDS with.   I just saw Bill Forsythe recently, and we've worked together quite a few times since WEEDS.  I run into Nick Nolte occasionally, and one of my very best friends today is Joe Mantegna, who of course was in the film as well.



TV STORE ONLINE:  Then where did that "Baghdad" character come from inside of you?

HUDSON:  Whats interesting about that....I can remember Roger Ebert's review of WEEDS in the Chicago Sun-Times.   I remember he wrote about an "inmate" in the film that comes out and delivers this wonderful song....I was like, "I'm not an inmate...I'm an actor, at least you can mention my friggin' name!"   I wasn't that character, I was the actor who played him.  He was based on a actual person.  I never met the real guy but the director John Hancock did.  We had some similarities between us though.  At the age I went off to college, he had went to prison.  So I started to think about that.  I asked myself, "What if I had spent the previous fifteen years developing in prison instead of going off to college?  How would I be today? What would my mindset be today?"    I think that's the way characters are.  I think that any character an actor plays is really just a variation on themselves.   I think it's the actor in a different situation, different environment or different set of circumstances.  I can remember when I did the character in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992)....

Hudson and Rebecca De Mornay
THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992)


TV STORE ONLINE:  Your work in that film is so amazing....

HUDSON:   Thanks...I can remember when I was younger and I'd be out picking fruit I used to latch onto these older men because I didn't have a father growing up and I wanted a father figure.    One guy, who I used to help out sometimes....I was picking some Cantaloupe and this guy who was a drunk was standing around and he was making some jokes and he kicked me and I fell backward onto the ground and was knocked unconscious for a moment.  When I woke up... The guy was standing over me concerned.  I was so angry that I ended up getting up and walking home. It was like thirty miles home.  But I thought about that when I was doing THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE.  Because what would've happened to me in that moment if I was more seriously injured?  What if I would've hit my head harder than I did and it left me mentally disabled?     Because if that happens you're still perfectly normal but you're stuck at the age in which that happened.    

TV STORE ONLINE:  With that character in WEEDS though...There is just such a particular intensity to him.  I mean he becomes completely unhinged and unraveled through the course of the film.....

Hudson in WEEDS (1987)

HUDSON:  Right.  I had a good friend who I grew up with.  We were close up until a certain point.   The other kids would make fun of him and call him "Black Marvin".    Plus he was adopted too and he knew that he was adopted.  He was very troubled and he was always getting into trouble.  When he was fourteen he ended up robbing someone and he ended up getting sentenced to ten years in prison.  This was a fourteen year old kid that was sent to an prison for adults.

After about five years he got out and came back to town.  He was always a little odd and he never really fit in.  He tried really hard though, but he just couldn't connect.  There was a girl that he really liked.  He started going to her church, and he did something and she ended up yelling at him and he just unraveled and unloaded.  He did exactly what that character in WEEDS did and he ended up going back to prison.   He's been in prison his entire life now.  He gets out and goes to rob a liquor store and then waits for the police to come and arrest him and goes back into prison.  He didn't know how to act in society.   That is Baghdad in WEEDS.  He meets this fantasy girl and she understands him and accepts him but he doesn't understand how to act because he's never known that type of life.  There's something very vulnerable about him but he just couldn't cope with not knowing what to do in society.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back quickly to that character that you played in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE "Solomon".....I've read where you've said that you thought that he was a better person than you were in life....So leaving a character like that behind as the actor at the end of shooting...Does it improve you after you've finished playing him?

HUDSON:  Yeah for sure.  But I also think there is an element of each character that an actor plays within themselves.  No matter how dark the subject is...Its always there inside of yourself.   As an actor, you have to find that place that's already in you and magnify it.  Solomon had a certain innocence and a genuine concern for that family and of course we strive to all be good people like that.  I can remember when I was first starting out....I was playing Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope on stage in Minneapolis.  I did it for a couple years firstly in Minneapolis then later on in Los Angeles.

Hudson in
THE HAND THAT ROCKS
THE CRADLE (1992)
Th character in Hope was so dynamic and so amazing.  When I would play that character and walk out onto the stage I could just feel how much women loved that character.  You could feel it coming at you from the audience.   I wanted to hold onto the character off the stage even when the play was over because he was such a chick magnet.  I almost didn't want to go back to being Ernie Hudson.  But we all have the capability to be Jack Johnson within ourselves. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  When a character leaves you do you find that they can return and come out of you when you are least expecting it?

HUDSON:  Of course.   Yeah they do come out at times.   Also, you find out things about yourself that you didn't know before you played the character in the first place.   I mean, I'm capable myself of all types of things.  I did this character in this film called BUTTER (1998)...and I was being very pushy and rude to people and I was cutting people off in mid sentence because I could, and that's not really me, but yet I'm capable of doing that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then how much of you is in that character that you did in that wonderful Tales From The Crypt (1989-1996) episode where you played the psychotic circus performer "The Great Zambini"...

HUDSON:  Oh man....I had a real hard time working with the director on that.   I saw that character in a particular way and the director [Rodman Flender] saw him a different way.

Hudson as "The Great Zambini"
in Tales From The Crypt 
TV STORE ONLINE:  I think what you're doing in the episode is brilliant.  I watch it now and for me it comes across as if you're projecting James Earl Jones on acid or something...

HUDSON:  (Laughing)  The character in the script was originally supposed to be this 350 pound white guy with an eating disorder.   It opened up with this 350 pound guy cooking all of this food and eating it in a very gross way.    So when they cast me....I'm not a white guy and I'm not 350 pounds.  The make-up was weird.  It wasn't really a clown make-up it was more Zulu like.   I wanted to go further in certain ways but the director saw the character going someplace else.   But he was a very fascinating character.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I still love your cameo as the "The Tennis Captain" the angry police chief on The Ben Stiller Show (1992-93) too...

HUDSON:  I can remember doing that...But I've never seen it.  Ben [Stiller] was fun to work with.  I remember at the time that my agent was telling me how hot this television show was going to be...laughing    I run into Ben every now and again but he yet has to cast me in one of his movies...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a little ashamed to admit to you that until recently I had never seen your work in EVERYTHING'S JAKE (2000) and A STRANGER IN THE KINGDOM (1999).   Those are amazing performances....

HUDSON:  Thanks!  I really enjoyed working on both of those films.   For EVERYTHING'S JAKE...I got that script sent to me from two kids who had just graduated from Syracuse University.  I really thought that they had ripped some poor guy's story off.   But they had actually wrote it, and I really liked that character.    Growing up poor myself...I didn't see my situation that way.  That is how the character of Jake sees his situation.    He's a guy who is homeless and living on the streets of New York City but he doesn't see his situation as a bad one.  When I was researching the character I went to New York City and I had decided to leave all of my money and identification at home and I decided that I'd live on the streets myself for three or four days but I only lasted for like ten hours.  It was cold out there.   I did end up talking to a bunch of people and I went and visited some homeless shelters.  We have a misconception that life stops for someone who is homeless, but it doesn't.     The guys who made the film were really fun to work with but I don't think they really understood the business behind releasing a film. I don't think they understood how to market the film either because it ended up slipping through the cracks.

With A STRANGER IN THE KINGDOM....I just thought the director [Jay Craven] had too many stories he was trying to tell.  I did like that character though.  It was based on a true story as well.   He was a African American minister in the 1950's that moved his family from South Central Los Angeles to Vermont to make a better life for them.  Of course, because he was an outsider and because of the color of his skin, someone accused him of having sex with his white maid and they ended up putting him in jail and running him out of town.  There's now a plaque in the town where it actually happened telling the story of this guy.



TV STORE ONLINE:  I don't want to spend too much time talking about it, because I know you've been asked so much about it in the past....But I'm a huge fan of THE CROW (1994)....

HUDSON:  Me too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I went back and took a look at the film recently and I noticed so much hurt and sadness in the eyes of your character...How did you find that "Sgt. Albrecht" character?  

Brandon Lee and Ernie Hudson in:
THE CROW (1994)
HUDSON:   I love the scene where Brandon [Lee] and I are talking in my character's apartment.   Brandon loved that scene too because he could actually act and didn't have to worry about being part of a action sequence.   He was really happy to be working in that scene.    I don't know what to say.  I think life sometimes just doesn't work out for some people.   I really liked that character though. He was genuinely a good guy and he was really bothered by the deaths of those people.  But there's something about that movie that's very dark, but yet it has this very warm light to it.  I think that Brandon brought that to it.  

It's funny... Because Father's Day was a few days ago...I was thinking back to when my kids were little and I used to tuck them in at bedtime.  Now they're grown up and because I didn't have a father myself or that type of role model... I don't know this part of it now, and I don't understand this stage.   I think that Albrecht was like that too.  He's a cop that's lost his wife and he hasn't been promoted because he's always trying to do the right thing.  So he doesn't know what to do next.  He was a sad character, but sometimes life just feels that way.  I have to be careful myself, because sometimes I'll indulge in that type of thinking as well.  When I think back at my own career, or when I get on a show now and they don't want anything from me other than to deliver the lines in the script....I don't understand  that.  It's frustrating, because I can give so much more to the project.  I want to bring so much more to the characters that I'm playing.    It's frustrating as an actor because you want to be creative but yet you want to stay busy so you really can't turn anything down.   So you have to turn to writing to be creative.

GHOSTBUSTERS T-shirt
Available At TV STORE ONLINE
TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you have any films in you as a writer?

HUDSON:   You know I did The Great White Hope on stage over thirty years ago.   It was such a life changing experience for me.  I think it was the best thing I've ever done.  Even when I was researching it I was totally fascinated with Jack Johnson, the real guy.   When I was researching it I realized that the play was a fictionalized account of his life.  His real life is much more interesting than the play.   I have always wanted to tell his life story.   Over the years I have thought about it, but as I've gotten older... I can't really play Jack Jones the young boxer.  So I started writing a one man show that takes place at the end of Jones life.  He died in a car crash at age 68.  He was only a year older than I am when he died.   We've taken this out and tested it but it's on hold for now.  We've done it here in Los Angeles and we've done it in Colorado and Pennsylvania as well.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  What else do you have in the works?

HUDSON:   I just did a boxing movie for this wonderful young filmmaker. I've worked with him [Win Edson] before on a film called THE DINNER DATE (2012). This new movie is about a boxer who had this one big fight thirty years ago but he can't let it go now.   I'm starting a baseball movie called HIGH AND OUTSIDE (2014) in July with a friend of mine, Phil Donlon.   He directed me in a film called THE MAN IN A SHILO (2012).    I'm also working on this fun series for Starz with the creator of The Walking Dead (2010-Current), Frank Darabont, called Lost Angels (2013).  It's about the crime syndicates in Los Angeles.    I also just did a movie with Hilary Swank and Josh Duhamel called, YOU'RE NOT YOU (2013) where I play a man with Lou Gerhig's disease.   It's a great script and a great cast.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is there any chance you'd be interested in developing a musical version of SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983) with me?

HUDSON:  (Laughing)... You know that movie has such a following!   It is an odd movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  If you added in Michael Jackson you'd have a long form CAPTAIN EO (1986)...

HUDSON: (Laughing)...I don't think Peter Strauss is happy to be in that movie either...


Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray
and Dan Aykroyd in GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)



TV STORE ONLINE:    Working on SPACEHUNTER was probably the first time you had met Ivan Reitman, right?

HUDSON:  That's right....Ivan acquired the film from Director/Producer/Writer Jean LaFleur.  He had been fired off the show by Columbia Pictures and Ivan came on board to finish it. Harold Ramis is in SPACEHUNTER too.  It was funny, because working on SPACEHUNTER almost cost me my role in GHOSTBUSTERS because Ivan couldn't see me as anything else but that larger than life character from SPACEHUNTER...

TV STORE ONLINE: That sounds like what probably happened to you in that Chuck Norris film, THE OCTAGON (1980)...

HUDSON:   Yeah, right.  There was a lot of my character that was cut out of THE OCTAGON.  Working with Chuck was really great though..

TV STORE ONLINE:  Maybe you should refer to the film THE OCTAGON going forward as THE HUDSON GONE...

HUDSON: (Laughing)...Right, yeah...That's funny.   I had the same thing happen to me on a film I did with Robert Downey Jr. called HEART AND SOULS (1993).  I was completely cut out of that!  The director Ron Underwood called me up before it was released to apologize to me.  I still get residual checks for that though so I guess that's a consolation.

"Don't Cross The Streams!"   Hudson and cast from
THE GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you mind if we talk about GHOSTBUSTERS before I let you go?

HUDSON:  Of course...I'm at a very good place with GHOSTBUSTERS.   I'm very flattered that the fans care so much about that movie.  If someone would've told me thirty years ago that people that have seen the film would be turning their cars into The Ectomobile and that they'd be building their own Proton Packs, I wouldn't believe it.   With other followings for movies like STAR WARS or STAR TREK...Those movies have such a following because they are supported by their studio.  GHOSTBUSTERS has no support at all from the studio.    Plus, fans that grew up with the movie are introducing the film to their kids now.  I'm so honored to be apart of that.   Growing up in Michigan, and then moving to Detroit to do theatre...To have had the opportunity to be in movies,  and then to have had the opportunity to be in such a big movie was a life changing experience.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There has been so much written about the character of "Winston" too.  It's been mentioned that the role was originally conceived as a vehicle for Eddie Murphy but when he declined to take part, the character went from being in the script at Page 6 to first appearing in the script at Page 67...Why do you think Reitman and the others decided to cut down that character's part in the film?

Slimer T-shirt
Available@ TV STORE ONLINE
HUDSON:  I don't know.  I was told at the time that they did that because they needed to find ways to give Bill Murray's character more to do.  Bill was the money.  In the original script...Winston was the one who got "Slimed" in the hotel originally, and at the end it was Winston who originally thought of the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."   It was frustrating to me at the time.   And to my surprise too, they did the same thing to him in the sequel as well.  I don't know...It was frustrating because when I first took the role I thought I was going to be doing something specific and when it came time to shoot my role turned into something else.   We had rehearsed for three weeks before shooting even.   It was a hard adjustment for me to make.  My wife now (we weren't married at the time) had to talk me through it because I just couldn't make sense of it.  Even when the movie came out...I couldn't understand it.  There are four Ghostbusters but yet only three of them were on the billboards across the country.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I always thought it was because your character was positioned in the film as the straight man....

HUDSON:  For sure, and that was fine.  But I just couldn't understand why he had to be dropped out of so many scenes.    Of course, we couldn't discuss it either.  Ivan, I think, felt really awkward about the situation.  I don't know if I could've gotten through it if it wasn't for Harold Ramis, because he was the one that really helped me by talking me through it.

Behind The Scenes Photo from:
GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
TV STORE ONLINE:  Silly fan question...How much did the Proton Pack weigh?  Was it difficult to maneuver around in it?

HUDSON:  There were two packs actually.  The first one was made out of metal, and then the other was made out of foam rubber.   We would wear the foam rubber ones when there was a scene where we had to run around or something.   The metal ones were really heavy, and after you had it on for a while it would start to dig into your side. It was very uncomfortable.

TV STORE ONLINE:    No doubt you've been asked to try on a fan made Proton Pack at one of these movie conventions?

HUDSON:   Of course...In fact, the only prop I kept from the original GHOSTBUSTERS was my jumpsuit.  I used to take it around to these movie conventions with me in fact.  I was in New Jersey at one of these shows and someone broke into my hotel room and stole it.    I told this story somewhere and this prop maker made me a replica jumpsuit that is identical to the one I wore in the movie and a Proton Pack.   I don't get the chance to wear the pack that much because I'm always traveling or working.  I tried to take it to a few of these conventions but the people at the airport freak out about it.  I would tell them, "Look, didn't you see GHOSTBUSTERS?  This isn't a bomb!"

TV STORE ONLINE:  Does your wife ever ask you to put on the Winston GHOSTBUSTERS outfit in the bedroom?

HUDSON:  (Laughing)....Oh No.  It might be fun though...But I think if I showed up wearing that I might be sleeping someplace else...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Last Question....Getting your start in Detroit as an actor and having this thirty year plus career...Has Ernie Hudson mastered his craft?  How have you grown as an actor since your days in Detroit?

HUDSON:  Well, I think if anything...I'm just easier about it all.  Have you heard the story about Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda?  Jane Fonda was working on a character and she was stressing out about it, and Henry just stopped her and said, "What are you doing?  Just act. It's not that deep..."     I think I've learned to rely more on my instincts and not worry so much about researching a character.   Back in the old days, I would need a couple days to get into a character.  Or I would try to get a character's vibe off of the costume I was going to be wearing.   I would worry about what the favorite color of the character I was playing was.  I think I'm just more relaxed about it today.  I'll still do my homework and my research for a character but I'm taking that information and relying on my instincts much more often.    Now I can be on a set playing an intense character and when the director yells "Cut!"  I can walk around and joke with people, but back in the old days I couldn't do that...I'd have to go off by myself and stay focused on the character.  I ate a lot of lunches by myself in those days.