Lynne Griffin's genre credits include Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974), the beloved but troubled slasher Curtains (1983), as well as appearances on the sci-fi horror series War of the Worlds (1988), Stephen King's TV miniseries Storm of the Century (1999) and the creature feature Bugs (2003).
This veteran performer has been acting her whole life, appearing in such diverse fare as the big screen comedy Strange Brew (1983), the acclaimed Canadian drama series Wind at My Back (1996), and the recent mystery show Happy Town (2010).
For those Christmas lovers out there, she played Mrs. Clause twice - first in Santa Baby (2006) and then again in Santa Baby 2 (2009).
But did you know Griffin is also an accomplished stage actress who's worked in numerous plays, including Shakespearean turns as the cross-dressing Viola in Twelfth Night, and the poor, strangled Cordelia in King Lear, to name a few?
Griffin generously agreed to sit down with us and discuss her memories of dabbling in horror all these years.
The Terror Trap: You're a Toronto native?
Lynne Griffin: Yes, born and raised.
TT: Give us a little sense of what Toronto is like.
LG: Well, Toronto is a very wonderfully multicultural city. It’s very big on the arts. It’s always had great, great theatre. Canadian theatre is government-subsidized, which helps.
I’ve always been primarily connected with the stage, working at Stratford and Shaw festivals, Theatre Plus, Can Stage. Places like that. So my background is really theatre.
It’s funny. I missed all of that when I moved to Los Angeles. However, I spent most of my twelve years in L.A. at the Old Globe in San Diego working in plays as well.
TT: What’s your background as far as theatre?
LG: I’m basically a theatre baby. My father was a high-fashion photographer and my mother was a talent agent so it was sort of meant to be that I would be in the business.
Toronto has always been really good. My sister is a talent agent here and represents me.
TT: You had it in your blood.
LG: I did.
TT: You began acting at the age of twelve, which included an early stage appearance alongside your mother. Is that right?
LG: (Laughs.) Oh my God! This is like "Lynne Griffin, This Is Your Life!"
TT: Yes. Later, we’ll be bringing out your fifth grade English teacher.
LG: (Laughs.) Yes, I appeared in a production of Camoletti's Boeing-Boeing and I was the French airline stewardess. My mom played the maid.
TT: How cool is that?
LG: It was very cool. Wow. That sort of takes me back. You guys made me kind of tongue-tied. Yeah, that was the first time.
Of course, I had been a baby model from the time I was really in diapers because my dad used me in advertising spreads. In fact, when I was around eight, he took my pictures and one ended up being on that year’s speller. It was a hardcover book and my photo was on the front of the speller that was handed out at the beginning of the year, when I was probably in grade four.
TT: How did your friends react?
LG: Everybody drew devil horns and moustaches on me. And probably air bubbles that said rude things. It was quite humiliating at the time. (Laughs.)
TT: Did you know when you appeared in Boeing-Boeing that you might want to make a career in acting?
LG: Absolutely. I never really pursued anything else. I like the arts in general. I took dance classes and all those kinds of things as a kid because I had a real stage mother. Basically, that’s what she wanted for me because she never really pursued her own acting career. She became an agent instead.
I think she always had aspirations to continue acting…which actually, she did after she retired from the agency and handed it over to my sister. Her name was Kay Griffin. She did begin acting again in her sixties. My mother did a lot of commercials where there’s a sort of sweet-looking, innocent grandmother who’ll kick the football player for a bag of chips or a box of cookies. (Laughs.)
She also did a television version of a play with Cyril Cusack, and I think Christopher Plummer. That was her big claim to fame.
TT: Did you jump into acting going forward or did you go for formal training?
LG: I didn’t really have any formal training. I had on-the-job training, and I just lied my way into things. I said I knew how to do Shakespeare and I just did it.
But I worked with some great, great people when I was young, both at Stratford and Shaw.
TT: Who for example?
LG: I did King Lear with Peter Ustinov. I did Shaw's Man and Superman with Ian Richardson. Those were really impressive actors and at that time, as a young woman, I was a total sponge and I would watch everything they did and imitate them. I got away with it most of the time.
I really wanted to go and study professionally but I was always working. I always have made money as an actor in my life. Thank God, knock on wood. I’ve never had to get what people call a “real job.” They don’t think acting is a real job, I guess. (Laughs.)
TT: Good God, King Lear with Peter Ustinov! Were you Cordelia?
LG: Yes, I was. Which was great, because it meant Peter Ustinov had to carry me when he finds me dead. Before we’d go on each night, he would always ask me how much I’d eaten for dinner. He’d say, “You seem to weigh more tonight” and I went, “Yeah, I had lasagna!”
TT: Like Ustinov should be talking about weight!
LG: (Laughs.) Truly, truly. He was great though. He was the only actor I’ve ever met who could improvise iambic pentameter. If he didn’t know it, he would just make it up and it sounded good.
TT: That's so cool.
LG: Yeah. He was one of the finest raconteurs ever. Peter told me some of the greatest stories.
TT: He had that VOICE just fit for epics.
LG: Yeah, yeah. A voice from deep in the barrel of his soul.
TT: And so you did all this stage work prior to any work in film?
LG: Hmmm...yes, I’d probably done a couple of seasons at Stratford before getting into film.
TT: You appeared in a TV series called Drop-In, and then your first major screen role right out of the box was Clare in 1974’s Black Christmas (AKA Silent Night, Evil Night), directed by Bob Clark.
Take us back and tell us how that came about.
LG: My mother got me the audition for Black Christmas.
Back then, my mom was my agent, and she was able to get me into a lot of things. She was more like a manager and very, very special to me. She also was the one who got me into Stratford just by calling them and saying, “I hear you’re looking for someone and you really need to cast her.”
She would really promote my career. For Black Christmas, once I got my foot in the door, I went through all the normal channels of auditioning to get the part.
TT: You auditioned for the part of Clare right from the beginning?
TT: What was your first impression of Bob Clark?
LG: I liked Bob right away. He was a very lovely, jolly person. As far as I remember, at that point, I was always being cast as the ultimate innocent virgin. (Laughs.) I’ll say no more about what was really going on in my life!
But I was being cast that way a lot because I had this sort of innocent, virginal look. It really worked well for the role [in Black Christmas]. It’s funny, because I wasn’t really that way in person.
Working with Margot Kidder and people like that was really eye-opening because she was always very outgoing. They were all playing sort of older than me and more experienced.
It was lovely because we spent a lot of time together, the women. Andrea Martin, who went on to great, great things. And Olivia Hussey was really interesting to me because of course, I was working in the Stratford company and she had done Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I was constantly trying to pick her brain about working with Zeffirelli.
TT: If you could use three words to describe Bob Clark as a director, what would they be?
LG: Let's see..."trusting"..."gentle"...and..."surprising."
TT: Surprising in what way?
LG: You know when the girls get the obscene phone call in the beginning?
LG: Bob said to us when we were on set, “Just imagine this guy is saying scary things.” When I saw the film, I had NO idea that it would be as blue as it was.
Being a bit of a puritan back then, and certainly playing one, it was funny to watch it afterwards. I remember thinking, “Oh my God. Bob really went for it!” In fact, I think he did some of the voices for it.
TT: He did.
Before we go up to the attic, let's talk about your death scene. As an actor, walking to your untimely end in that closet, you know that "Billy" is about to grab you from behind the plastic garment bag.
Was that at all difficult to perform, i.e. getting your timing right, and not appearing as if you "expect" it?
LG: Yes, it was a total shock because I didn't really know when to expect him to jump out! As I recall, we didn't do a lot of takes for that scene either.
TT: Do you remember who was behind the plastic bag in your closet playing "Billy"? A crew member? It wasn't Bob, was it?
LG: No, I think it was just the cameraman who was holding a hand-held camera.
TT: One of the B&W press stills for Black Christmas shows you being strangled by "Billy." The person who's strangling you is wearing a black mask over his eyes, like the kind that some people wear to sleep to keep the light out. Was this to conceal his face?
LG: Yes, you're right. He did have some sort of black cloth over his head. I remember Clare's death scene was shot in a real closet in that house. The cameraman was squeezed in behind the dry cleaning bags -- so tight -- and there was only room for him and maybe the focus puller!
TT: You've told us how Bob was "surprising." How was he "gentle" and "trusting"?
LG: Well, he was gentle and trusting because when we were filming the stuff in the attic with me wrapped in the dry cleaning bag, Bob was the one sitting opposite me and he had his foot on the rocker, making the chair rock. He was also the person who was hurling the cat at me, wanting the cat to sit on my lap and lick my face. Which of course, the cat didn’t want to do.
TT: How did Bob finally get the cat to do that?
LG: They decided it would be a good idea to spray my face with catnip. There was one time when Bob hurled the cat and he didn’t quite make it. The cat landed on my knees and then went all the way down my legs, claws out.
LG: I was clawed!
TT: Clawed by Claude!
Tell us about being under that plastic bag.
LG: The funny thing about being up there all that time and trying to film being "dead"…is that you obviously have to breathe within the bag. But when I was breathing, it was making the bag fog up so they decided to stick it to my face and poke holes up my nose.
TT: Was it difficult to play dead and be under the plastic for extended periods?
LG: I was actually, and still am, a fairly good swimmer so I could hold my breath for a long time. And I could also keep my eyes open for a long time without blinking. Maybe that’s why I got the part! I can’t recall if I had to do that at the audition. (Laughs.)
I was pretty good at it and we did long, long takes and things where we would move the camera in, or they would come in for a close-up and say, “Can you hold your breath and keep your eyes open for a long time?” That’s probably why that image became so iconic and they used it on the poster. It was pretty horrifying.
TT: That’s right. It is scary.
Did you have any hesitation about playing the first girl to go?
LG: At that time, no. I was just so thrilled to be in that company of actors and working with Bob Clark. I mean, it was a new experience for me so as much as I would have liked to have played someone who lasted longer…I had that opportunity when I got Curtains.
It was fine at the time and also, it was my first screen kiss!
TT: With Art Hindle.
LG: Yes. That was exciting.
TT: Was he a good kisser?
LG: (Laughs.) It was a very chaste kiss.
TT: What’s interesting about Clare is that even though you’re the first to go, we keep seeing shots of you in the attic throughout the movie. Basically, you’re in the film the whole time…
LG: Right. And they should have had me still up there rotting in the remake. (Laughs.)
LG: Certainly as far as the original movie goes, she was never found. Which was what was so great about Black Christmas. They left the ending open.
TT: That’s right.
We want to get your thoughts on working with some of the cast members, starting with Margot Kidder.
LG: She was a very free spirit and wanted to shock us. I think she was pretty Method Actress. I thought her drunk scene was one of the most convincing when I saw it. I don’t know if she had any help or not. Knowing Margot, she probably did…
TT: Oh, Bob Clark definitely said she had been imbibing in that scene.
LG: That’s what I meant when I said method actress!
I kind of agree and approve of that kind of thing. Certainly loosens you up. She was always really great at sort of improving, and just saying things that were funny and cracking herself up. I thought she was a hoot. I really loved her. I was kind of thinking…there’s the role where you really get to blow it out, whereas I’m playing the uptight virgin. That’s not fun. It’s more fun to play wicked than it is to play virginal.
TT: You touched on Olivia Hussey earlier and the Zeffirelli connection…
LG: She was very quiet, very dedicated. I thought she did a beautiful job in the film though.
I think the impact of what happened to her career after the release of Romeo and Juliet was huge for a young woman. And I think it turned her into a rather private person. All of a sudden, she was this international star overnight. I remember seeing her in some other films and just thinking how glorious she was and how beautiful.
I’m not really sure what happened to her career after that. Or if she wanted to continue it. She seemed to be fairly private. But then again, one never knows. Sometimes, one wonders what happened to certain people.
Probably people wonder what happened to me! I just decided to pursue my theatre career at that point, and I hadn’t done many movies. Maybe she did the same thing.
TT: You seem to have a great relationship wih Art Hindle both onscreen -- and in a DVD special feature -- you did a few years ago.
LG: (Laughs.) Talk about being drunk for that, though! They got us drunk.
TT: Oh, really?
LG: Yes! They fed me many glasses of white wine before we did that interview. I’m not really the kind of person that needs loosening up but it certainly loosened me up. It was REALLY fun to go back and be at the house, though.
TT: Was it creepy all those years later?
LG: No, it wasn’t. Also because the attic had been dressed to be very scary and macabre in the movie, and of course they painted the walls bright white and it was somebody’s lovely bedroom. All renovated. So it wasn’t scary.
They were asking if I remembered when the killer had crawled up the side of the house, and crawling up through the little crawlspace. I said it was scary back then but not now. It was very nice and clean. No scary monsters and no meat hooks! (Laughs.)
But it was fun to go back and see the house and be on the staircase…and see that everything was pretty much the same except very much renovated and cleaned up.
TT: Is it still a private residence?
LG: I believe so. Although it’s odd with places that become spots for fans to go and visit. I don’t think they open it up for people to enter and see it. I think we were just allowed to go in and film there by the owners at that time.
That was a very, very fun day and Art has a great sense of humor. I don’t know why…we were just in a really giddy mood that day when we did the special feature interviews.
TT: You don’t have screen time with Marian Waldman, who contrasts just perfectly as a comedic foil to the rest of the film's nihilism. What did you think of her portrayal of Mrs. Mac?
LG: I thought she was wonderful in that part. Absolutely right. Some of her off-color jokes that she delivered like when the girls gave her the flannel nightie…brilliant.
TT: We always quote the line, “These broads would hump the Leaning Tower of Pisa if they could get up there.”
LG: That’s right! I love the poster that’s in Clare’s room with the naked people making the peace sign and she puts her hand over the guy’s ass when she’s talking to my father. That made me laugh.
LG: See now, if they had only asked me to be in the 2006 remake, I could've played that part. People meet me now and they go, “Oh, you were in Black Christmas? Did you play Mrs. Mac?” And I go, “No! It was a million years ago. I played Clare!” And they reply, “You could play Mrs. Mac now.”
TT: Hah! Andrea Martin got the part in the 2006 remake.
Do you recall how long you were on the set filming your scenes?
LG: Well...probably the scene in my room was shot in a day. But the whole thing took a long time because they continued to make me look more and more decrepit for the shots in the attic. That took longer to do. I probably had -- off and on -- a good two to three weeks on the film. But of course, they do it all fairly quickly. You’re in and out doing your scenes.
Once you’re gone, you’re gone and everybody else gets to do the rest of the movie. I would have liked to have stuck around longer though. (Laughs.)
TT: Did you have any inkling when you were making Black Christmas that it would become so influential and revered within the genre?
LG: No, no. And yet I’ve heard so many incredible comments about it being sort of the first of that subgenre. I still think it holds up extremely well because it’s such a great psychological thriller.
I don’t really watch current horror films now because they’re so explicit and there’s so much blood and gore. The things that scare me the most are psychological. And I think that’s what was great about Black Christmas. The fact of it being someone who was in the house -- never knowing who it is -- seeing the eye peeking through the door…
One of my favorite moments in the picture is when you see that Olivia knows the person is in the house. She’s been on the phone, and she goes to the door. As she passes by the staircase, he grabs her hair.
TT: Yes! Frightening.
LG: You don’t have to see an axe splitting her head open, or spears through her chest or whatever. It’s much more scary to me when it’s psychological. Those are the films that always interest me, when you can really create a great mystery and a great whodunit. It’s what’s unseen that’s scary to me, rather than what’s seen on the screen.
TT: We wanted to have some fun with you. What’s your opinion (if you have one) on the backstory of “Billy,” the killer? Is he one of the cast members that we see in the story? An anonymous psycho?
LG: We’re certainly led to be looking in the direction of Keir Dullea. Clearly it can’t be him. And then I say to people, “Well, who do YOU think it is?” They reply, “We think it’s the sheriff” and I go, “No way!”
Personally, I never really thought it was any of the cast members. Who knows who Billy could be? Maybe he's Marian Waldman’s love child? Her crazy son who was locked away in the attic?
TT: That’s good! It’s actually something we had thought about years ago. At one point, there’s a great shot when the killer is making a phone call. You see a framed photo of Mrs. Mac when she had done Vaudeville. What if this psycho is her kid who she gave up in order to pursue her career…a botched abortion attempt?
LG: Yeah, it’s very possible. Although it doesn’t need to be explained to make the film work. People don’t need it tied up in a neat bow at the end with a revelation of who the killer is.
In the movie, there’s that very good actress Martha Gibson, who’s the mother of the child that goes missing in the park. And you’re going, how is that related to whoever is in the house?
Really, all the cast members are kind of accounted for or dead at the end.
TT: Right, right. Good point. It’s really great that the film is open-ended at the conclusion.
LG: I think it is. I think it’s wonderful not to know. And I think at that point, it probably did leave the door open to a sequel but it never happened. Because the crime wasn’t solved.
TT: Do you remember what your thoughts were when you first saw that ending?
LG: I’m still in the picture! (Laughs.) Maybe I’ll be in the sequel.
I loved that it ended that way. You hear the voice and the camera pulls away from the house, and obviously Clare is still upstairs in the rocking chair. I thought it was brilliant and very gutsy that they didn't point a finger directly at someone and go, “Okay, now you know who did it!”
What’s great is we’re still talking about it to this very day and we still don’t know. Everyone has their own theory.
TT: That’s right.
Any parting thoughts on Black Christmas?
LG: Only that I thought it was funny that when I did a horror convention once, people wanted to see me with a dry cleaning bag on my head.
TT: You are kidding!
LG: No, people would say, “Will you put a dry cleaning bag over your head and then we can take a picture of you with it?”
Maybe it’s not even conscious but I don’t use dry cleaners. I wash everything and if it needs to be washed by hand, that’s the way I do it. I just don’t use the dry cleaners. I don’t have any dry cleaning bags hanging in my closet. Believe me, I never go there.
Do you think that’s something that was deeply imbedded in me from way back when?
TT: It sure sounds like that.
LG: That’s what was great when they introduced that thing you could just throw your sweater in the dryer with. I was the first person to buy that! I maybe had my dress that I wore to my wedding dry cleaned. That’s it. I got rid of the bag right away and wrapped it in tissue and put it in a box.
TT: It’s like Janet Leigh not being able to take a shower for the rest of her life after making Psycho.
LG: Yeah, seriously! That was tough. (Laughs.) Sometimes, I worry about that too. I always have a shower curtain that you can see through. Not one that’s opaque or has a pattern on it. You never know who’s on the other side!
TT: We’re exactly the same way! Hell, maybe we should just cut holes in the in the middle so we can see who’s out there!
TT: Let's segue into Curtains now.
Do genre fans recognize you more for Black Christmas or Curtains?
LG: I think Clare. Black Christmas just had a much wider audience.
Curtains was a little troubled, even with its distribution. I think not a lot of people saw it in its initial release and it’s still sort of a cult film. A sleeper.
Black Christmas, on the other hand, is so well-known. Bob Clark had a really good career after Black Christmas and made other movies like A Christmas Story and so on - so people would seek it out.
TT: Curtains is unique in a lot of ways though. The cast is predominately women. Adult women. Not teenyboppers with big boobs, having sex all over the place. You’ve got John Vernon as this central male father figure. And you've got that damn hag mask, which is really great…
LG: Yup. (Laughs.)
TT: There are some terrific setups like the prop house scene and the ice-skating sequence. It’s got Samantha Eggar…and of course, you get to be a comedic killer!
LG: Yeah, that was all pretty awesome. Just for me to survive to the end of the picture and end up being the killer was like WOW. That was fabulous for me. I was always usually if not the first victim, pretty close.
TT: What were you up to when Curtains came your way?
LG: I believe I was doing Coriolanus with Brian Bedford directing, when I was offered Curtains.
At the time, I was also shooting another film called The Amateur (1981) with John Savage, Chris Plummer and Marthe Keller.
TT: Did you audition originally for the role of Patti?
LG: Yes, I did. I have never, ever really done comedy at all. But Patti is fairly close to my true personality. What I loved about Curtains was that I got to write my own standup routine, and then I performed it at a club in Toronto in front of a live audience.
TT: What club?
LG: It was called Yuk Yuk’s. It's where Jim Carrey got his start, by the way.
TT: Cool. So the shtick about Photomat and the “guy in and out in 24 seconds” was written by you?
LG: Yup. They said, “Write something and perform it.”
I was terrified, but it was so much fun. People were saying, “You could really do this.” I’ve gone on to do a lot of comedy but standup is hard. Talk about having a suicidal death wish! To get up in front of an audience and try to be funny with your own material…
I thought that was really scary but also a great challenge. Anyway, I loved, loved doing it. I’m so glad that the one attempt that I had is at least preserved on film.
TT: That’s awesome. What we see in the movie is the actual scene of your routine at Yuk Yuk’s, then?
LG: Right, that was in the actual club with a live audience.
TT: Did you audition for producer Peter Simpson?
LG: Yes. Probably director Richard Ciupka was there too though. It was kind of crazy because I had been filming The Amateur in Europe (in Vienna and Munich) and I returned to Canada. It was one of those auditions that came out of the blue. And also, I don’t know that I initially just read for Patti, come to think of it. I think I may have read for other parts as well. There were many parts that you could read for, but I can’t recall exactly which ones.
I do think that when I read the script, I was really intrigued by Patti because it was so different for me to play a comedian. I was surprised to get Patti.
TT: We can see why you’d be attracted to Patti, because she really is the most flamboyant and the meatiest character next to Samantha Eggar’s part.
LG: Definitely. And I got to be funny and dramatic at the same time.
TT: You had just been nominated for a Genie Award for Every Person Is Guilty, a Canadian TV production.
LG: Yes, and the director of that was Paul Almond, who was very famous because he had been married to Genevieve Bujold. He was a wonderful director.
TT: Would that nomination have given you any clout during the audition process for Curtains?
LG: Certainly it’s possible. Although it was a television drama and I played a rape victim. That was another kind of part that I played a lot.
Speaking of Black Christmas and corpses, I was actually put on a slab in the metal drawer for that movie.
LG: Yeah, I think my father had to identify me. I found it really hard to keep a straight face. Actually being put into the drawer and the drawer getting shut! Thank God I wasn’t claustrophobic.
Anyway, to answer your question…I certainly was on the up and coming, both in my career in theatre and in film at that point.
TT: Can you give us your thoughts on Richard Ciupka?
LG: I thought he was terrific.
TT: Were you aware of the problems between Ciupka and producer Simpson?
LG: I had really no idea that there was that much trouble going on behind the scenes. It was certainly kept from me. And that’s why I’m thinking Richard was more responsible for my getting cast. Because I had a really good relationship with him. I thought he was great.
Also because he was trying to do a more arty film, not as you say some “bimbo, big-breasted girl” horror flick. And the twist of me being the killer instead of some Freddy or Jason or somebody like that. It’s an interesting twist and I thought he wanted to make more of an art film. Maybe that’s where the conflict lay between he and Peter.
I’m not sure if there really was a conflict, or it was an amicable decision that Richard leave the film. I was actually surprised when he took his name off the picture because I had worked a lot with him.
TT: Would you say you were directed more by Ciupka than Simpson, who took over some of the directing chores after he left?
LG: Yes, I remember being directed more by Richard than Peter Simpson.
I read the interview you did with Simpson, and it was interesting because I was going, oh yeah! I mean, I do remember certain things that Peter shot and directed….one of which is that shot on the stage with all the dead bodies and Patti in the center.
TT: Ahh…let’s talk about that. You remember that sequence?
LG: I do. I even recall we did it in an actual theatre. And that was Peter [directing that]. It didn’t make it into the final film, although it’s a VERY cool photograph.
TT: That would have been the original ending, correct?
LG: Yes. It would have been at the ending instead of Patti doing her standup comedy routine in front of the mental patients. Instead of reprising that, I think, it would have been me performing in front of the bodies. On the stage.
TT: That would've made a wonderful scene.
LG: It’s quite terrifying, isn’t it?
TT: It is. The asylum scene is good but that might have been even better.
LG: I’m wondering if that was just meant to be something that was going to be in there as sort of what was in Patti’s mind. As opposed to it really being something that happened. In terms of obviously, she didn’t drag all the dead bodies to a theatre. It was something she might have been hallucinating, or something she was imagining happened.
TT: That’s a good possibility.
LG: But yeah, I do remember filming that. I can’t recall the exact theatre where we shot it but I remember it being in downtown Toronto and I remember going there and setting it all up.
TT: Was there dialogue?
LG: I’m pretty sure I did a standup routine for the scene in front of the bodies, or at least having a few lines. However, I don’t think it was the same as what’s in the final film, in the asylum scene.
TT: Let's jump back to Ciupka for a minute. The scene where the actresses arrive at Stryker's house, that opening cocktail-banquet scene. That was shot by him, correct?
LG: Yes. Maybe he was getting into overspending because I remember him having a camera on a dolly, and we were all at that long table. We had to time it exactly because that dolly would move all the way around the whole circumference of the table. We were timing our lines to be when the camera would come on to us. It was a very elaborate shot.
TT: It’s good.
LG: Yeah, I still think it’s great. When I saw the film, I thought it was very cool. But see, that’s the kind of stuff he wanted to do.
TT: Simpson was probably thinking, we don’t need George Cukor for this stuff.
LG: Exactly. And we’re going into all kinds of money overrides by your fancy shots and crane shots, and whatever else.
I was impressed with Richard Ciupka though. I thought he was sort of like a Roman Polanski, and that he was coming up with all these interesting ways of shooting things.
TT: Did he shoot the individual moment you have on the staircase with John Vernon, the “I’m not going to pirouette on your face” scene?
LG: Yup, I’m pretty sure he did that one. I don’t have a lot of memory of Peter Simpson directing me. I have more memories of Richard.
TT: That could be because Peter mostly shot the action/horror scenes?
LG: Right. The ice-skating sequence. And the scene with Sandee Currie in the prop house. But as good as those are, they’re much more of the typical horror filmmaking than what Richard was doing. Ultimately, I hope the balance works in Curtains, because I think you can sort of see the difference in the filmmaking between the two different directors.
But even when we re-shot the ending with the scene with Samantha and myself, that was Richard too.
LG: Yes, he was brought back for the re-shoots.