DEBBIE ROCHON: BEAUTY AND THE BEASTS

Now… okay, there’s no easy way to say this. Actors are often accused of being actors out of a sense of self-loathing. They prefer to be other people than be themselves.
Oh, right. No, my whole thing is the polar opposite. I’m attracted to roles that have material that I can express what I’m going through now. I really, really have a desire to do roles – they can bring out joy, they can bring out anger – but I love roles where I can express something that I can’t express in my day-to-day life. I almost take it to another level. A lot of actors say “I want to do every kind of role imaginable. I want to be a mother and a scientist and a doctor.” And I say “I don’t want to do any of that. Right now, I feel like a tormented soul, so I would love to do a movie where I’m this tormented soul. Because I am ready for that. I’m the type of artist that, I want to do what I can’t express in my day-to-day life, which is the opposite of hiding behind a character. There’s a character, one I’ve created, which is very different from me. But still, where it’s coming from is me. It’s a character made of me. If that makes any sense.

Some actors don’t even understand how acting works.
Things take time, you know? Sometimes it takes a decade for something a truly great teacher has said to you to the point where you truly understand them. The thing that teachers tell you, you understand them on the surface, it’s logical, but you don’t get the depth of it until you get experience. Here’s the thing, and this is the god-honest truth. You cannot express anything fully and truly unless you understand it and you have control over it. That’s the difference. Here’s an example and it should make this crystal clear. Both my parents are dead, but say my father died last week. I could not run out and get a role where my father dies, because it’s really happening to me and now I’ll do the role and be brilliant. It doesn’t work that way. The process is like this: your father dies, now you go through the grieving process – the sadness, the anger, the love, the hate – all your emotions. You go through everything and then you come out the other end, whenever that may be. It could be six months, it could be two years – however long it takes. When you’ve come out the other end, that’s when you’re ready to do (a role like that) because that’s when you’ve understood it. Because you know what you’re doing, you know the process. If you’re in the middle of it, it’s too soon, it’s too raw and you cannot get control of it. You won’t be able to truly act it. Does that make sense?

Absolutely.
Good. (laughs) I’m never sure!

You’ve spent the bulk of your career doing horror movies, and right now, there’s that big-budget resurgence, but on the indie level I’m seeing the same sort of things cranked out over and over again. Are you getting bored with the genre at all?
You know, I have to say, I’m not getting bored with horror – I think it’s been mixed up quite a bit, even though there have been similarities with the roles. I certainly haven’t gotten to the point where I am bored because I’m repeating myself. I always make it a point to make sure I’m not repeating myself. But there comes to a point where you really want to work on scripts that have something to say and have some originality to them. That’s very important. You do see a certain type of themes that become popular and become repetitive – there were a lot of vampire films being made, and then a lot of zombie films. They do go in cycles. I really feel that there’s been enough variety where I can do (Paul Scrabo’s) “Dr. Horror’s Erotic House Of Idiots,” which is this throwback to the ‘50s-style comedy. Then I can go to Miami and do (Jose Prendes’) “Corpses are Forever,” this spy-zombie film, shot in black and white, and it’s this very different-style Bond/comedy/horror movie. Then you have the Bog Creatures”, the style was very different. With a role like that you’re adding a couple of dashes of camp. And then you pull back the camp and you try to do it as straight as possible when you do something like (Devin Hamilton’s) “Bleed.” When you do “Nowhere Man,” it’s just raw purity. Even when I do something like (Chris Seaver’s) “Filthy McNasty,” it’s very Troma-esque. “Were-Grrl,” which was a fun little parody to do with friends…

All very different.
Yeah, and I think what people need to understand is, everyone of these movies has a different style. Literally. I learned about style from Chicago City Limits, where I studied improv for a couple of years. It’s no different than when they do exercises where they say, ‘Okay, we’re going to improvise a scene, someone yell out a playwright.” They yell out “Pinter,” it goes out a certain way. They yell out “Tennessee Williams,” it goes on a certain way. That’s something I focus a lot of attention on. What is the style of this, and then that will deeply affect what I do.

Do you think the economy has hurt the indie industry?
Definitely. I think the economy has demolished the low-budget industry. B-movies have taken the hardest hit. Here you have people spending their own money, and they don’t have it. Or they have investors that invest in these movies on the side, and there is no side money right now. People aren’t spending. They’re not buying luxury items. Sort of like that. You have investors where a hundred thousand dollars is nothing to them, but they’re not going to do something like that right now. Places like (Charles Band’s company) Full Moon are still cranking out their DVD movies for thirty thousand dollars, but in their case, they have to keep generating new titles in order to keep up sales. They’re in a position where they couldn’t afford to stop. I don’t think anyone is in a position to gamble with a little chunk of change right now.

Things come in cycles, though. And it doesn’t seem to have put a damper on your career.
Things are slower now, but I still have a lot of things coming up and coming out.

Could you do this forever?
Act? Yes! A resounding yes. I’d love – and I’m talking way down the line – I’d love to work like Christopher Lee. I would love to make movies that far down the line. It’s questionable if anyone would even want to have me. That’s what I would like. To just have lots of work. I guess the only sad thing is when you do smaller parts on movies, you don’t get to work as long on them. The fun is immersing yourself, preferably for a couple weeks or more – you could just lose yourself in the process and just be there and really have an in-depth experience. You don’t get that in a day. You sort of just get in there and already it’s done. Doing cameos and stuff like that. Hey, its still fun, but you don’t have this huge major thing you have to do emotionally. And that’s what’s truly exciting and fulfilling. Where you walk away and feel exhausted. That’s the good stuff.

Visit Debbie at her official website.




Posted on August 17, 2004 in Interviews by

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