HEATHER ASHLEY: SURVIVING THE HOLLYWOOD JUNGLE

What were you like when you were growing up?
Extremely shy, dorky, ugly, skinny and introverted. Because I was an “outcast” I absorbed myself into books, and the radio. I was bullied a lot by all the girls in school and didn’t have any girlfriends until I joined theatre. (I went to a non-catholic all girl private school that was very disciplined.) My dance group and theatre group was all that I had. I fit in there. Everyone was intelligent and creative in theatre, and somehow all the “outcasts” bonded together. We understood each other. Remember the movie “Revenge of the Nerds”? That was us. I remember my junior year I made a decision to transform myself during the summer. I started going to the gym, bulked up in muscle, cut my long hair, and bought contact lenses. Suddenly I was a different girl, and no one recognized me when school started again. That felt wonderful. I thought that I had transformed myself into another person, but my shyness remained. My mother saw this as a potential problem, and pushed me towards beauty pageants.

How’d you get started as an actress?
When I was seven and eight years old, I used to watch “Days of Our Lives”, and say, “I can do that, Mom. I want to be Jennifer Horton someday”. With that, I joined a theatre group outside my school, and also the Smith Opera house. My first few shows I won acting awards for best comedy actress. My senior year, I won best actress in a drama. My main goal was always to be on “Days of Our Lives”. My first time on the set of “Days” was one of the best days of my life. I absorbed that whole place. I was smiling for a month, afterwards.

What’s the best thing about working on B-movies?
The Fun and The Fans! There are so many B-movie fans out there! I had no idea there was such a powerful following. I learned, and I continue learning so much from watching Ben Cooper (“The Omega Diary”) while working on the film “The Brink”. His wife Robyn, and her sister (and lead in“The Brink”) Rachel Balzer will forever be on my “thank you” list.

My first B-movie was Maniacal. It was shot in five days, and I didn’t know a movie could be shot in that short of a time frame. I had just finished working on Old School, days before, and I was cast for Maniacal at the last minute. It was a learning experience. The fast pace, long hours, and all the blood and special effects were quite new to me. I loved every second.

What’s the downside?
The 15-19 hour days–for 5-6 days in a row, but when you are done, you have a fun movie on your hands. If you are working with professional, safe people, there is no downside. Its simply good fun, hard work, and everybody busts their butts to make this work. I appreciate everything the universe has given me. I will always try to find the positive in the negative. It may take long hours to make a horror film, but it takes long hours to shoot any TV show or film. It comes with the territory. Hard work and long hours don’t frighten me. Not having a copy of my work does. Hahaha…

Do you have any good stories about someone being jerky to you on a movie set?
In this business you may find yourself up against some real slime. It comes with the turf. On the set of Old School, we had the best time hanging out, and playing around, joking, laughing and being stupid. I found myself with Jeremy Piven, Jessie Heisman (American Pie), Vince Vaughn and other pledges and sorority girls, kicking back and having a good time. The last day of filming, Vince bought everyone sushi on the set, and it wasn’t until Snoop Dogg was scheduled to show up that things got jerky and cranky. Everyone started to get too tired, and the rain was pouring down outside. Maybe it was the cold, or all the smoke that was coming around the fence, but everyone was about to fall asleep. When Andy Dick and Jon Favreu showed up, I went over to shake Jon’s hand. (I LOVED him in “Swingers”) and he was starting to film another movie called Daredevil. I went to grab his hand, and say hello, and he gave me a limp noodle handshake, and looked at me like I was chicken liver. Not the kind of reception I am used to. I thought that was jerky. That’s okay. He’ll want to shake my hand someday, and I will grip his hand too tight and teach him how to really give a handshake. Haha…

One of your recent films was “Guardian Of the Realm” What can you tell us about that one–and what was your role?
I play Debbie, a roommate of a missing girl. Glen Levy and Tonya come to question me, and I basically hit on him, while giving him no “useful” information whatsoever. I find myself playing roles with a comic flair, and I honestly don’t mean to. Here I am, saying my lines, and Ted Smith and the crew start cracking up! They are all looking in the monitor and I’m thinking “Okay, I must have a big booger on my nose,” but they simply tell me that the way I look at Glen, and deliver my lines, are hilarious to them. The look of annoyance I give to Tanya must be priceless. I can’t wait to see this film. I hear that Glen can do amazing stunt work and jumping without wires.

Get the rest of the interview in part three of HEATHER ASHLEY: SURVIVING THE HOLLYWOOD JUNGLE>>>




Posted on August 16, 2004 in Interviews by

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