We recently spoke to Penelope Sudrow who is best known for her role as Freddy Krueger victim Jennifer in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.
“I am truly grateful and blessed to be a part of this film Nightmare On Elm St III”
What was your experiences like working on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) Well, there were a lot of experiences working on nightmare. From the first thing I did was go down to the special effects warehouse and get a full body plaster from head to toe.
That was interesting & I can remember it like yesterday for some reason.
Other than that, for me, it was very much a job. I started working professionally in show business at age 6.
By the time I got Nightmare, I was actually getting a little burned out (pardon the pun, gee I just realized the irony of that comment considering what my character does to herself to stay awake…Hmmm).
Also, because it was a low budget film, there was not a lot of hanging around time as there can be on bigger budget sets. On a lower budget, you just cannot afford to waste time, so I just remember going to the set, doing my job and going home. I lived very close to where we filmed too. Most of the interior shots of the hospital were filmed at the VA hospital in Brentwood where I lived & was raised. Also, in spite of the fact that I grew up in show business, i was actually pretty shy, so i just kind of stayed to myself at that time mostly.
Your character Jennifer had one off the best and memorable deaths in the franchise – how many times have you had “Welcome to Prime Time bitch” yelled at you by fans?
Thank you for saying that, I never knew I had become some kind of horror film “icon” (right word??) until recent years, but to answer your question, the number of times that line has been “yelled at” me is zero…that is because, the fans I have met through the years have always been very kind, and well mannered people. I am very proud to have such kind, sweet and genuinely loving and caring fans. I really mean that & as I have said many times before, they have been lights in my life, more than they even know.
Growing up working in show business especially in the 70’s from the age of 6, is a road with many unusual pressures on it that are hard to understand if you haven’t had that experience. Sadly, i am one of the casualties of that time because the child labour laws were not in good effect at all and subsequently, I never received the bulk of the money I worked so hard for. I’ve gone through some rough times and during those times have had fans come up to me and act like I am a big star or something…as if I matter and that has meant so much to me in those moments and beyond them too. Words fail to even describe what how those moments have helped me through tough times.
What is your best memory from working on the film?
For me it is not about memories with that film…it is about how it has blessed me now and what it has become.
I myself was not a horror film fan, mainly because I was a scardy cat…very active imagination and constantly afraid of ghosts etc. So, I wasn’t even sure i wanted to do the film, but now, I know I am and was so lucky and blessed to have been in it. Also, what I know now, is that it is much more than a horror film…it actually has a very positive and empowering message and I believe that is one reason why it is so successful. Its a simple message but not always an easy one to attain…that is facing your fears, facing the monsters in your life etc. I have had many fans come up to me at conventions and say that it actually helped pull them through really hard times when they were young & struggling with things, even physical ailments. That just means a lot to me. I get very emotional sometimes when meeting the fans & hearing these things. I was teased a lot sometimes in schools & know what it is like to be bullied and the oddball & outcast. That is one of the main reasons for my non profit which I am wanting to begin. Dealing with remedying some of these issues that arise from bullying in it’s vastly varying forms.
Did you anticipate the cult following these films would have?
No!!! Not at all…never even thought of that, it never crossed my mind that I was possibly doing a film that would become anything at all. Newline was a very small independent film company and I really had no idea. Something I find sad now, is, I did not even know it Had become a “classic” with such a huge following until about 6 or 7 years ago!! Til then, I had no idea that I had fans out there and that I was still a part of something of significance in show business.
Like I said, when I did Nightmare I was kind of getting a little bit burned out from all of the pressure I had had on me since age 6. I kind of drifted away from my career after that & I regret that. Especially when I meet fans and they tell me how much I affected them, and what fans they are of my acting. I had no idea of any of this back then. I had a manager at the time whom kept telling me I wasn’t getting certain roles because of my “looks”. I let myself get discouraged but I really did not have the right kind of support either. But anyway, I feel very blessed an honoured to be a part of this film now and I feel like, it being one of the last things I did, it was a gift to me from whatever it is “out there” so that I would not walk away from all of my years of very hard work, even as a child with absolutely nothing. 🙂
Are you a fan of horror films yourself?
Well…I kind of answered that already but, I will say a bit more…I love a good psychological horror film like “The Shining“, something with really good story and character development. i am not a fan of “slasher films” or gore…I’m just not. I’m a scaredy cat. I close my eyes when things get gorey or bloody etc. i just have absolutely no appetite for that visually &, I honestly do not understand why some people do. I’m not judging that at all, I just don’t get it!! 🙂
What led you to become an actress?
That’s a question that would take a long time to tell. That is something i will write about in my book someday. I was only 6 by the way….:) But, both of my parents had worked in show business before they met and married and had me.
My dad had been an actor in new York in the 50’s and I am very very proud of that and of him. But he always down played it too. My mom had been a dancer in new York in the 50’s, I am very proud of her too. I became both.
You’ve played many TV roles over the years which has been your favourite?
My favourite work in show business has been my dancing. That is what I am most proud of. That is something a bit rarer than most child actors from my day. I was a highly skilled tap dancer and a prodigy of Danny Daniels. I believe he taught Christopher Walken when he was a kid and went on to choreograph the film “Pennies from Heaven”. I was his prodigy, toured with his company when I was 10 and did about a half dozen variety shows for TV in the 70’s with him. I got to work and dance along side such luminaries as Gene Kelly (my favourite), Danny Kaye, John Denver (a wonderful man), Bernadette Peters & Shields & Yarnell a few times. This is what I am most proud of in my TV work.
If you could play a role from any movie which would it be any why?
If I were to act again right now, I would like to play a role of someone whom has been through a storm, and somehow survived. A heroine maybe even like a super hero type of character. I would have to get back into tip top shape, and since I used to do gymnastics and dance and yoga that wouldn’t be too hard. I think that that would be fun and empowering. As I said, I myself have been through some rough times, and I’ve never been the kind of “actress” wanting to just take on any role…it always has to be something i can identify with or relate to. I like to play characters that have been challenged. I really love the characters Melissa McCarthy writes and plays, I can relate to them a lot and I find them endearing too. She’s a wonderful talent and gift. Other than that, I would love to do a musical and I choreograph too so, that would be really fun for me. 🙂
What is your favourite film of all time?
I don’t know if I have just one. Sorry. I know I loved “The Deer Hunter” and that always comes to mind. But I saw it when I was very young and all films had a bigger impact on me then. I remember I for some reason could not speak for like 3 days after seeing that film. Then, I kept watching it over and over again…It was on the Z channel. I was obsessed. Each time, I could not speak for days. My then older sister used to come in and I’d hear her say “oh no, she’s watching that film again!!”. But she was the one whom wanted to watch it in the first place. I had been wanting to see “Little darlings” again for the umpteenth time!!
Aside form that, there are so many wonderful films aren’t there ?? I just saw the original version of “Lost Horizon” the other night, it was really wonderful. The one from the 70’s was a favourite of mine too, but you cannot find that one anywhere!!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Well…I would love to work again, I am working right now though on sort of re-designing my life and re-building it after a long period of “change”. (That is putting it very lightly…:) Dancing is my true love but I also write a lot and play mostly classical piano but I have been learning some jazz too and my non-profit is special to me. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Things that have been on hold for far too long. That’s how I look at life these days. My parents have both passed and a few others I was very close to. Dealing with the grief of those losses took a lot of creative thinking and processing of my thoughts on life. The end result has been to accept that none of us are here forever and we have a certain amount of time to be here and how do we spend that time wisely. Work well, sleep well, be productive, as healthy as you can for as long as you can and kind. & have fun every once in a while too…that is essential! I’ve also written some really good songs and I want to either produce those or let someone else sing perform them.
We’ll see, I’ve got a lot of ideas, a few t-shirt lines I have been wanting to do.
I would love to do some film, and interesting roles, more character…maybe a musical or a dark comedy…(I definitely could write a few of those. 🙂
Mainly I am more interested these days in writing, music, dance and health and healing than being in movies or television though. I’ve always really been a pretty private and shy person so, I’m not one to want the limelight too much. A little is nice, and wonderful & fun & can help benefit some of my other projects & causes & dreams. And I also love the feeling and experience of working on a film. The whole creative process of that is amazing.
One final note, I am truly grateful and blessed to be a part of this film Nightmare On Elm St III. I am also so lucky and blessed that the fans have been so very kind and good to me, and I just want to officially thank them for that!
Check Penelope out at www.penelopesudrow.com