We spoke with legendary horror actress Lisa Wilcox; best know for her role as Alice in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5. She has also had many other film & TV roles including Fear Clinic, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Knot’s Landing and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures.
“…..I became hooked, line and sinker, by the power of how a story and characters will influence, by default and cause reflection and can change one’s life. Hope.”
What inspired you to become an actress ?
There are 3 parts J There is a beginning, a middle and an end!
Theatre was my initial inspiration. As a kid, my family and I would go to New York and see Broadway Plays. I recall Dracula being one of them and Evita. Wow.
We didn’t go to a lot of movies and my TV watching was limited to a half hour a day. Except for Saturday mornings – my sister and I would watch all morning until noon. We loved watching the Monkey’s Show. Later in life Mickey Dolenz became a family friend. Small world!
I had done one play for fun in high school, Washington, Missouri. Small comedic role – Ms. Randazzle in the play M*A*S*H – yes the TV show was initially a play. I played this sexy secretary and the scene was played in front of the curtain on the proscenium. It was a scene with my Boss and I’m too strut over in stiletto heels and tight pencil skirt, then proceed to sit on his desk, banter while writing shorthand on my notepad. Mind you, I was all of 14 years old. One of the 4 nights we performed, things went differently, as things do in live theatre J. As I’m strutting over to the desk, one of the locked footlights was not locked therefore my foot and strappy heel disappear into the footlight. I am stuck. My strappy shoe is now dangling off my ankle about 6 inches down the footlight. My pen and notebook have flown away and I’m struggling with my pencil skirt, hoping it won’t split. The audience of 500 is laughing while I lay center stage in a Cirque du Soleil position – a term not known then but use now J The actor playing, “The Boss” was terrific and we began an improve. He said, “Had a little too much to drink there Ms. Randazzle?” Soon, heads are popping out through the middle split of the main stage curtain and I am rescued by Hawkeye, the lead, who happened to be my boyfriend, football team quarter back. Who knew a football player would want to be in a play? Or date a shy girl who didn’t know herself? I meagerly climb up and limp to the desk with gusto, carrying my stiletto, to complete the scene. Needless to say, I was the talk of the school on Monday – which I never dreamed possible. I was a studious and shy girl. I was gleaming with the fun, ride and surprise. The adventure of it all.
Shortly thereafter my family moved to Southern California. My father had a terrific job opportunity. I was planning to do something in the medical field. A completely different world this California than Missouri. I made friends slowly but surely and accompanied a friend to a play audition at Buddy Ebsen’s Theatre. I’m sitting in the theater, waiting for my friend to do his thing and the producer approached me to audition for this play, Landford Wilson’s “Hot L Baltimore.” I was like, “What? No, no, no…I’m here with my friend.”
Well, I auditioned and wound up with the lead role of “Girl.” I was credited with Dramalogue awards, etc.
Director, Joan McGillis was incredibly inspiring and a great teacher. I was a radish off the turnip truck. Joan was nurturing and taught me more than I can explain….Learning 7 monologues for instance – run, do cartwheels, saying the words, repeat, running out of air, sing the lines, etc. Her daughter, actress Kelly McGillis, continues on in the same vein now as an acting teacher. Neat!
I became hooked, line and sinker, by the power of how a story and characters will influence, by default and cause reflection and can change one’s life. Hope.
You played the character ‘Alice Johnson’ in A Nightmare on Elm Street part 4 & 5 – how did find playing this character? Out of the two parts which was your favourite and why?
I feel that the part of Alice is beautifully and tenderly written. Movement and character arcs in Nightmare 4 & 5.
Alice was that shy girl living in books and day dreams. I know for girls, many of us were that exact girl growing up in grade school, junior high and high school. I was definitely that girl growing up and had no clue about my inner power and beauty. When I read Nightmare 4 I exclaimed – this is me at 10-15 years old!
Alice’s character is not one-dimensional. So many scenes reveal her character, frustration and the sadness of having a drunk for a Dad and a mother who died. The scenes with Rick – a brother and sister who are doing the best they can in such a circumstance. A true life circumstance. Alice is forced to eventually face her sadness and fears. Faced to grow up because those she loves. Alive or dead, are counting on her. We all at one point we have to face the unknown or forever be living in the past.
Nightmare 4 was truly a great date movie and the huge box office gross proves it. It wasn’t so horror and bloody bound. A sweet ending and lots of humor. Who knew Freddy could be so cool wearing Rayband sunglasses at the beach but still be so formidable? Fantastic music too.
In Nightmare 5, Alice has risen to inner strength and her feminine power. Now political and social inertia must be dealt with. It is interesting the topics that come up in N5. Drunk driving, teenage pregnancy, abortion, family rights, teenager rights. It is a forward thinking film that raises these issues in a horror format. In real life, these topics are not comfortable to face. Faceoff in N5 for sure. Brave film.
If I had to choose, Nightmare 4 was my favorite to be in. The degrees of character development were many and the challenge of adding my friends powers to my performance. We don’t film in sequence so my script had notes for every scene as far as who had died and whose powers or personality I was now in charge of. It was awesome!
Nightmare5 is also close to my heart. Alice shows her balls without hindrance! The shy and meek girl is no more
What was it like working with horror legend Robert Englund aka Freddy Krueger?
Bob is wonderful to work with. No egotism and no snotty. There to work and have fun too. He is creative and yearns to make every scene the best it can be. He is an amazing raconteur and knows something about everything! He is my friend and his lovely wife Nancy too.
Are you a fan of horror films yourself?
OH YES! The first novel I ever read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was in 4th grade and read it secretly under the covers with an electric blanket light. I signed out library books on ghosts and the paranormal. I was a fan of Nightmare1,2 and 3 before I even booked the role in 4. I’m a fan of The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, SAW, Candyman, all vampire films, AMC’s Walking Dead, etc. New favorite horror film, “Let the Right One In” – fantastic and tender.
You’ve played many roles both on the big and small screen – which has been your favourite?
It goes without saying that the part of Alice is my favorite. How great to live out my own young girl life in a film and impact folks all over the world!
The part of Yuta in Star Trek Next Gen is also a favorite. To end up on the STNG Monopoly board too– a property, is pretty cool J
I also loved the role I did on Walker Texas Ranger. A Christmas episode. I play Nun Grace. Episode, “Saving Grace”
Last but not least is playing Carol Brady/Florence Henderson in a Brady Bunch movie of the week.
If you could play any role which would it be?
In fact, I’m prepping for a film and the director asked me for input and the same question you proposed. What do I want to do with the character? Open.
My reply is put me on a motorcycle and sporting a machete, Danny Trejo style. Skin tight black and fabulous boots.
What’s your favourite movie of all time?
The Godfather films
Who would win in a fight Alice Johnson or Nancy Thompson?
Alice. She has her friend’s powers after all!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Clinger was accepted at the 2015 Slamdance/Sundance film festival and has been picked up by Paragon. Limited theatre open In New York, Los Angeles and Houston. Then…?
William Frost – filming Fall 2015
Survivor – filming 2015
Monster School – comic book
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