February 22, 2010

Interview: Sherilyn Fenn

One of my new goals for this blog is to start featuring interviews with people involved in the motion picture or music industry, or just interesting people or artists in general. And not interviews for the sake of getting hits on my page or boasting some "famous" name on my site, but interviews with people that I admire or are part of projects that I'm genuinely interested in. So with that being said, for my first interview to be with one of my favorite actresses is truly an honor. I contacted Sherilyn Fenn through e-mail and she was kind of enough to respond and let me know that she was cool with me asking her a few questions about some of the cult and horror films that she's appeared in throughout her career as opposed to her more mainstream films. Sherilyn responded to my interview request promptly, and within a matter of only a couple of days, the interview was complete. Anyway, here it is... my interview with the lovely and talented Sherilyn Fenn. Enjoy!

The Death Rattle (Aaron): Sherilyn, your 1986 film THE WRAITH is being re-released on DVD next month by Lions Gate as a special edition. With that being said, were you contacted by the studio and did you have any input as far as the extra features on the DVD were concerned?
Sherilyn Fenn: No, not at all.

Death Rattle: THE WRAITH has quite the cult following and it's a nostalgic movie for me, personally. What are your memories of working on the film, and is it a movie that you're proud of?
Sherilyn: I unfortunately do not have good memories of it. The director did not know what he was doing, Charlie Sheen was high all the time, even had to stop filming one day because he couldn't get it together. I was given an acting coach and became the "identifiable problem". And worst of all, someone actually DIED during a second unit filming... sorry. They even moved the camera on me to get a shot of my breasts that was never part of the deal. I despise dishonest people.

Death Rattle: Was there anything in particular that attracted you to starring in THE WRAITH, or were you just looking to work at the time?
Sherilyn: I think I was looking for work at the time. I guess I thought it was a love story. Again, not a fave of mine at all.

Death Rattle: Around the time that you did THE WRAITH, you also starred in the skateboarding movie THRASHIN', which also starred a young Josh Brolin in the lead role. What are your memories of working on that film and, again, what attracted you to it?
Sherilyn: I loved this filming experience but it WAS a big party. Many of my friends were in the film. It was fun to play a hard woman like that. We laughed because my dearest friend (Pamela Gidley) played the sweet innocent girl when she was more like (my character) Velvet and vice versa. So it was ironic and FUN. But not too professional.

Death Rattle: What I love about THRASHIN' is that it's like an explosion of 80s pop culture and fashion. In the film you had the big hair, the leather jackets, and you even had your face painted during the awesome joust scene. Did you dress like that when you weren't on set?
Sherilyn: No I did not dress THAT extreme. That is one of the fun aspects of acting in films.

Death Rattle: Does it surprise you that Josh Brolin went on to be such a big star?
Sherilyn: I love Josh. I love his work and am happy for his accomplishments.

Death Rattle: Back then you also starred in a movie called ZOMBIE HIGH alongside Virginia Madsen, which I haven't seen, mainly due to the fact that I can't find it anywhere. As best as you can remember, what's the movie about and what are your memories of working on it?
Sherilyn: This is during a time when many teen movies that were silly were being made. Yes this was another. You seem to haunt all funky memories of a 24 year career with all the dodgy stuff. There are not a lot of poignant memories regarding this as well. I love Virginia though. We have worked together since.

Death Rattle: You also starred in another horror film called MERIDIAN, which is like Charles Band's version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. What are your thoughts on that film and do you have fond memories of working on it?
Sherilyn: This was my chance to go to Italy.

Death Rattle: You had a leading role in the controversial film BOXING HELENA. What were your thoughts when you first read the script for it?
Sherilyn: I was scared, threw the script across the room. This is always a good sign. It usually means I need to do the film because it evoked some things inside of me to look at. We all worked very hard on that film. I am proud of it.

Death Rattle: Is BOXING HELENA a movie that you pursued and auditioned for, or did director Jennifer Lynch seek you out for the role?
Sherilyn: We read the script and took a meeting with Jennifer. It pursued me. I feel J. Lynch is one of the most brilliant people in my life.

Death Rattle: Speaking of Jennifer, you worked with her father (and one of my favorite directors of all-time), David Lynch, on the TWIN PEAKS series, and you also had a small role in WILD AT HEART. David is known for being hands-on with the casting of his projects and doesn't necessarily have his actors and actresses audition for their roles. Was this the case with you?
Sherilyn: Yes. He meets limited people based on a vibe that he gets from their pics. He does not read people.

Death Rattle: Most people speak pretty fondly of working with David Lynch. What are your memories of working with him and what was the vibe like on his sets?
Sherilyn: He is a kind and good man. He adores the medium and brings one into his world. Encourages you to embrace any darkness. I fell in love with him on some level.

Death Rattle: What was your ultimate goal when you first became an actress?
Sherilyn: When I started at 17, I was young and thought it would be fun to be famous. Then I matured and found a great teacher, Roy London, and I learned the gift of storytelling. The goal then became to illuminate my human struggle in a way that I and others can grow from it.

Death Rattle: Pin-up model Dita Von Teese named your Playboy pictorial as the sole inspiration for her dyeing her hair jet black, which is now a trademark of hers. That being said, how does this make you feel, and generally speaking, how do you feel about being a sex symbol?
Sherilyn: I love Dita. We are trying to find a way to dance together. I always laugh at being called a "sex symbol". So people look at me and immediately think of sex??!!! It is meant to be flattering and it's nice but I do not desire to only be seen as eye candy and that is what being called that feels like sometimes. Thank God as an older woman it is not that so much....

Death Rattle: Aside from Playboy, you also appeared nude in some of your films. Was this something that you were a little hesitant about initially? Did you worry that appearing nude in films would somehow damage your career, or are you proud of what you've done?
Sherilyn: I try to have no regrets in my life. By choosing to appear nude at times I was dealing with things in myself that I was not comfortable with. Otherwise I would just be an exhibitionist. The fact that there is always such a focus on nudity says a lot about it. Not in Europe, only in America. Nudity IS a part of life. There were times where it made it impossible for people to see my work once they saw my breasts. Oh well, their loss. Go to a museum for goodness sakes.

Death Rattle: Do you have any regrets as far as your career is concerned?
Sherilyn: No.

Death Rattle: Of all the films and televisions shows you've done in your career, which are you most proud of and why?
Sherilyn: This changes from moment to moment, and I certainly don't sit around thinking of what I am most proud of. Obviously, TWIN PEAKS because it is something that has stood the test of time. However, it is David's brilliance that enabled that. I am also proud of OF MICE AND MEN. And THE ELIZABETH TAYLOR STORY.

Death Rattle: Not to put you on the spot or anything, but which film or television show are you least proud of and why?
Sherilyn: Again, is so much dirt really interesting? The "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality. Yes, there are many things I had to do to support myself and my family. So there are many things I did not like. Too many to count or speak of in fact....

Death Rattle: Sherilyn, some people may not realize this, but you're actually part of the blogging community. I've read a lot of your posts and they seem to be very personal and philosophical. What inspired you to start your blog and what motivates you to write?
Sherilyn: A desire to be honest and connect with others. The same thing that motivated my acting once I found my teacher. People can check out the blog. www.sherilynshines.blogspot.com

Death Rattle: What do you enjoy when you're not acting or being a mom?
Sherilyn: I am NEVER not a mom and it brings me more joy than anything in my life. But I also like to cook.

Death Rattle: Are you currently working on anything at the moment, or are you laying low for the time being?
Sherilyn: I am mothering, writing, and recovering from an injury on a set.

Death Rattle: Any movies you've seen lately that you're crazy about or have been blown away by?

Death Rattle: Finally, is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans who are reading this, and is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Sherilyn: Just my blog..... I want it to lead me to a memoir.

Death Rattle: Sherilyn, thanks again so much for your time. It's been a pleasure speaking with you. Best of luck to you and please keep in touch!
Sherilyn: Same to you.


  1. Cool interview - very candid. I loved Sherilyn Fenn's work on Twin Peaks and she seems to be one of those rare actresses who isn't afraid to take risks.

    'Do your palms ever itch?'

  2. Congratulations, Aaron, on landing an interview with one of my favourite actresses. Sherilyn Fenn comes across as immensely likeable and straight-talking; I'll make a point of checking out her blog.

  3. Nice interview, Thanks for all the info, Thrashin was awsome back in the day, You gotta love the pool jousting in it, The wraith,Its been a long time since i watched that film, Im sure if i watched it now it isnt as good, Charlie sheen at his best, That car was pretty bad ass though, Keep up te good work,

  4. Thanks man. I think The Wraith holds up! But that's just a matter of opinion. And Thrashin' WAS the shit. The joust scene was awesome. I might watch it again later as a matter of fact. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie, looking forward to your next update on your blog!

  5. Great job man, and a hellova first interview to score in my opinion! =) Was a really interesting read. I've enjoyed much of her work and I have to say, her eyes have always just floored me. I'm going to have to check out her blog.

  6. This was a huge surprise tonight, Sherilyn thanks for taking the time to jump on The Death Rattle, I am still a huge fan of Twin Peaks and each of you had just as vital a role in its lasting effect as David! Great interview Aaron!

  7. Thanks, guys! Be sure to go check out her blog. Follow it, leave comments, all that good stuff... she digs the feedback she gets.

  8. wow! way to go Aaron. I saw this post at work and wanted to read it without distractions.

    good job man. hope to see more stuff like this.

  9. Cool, thanks for finally checking it out. I'm glad you dug it. I would definitely love to have more interviews with people I admire on the site.

  10. I, too, got a chance to correspond with Sherilyn Fenn via email while I was working on a college project on depictions of femininity in Twin Peaks. She's a very sweet, candid, unusual, fascinating woman and it was a real privelege.

    Great interview!

  11. Thanks! Do you have a link to your interview? I would love to read it. Thanks for stopping by.