Originally appearing in the Horror world as little Jaime Lloyd in Halloween 4, Danielle Harris instantly became a horror icon and gained a horror fan base that has stood the test of time. Taking a hiatus from Horror for a while, she came back for a starring role in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, after which she steadily became one of the best and most recognizable actors in the genre. Recently starring in Hatchet 3, making her directorial debut with Among Friends, and raising funds for the Fear Clinic movie, I give you the very first (i.e. phone instead of email) BackwoodsHorror.com interview. Boils ‘n Ghouls, Danielle Harris:
BACKWOODS HORROR: Well I think the first thing I’d like to say is congratulations for Hatchet 3!
DANIELLE HARRIS: Thank You.
BWH: I just saw it last night and thought it was pretty good.
DH: Awesome, I’m glad you liked it.
BWH: I really, and I’m not just saying this, I thought you were the best part about it.
DH: Thank you.
BWH: I also read that you were getting married soon?
DH: I am, where did you find that one?
BWH: When I was doing some research for the interview, I found that you had mentioned it in another article so I wanted to congratulate you again.
DH: Thank you. I’m getting married January 4th.
BWH: Not too far off now.
DH: I know, I’m in the midst of wedding planning. It’s been pretty insane.
BWH: So, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you get started in the film business?
DH: I was actually a beauty pageant kid. I did beauty pageants from about 5 until I was 7 and I won a pageant that took me to New York and I got a modeling agent. I was originally from New York, but was living in Florida at the time, so I moved back to New York and started doing commercials and TV Shows. I was in a soap opera called One Life To Live for a couple of years, and then I landed the Halloween movie [Halloween 4] and it was sort of all uphill and forward from there.
BWH: Oh yeah, you gained quite a few fans from the Halloween films.
DH: For sure.
BWH: So many actors who come into the business as children seem to have a difficult time not only with life itself, but continuing to act into adulthood, but I’d say you’ve done a hell of a job. Was the transition difficult?
DH: Yeah, I mean there were definitely a couple of years where I struggled to be taken seriously as an adult because I’ve looked so young my whole life, I mean I’m 36 and I’m still playing mid-20’s so in my early 20’s I was still playing teenagers but didn’t really act like a teenager so it was a little difficult to find where I belonged I think, but I got over that hump, it just took me a while. I’m pushing late 20’s [characters], but there will be a time where I’ll have to play someone’s mom, a wife or mom, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m close, but not yet, probably in the next couple of years.
BWH: I look forward to it.
DH: Thanks, me too.
BWH: You stand out in just about any role you take, no matter the genre, but you seem particularly drawn to horror. Is horror your favorite genre?
DH: It’s sort of the [genre] that’s chosen me, I think, it’s where my fan following is. I’m very picky and I pick and choose wisely in the genre because I do get a lot of opportunities to work. I have to be a little careful not to take on everything that comes my way because I do like working so much, but there’s only so much you can do so I try and find the balance of staying devoted to the fans and giving them what they want while at the same time staying true to myself.
BWH: How do you feel about being considered a lifelong icon within the horror genre?
DH: It’s crazy! I mean I’ve done a lot of horror movies, but I didn’t do them for 20 years. So for me it’s a little odd that I’d be considered a lifelong horror icon when I only did three horror movies until 2007. I did the Halloween movies which sort of branded me forever in the horror genre and then came back for Rob Zombie’s Halloween and from then on it’s been full speed ahead. Any time I can be an icon as long as it’s positive, I’ll take it!
BWH: There were a lot of fans of your character Jaime Lloyd who were hoping, perhaps, she’d take over the reigns from Michael. That would’ve been incredible.
DH: It would’ve been, yeah!
BWH: What drew you to the Hatchet franchise and what was it like taking over the role of Marybeth?
DH: Adam Green is a very good friend of mine and we talked for many years about working together, but nothing had quite come up that was right for me. I had auditioned for the original Hatchet movie and didn’t get it, so when Hatchet 2 came around there were some issues with casting and the original girl who played MaryBeth [Tamara Feldman] wasn’t available and they were going to have to replace her. So he called and asked if I’d be interested and I gave him a little shit for not casting me in the first one, but I agreed to do it and was excited because I was done on the Halloween movies. So for me it was nice to kind of take on – and I had never been a leading lady before, not since I was a kid, so it was nice to be the final girl in a new franchise. I was a fan of Hatchet from the beginning, I mean I saw it in the theater, so I was pretty stoked to be a part of it.
BWH: When the first movie came out, it seemed to have a hard time getting shown in some places. I guess because of content. I was living in North Carolina at the time and we actually had to drive out of state to see it.
BWH: The Hatchet films, thankfully, incorporate the art of practical special makeup effects instead of an overabundance of computer generated effects. Which do you prefer?
DH: I’m more of a fan of practical effects. I think those people are artists and excited to get their hands dirty and kind of kick it old school. I think it’s because of my generation and that’s what I come from. Computers have come so far nowadays, but I feel like it’s doing a disservice to the audience. Making movies with practical effects, movies like Hatchet, put the fun back in the genre, something that’s been lacking for quite a few years with the overabundance of CG, and torture porn, these sort of hardcore, brutal, terrorizing films. It’s nice to have something you can laugh and giggle at, but at the same time get scared and jump but know that it’s not real. We see too much of that in real life so it’s nice to have sort of a break.
BWH: Sort of like riding a roller coaster.
BWH: How did you like working with Kane Hodder?
DH: Oh Kane’s like my big brother. Kane and I have been friends for many years, we’ve worked together many times and I consider him family. I just love him. He calls me “baby doll” and he’s literally like my big brother. He protects me and looks out for me, we laugh together, and we make sure if we go to a screening or an appearance together we try and fly on the same flight and sit next to each other. If we’re at a table we’ll sit next to each other. We always like to be within earshot of one another. We’ve got a very, very good relationship. Hopefully we’re going to be able to raise our budget for this movie [version of] Fear Clinic with Robert Englund that we did years ago, which is how we first started to work together. It was a web series and it’s on Indie Go-Go right now, so we’re very close to raising our budget and we’ll get to start another franchise together!
BWH: Can you tell me a little more about Fear Clinic?
DH: Yeah, Fear Clinic was a web series for Fearnet with Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and I, and basically it was about Doctor Andover who Robert played and he was a doctor that was working in a hospital in Mexico. He was putting patients in this thing called a fear chamber and was forcing them to relive their phobia in order to overcome it. So I was a patient of his who was there since I was very young and he was unable to cure me so he became obsessed with trying to make me better. He’s a bit of a twisted doctor at the same time and my character isn’t falling for it and Kane’s character is one of his orderlies who had been in jail and is working for Andover, so it’s a little bit of a shady business they’ve got going there to say the least.
BWH: You’ve worked with a variety of Directors within the genre such as Robert Hall, Adam Green, Rob Zombie, And BJ McDonnell on Hatchet 3. Can you share any favorite experience or experiences?
DH: You know what’s great is that all of the [directors] you’ve mentioned are new directors, so for me what’s exciting is that I started doing this many, many years ago, and they were watching the movies that I was making, so it’s pretty cool to be a part of watching their process and seeing them grow and learn and be excited about getting certain shots. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that and to know that I have their back in case anything goes wrong and they’ve got my back. I mean these guys are fans, first and foremost, they’re all fans. I think that’s what’s great about the genre is that you have fans directing these movies. They’re not just working for hire, and I think that makes for a better film.
BWH: Definitely! You can see the love being put into it as opposed to it being just another paycheck.
DH: Yeah, for sure!
BWH: You’ve spoken in the past about wanting to work with Quentin Tarantino. Are there any other directors or writers you’d like to work with?
DH: It’s funny because I just saw a Woody Allen film the other day and I was like god I would love to work with Woody Allen. There are so many, you know, Kathryn Bigelow [(Near Dark, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty)] would be amazing, there are so few female directors so she’d definitely be number one on my list. There are just so many and they’re all so different. Robert Rodriguez would be rad, if we’re talking genre, that would be great. Edgar Wright is an acquaintance of mine and I love his movies as well. He’s just cool. They’re all just so cool. I love what I do and it would be exciting to bring something new to the table.
BWH: I would love to see you in a Woody Allen movie!
DH: Wouldn’t that be great! I would love it!
BWH: Speaking of directors, I can’t wait to see your new directorial effort Among Friends.
DH: We have a release date [soon, August 27th 2013 according to Amazon]. Lionsgate Grindstone is releasing it in the US and Anchor Bay in Canada, and we are pretty high up there on the Amazon pre-order list, which is amazing, and I’m stoked! It’s the beginning of the next chapter of my career and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m really excited and honored to have such support from fans who want to encourage me to move one. I’ll still be an actor, though being a director will take up a couple of years of my time per project, but it’s nice that the fans are supporting that and not angry that I’m not putting myself on the screen as an actor for a little while.
BWH: Ok, that about wraps it up. Thank you so very much for talking with me today!
DH: It was great talking with you, thank you!