Interview

Interview with Diane Franklin – Part II

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And now for the exciting conclusion of Unrated Film’s interview with actress / author Diane Franklin! 

Unrated: Regarding The Haunting of Long Island, how did you prepare for the role of Louise DeFeo? 

DF: Well what happened was, the minute I got the script I was so into the character, I was raised in Long Island, this film takes place in Long Island and I know these people. One of the many things I did when I prepared for the role was I did it on many different levels. Obviously the physicality of how I looked; so what I did first was I got long nails because at that time and if you were in Long Island you had these long, beautiful nails. When I was younger, physicality wasn’t something I really focused on but as I got older you take on roles that may have more character as adults have had more experiences with life and so there is more to them. I was looking for the body and voice of this character so that was one of the first things was to create something physical. So with the nails I started getting (speaks in a Long Island accent) “this voice ya know from Long Island” which was great. I love dialect but to do it it real and not a caricature. It’s sort of like when I did Better Off Dead, you don’t play someone who is French, you are French. And trying to convey the emotions of this character was very hard, I wanted to make it very real. This woman whose going through this experience and she doesn’t see the relationships, like the relationship with her son whose a murderer but I (Louise) love him. He’s my son! There was a lot of work on different relationships in this film. What I found interesting was there were maybe one or two photos of the woman, very few that I could use and that was…perfect for that time. People didn’t use selfies, women were like, “Don’t take a picture of me with that stupid camera.” That’s how they were, they weren’t vain. Even if they were vain, they didn’t want to appear vain. So maybe this woman didn’t want her photos taken because there aren’t a whole lot available on the internet. What does her body and voice tell? What could I learn from that? So I did a lot of research and I did a lot of thought when I went to audition for it. I’m telling you, everyone is going to be shocked when they see me. They are gonna freak out. 

Unrated: Ok, let’s go back to early on in your career and let’s talk The Last American Virgin. Still…this movie screws me up to this day. That ending still messes me up. 

DF: I’m glad you brought this up, that movie is why I wrote my second book. That movie was the first movie to bring curly hair back into the movies. I curly-haired kicked started it all – Dirty Dancing, Flashdance; Amy Irving is the only actress who had it the 70’s when she did Carrie. But she was really pretty in that. I wanted to know, where were the curly haired role models? I always had to straighten my hair for auditions. But when I got Virgin, after that film, it kick started everything where I got lead, after lead, after lead. I could not get “best friend” – up until Virgin, there were no curly haired actresses or they would straighten it out as much as they could. My new book talks about that. Virgin ironically, this strange little sex comedy – this indie film – started it all. How crazy is that? Isn’t that amazing? 

Unrated: How was it different when you were doing commercials compared to your first feature length film? 

DF: Well in commercials I was always trying to be the image of the American girl. I was trying to be like Farrah Fawcett but with black hair and blue eyes. Everyone was doing the flip of the hair but basically that was the American style – what you wanted to be was blonde, blue eyed and tan. When I did Virgin, the big difference was that I was just myself. That’s a great story in my book as it happened by complete accident, I wound up getting that movie with curly hair. That film…even though it’s a sex comedy, it has a lot of integrity and depth. My storyline was surprisingly deep…

Unrated: And dark. 

DF: Dark, yes and you wouldn’t think that. First off there are so many levels to that film. The clothes are amazing, the music is amazing, the fact that it is a universal story and it’s a true story, all of that happened to the director (Boaz Davidson). When I played the character of Karen…we were all new. No one knew who we were so everyone who sees it remembers the story and not the actor which I think is great. You really believe these people. If you had just the basic love story, guys wouldn’t see it. But if you say “There’s a girl naked and there’s some sex” guys would and they were running to see it. Then they not only learn about sex but they learn about love so that’s the thing I think is amazing about that film, there’s sort of a sex education for guys. 

Unrated: It’s almost like two movies. The first half is just a sex comedy and then it totally takes a different turn. 

DF: Yeah! As a man would you have watched the second movie by itself? No, you wouldn’t have been attracted to it. So I think it’s nice the way it comes in and then it stays with you because of that ending. 

Unrated: And that’s my next question: why the hell does Karen go with Rick and not Gary? 

DF: Yeah well…how I rationalized it is that I’m like a feather in the wind. Everyone who watches that film sees it in a different way. I’ve had women come to me and say, “Well I totally get why you went with Rick, he’s cute!” I’m like, well…that’s not what I was thinking, no. And guys would say to me, “You went to Rick because all women are horrible.” I’m like, no that’s not it either. For me it was like if you have a girl whose not formed yet, she’s like a feather in the wind. If you are nice to me, I’m nice to you. There’s no conscious. I played that character…it was hard! I myself would have gone to Gary and in fact that’s what happened and then we got the script, we went to the director and asked him, “You’re not going to keep this ending right? I’m gonna wind up with the other guy.” But that was the American happy ending and this is the European ending, made by an Israeli. That’s life, that’s the way it is. That’s truth. My parents are European so I get that, reality doesn’t have to be…there’s two ways to go thru life one where we show by example where we want life to be like this but there’s also a question of what is life, this is part of life and we need to praise all aspects of it. You never see it coming.

Unrated: Oh God, not at all. 

DF: (laughing) You don’t see it coming. At the end what I was saying with my eyes was, I didn’t have the strength to leave Rick. If he wanted me, he had to go after me. I was going to go wherever the wind pushes me. I mean if Gary had fought for me at that moment, I would have gone to Gary, if he would have fought for me. That’s how I saw it. I’m just passive. 

Unrated: Thank you, yes that helps. It’s that look on your face when he goes through the door and you are in the kitchen, that look you give is half a smile but teary-eyed, there is just so much emotion in that scene…

DF: To me, I was really saying “I can’t do it, this is life.” We have to just be here in the moment but I was not being without heartfelt. Someone has said I was smiling, being all cocky in his face and I was like, “Nooooo I wasn’t, I was hurting. But what could I say?” I just didn’t have the strength to leave this guy. That’s what makes the ending so interesting because it’s not really clear, maybe? Oh and it’s so painful. I watched it with other people and I can see it now, yeah I was a bitch. 

Unrated: (laughs)

DF: (laughs) It’s terrible. I’m sorry I was a bitch. But that’s Virgin… oh and I will say it played at Lincoln Center last year, I couldn’t believe it. What I love, love, love about it was that some people didn’t know about the ending! That ending…I mean, you gotta say, wouldn’t you recommend that movie to your friends? 

Unrated: Actually I had some friends over at my house a few years ago and I made them watch it, mainly for the ending but also because The Last American Virgin has one of the best soundtracks. 

DF: Oh yes. And also, the nudity is very raw. It’s very…first time. I was over 18 but still…I don’t know…if it was porn that’s one kind of nudity but a girl you can see in high school is a totally different thing. So all of a sudden it became so raw. There’s vulnerability…you can’t just fluff it off. The nudity isn’t glamorized, it’s beautiful but…I don’t know it adds to the movie’s reputable part of the film in a strange way if that makes sense.

Unrated: Oh it totally makes sense. Did you find it difficult to do nudity in The Last American Virgin?

DF: It was the first movie I did nudity with. I definitely was nervous. I was actually nervous for a strange reason. I never done nudity before, my parents are European so they didn’t have a problem with it but my first worry was with my family and would they be ok with it. Because when you do something like that it effects other people in your life. My parents were more, “Don’t do violence”.  They were more along the lines of no guns. They wanted me to be happy and whatever worked for me but the thing about the nudity was, I never saw myself as gorgeous. There were so many other women who had amazing bodies. So when I got cast in this they never asked to see my body so I was really afraid when they asked me to take my clothes off, my shirt, whatever…that people were gonna go, “Hmm, I don’t think so, no.” (laughs) 

After it happened the first time, we all laughed, asking, “Is this ok, is that ok?” Once we knew everything was ok we can now commit (to the role). It wasn’t like I was a pro at the end, “Yeah I’ll rip my shirt off.” I’m a shyer person that that. I always say that if it makes sense in the story, than that would be fine. In fact, I signed in my contract that there can be no photographs of nudity. Which is interesting because on the internet they take pictures from the film. 

Unrated: Yeah, I’ve seen that done. 

DF: I could go after it but it’s like trying to herd cat. There’s nothing I can really do about it so my feeling is I don’t back that but I’m glad I did it in the film because it was done tastefully and it had to do with my character. Every time I’ve done nudity it had to be because of the story, a part of the story. I’ve done it three times and then that was it. Ok, no more. Because I didn’t want to get hired because I did nudity, I wanted to get hired because I was a good actress. But if nudity was part of it and made sense, then you just do it. One of the characters I played was Eve, Adam and Eve, but I’m sorry if you have Eve with clothes that doesn’t work. That’s not real. When I did the film, it made sense. That’s a movie called Second Time Lucky

Unrated: Yeah that was one of my questions (laughs). 

DF: (laughs) Oh my Gosh, ok. I have to say I love doing this film (Second Time Lucky). This actually prepped me for Better Off Dead. I play Eve thru different time periods. It’s Gone With the Wind meets Benny Hill. It’s the most beautiful shot film ever, it’s gorgeous and I play all these different characters thru time. Great voices, great costumes, it’s sexy, it’s fun. I can never say it’s a really good movie but there’s aspects to it that I love more than any other film. I play a gangster girlfriend (she starts to speak with an Italian accent) and I “Tolk like dis” and get to have blond hair and blond eyebrows, it’s so great. It was shot like it was from the 1920’s. So as an actress that was an amazing experience. It’s not particularly a good film but it is a Diane Franklin film.

Unrated: Why did it go straight to video and not to theaters?  

DF: That’s interesting, um…well I think that’s the same problem that Terrorvision had. What happened was it got rated R but because…listen Terrorvision should have been rated PG-13  and it probably would have been a real big hit but it was rated R because there were all these nude paintings on the wall. It was totally by accident as the director told the Italian crew that this one room was a “pleasure palace” and they made all these nude paintings so even though it was hilarious to us, it made it an R rating. I think it would have been more popular had it been PG-13. It’s like a live-action cartoon. Second Time Lucky had that cartoon aspect too again if it didn’t have the nudity it could have totally been a PG-13 film. I think it had a hard time trying to find its audience, so I think they couldn’t put it into theaters (pause). I don’t know, it’s very strange. Second Time Lucky had no bad language but had a lot of nudity but there’s no sex so…I don’t know, it just didn’t find its audience. I think now it could because it’s just so weird. Do you know the movie House

Unrated: Oh yeah, of course. With William Katt. 

DF: Right. Like how do you explain that? Right? It’s so awesome…it’s (Second Time Lucky) one of those things where people can rent. It’s not a girl/guy film, I think it’s more of a guy film but with Better Off Dead you can invite your girlfriend over and watch it, you know what I mean? Bill & Ted you can watch it and bring your kids or whatever. I don’t know, I think Second Time Lucky is more of a single guy’s film. 

Unrated: Let’s talk about Amityville II: The Possession – were you a fan of the original film and did you ever read the book by Jay Anson? 

DF: Never read the book. At that time I did not want to scare myself. I did start to prepare for the part but I did get scared. This was the film where I actually did get the willies, during the shoot. I really did. I didn’t do much research because I knew the character had to be innocent. I didn’t research it but I did know about it because I lived in Long Island and Amityville is very close to where I grew up. That happened probably when I was about 7 or 8, the actual murders (actually Diane was 12 at the time the murders took place) so I wasn’t influenced by it but I knew the town and knew something happened in that town. 

Unrated: That movie scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. 

DF: See that’s funny that it scared you because when we did it, (the director) would shoot the stairs or a close up of the clock and we wondered what’s so scary about that? But it’s the music, the music! If you watch that film without music you will not be scared. But the music was incredible. Lalo Schifrin, who did music for Mission: Impossible

Unrated: He’s so great. 

DF: He’s amazing. So the music was really crucial to that film. Since then, since that film happened not only did director Daniel Farrands (The Haunting of Long Island, which as of this writing, may be called The Amityville Murders) he grew up on that film, he said he was hiding behind a chair when that film was out. Another fan of the film is Quentin Tarantino. He loved the movie and he played it in his theater within the last year and I did a Q&A there, the Beverly Cinema. 

Unrated: It’s interesting that so many people love it because there’s so many disturbing scenes in that, especially the whole situation between you and your brother – how were you even able to do that scene? 

DF: For those of you who do not know, the film has a lot of physical abuse in it and I have incest with my brother. He has incest with me, lets put it that way. But the thing that was interesting to me is the way it was shot was that it was shot the most real way they could have ever done. It’s very…disturbing. It wasn’t hard for me to do because I didn’t have a brother. If I had a brother maybe it would have been really weird but I had no connection to that kind of relationship. So when I am in the bed going, “What is it? What’s going on?” I was really of that head because it wasn’t something that would have occurred to me. But oh my gosh when I got those lines…how do I pull this off? So I played her so innocently…like come on “my panties?” Seriously, she wouldn’t be saying that. Really? Do I have to say this line? I just tried to make her so innocent that you would then believe that this is happening to her. I really must say that one of the things that I find really important about that role and that scene was when people are in a situation where someone close to them invades their space and crosses that boundary, because it has to do with a trust issue the whole time it is happening they are not going to be like, “Stop! Get away from me!” They are more likely to freeze and not do anything, because in their mind, this is not happening. This can’t be happening, this is a relative, this is somebody close to me. To play that role is like…I’ve seen sometimes with actors where they are so connected to the moment but I’m like, “Sorry but if you are a passive person, you are not going to do anything, you are gonna freeze.” The biggest problem I think in life is that to live with that guilt, to carry around that secret is to me the real sin. The real scary part of life. It’s not the ghosts haunting, it’s the secret. You have your own haunted house in you, you carry around your own haunted house. Playing that role, I was very respectful and understood that…I would freeze. She was innocent and afterwords she’s trying to rationalize it and she’s like, “Sonny, talk to me.” There’s a scene between the two of them where she’s trying to protect her brother because she’s the only one who understands him and she’s got this big secret that she has to help him with but on the other hand she doesn’t know what to do. I think they (the director) tried to make it sexualized like she may have liked it but really I don’t think it’s liked but it may be comfortable and it’s a person you know. It’s a trap. I think that’s what makes it so disturbing; once you see us together you go “how can this little girl carry this?” I have heard people say it’s the best Amityville film they have seen because it’s the most real. I think they will like the new one even more, I really do. I think they are going to flip out when they see this film. 

Unrated: I cannot wait. I’m a big Amityville fan so I am excited about that. 

DF: I text the director asking, “How’s it going?” (laughs) Oh I also wanted to add one more thing to The Last American Virgin story and that is Brett Ratner (director of the Rush Hour films) is a huge fan of The Last American Virgin. He loved the film but he loved me in this film. So much of his life he said was similar to it. But he was a huge fan and he wrote the forward to my new book. So my new book just came out this year in 2017 and it’s called The Excellent Curls of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80’s and how my curls influenced the entertainment business.  There’s tons of photos in it but he wrote the most lovely forward. My first book in 2012, Savage Steve Holland who directed Better Off Dead wrote my forward and talked about the audition process with me from Better Off Dead. I’m so lucky, I asked both these directors if they could do this and Brett was just a sweetheart for doing this. He talked about how my performance in that film influenced his entire life. Isn’t that amazing? 

Unrated: Oh wow, yeah.

DF: What I love about these films is that while they aren’t Academy Award winning films or whatever, they effect people. Sometimes they change their lives or sometimes it helps people get thru things. And in my books, I’m not going thru a publisher who tells me what I can or cannot put in. I write like…it’s the truth. I’m going to write another book but this one is funny because I’m doing a lot of conventions and people who come see me, I have the actual coat that I wore from Better Off Dead and I let people put the coat on for photos. So the third book I’m going to do will be about the excellent coat (laughs). So if you come see me or are at these conventions, you can wear the coat and I will put your picture in my book. I’ve been doing these conventions for awhile so I find it hilarious and it will be a thing where it will bond everyone and I want to see if I can get interviews with other people who are in the film. So it will be a great, big nostalgia trip for everybody. It will be a PG-13 book so people can take a picture with their kids…it’s a great way to bond people throughout the world with comedy thru this film (Better Off Dead). 

Unrated: I did see a 16 mm print of Deadly Lessons last year…

DF: (gasps) Wow! Where?

Unrated: At Cinema Wasteland, in Strongsville, OH 

DF: Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve heard of Cinema Wasteland! 

Unrated: Bill Paxton at the time had just passed away so I believe it was a tribute to Bill Paxton so they had a 16 mm print. 

DF: You saw it on the big screen? 

Unrated: Well they had a screen there at the auditorium. But it was all on film which was really neat. I had never seen it before as it came on TV when I was seven or eight years old so I missed it when it was on, but my question for you is – what is the difference between making a feature length theatrical film as opposed to a made for TV film? 

DF: Well I did that film and one called Summer Girls. TV films…you were treated really well and you were paid really well. With a feature film, it was like independent films today: there’s a budget and you have to hurry and you are jumping from location to location. It’s very exciting but it’s not…ugh how can I say this…it’s not as posh where when you are working on a television movie there’s more union, you stop for lunch, you get overtime, they have more money to spend on everything. People aren’t trying to scrape money together because there is money due to the advertising. So as an actor you are treated better on “Movie of the Week.” The interesting thing for me  was that Ally Sheedy was actually a bigger star when we did that film. She had just come off Wargames and I think she could have played my role. I mean she had a substantial role in the film but they had me play the lead. The thing that was striking me so much about that film at the time was I did The Last American Virgin and I did Amityville II but they hadn’t come out yet and nobody knew me. I wasn’t ” a name”. It was a fun film and I loved working with all the girls. And Bill…I loved working with Bill. We actually wound up dating afterwards, he was such a sweetheart. 

Unrated: It had an amazing cast like Donna Reed, Larry Wilcox, Ally Sheedy, Nancy Cartright…

DF: It had an amazing cast and Donna Reed…oh my gosh it was a great film. Working with those girls, everyone took it so seriously. Everyone was on their game. We took those films as if we were doing a feature film – totally committed. And Bill was such the sweetest…I have incredibly fond memories of him. He was so adorable. I can’t even fathom what happened…but thank God I got to see him within the last few years at a convention. 

Unrated: Better Off Dead – how did you get the role of Monique?

DF: (in a French accent) Monique, I love this character very much. (laughs) I finished Second Time Lucky and I was very confident about speaking with the accent. They wanted me for the role of Beth too but I wanted Monique. But you have to buy my book to find out! Savage Steve Holland talks about that in my forward and how he cast me. 

But I hate to do this but I have to go, I can’t talk anymore. Is there anything else you needed or wanted me to say? 

Unrated: Oh no, that’s fine. 

DF: If anyone wants to contact me they can go to dianetobewithyou on instagram. DianeFranklin80 on twitter and Facebook I have a fan page and I think it’s called Diane Franklin Fans. I have more conventions coming up in the fall like in New York and New Jersey, Lake Tahoe…and the Dominican Republic, 80’s in the Sand! 

Unrated: You need to get to Cinema Wasteland as you would be a great guest there. 

DF: You know I’d love to, tell them to call me! Tell them to contact me and I’d love to come. Yeah! I would love that. 

Unrated: Thank you so much for taking the time and talking to us. I really appreciate it. 

DF: You are welcome, I hope it wasn’t boring. 

Unrated: Not at all. Have a great time Saturday at Hollywood Blvd. 

DF: Thank you and tell everyone to come and I’ll bring my coat for photos. Au Revoir!

Special thanks to Scott Ray, Dana at Hollywood Blvd in Woodridge, and of course Diane Franklin for making this interview possible. 

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