The Asylum recently released Hansel & Gretel, a modern take on the classic story that stars Dee Wallace as the witch. While we talked about her interest in playing the villain in Hansel & Gretel, I also learned about why she likes to perform many of her own stunts, and she told me about her time working with Rob Zombie on The Lords of Salem:
You recently appeared as the witch in Hansel & Gretel. Why were you interested in taking on this particular role?
Dee Wallace: First of all, because Anthony Ferrante approached me. I worked once with Anthony and I think he’s a brilliant new director, and a truly nice guy. When I read the script, I thought it was such an innovative take on the Hansel and Gretel story. It stays very true to the story, but updates it in a way that is good for 2013 and the horror genre. I watched the screener and I really liked me in it, which you don’t usually hear me say about anything. I really liked the fact that I could play Lilith as a real person.
A true horror film isn’t just showing how you kill someone. There is a build and a story and that’s what I loved about it. It’s also not about how much money you spend. E.T. was Steven’s least expensive film. It was his little film that he didn’t put much money into, and I can attest to that. [laughs] It’s about who you put together and your vision, and what you do with the money you do have. I think that Anthony did a brilliant job. He was relentless about getting it right and you needed a director like that for this movie.
It is interesting that Lilith has integrated into society as a normal person. She’s even famous for her pies and loved by people in the town, which makes it all a bit more creepy. What did you enjoy most about playing this role?
Dee Wallace: I love the humor in it. There’s some really subtle humorous lines. I said to Anthony, “Are you sure these lines are going to work?” We decided the more straight on we play them, the funnier they are and they totally work.
It also appears that this was quite a physical role for you. I’m so used to seeing the quick cuts and a stunt double switch, that I noticed right away that you were doing many of your own stunts. Is that something you enjoy?
Dee Wallace: I enjoy it from the point of view that I can keep control over my character. There were a couple of discussions that we were going to use a stunt person, and I wanted a shot at seeing if I could do it. Every moment you give away as an actor can take away from the movie. It’s my feeling that I run differently as a character than a stunt person. I have great appreciation for stunt people, but if I can do it myself and bring more emotion to the camera, I want to do that. Do I have fun killing everybody? Not particularly, but I have fun getting into the emotion that goes along with it.
Another movie you recently appeared in that our readers are looking forward to is The Lords of Salem. I had a chance to check it out at TIFF and think that your fans will really enjoy your role in it. What can you tell me about your time on the set?
Dee Wallace: I had a great time doing that role because of the art I got to make. A lot of that wasn’t planned until we were in the moment. After a big turn in the movie, and I don’t want to give it away, I told Rob that I can’t be the same person. Sonny has to make a transition, and I told him what I had in mind. The brilliance of a true great director for me is to have a clear vision, but to be so secure, that you’re willing to hear ideas from your cinematographer and actors. He had no problem throwing our ideas in.
A lot of my final scenes were ad-libbed, and that came about because Rob said to go ahead and try those ideas I had. I love working with Rob because he allows his vision to take a different form if it works.
That’s the true brilliance of a great director. It happened to me with Blake Edwards, and it happened to me with Steven Spielberg. They don’t have the fear of time or money, which limits creativity that others can bring forward.
You make quite a few appearances on the horror convention circuit. Can you tell our readers what you have coming up?
Dee Wallace: The first one is Frightmare in Dallas, and I encourage everyone to go to iamdeewallace.com. I always keep everything updated and listed there so people can see my schedule. People may also be interested in the other work I’m involved in too. If you want to see where I’m going to be, that’s the best place to keep updated.
Aside from Hansel & Gretel and The Lords of Salem, what other horror-related projects do you have coming up?
Dee Wallace: I just finished filming a movie for Syfy in Bulgaria. I hope they change the title, but it’s actually really good. It’s called RoboCroc and it’s like Transformers. I got to work with a lot of international actors and had a really good time. I play one hell of a ball-buster, playing the leader of the special services team that heads everything up.
It was an interesting departure for me that I really enjoyed doing. Sometimes you take a part because you don’t get to do them very often, and that’s kind of what RoboCroc was for me. I wanted to play a really strong role, because I’ve done so much vulnerable work. Everyone knows that I’m a good crier and screamer, but my acting students know what a ball-buster I am. I had a really good time and will be interested to see the final movie.
Hansel & Gretel is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD. Here are release details and the official trailer:
“After 200 years, the Brothers Grimm classic German tale needed a makeover, and in Hansel & Gretel, thelatest film from The Asylum, Dee Wallace, the kind-hearted mother in E.T., transforms into a cannibalistic monster who enslaves Brent Lydic (An American Carol, Flu Bird Horror) and Stephanie Greco (The Haunting of Whaley House) in her house of terror deep in the forest. Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, Hansel & Gretel is debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on January 8, 2013. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette “The Making of Hansel & Gretel” and can be purchased for $14.95 SRP (Blu-ray) and $14.95 SRP (DVD).”