Adrienne Barbeau is one of the great legendary talents that helped shape the landscape of genre cinema throughout the ’80s, and still continues to thrill fans with her onscreen work to this very day. Barbeau, who was part of the cast for George A. Romero’s original Creepshow, is returning to the series and will appear in the brand new series’ very first episode, which airs on Shudder on September 26th.
While at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, Daily Dead caught up with Barbeau via the phone and had the chance to speak with her briefly about her return to the world of Creepshow, what we can expect from her episode, how it was Tom Atkins who talked her into taking on the role of Wilma for the original Creepshow in the first place, and more.
Hi, Adrienne. Obviously, you have a very strong connection to the world of Creepshow. How was it to come back to this world, and get to play around again in this sandbox a few decades later?
Adrienne Barbeau: It was great fun. It was great fun, particularly because I didn't know what to expect from Greg Nicotero as a director and I loved him. And because Tobin [Bell] and I have done several projects together, and so I was looking forward to working with Tobin again. With Giancarlo, I'd never met him before, and, as it turned out, we were both in New York on Broadway around the same time and we shared so many of the same memories and the frames of reference. I only spent one day on the film, but I sure enjoyed myself.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character and your episode that you're doing?
Adrienne Barbeau: Well, the episode, I believe, will be the first one that airs on September 26. It is based on a Stephen King short story ["Gray Matter"] that appeared in a collection of his short stories called Night Shift. My specific character is not in the short story, though. I think they took a couple of the male characters from the short story and maybe turned them into my character. She's a woman in a very small town that's pretty much been abandoned, and she’s running a little grocery store. And one of the young inhabitants of the town, a young teenage boy comes in, and she can tell there's something wrong, something's going on, and he finally says, "I need help for my dad. Something's not right." So she sends Giancarlo [Esposito] and Tobin [Bell] off to try and help this boy's father, who's an alcoholic, but is also something so much worse than that, too.
Unfortunately, I only shot the last day of the episode, so I never got to see any of the special effects, which I understand were incredible. The set of the boy's father's house sounded to me like Jordy's set from the original Creepshow. So, that's about all I can tell you.
Your character, Wilma, from the original Creepshow, was definitely one of the the most memorable characters in a sea of memorable characters. Did you realize back then when you guys were making Creepshow just how much this would still continue to resonate with fans decades later?
Adrienne Barbeau: I had no idea. It never crossed my mind. In fact, I didn't want to even do the movie at first because I didn't understand the comic book approach that George was going to be taking. I never went to horror films. I didn't know who George was. I read the screenplay and I thought, "Oh God. This is too gross and too gory and too violent and I don't want to deal with this." And it wasn't until I'd spoke to Tom Atkins, who's one of my closest friends and who was already cast, and it was Tommy that said, "No, no. You've got to do it. You've got to do it. It's going to be really funny and comic book-ish and it’ll be a great time," and I didn't get it at all.
So, [I] certainly wasn't thinking, "Oh, this is going to be a huge hit 40 years down the road and it'll be on my tombstone." Not at all. But I'm sure glad I did it. And I love Wilma, too. She turned out to be one of my all-time favorite roles.
Previous to this, you played Stevie Wayne in The Fog and Maggie in Escape From New York. Was it nice to have a departure with doing this in-your-face type of character with Wilma then?
Adrienne Barbeau: You know, I was a little hesitant, because I don't drink. I've never drunk. I don't like the taste of alcohol. So you're going in and she's an alcoholic, which I couldn’t really relate to. But when I showed up on the set for Creepshow, George kept saying, "Oh no. You can go bigger." I was like, “Are you joking? Are you kidding me?" Well, you know what, it was his movie and if they rake me over the coals because I'm chewing the scenery, that's what George wants. So, I'll go bigger. But it was quite a departure for me. You're absolutely right.
Do you have a favorite memory of filming from the original Creepshow?
Adrienne Barbeau: I guess my favorite memory was just a general memory of getting to meet George and his wife at the time, Christine Romero, and falling in love with them. I was surprised to learn he was not that much older than I was, because George was like my dad. He was just such a great teddy bear of a man and I just loved him. What do I remember from the specific filming? Well, I fell in love with Pittsburgh, too. We shot it there, and I just had a great time.
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on all of our San Diego Comic-Con coverage, including our Creepshow roundtable interviews with Greg Nicotero, Giancarlo Esposito, DJ Qualls, and Tricia Helfer.