Interview with Lin Shaye

Lin Shaye is well known for her comedic roles in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber” and also her horror roles in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “2001 Maniacs”. She recently stars as Granny Boone again in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”. MovieMikes had the pleasure to talk with Lin about her recent role in the “2001 Maniacs” sequel and also discussed with her about her passion for acting.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got the role of Granny Boone in “2001 Maniacs”?
Lin Shaye: Well, I have worked with Tim before.  I met him when I did “Detroit Rock City”.  We had a friendship and a good work relationship.  He told me about the movie but like all things you are never sure what is going to happen, but then we got funding.  Originally the character had a whole different concept planned for her.  Tim kept talking about “The Beverly Hillbillies” grandmother and he envisioned her in a coon-skin cap.  When we saw the original place we were going to be shooting it was a living museum in a place called Lumpkin, Georgia.  It is a civil war reenactment museum.  It was fantastic.  When we saw Granny Boone’s “house” it was a white mansion and we rethought it on the spot.  I insisted she needed to be more like a southern belle.  We ended up sewing this outfit together on me just before we shot the first day and Granny Boone was born.  She was a cross between Scarlett O’Hara and a black widow spider.

Mike Gencarelli: What originally drew you to the role?
Lin Shaye: It is a really good story.  It is about these people who are avenging themselves against war.  It caters well to the horror population. Between Tim, the storyline and the idea of this women as Scarlett O’Hara eating people, I thought that sounded good.  So there we were.  The story is quite wonderful.

Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel your character grows or changes in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”?
Lin Shaye: It took almost six years before we got the second one going.  By that time Granny took on this wonderful flavor of a real woman who is trying to bring some peace to herself even in this horrible vicious or gruesome way.  Tim also gave me a lot more to do in the second one.  We filled in her relationship with Mayor Buckman.  They have this odd love affair.  I love the scene in the second one when she is trying to wake him up by singing or being flirtatious and all he cares about is snoring and his weapon, it is the typical male/female relationship.  Granny is more of leader in the second one as well which is lots of fun for me.

MG: What was the most challenging part of your role in “2001 Maniacs: Field the Screams”?
LS: The challenges were more on the technical side.  We had such huge time restraint. We made this movie in like 11 days.  If you can believe that.  Everyone brought there a-game.  It was one of the most amicable sets that I have ever been on.  Tim is a very joyful human being, extremely positive and optimistic.  He really is a fine director.  He made the time restraints easier.  The hardest thing for me personally was the flashdance sequence, since it was kind of written in after the fact.  I remember getting the material and being surprised it was a whole song I kind of had to learn.  Besides me there were three other “gals” and I was  the dance captain so to speak.  They hired a choreographer for us and we had like a few hours to learn it.  It was kind of a nightmare.  We couldn’t learn it.  It was too hard for me and I was ready to give-up.  We were spending all this time and energy and it is going to look like shit I thought.  When we finally set shot it, it seems to work well.  Tim had it all worked out that that is what is great about him.  So that was basically the hardest day for me.  Yet it came out great and I think it is hilarious.  I think the fans are really going to love it.

MG: Are you a fan of horror films in general?
LS: [laughs] I am not a fan at all.  The best horror film to me to date is still, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, which I do have a tiny part in.  They do not scare me and I have no fascination with blood or guts other than my appreciation of special effects and makeup.  The horror fans are an incredible community.  I just worked with James Wan, who directed the first “Saw” movie.  So I am getting work in this genre but I never question why I just say, “Yes”.

MG: Your role in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is still referenced today as having a major impact, how does that make you feel?
LS: It is no secret Bob Shaye is my brother who started New Line Cinema.  I am proud of that.  I was invited to work on the film.  The teacher was just a little small role with this fun little catch all at the end about the hall pass.  None of us ever know what is going to strike a cord in people.  Sometimes it is the most unlikely kind of thing.  I really try to do my best.  When we did “Elm Street”, I was just excited to be in the movie.  It was big deal for New Line but I had no idea.  The film has had all this longevity and spawned this whole mega-series of films.  Robert Englund became Robert Englund.  People still remember the role of the teacher, though.  I just remembered something actually, I got a review in the New York Times back when the movie came out.  It spoke about the teacher and it mentioned that she was one of the most realistic people in the film.  It was one of those moment and I said “Wow, I got picked out” for such a small contribution.  It is thrilling and exciting.

MG: You also had some very memorable comedic roles in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber”, did you enjoy working those films?
LS: I love comedy.  It is interesting because I never thought to myself that I am a comedian or I do comedy.  I feel like I am an actor.  I have been told I have excellent comedic timing.  It is just something you feel.  I am very grateful for that gift.  I really do not think of comedy any different than I think about horror or any other genre.  For me it is just finding the truth of the character and expanding their universe.  When I did Magda in “There’s Something About Mary”, I thought this woman is really like agoraphobic and doesn’t really go out.  I spoke to the wardrobe and I mentioned that she should just be in house coats.  I had a whole back story made up for her that wasn’t in the script. She stays with Mary on her couch because she love her like a daughter.  She also has Fluffy that she treats like her baby.  It is through those serious thoughts comes the comedy.  I think it is trying to move your mind outside of the character and from those elements comes things that are funny, scary and sad.  If you are in a comedy you want to sustain the genre your in.  You have to just feel it.  You don’t want to play a comedy too heavy.  That’s tragedy.  But actually that can be funny too depending on how hard you cry [laughs].  I just love acting and the process.  I recently turned down a big role in a movie for a smaller role.  I felt that with the smaller role, I could do something better with it.  I thought what the hell am I doing but the other role opened up my heart.  I thought that is why I am an actor.  That is what I look for.  Acting for me is communication.  If you can make people laugh there is nothing better.  I walked into the theater when we did “Mary” and I remembering hearing the roar and it was so uplifting.  With “Kingpin” also, I didn’t play her to be funny I thought she was tragic [laughs].  But people laughed at her, because she is so damn tragic.  I have been doing this for so long but I still get as thrilled, scared, nervous and excited as I was the first time I ever worked once they say the words “Action”.

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