Interview with Joan Benedict Steiger

Joan Benedict Steiger started performing at the age 7 and since that time she has appeared in over 40 theater productions and dozens of television and movie roles. Joan’s latest film which will be released this year is titled “Dead Border.” Movie Mikes had a chance to speak with Joan about her new film and her career in show business.

Adam Lawton: What prompted you to become involved with show business at such a young age?
Joan Benedict Steiger: That’s all I ever wanted to do since I was 7 years old. I started out dancing and singing around that age which soon led into acting a short time later. It’s really hard to explain as I had of course seen movies and such before but I think even before that I knew I wanted to act. I guess it’s what I was born to do. Even though I was a shy girl I loved to show off (Laughs).

AL: You took a short break from screen roles in the early 90’s. What prompted that decision?
JBS: My first husband was diagnosed with cancer so a lot of my time was being spent in hospitals during those days. I still continued working as much as I could whenever possible. To this day I have appeared in over 40 plays. I am set to receive an award in the coming weeks from the Women’s Theater Festival for my work in the theater.

AL: Is there a stage role that sticks out for you as a favorite?
JBS: Absolutely! “Leona” which was a play I did in 1993 about Leona Helmsley. It was a one woman show that I put on at the Matrix Theater in Hollywood. I was almost able to take that play to Broadway however the writer and director were married and they seemed like they were always in conflict with each other. The play was very rewarding though.

AL: Can you tell us about your experience working on “The Prize Fighter”
JBS: That was a really wonderful experience. My first husband actually wrote that film with Tim Conway. I played a sort of Miss Kitty type roll. Tim Conway and Don Knott’s were extremely fun to work with and both are great friends. Before Don passed away he and I used to always celebrate our birthdays together as we were both born on July 21st.

AL: Can you tell us about “The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington”?
JBS: That was quite an experience. I played Joey Heatherton’s boss which was a fabulous role. There happened to be a lot of drugs around in those days and thankfully I was never a part of that however I think Joey may have been caught up in those things making shooting a little difficult. George Hamilton was also really great to work with. He was so good. I remember he kept telling me he wanted to do comedy. At the time no one thought he could but, later on in his career he proved them wrong. George is such a nice person.

AL: Were you ever reluctant to be a part of that film because of its title?
JBS: No. The title may have evoked ideas about the film but it was actually the total opposite. There were no people undressing or anything like that. When you think about it compared to today’s standards that film is like a church movie (Laughs).

AL: Can you tell us about your latest feature “Dead Border”
JBS: I play Dr. Charlotte Barnes who is a Government doctor that works in a forensics lab. Without giving too much away I will tell you that certain things start to happen along the Texas border and plenty of murder and mayhem ensues. I have also been attached to the sequel which should start filming soon.

AL: Was this a role you had auditioned for?
JBS: Barb Doyon who is a producer/director on the film was a fan of my previous work and contacted me to see if I would be interested in the role. I didn’t have to audition at all. I was very intrigued by the part of the story that I am leaving out. I want everyone to be surprised when they watch it.

AL: Do you have other upcoming projects we can be looking for?
JBS: Besides “Dead Border” and its sequel, I get a lot of calls to come in for auditions. Unless it’s a part that really strike’s me I don’t generally take everyone. I am fortunate enough to not have to do that. There are a lot of new TV shows coming out that I would love to be a part of.

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