Leslie Easterbrook got her first big screen break playing the character of Rhonda in the hit television series “Laverne and Shirley.” Leslie is probably best known for her role as the buxom blond Sgt. Callahan in the ever popular “Police Academy” franchise. More recently Leslie has appeared in Rob Zombies “Devils Rejects” and ‘Halloween.” Movie Mikes had a chance to speak with Leslie about her career along with some of her upcoming projects.
Adam Lawton: Can you tell me about your experience on “Laverne and Shirley”?
Leslie Easterbrook: It was really an amazing experience that I finally got to be a part of the show, playing the Rhonda character. Just as I got the part, there was a SAG strike. Then when the strike was over, I got a call telling me I needed to audition again for the part I thought I had already gotten. It wasn’t until six auditions later that I finally got the part and was able to start working. I felt like I had won the lottery! “Laverne and Shirley” was actually my first real on screen role as I had mostly done theater work up until that point. For three seasons, I just absorbed everything and kept on learning the whole time while I was working on that show. That cast was amazing to work with and I was able to learn so much from all of them. I really loved being on a national stage and people kind of knowing who I was. I remember my family braving the Nebraskan winter to come watch me. I just have so many wonderful memories from that time.
AL: How did you become involved with the “Police Academy” franchise?
LE: Just after I finished my role on “Laverne and Shirley” I received an amazing opportunity to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XVII. After that I had wondered to myself if a job would come out of someone seeing me perform. It just so happened that one of the “Police Academy” producers saw the performance and became interested in me. I had to learn some really tough material for that audition. I prepared for about two days straight on one scene, where I was just screaming the entire time. It was very exhausting. I went in and auditioned with the director and writer of the film and did this very intense scene that I had been working so hard on. As I was going through the scene, I could see both of the guys slowly moving away from me towards the back wall (Laughs). I knew I couldn’t stop mid-scene so I just kept going and by the time I was done both guys were hugging the wall. I thought I had blown it because I was too strong. Six weeks later I received the call saying I got the role of Callahan.
AL: What were your thoughts when you first read the Pool Scene?
LE: I was a little horrified! However I knew that I would have to risk a little more with the Callahan character. After I justified it to myself it wasn’t a big deal. I thought the scene was actually really funny I looked forward to it. The thing I remember most was there was just the oddest assortment of extras there that day for that scene. In some of the copies of the film you can actually hear me say “Shit” which was my actual response once I saw all the guys diving in. I really didn’t want them to get me! (Laughs) Some of the regular cast members came out and watched that scene just to see if I was real! I thought that was the biggest insult but at the same time really funny. I still am close with everyone from that film.
AL: Can you tell us how you ended up working with Rob Zombie in “Devils Rejects” and “Halloween”?
LE: That is a huge mystery to me, however I am very grateful to Rob. I would love to work with him more! Rob really has an eye and knows what he wants when he is directing which makes working for him very easy. I had originally auditioned for the role of Gloria Sullivan in “Devils Rejects” even before I knew Rob was attached. The only thing I knew was the title of the film. I read two scenes and loved the way they were written. I felt that everything really made sense. I left the audition feeling really happy and full of myself. A short time later, I started really thinking about the audition. I figured there was no way I was going to get the role as I thought it was really hard to picture me playing the part of a victim mainly because of my size. I ended up getting really depressed on the ride home. I was in New York working on another project when I got a call from my manager telling me to get to a fax machine. What ended up coming through was a fax from Rob Zombie. I still had no idea he was involved in the project up to that point. What he had sent me was the script for the jail scene featuring the character of Mother Firefly. I read it and thought it was brilliant! Mother Firefly definitely wasn’t the victim! (Laughs) I had to take a subway to a different section of the city and as I was riding the train I just kept reading and yelling those lines (Laughs). I flew back to Los Angeles and auditioned for the role and got the part. Being a part of “Devils Rejects” and then being asked back by Rob for “Halloween” really changed my life. Both experiences were just wonderful.
AL: You mentioned singing at Super Bowl XVII can you tell us more about that?
LE: That was quite an adventure in many ways (Laughs). Pete Rozell, the commissioner of the NFL at that time, had no idea who I was nor did he know if I could actually sing. I had been singing the anthem at Angel’s games due to my 1st husbands need for free baseball tickets, especially when the Yankees were in town. At one of these games unbeknown to me was the Head of Entertainment for the Los Angeles Rams. This woman had also been picked to choose the entertainment for that year’s Super Bowl. I guess she really enjoyed my performance. At the same time word got around that the Yankees were asking for me to sing at their next away game in Los Angeles as they really liked my singing at previous games. Finally all this stuff gets brought to my attention and my name gets entered in as a candidate for the Super Bowl. I guess Pete Rozell wanted to hear me sing in person before making a decision, so it was set up for him to hear me sing at the next Angeles game. On the way to the game my husband and I get into a fender bender and I miss the game. Pete then asked me for a tape of me singing which he liked and I finally got the gig. They gave me a nice hotel room and I brought in my own hair and makeup people. I even bought a really nice pink dress to match that year’s theme. The limo comes to pick me up and on the way there the driver gets lost! We finally get to the Rose Bowl and they won’t let us in because my manager had gone in ahead of me and said I was with them. I had to run in high heeled boots all the way to another gate carrying my dress. After they let me in I found a tiny trailer to change in. As soon as I was done I took off running down the tunnel which led to the field. I saw my microphone and actually slid to a stop right on the field. I couldn’t even catch my breath at the time. Just before I began to sing I turned to the honor guard behind me and said “If I mess up shoot me”. They laughed a little and after that everything went fine. Some of the players actually patted my back side as if I was one of them! (Laughs)
AL: At one time you made a comment about a movie you weren’t proud of and that you hope it never see’s day light. Can you tell us anything about that?
LE: (Laughs) I think I made that comment a while ago because I can think of several now that I am not particularly proud of. (Laughs) The film in questions had to be “Private Resort” with Johnny Depp. Working with Johnny was great however in one of the scenes I was asked to wear a slightly see thru negligee. I had no problem with this when I was first asked. It wasn’t until I went to a screening of the film with a guy friend and my minister and his wife, did I find out that the room was extremely over lit and you could see everything! I think I dug a hole in my hand with my finger nail while trying to hide in my seat!
AL: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
LE: I have quite a few projects that are in post production right now such as “Black Water Transit” which is directed by Tony Kaye. Another film that we have been doing a lot of post production on has been “The Afflicted” which was directed by Jason Stoddard. I have a roll in that film as well as being one of the film’s producers. There is a script that I am going to be doing in a few months called”Find Me” that I am really excited for. I also have a film I am doing in July called “Night Lights.”