Beverly D’Angelo Talks about “I Heart Shakey” and “Vacation” reboot

Mike G and I get asked a lot of questions when we talk to people about our site. The main one: “How much money do you make?” The answer…not a dime. Usually the next question is “Why do you do it then?” There are plenty of good answers but the one I give the most is that sometimes, when the planets align themselves just right, you’ll get to talk with someone that you really admire. This week that someone was Ms. Beverly D’Angelo.

I first spotted her in Clint Eastwood’s “Every Which Way But Loose,” where she played the very lovely Echo (“what’s you name?” Echo. “What? “ECHO!”). But it was her next film, the musical “Hair,” where I was smitten. I could see why John Savage’s Claude Bukowski would go to the ends of the earth to be near her. She followed up “Hair” with a stunning portrayal of Patsy Cline in the Oscar winning “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” In the three-plus decades since she has carved out a career as diverse as any actress of her generation. From comedies like “Paternity” and, of course, the four “Vacation” films to dramas as powerful as “American History X” and the television presentation of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Ms. D’Angelo has continued to grow as an artist.

“You made me join the Army,” I tell her over the phone. When she asks why I tell her it’s because I wanted to find my own Sheila, which makes her laugh. We then talk about her latest film, “I Heart Shakey,” her music and the latest on the (possible) next chapter in the “Vacation” series.

MIKE SMITH: What attracted you to “I Heart Shakey?”
BEVERLY D’ANGELO: The story. I’m a mother and I love family entertainment. It’s a very sweet story with great values.

MS: What can you tell us about your character?
BD: I’m one of the baddies. The family has to check Shakey into a dog hotel. But it turns out that, even though the facade of the hotel is quite fancy, I stick him into what is almost like a back storage area…from which he promptly escapes!

MS: You did a few musical parts early in your career, including “HAIR” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Did you ever give thought to recording and releasing an album?
BD: I did have an album deal in the 80s. There was a time when the music industry didn’t regard actresses as someone that could have a successful recording career. It was an entirely different approach. They wanted singers who had a very definable identity and of course, being an actress, you don’t really want to be labeled as one persona so strongly. I had a deal with A & M. I recorded it, didn’t like it and was very blasé’ and decided I wouldn’t release it. Of course now that I’m older I say to myself, “was I an idiot.” (laughs) A lot of the recordings I’m on are all soundtracks. I’m on the soundtrack of a movie I was in called “In the Mood.” I sang “Stardust” in a film that Neil Jordan wrote for me called “The Miracle.” I’ve written source music for films and television…a guy walks into a bar and the song is what’s on the jukebox. I wrote the song I sang on“The Simpsons”…”Finally Bagged Me a Homer.” And there is some stuff on YouTube of me singing at the Viper Room. But as far as being able to say, “Here’s my CD, go buy it now,” nope…don’t have it.

MS: You’ve done all kinds of films…comedies, musicals, dramas. Do you have a preference?
BD: I approach everything the same way, whether it’s a comedy or a drama, as far as what I do as an actress to prepare. The genre’ doesn’t make that much difference as to what I do to prepare. You enter a certain kind of state of mind for each project that you do. Hopefully you can sync yourself up stylistically to the script, the director and, most importantly, the actors that you’re working with.

MS: When we know we’re going to talk to someone we often ask our readers to submit a question they’d like to ask. And the majority want to know if there’s another “Vacation” film in your future?
BD: (laughs) There is a company that is doing a remake…they’re calling it a re-boot. There have been a few articles out discussing a re-boot which would feature Rusty, now in his forties, taking his family across the country to Wally World. There has been a lot of flirting in the press with the producers saying, “we have a role for Chevy andBeverly…we really hope to get them on board,” but Chevy and I agree that they’re going to have to come to us. Chevy and I want to work together. We want to do something.

MS: What do you have coming up?
BD: I’m starting a film called “The Bounty Killers.” It’s a post-apocalyptic look at the future where the media stars and cultural stars are the Bounty Killers who systematically hunt down and get rid of the CEOs that have caused the demise of the economy and culture. And in January I’m doing a film called “The Arranged Marriage of Moonbeam,” which is based on the life of the film’s writer/director (Mollie Englehart). If you can imagine “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but here the family is a communal one. Here the young woman is a lawyer who can’t seem to find a husband so she returns to where she grew up, where her mother decides that the best marriage is an arranged one.