Marilyn Ghigliotti reflect on her role in “Clerks” and on news of “Clerks III”

Marilyn Ghigliotti is best known for her role of Veronica in “Clerks”. With the director, Kevin Smith, announcing that “Clerks III” will be his final film, Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Marilyn about the news and reflects on her role in the original “Clerks”.

Mike Gencarelli: How can you reflect on Kevin Smith’s latest news to make “Clerks III” his last film?
Marilyn Ghigliotti: Well, it would be great. I think a lot of people really want to know what is happening with the characters anyway. I do not know if Veronica would be brought back or not – it would be really nice if she was. I am constantly asked that question about a third film. I was just lucky enough to work on the first film and play that character that everyone loves. In the same respect, I like the fact that fans are curious but I only know the same as them right now [laughs].

Mike: Why do you think these characters resonate going on 20 years now?
Marilyn: I think because they are believable. Everybody can relate to these characters. I am thinking because Kevin Smith had a lot of things against him but he beat the odds and was able to make this film possible without a studio. Since then it has just grown over the years. I have even had a nine year old girl come up to me and said that she loves the film [laughs].

Mike: Reflecting back on “Clerks”, at what point did you realize that this little film wasn’t going away?
Marilyn: It was when we were all at Sundance, which is when Miramax bought. Brian (O’Halloran) and I knew that the meeting was going on and we waited on pins and needles to see what was going to happen. When we got word it was bought by Miramax, where were really excited. Even then though, we didn’t know what to expect but we knew it was going to be a little more than we anticipated.

Mike: Do you have a highlight of working on that film?
Marilyn: All of it really. Next year is 20 years since it was filmed, so it is quite a long time. It was just a great experience. I remember we went in very late to shoot and at the time I was working at a salon as well. So I would be lucky to get an hour or two sleep after shooting before going off work. During shooting we got to meet the town drunk that would come in and buy cigarettes very late. We had hot bagels that we weren’t really suppose to have. So things like that.

Mike: Did you have any challenges with the sharp and quick dialogue for Veronica?
Marilyn: Oh yeah! I kind of trip-over my tongue naturally. You can even see, during the scene when Dante is painting Veronica’s nails. Kevin had enough film that he probably could have done a few more takes but I just kept tripping over my tongue. Even though, I come from theatre, which includes a lot of lines to memorize for a stage performance. For me learning lines is always a stressful thing. I want to be able to say them correctly as they are written.

Mike: Did you ever get approach for a role in “Clerks II”?
Marilyn: No, it never did. I did get to go to the premiere out in Red Bank though. I can see why she wasn’t in the film. But I could also could have seen a little cameo with her in it as well. There are many possibilities that I can see for Veronica in “Clerks III”. I know that Kevin writes his stories on how he is feeling at that moment, so it could have nothing for my character as well. But I am still hoping.

Mike: Besides acting, telling us about your work as a make-up artist?
Marilyn: Before I started acting, I was a practicing hair stylist in a salon. At a certain point, I was looking for something new. I was always interested in the entertainment field growing up, in some respect. I always wanted to take dance lessons as a kid and used to always watch musicals. I just ended up falling into it and I am happy I did. My parents brought me up telling me to get an office job or become a secretary to have financial security. Nothing against my parents but I am glad that I fell into this.

Mike: Tell us about what you have planned for next year?
Marilyn: There is one project called “Geek USA” that came about from the sound guy, Phil Bladh, who I worked with on “Alien Armageddon”. It was based on his prom when he was in High School. I was originally supposed to play his mom but there was a scheduling conflict. So I just play a store clerk and hopefully the scene isn’t cut [laughs]. It was fun though! I also just did a day on Neil Johnson’s latest film “Starship: Rising”. He was the director of “Alien Armageddon”. It was only one day but I love getting to work with him and he puts me in these roles that you wouldn’t normally expect to see me in. So, that was fun to do and I like getting to show range.

Blu-ray Review “My Week with Marilyn”

Directed by: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Judi Dench
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 101 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Marilyn Monroe is one of Hollywood’s greatest treasures. This is a role that Michelle Williams was born to play. Boy, was she absolutely amazing. I wish this film was double the length just so that I can keep watching her in the film. Kenneth Branagh also gives a very charged performance and is very entertaining. The Blu-ray presentation is also very impressive. The video is sharp and very crisp with its 1080p transfer. The audio is also great DTS-HD MA 5.1 track works well with the dialogue and Alexandre Desplat’s amazing score.

The film follows recent graduate and aspiring filmmaker, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who makes it his goal to get a job on Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) next film. Due to his persistence, he gets on the film and gets to work with the only and only Marilyn Monroe. Once Marilyn takes a liking to Colin and he becomes her latest interest.  The two embark on a week long fling that would change Colin life.

The special features are disappointing overall including only two extras. The film is an audio commentary from director Simon Curtis, with a not-so-exciting track. Then there is also a standard definition behind the scenes documentary, which runs about 20 minute called “The Untold Story of an American Icon”. It features a look into the production with the cast/crew. Lastly this release also includes a DVD copy as well as the Blu-ray. Great movie, weak extras.


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Film Review “My Week With Marilyn”

Starring: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh and Eddie Redmayne
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 41 mins
The Weinstein Company

Our Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

There are some things that can never be explained. In Hollywood, actors are a dime a dozen. But there are very few STARS. And one of the biggest of them all was Marilyn Monroe.

1956. In a film studio in England, two of the film world’s greatest attractions have contracted to star in a film together. Representing England, Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh), still considered to this day one of the greatest actors EVER. From the United States, newly married to husband number three, Ms. Marilyn Monroe (Williams). And her entourage of publicity men, handlers and acting coach. Olivier wants to be a movie star. Monroe wants to be a great actress. And when the cameras began to roll on what would become “The Prince and the Showgirl,” young Colin Clark (Redmayne) was there to watch it all.

Full of outstanding performances, “My Week With Marilyn” gives viewers a small look inside the life and very fragile psyche’ of an actress who, with just a glance or a whisper, could turn strong men into jelly. But in spite of her worldwide fame, Monroe was a sad, damaged woman who used her beauty as a way to attract men that she hoped would protect her. Her third husband, the playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) stayed in the marriage for five years, but like husband number two, Joe Dimaggio, could not handle the constant spotlight his wife was under. A spotlight that reached across the pond to England and, really, the entire world. Williams is excellent as Monroe. Though she is made up some to resemble her, Williams eschews doing a strict impersonation, instead letting us see inside the real Marilyn. While visiting Buckingham Palace she is immediately surrounded by fans. “Shall I be her,” she asks her companion. In a split second gone is Norma Jean Mortensen, replaced by MARILYN MONROE. It’s a rare ability to completely switch gears that quickly and successfully but Williams pulls it off.

Equally good is Branagh who, thanks to his fame on the London stage, is his generations’ Olivier. The torch continues to be passed with Dame Judi Dench playing Dame Sybil Thorndike, an actress whose distinguished career on stage ran for more then six decades. Other famous names are brought to life, including Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond), Olivier’s wife and promotions genius Arthur P. Jacobs (Toby Jones), who would go on to produce the “Planet of the Apes” films. And it’s a pleasure to see Emma Watson in a film that doesn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title. As movie loving Colin, who is made 3rd Assistant Director (mostly because they “didn’t have one yet”) Redmayne is as wide eyed and innocent as a child being set loose in a candy story. He wants to be strong but, like countless men before and after, he allows himself to fall in love. The actors are led through their paces by veteran television director Curtis, making his feature film debut. Curtis has wisely studied many of the most iconic photos of Monroe and then incorporated those images in the film. As the film unfolds you suddenly find yourself remembering an image you’d seen from your past, realizing only after you’ve moved on that your memory is as crystal clear as a fine set of china. The pacing is leisurely, allowing you to get lost in the past, which the period detail truly allow you to do.


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Interview with Marilyn Burns

Marilyn Burns is best known for her starring role as Sally Hardesty in the ground breaking 1974 Tobe Hooper film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Marilyn about her role in the film and some her other experiences in the movie business.

Adam Lawton: How did you end up working on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as your first starring role?
Marilyn Burns: I had been with the Texas film commission and helped start that up way back when. I had also gone to the University of Texas and received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. I was doing any film that came to Texas such as Robert Altman’s “Brewster McCloud”, Sidney Lumet’s “Lovin’ Molly” and “The Great Waldo Pepper” with Robert Redford. They were all little walk on parts practically but I also tried to work with the production people and do my best to learn something. When I was doing “Lovin’ Molly” I knew these two film makers Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel. They came on the set one day to see what we were shooting. They happened to be serving chicken that day for lunch and I think Stephen Friedman who was a producer on the film saw these two people who were coming to eat chicken that weren’t part of the cast or crew. They came over and told them to put the chicken back. I recognized them and we kind of looked at each other before they were hustled of the set. A short time later I was called in for a reading for the part of Sally.

AL: What did you think when you first saw Gunner Hansen in the Leather face costume?
MB: Gunner had stayed away from the cast because he was the scary guy. They didn’t want us to do a lot of talking or become buddies. He looked very scary in his outfit and it was very impressive! We didn’t have to really fake it when we saw him. The mask and the different costume changes were frightening. Plus if you see an actor with a chainsaw and you’re a bunch of kids running around in the dark you’re going to be scarred! I don’t know what we were thinking because Gunner could have tripped and that chainsaw could have gone up in the air. They had taken the chain of it but everything else was still moving and it could have done some damage. When we were doing the chase scenes Gunner did trip and that was really scary. Another time when I was hiding in the bushes and Gunner was trying to get me with the chainsaw he couldn’t see very well out of his mask and my hair had gotten tangled in the branches. I was sitting there praying someone would yell cut before he tripped and got me with the chainsaw. It was pretty intense and when I look back on it I wonder what we were all thinking. It was crazy!

AL: What do you think was the most difficult part of the shoot?
MB: The dinner scene. That was a 26-28 hour shoot that was a smelly mess. It was so hot and we were all getting sick. We just kept working and working while the chicken and head cheese was rotting.  The lights were very hot and Gunner’s costume smelled quite bad because he didn’t have a change. It was a very intense evening.

AL: How was it working with Tobe Hooper?
MB: Tobe had already done “Egg Shells” and he was kind of looked up to in the Austin area. Everyone in the film and drama department was aware of anyone that actually made movies.  I was really pleased to work with him. He was delightful.

AL: You also worked with Tobe on “Eaten Alive”. How did that experience compare to working with him on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”?
MB: “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was all made up and we did everything for real because we didn’t have a sound stage or anything. We used real gas stations and houses. We did everything on the road in the van and it was just too many people in one van sweating trying to get the scenes.  Everything was very real. “Eaten Alive” was done on a sound stage where there was a pool for the alligator to run around in. Everything had sort of a surrealistic different kind of feeling. It was in Hollywood so that makes a big difference.  I had the spider monkeys put by my dressing room which didn’t smell very good! There is always a touch of realism as you do these things. I think they may have put the monkeys by my door on purpose. (Laughs) There were always fun little things happening on the set of both films.

AL: What are your feelings toward the remakes of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the upcoming 3-D version?
MM: They are all interesting and entertaining. I was concerned at first thinking they were going to redo the film and that I was going to be competing with another actress in the role. I realized that no, they weren’t the same movie. They were all enjoyable and different.  “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” with Caroline Williams and Dennis Hopper was brilliant. There have been some good things but I don’t know how we are going to take a chainsaw in 3-D. It’s going to be interesting.

AL: Were you a fan of the horror genre prior to making the movie?
MM: It wasn’t the career choice I made.  I was surely a fan as when I was a kid I would go to all the Saturday matinees and watch all the movies. I like mystery and suspense but I never thought in a million years that I would be noted for the horror genre. However it has been very good to me and it’s a fun and exciting place that I have enjoyed.

AL: What do you think has been your favorite role from your career so far?
MM: “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has legs that I never thought would be possible. It’s amazing how much it still keeps going and the interest is still there. The part was very hard to do and it took a lot out of me but I have to give the part credit and people know me very well because of it. I also enjoyed doing the film “Helter Skelter” which was about the Manson family. It seems I am always offered these great gruesome pictures. I have to say that whoever would have thought that after all these years Sally Hardesty would still be so popular. It’s just amazing!

AL: Can you tell us about your role in the upcoming film “Bone Boys” and any other upcoming projects?
MM: I’m in “Bone Boys” for just a second. If you blink you will miss me. Kim Henkel who helped Tobe write “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” wrote “Bone Boys” and that’s his puppy. Being a great friend of Kim’s we had a good time. I actually saw him recently and we had dinner at the house we shot “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in. It has been turned into a beautiful restaurant. They had a showing of the film there and while we were eating I realized I was sitting in the same spot as I was in the scene. It was very surreal to be there during the dinner sequence in the movie and to be back sitting in the same place which is now a beautifully restored restaurant called the Junction. I have another project that I am working on right now however I don’t want to comment on it just yet. As soon as I know everything I will be glad to let everyone know about it.