Morgan Fairchild is an actress with such a wonderful a presence in Hollywood. She has appeared in such television series as “Dallas”, “Mork & Mindy” and “Flamingo Road”. Her notable film roles are “Holy Man”, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2”, where she all played herself. She is also stars in the Syfy original movie “American Horror House”, which premieres Saturday, October 13 at 9:00 p.m. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the beautiful and sweet Morgan Fairchild about her this Syfy film and how she prepares for a role.
Mike Gencarelli: What about the role intrigued you to want to be a part of Syfy’s “American Horror House”?
Morgan Fairchild: Well I must confess I’m quite a devotee of the Syfy movie channel. I mean I watch Syfy movies on the weekends. And all my friends have done them, so it was quite fun. And they sent me the script and I thought well, you know, this is actually fun. I could do this. You know, I don’t have to get chopped up or anything too gruesome. She also does have a history with the house and that’s part of figuring out here history with the house is, is a big part of the story, of trying to understand what’s going on as the girls are confronted with different odd happenings in the house as to why they’re happening and what’s really going on there.
MG: Does working on a project like “American Horror House” somehow take you back to earlier in your career doing projects like “The Haunting of Sarah Hardy”?
MF: Well it takes me even further back to “Initiation of Sarah”, which was actually my first TV movie — which was also a haunted sorority house. So yes it goes way back.
MG: Can you talk a bit about how your character Ms. Margot fits into the story?
MF: Well like a lot of the characters I play, she’s sort of the catalyst. The bad guy is always the catalyst. So she’s not unlike some of the other characters I’ve played except that she does seem to just be pure evil.
MG: Is there anything then you found challenging about your role?
MF: You know, they’re always challenging. From Ms. Margot the thing was I didn’t want to tip it too early that she is actually a bad guy because at first she seems sort of supportive house mother kind of thing and sort of the normal everyday thing that a kid would encounter at college. I didn’t want to tip it too soon, so that was a bit of a challenge is just trying to find ways to play things that later people could go back and say, oh yes, I see that. But at the moment that they don’t necessarily catch on right away.
MG: Do you have any kind of technique that you use to for when you approach a role?
MF: Well I do sort of the basic thing everybody does, you know, that they teach you from the Day 1 — which is break it down, break down who is this character, what do they want, where do they come from, what is their background, where are they trying to go, what are they trying to get out of this. so it’s all that kind of basic thing. Then again it’s a very focus of energy. I’m a big Bruce Lee fan. And Rudolf Nureyev for some of you who may not know Rudolf Nureyev was probably one of the best ballet dancers of the 20th century. And watching him on stage with the focus of energy was just an amazing thing the way he controlled the stage. Back in ’73 I’d been living in New York and I went home for the summer for a visit to my mom. Mom always wanted to do anything that was hot in New York. So I said, “Mom, these kung-fu movies are just the hottest things on 42nd Street, so we’ll go to a kung-fu movie.” Well and saw kind of this Bruce Lee movie, Enter the Dragon, it opens with a scene in the Shaolin Temple with Bruce Lee just like stripped to, you know, his skivvies and I was just fascinated with the focus of energy — the total focus of Chi. I watched the whole movie and he’s just brilliant. If he had lived, he would just have been such a major star because of this focus of energy. When the camera is on him, you cannot take your eyes off of him. When Nureyev was on the stage, you could not take your eyes off of him. You know, the poor little corps de ballet dancers would be dancing their hearts out and he would be standing with his back to you and you’re watching him instead of these poor little girls dancing. That was what sort of inspired me again to spend 4-1/2 years taking kung-fu in Chinatown in New York. I mean even when I was doing Search for Tomorrow, I remember one day I was sitting there watching something in the control room and it was summer and I had one of my little Danskin things on and one of the guys came up behind and said, “Morgan, did you know you have dimples in your back, because they would kick your ass, honey.” Down there in Chinatown and I would take the subway to go down there and pick my ways over bodies on the Bowery. This is back when bodies on the Bowery really were there. And it was a little scary going to and from class. But, you know, 4-1/2 years until I moved out here I was there like five, six nights a week as much as I could get in. So yes that’s what I do. That’s part of it is because to play a good bad guy especially you have to have that focus of energy.
MG: What it was like to shoot in Louisiana? Did that add to the tone of the film at all?
MF: It was just fabulous shooting there. Everybody was so friendly and so nice. And we were shooting in April mostly before it got too hot, so I wasn’t dying there. And I’m from Texas, so I know what dying in the heat means. So it was fabulous and got to go down to Jazz Fest and go down to New Orleans a bit and see a bit of the countryside and it was just great.
MG: Can you tell us a little bit about working with the director Darin Scott?
MF: Darin was just fabulous to work with. He was so sweet and low key. And I mean I’ve worked some real screamers in my life, you know, who you never have a moment of peace on the set. And Darin is very low key, very patient with everything, very on top of all the technical stuff that was going on — which we had a lot of in this movie — and just a lot of fun to talk to and sit around at lunch. We became friends just sitting around and gabbing at the lunch breaks and on breaks and stuff and talking everything from politics to old Hollywood stories.
MG: You have had a great career in both TV and film. Have you ever preferred one to another?
MF: Well they’re all just very different and you forget also that I grew up in the theater. So I mean do a lot of theater whenever I can still and did a staged reading of a play this summer and did a big national tour of The Graduate in ’05 and have done big national tours of like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, have done Broadway, off Broadway. So they’re all very different. They’re all very different in the way you focus your energy — which is really what the difference between stage acting and film acting is. Then film acting is usually it’s also very different because of the size of the format. How you focus your energy is to me one of the most interesting things about it.
MG: Last question and off-topic, now that Dallas is back on the air, I was wondering if you would be interested at all in reprising the role you originated of Jenna Wade?
MF: Well sure. I mean I’d always be interested. Originally just socially a couple of people in charge over there had sort of reached out to me and asked me the same question. But I’ve never heard back from them sort of following up and deciding to put Jenna back in it with me or Priscilla, so I don’t know what their thinking is. I’m just happy just Larry and Patrick and Linda all working away again in those great parts again. They’re all friends, you know, so I’m just always happy to see people working and working in fun, wonderful parts.