Cassandra Peterson is often considered the alter-ego of Elvira the sexy dark haired late horror host who started here iconic career on a local Los Angeles television station. Elvira is back with an all new show titled “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” Movie Mikes had a chance recently to talk with the horror icon about her new show and her career in the business.
Adam Lawton: How did you come up with the Elvira character?
Cassandra Peterson: I had heard about an interview for a local television channel in Los Angeles that was looking for a horror host. I had a friend who recommended me as they were looking for someone who was a little sexy and that also did comedy. I actually didn’t go into the interview when I had first heard about it. However a short time later I needed the cash (Laughs) and figured it wouldn’t be that bad. I went to the audition and ended up getting the part. The next thing I had to do was come up with the character. Together with a friend of mine we design what we thought the character should look like. The station had told me that they wanted everything black so we started there and the Elvira character is ultimately what we came up with.
AL: What did you think the first time you saw the Elvira dress?
CP: I didn’t think they were going to let me wear it on television! Before the show started shooting there was a production meeting that I had brought a picture of the dress to and passed it around. Each person there took a look at it and the general manager asked if we could make the slit on the leg a little higher. I don’t think I will ever forget that.
AL: What was it like working with Federico Fellini?
CP: That was very cool. I loved his work and was a big fan even before I got asked to be in his film. I happened to be in Rome just walking around with a friend of mine and we stumbled across a location where they were filming a movie. Funny enough there happened to be a guy there that I had known from working in Las Vegas. He was working as a student director with Fellini at the time. He asked if I would like to meet Federico. When I met him he told me he thought I looked like a young version of his wife Giulietta Masina. Next thing I know he was asking me if I wanted to be a part of the film. I was really just an extra but at the time it helped me out quite a bit. Federico was really wonderful.
AL: Any good behind the scenes stories?
CP: Federico would always yell all of his directions out in Italian. I didn’t speak Italian yet so he would come over and tell me what was going on in English. At the end of each day he would come over to me and tell me about what was going to be shot next and then ask me if I wanted to be in it. Everyday there was some wacky scene going on that he asked me to be a part of. It was really fantastic.
AL: Do you have a role that sticks out as a favorite?
CP: It would have to be “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.” I loved writing and being in that movie. I don’t think there was a day on that set where I wasn’t happy. Even when I had walking pneumonia…I still loved being there. I was just thrilled with that movie. I also really enjoyed being in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”. I think it’s every woman’s dream to beat up Pee Wee Herman (Laughs). Working with Paul and Tim Burton was a really great experience.
AL: Can you tell us about “Elvira’s Movie Macabre”?
CP: We shot 26 episodes, which are airing now. A lot of people are having a tough time finding it due to all the different cable providers but if you go to Elvira.com, there is a list there with all the different cities and channels the show is airing on. It seems to be the best kept secret in Hollywood as the show started airing in September and people are still just finding out about it. I am really pleased with how the shows have turned out.
AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
CP: I have an all new website which is going to be launched within a few days. The site is getting a complete overhaul! I also have an Elvira iPhone app coming out…as well as the release of my television shows which will be available in a few months both on DVD and through the iTunes store.