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An Interview with Dee Wallace

It’s 10 AM on a Tuesday morning and I am talking with actress, author and healer Dee Wallace. As many of you know she is the star of a vast array of films which include ET: The Extra-terrestrial, The Howling and Cujo. Her latest book is entitled “Bright Light: Spiritual Lessons from a Life in Acting”. She will be starring in Rob Zombie‘s latest horror effort The Lords of Salem, sometime in 2012. Her website is entitled I Am Dee Wallace.

I know today that one of the first things that you want to talk about are your book and your website. Your book is called “Bright Light: Spiritual Lessons from a Life in Acting”.

That’s correct.

Could you tell a little bit about it?

Well, it’s a great journey through all of my experiences with all of  the major directors and actors that I’ve worked with,  and through that also are all the lessons I’ve learned as a creative person; how not to give up our power, how to regain our power and our joy about what we do. I think it’s just really timely for anybody who is out there creating in every way and really that’s everybody, isn’t it? We’re creating our lives, for sure, and that to realize that nobody can take anything away from us and if we think they have then we’re the only ones that can change that perception around and move back into our joy and our manifestation again. So in a nutshell, that’s it. It’s a great insight for any of my fans, a really great read and for anybody in life that wants to live a full life, I think.

So when you’re talking about healing I take it you’re not talking about a…you’re definitely not talking about a medicinal or a pharmaceutical type of healing and it doesn’t appear that you’re talking about a holistic type. You’re talking about a spiritual type of healing. Is that correct?

Well, you can call it spiritual. In actuality it’s very scientific. But science and spirituality are coming closer and closer every day. Basically, whatever you focus on is what you bring energy to. Any scientist will tell you the same thing. So, we have been taught throughout our lives to focus on troubleshooting, to focus on fixing, to focus on manipulating in order to create what we want. None of those things work. In actuality the very things that we’ve been taught that work to help us to create are the very things that sabotage us. Because you can only focus your attention in one place at one time; so if you are seeing the world is against you, you cannot possibly be creating a world that comes forward to support you. So, I give a pretty clear and simple…what’s the word? A clear and simple formula for re-adjusting your thinking and your focus and it’s what I know is truly the secret and what they meant to really share with people in the secret but, I don’t think did, is that everything around the creation of our lives, we are responsible for; by the thoughts we choose to think and the emotions we choose to feel and the focus we hold on those things. It’s really as simple as that, but we have never been taught that and we have been taught creation from the point of view of ‘no’ instead of the point of view of ‘yes’.

Okay, I think I understand that a little bit.

Well, in other words you can’t create money by worrying about money.

Okay.

You can’t create health by trying to fix disease; that they are opposite energies that are fighting each other. So if you want to be healthy and well, you keep your focus on being well and how that feels; even if you are experiencing disease in the moment, that’s not where you want to put your focus.

I notice on your website that you have healing sessions. What does that consist of? What do you and the person you’re consulting with do during these sessions?

Yes, I do them all over the world every day; I’ve got three after I talk to you today.

Wow.

Basically, what we do is get together for an hour. My expertise is being able to be an open channel; to understand and extrapolate where the blocks in a person’s energy is that is keeping them from creating the very things they want to create. It’s quite miraculous work. We do it in a rapid-fire way on both of my radio shows. I have a radio show that’s a call-in show, they’re both call-in shows, actually, Monday night and Thursday morning and you can find all that information at iamdeewallace.com. People call in and that’s kind of a mini version of what we do. Of course when you have an hour session you can cover a lot of different subjects. On the radio show I’m just giving the quickest thing that comes in around a particular limited question that they’re giving me. And I have many clients that do yearly programs with me once a month, and it’s incredibly empowering work that lets you get out of your own way and really, really become powerful in your life again.

Now you also mentioned when you were talking about your book to begin with some of the different people you’ve worked with and your experiences with them. You’ve worked with a wide array of people. You’ve worked with of course Steven Spielberg with E.T. You’ve worked with Joe Dante with The Howling and you also did The Hills Have Eyes which was of course directed by Wes Craven.

Yes, and Peter Jackson with The Frighteners…

Exactly, Peter Jackson and The Frighteners

…Blake Edwards and 10. Rob Zombie, I just finished Rob Zombie’s new movie Lords of Salem.

Yes, that’s right. You were also the adoptive mother of Laurie Strode in his remake of Halloween, which I thought was fantastic, by the way. Can you tell us a little bit about some of your experiences working with these different people? For instance, what was it like working with Joe Dante?

Oh, God, I love Joe. It’s just very collaborative and you’re laughing all the time. He is just a very giving and fun director to work with. A lot of people don’t realize that in The Howling that a lot of what made The Howling was Joes’ idea and actually he even put in some of his own money for the cartoons and everything that run through it. So, he’s just incredibly innovative and talented and they would be wise to let him alone more when he does his work.

I can understand that. You do notice with him and his films there is a style. To me it always seems like a lot of his stuff is done in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way; that there is a humor just under the surface.

Oh my, yes. He’s a genius at building suspense and stuff. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of his latest TV work that’s he done on some of the series but it’s just awesome.

Actually I did not know that he was doing the TV work.

Well, it’s few and far between, but when he gets a script that he likes, you know Tales from the Darkside and stuff like that.

Actually, The Howling was the first time I saw you in a film. I have to admit that I fell in love with you after that.

(Laughs) Thank you.

You’re very welcome. One thing that I’ve always wanted to ask about that film was at the end, just before you get ready to transform into your werewolf persona; you let out, to me, what has always been the most blood-curdling scream. What I want to know is was there any enhancement to that scream, or was that all you?

Well, it was all me, you know, and then they echo it several times.

Okay.

I can’t really answer you if there was a lot of enhancement. I know that originally he said ‘Well, we’ll put in a scream’, and I said ‘Give me a shot at doing it’, and it was so effective that they used it. But of course you know they’re going to enhance it with reverberation and stuff like that.

Yeah, I mean, seriously I found it to be amazing. When you let it out the hair just stood up on the back of my neck.

Well, good. You know, oftentimes you can’t do that digitally because it’s not connected to a soul.

No, that’s exactly it. Now, I was reading your filmography on the Internet Movie Database and reading a little about your bio on there; and one of your quotes was basically that you ‘hope that you never see a Pinto again for as long as you live.’

(Laughs heartily) Yeah, from Cujo.

Yes. What was it like? How long did you actually do the filming from inside that car, inside that Pinto?

Oh, I think that we were inside the car for about five weeks.

My goodness! That’s amazing. I can understand why you would never want to see a Pinto again after that.

Well, everybody thinks that we’re really dying of the heat; and it was freezing, it was Northern California in November and December. So I finally got them to put up a heater, they rigged up a heater in front of the floorboard for us so that Danny (Pintauro) and I could stay warm in there. But, you know Jan De Bont, I really hand it to him that he figured out all these different camera angles to do in this car, because half the film is in this car. So yeah, it was definitely the hardest movie I’ve ever done, physically and emotionally. But, it’s my favorite movie.  

Okay. Another thing that I did want to talk about and I don’t know if this is a sensitive subject to you, but you worked with your late husband Christopher Stone on quite a few films; The Howling, of course, Cujo and I believe you also did the series Lassie, Come Home.

Well, it was called ‘The New Lassie’.

Right, I’m sorry. What was it like working with him? I mean, I know you guys were married and I understand that his death did come as quite a shock. I believe you were filming The Frighteners when it occurred. What was it like to work with Christopher?

Well, it was interesting because Chris and I worked very differently. He broke everything down and figured it out, he looked at the beats and all that stuff. I don’t do any of that stuff. I just kind of…and it is definitely a technique, an acting technique. But you train yourself to really become the channel and open yourself up and the character tells you what to do, you don’t figure out what the character does, and that always worked a lot better for me. When I finally found Charles Conrad, who I consider to be my mentor, and learned this acting technique I felt like I was free. Like my whole world opened up as an actor and all the fear was put aside and you can’t be in fear of making wrong choices and not being in the moment and all that stuff when you don’t figure stuff out, and you just go in and try something out. It’s based on a huge, huge amount of energy that you have, also. So, it would be interesting, for example the bedroom scene in The Howling where Chris hauls off and hits me. We practiced how we were going to do the hit, but that’s really the only thing that we planned out. We didn’t rehearse, and so we go up on the set the next day and did the first take and Joe was like ‘Oh my God, that was great you guys! You had it down, you must have rehearsed that a lot last night.’ Chris kind of smirked and looked at Joe and said ‘No, my leading lady doesn’t rehearse.’ (Laughs)

That’s awesome.

No, we, in our acting and in our lives we just always could kind of sensed  the other person and where they were going to go and how they were going to react and we were just soul mates that way, you know? So when we were shooting The Frighteners and he had a heart attack I flew back and they thought he was just fine, so I flew back to finish the film and four days later a blood clot hit his heart and he was gone; and yeah, it was a real shock to me, ‘cause I lost my best friend and my soul mate and the father of my kid, you know? It’s not an easy thing.

No, it’s not and I’m very sorry to hear that. I always thought that, I didn’t get to see him in quite as many films as I’ve seen you in, but I always thought that he had this strength to his style of acting and I personally thought that he would have been wonderful leading man material. That’s just how I always saw him, that there was always strength and I’m not sure if there’s any other way to describe it.

Oh yeah, and more so interesting was he was the biggest teddy bear and the sweetest man, and so of course he played all these bad guys, you know, tough guy roles.

Right.

He was a Marine, too, and not until later in his career did they find that kind of sensitive place and let him do it on film. Not me. I can be a real bitch and all they want me to play is mothers now.

Yeah, I noticed, I think for a while after E.T. came out that that’s what people saw you as, and also of course, Cujo, I mean they saw you in that role and it was almost a typecast sort of thing and I knew better. I knew there was more to you than just playing a mom your entire career, a lot more.

Well, it’s true, we get typecast a lot more in America than we do in Europe. In Europe you’re supposed and you’re honored for being able to do a lot of different characters. Meryl Streep sort of paved the way for that here, but certainly in television they want to keep you kind of cubby-holed.

I can understand that. Now you’ve worked with a couple of younger directors, up-and-comers I guess you would call them. You worked with Ti West on The House of the Devil. What was it like working with him?

He’s going to be a really big director. I think he’s really talented. I found that he at times over directed a little bit, but I think every young director does that. It’s very interesting when you work with the big guys like Spielberg and Blake Edwards and people like that, they hire the right people and kind of leave you alone. You know, you get a little direction here and there, but certainly they have faith and trust in allowing you to do your thing if they hired you. The younger directors, they have a lot more on the line. They have a lot more to prove, and so they take a lot more responsibility for your performance. I loved Ti, I loved working with him, I loved him as a person and I think he’s going to be a really big director.

Yeah, I have The House of the Devil in my collection of films.

It’s a good little film.

It’s actually a very good little film. I loved the almost kind of 1970’s TV movie feel that it has to it. I remember like the old TV movie Trilogy of Terror. A lot of the Dan Curtis produced and directed films of that time, the made for television films of that time; and it seemed to just have that feel to it and that’s one of the things I loved about the film. I also like the fact that it was a slow build. It wasn’t one of those films where all the scares pop out at you at once.

Yeah, it’s a good homage to the old-fashioned real horror films, not the slasher films.

Exactly; also you’re going to be working with Rob Zombie again with The Lords of Salem. Can you tell us a little bit about the plot of the film, a release date or anything?

Well, I can tell you very little (laughs). I play a new age guru, kind of, lady. Which is not far from who I am. It’s of course about the Salem witches, but it’s a whole, as Rob always does, a whole different take and beautifully shot. I can’t wait to see what the critics are going to, you know, I don’t think the critics know how to review Rob. He’s such a distinction in his own right; and this film is going to be a big departure from what we have come to expect even from him. It’s going to knock people’s socks off, I think. So I’m very excited. I would imagine they’re going to release it around October. That would make the most sense, but I’m not privy really to that information. I adore Rob Zombie. All of us kind of went in and did this as a labor of love for him and I think he’s, well, he is a genius, a creative genius. I would love to see him do some really great suspense stuff, some suspense relationship stuff along with the horror stuff.

When I was thinking about questions to ask for this interview, I just drew a complete blank and I have to admit that you were very helpful when you said that one of the things that you wanted to talk about was the book and about your website. I also have some friends that I mentioned to that I was going to do an interview with you. A couple of them are nurses. I work in a hospital and they wanted me to ask you about the healing and whether it was a holistic style of healing, whether it was a spiritual.

Well, it is spiritual, but it’s really scientifically spiritual; and it’s taking energy and knowing that you have to be the director of it. You literally have to direct and shape energy. That’s all there is to work with, that’s really why we’re here, is just to come in and experiment with what we can do with energy.

Okay.

People have got to understand going into 2o12 that the world does not just happen. That everything that does happen is the creation of our thoughts and our focus and our feelings. Everything. So that’s what they mean by if you want to change the world, change you first. Be the change you want to see in the world. You want more love, and then you be more love and experience more love in your life and that goes out and puts it back into the collective. Then the collective consciousness rises because your consciousness rises and that’s the way it works; and you start understanding a lot of the old ‘no man is an island’ kind of thing.

Right.

You start understanding all those little ditties that we’ve heard all our lives, what they really mean and where they really come from.

Okay. I have to say it has been wonderful talking with you. This is something new for me. I’ve done this blog for the past year now, and this is one of those things that I thought about that were ways that I could do something different that other blogs aren’t doing, and this I have to say is one of those things where I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.

Well, that’s good.

Exactly. I try not to be nervous. You are by far the biggest interview I’ve done. I did an interview with Eduardo Sanchez, the co-director of The Blair Witch Project; and I’ve also done one with Tuesday Knight.

I know Tuesday. I worked with her a long time ago. Sweetheart, you just go in your heart and go ‘What do I passionately want to know about this person?’ Do what you want to know and you can’t go wrong.

Great, I appreciate that. Well Dee, it has been wonderful talking to you and I wish you the best of luck.

You too, sweetheart. Good luck with this. It’s great for you that you’re pushing out of your comfort zone because that’s where we all really get the gold.

Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful day.

I’m going to create it that way.

Thank you, ma’am.

At one point during the interview I completely lost my train of thought. I apologized to Dee and she was most gracious and patient, at one point telling me “It’s alright, sweetheart, relax.” That will never be forgotten.

Thank you to…

First and foremost I want to thank my wife for putting up with me. In the weeks leading up to this interview I was a real bear. The fact that I never once slept on the couch is testament to her love and patience with me.

I would like to give a special thanks to Lisa McMillan for her advice about the questions concerning Dee’s method of healing. In the past few months Lisa has become a sounding board about subjects concerning my blog and has been a true friend in every sense of the word.

To Sonia Rumzi for her unwavering support of both my blog and my writing.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Dee Wallace. Here is a woman that I have had quite the crush on for a long time, thanks to her many film roles and the personality she brings to each and every one. I wish her peace and love in everything she does.

 

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