Talking with the Dead: 13 questions with Suzi Lorraine
Michael Jones – Slit of the Wrist FX
1. What led to you first getting into the horror genre and you becoming one of the most recognized Scream Queens in horror history?
Well, I’ve always been a fan of horror. In fact, ever since I can remember. I was a horror fan long before I ever considered acting. I remember seeing “Terror in the Aisles” and “Psycho II” and “Friday the 13th Part 6” in the theatre, when I was still a very tiny Suzi. And of course I saw many more horror flicks on HBO with my older brother. I guess you could say I was a horror fan even before I learned to crawl.
In terms of when the acting bug hit me, I was in college, and decided to try modeling to make some extra money. The agency that I signed with suggested that I take acting classes to make myself more marketable for other castings. I signed up for an Acting Technique and Scene Study class, and fell in love with it. Shortly after that, I sent out tons of resumes/headshots to horror production companies. And the rest is history!
2. You also are a columnist for Horror Mania Magazine, which is a mainstream horror publication based in Italy and write a “Diary of A Scream Queen” column for a UK horror magazine, Gorezone, which for a year I also wrote for. I personally loved writing for a non-American audience, but found some things are a little different overseas (example: DVD cover art20even if you are covering an American release, etc.). How do you like covering things from a writers perspective and could you explain to the readers how different things are writing for a foreign magazine?
When I was writing for Horror Mania Magazine, I guess the most notable aspect was that all of my words had to be translated into Italian. In terms of jokes and things like that, I often wondered if they got lost in translation, especially when you’re talking about plays on words and things like that! With Gorezone Magazine, there’s no need for translation as they are based in the UK. I do think there is some difference between British and American humor. And euphemisms. To me it’s quite interesting, and some of the differences are subtle, but funny. The great thing with Gorezone Magazine is that their readership has expanded exponentially. They’re now available on newsstands everywhere in Europe, Canada, and the US. It’s so nice to see the magazine grow and develop and really evolve into one of the forerunners in horror publications. They have branched out with Gorezone TV programs, and of course the Gorezone Weekend of Horrors film festival, which I am co-hosting with Emily Booth this year.
3. For those that may not be familiar with everything that you do, you are also a model and have been in such magazines as GQ, Esquire, FHM, Modern Bride Magazine, Filmmaker Magazine, Marquis Magazine, Intima Magazine and Varla Magazine, and have done extensive print work including ads for Nike, Mercedes, Electric Lingerie, Tosca Olive Oil, Floodline Clubwear, All the Rage jewelry, and numerous swimsuit catalogs and music videos. Do you prefer modeling to acting, and what do you find to be the most challenging dynamics of each?
I definitely prefer acting. There’s something so all encompassing about acting – you can just lose yourself in the character. There’s something very cathartic about becoming someone else and living vicariously thru the character. You can channel so many of your emotions this way, and often release them. It’s like therapy!
4. You have also been the focus of artwork by Wolf Wilson (www.intriguemodels.com), Slovenian artist Mati (www.differentart.net) and Rick Melton (www.stunninglysavage.com) in a variety of horror and non-horror settings. How did you get involved with them and how long does it take for them to get one done from concept to finish?
In all 3 cases that you mention, the artists contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in working with them on various projects. When they asked if I would be interested in being the model for their future paintings/drawings, I jumped at the chance. I posed for Wolf Wilson, and the other 2 artists rendered me into paintings from photographs that I gave them. It really varies by artist, but all 3 of those artists worked quite quickly. I would say the average was 1 or 2 months from start to finish.
5. Red Skye Comics has a Suzi Lorraine comic entitled Voltage and has also released a trading card series along with it. How cool was it to be approached about becoming a comic book superhero and will we ever see a film adaption starring you?
Yes, it was definitely wild to be rendered into a comic book superhero! Red Skye has a great selection of comics! I’m also featured extensively in Marvel’s Cable 6 comic, as Cyclop’s love interest.
6. One of the hot button topics in our genre is the objectification of and violence towards women. Do you feel that it is still the same as it was 20 to 30 years ago and do you see it changing now that more and more women are becoming involved in the genre in every capacity?
I definitely think objectification and degradation of women is unfortunately alive and kicking in our society. And many, many others societies around the world. It is a crying shame, but I think girls need to be encouraged to be strong and independent and not to base their worth on their appearance. IT helps to have healthy role models for them to look up to. In terms of acting, I think Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley are wonderful role models. They’re not out every night like some other young celebs, making fools of them selves and getting sloppy drunk and stupid. They’re bright, beautiful, well rounded women who really have it all together. Because of their talent and intelligence, I can definitely see them working well into their later years, like Judy Densch or Meryl Streep.
Getting back to the objectification issue, I think it’s important to just discard the ridiculous “norms” of society that dictate that women are objects to be exploited, and don’t believe the crap that gets thrown around. It’s so important to think for yourself, and only accept as gospel those things that make sense to you. I forget who said this, but I’ve always loved this quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. How true.
I think with respect to the horror industry, one of the great things is that we’re starting to see more female writers and directors, and I think this is a very empowering thing. I don’t know about you guys, but I think a powerful, confident woman in control is very attractive and sexy.
7. You have recently taken up the reigns as an assistant director and co-writer for the upcoming film “Won Ton Baby”. How has this changed the way you look at acting and what can we look forward to from you behind the camera?
I think it was great fun to sit on the other side of the casting table for once! I have walked into so many different audition rooms in the past 7 or 8 years, always the one vying for the role. It was an interesting perspective to be on the other side, and be able to watch many different auditions. Since I had been in the actors’ shoes so many times, my goal was to make them feel comfortable as soon as they came into the room, and try to break the ice so they could relax. Unfortunately, so many castings are “business as usual”/get em in, get em out, and you’re instantly commanded to start reading as soon as you set foot in the casting room door. It can be very harrowing and impersonal, with up to 8 sets of eyes on you. I think you get a better performance out of the actors if they are comfortable and at ease, and can relate to you as a human being.
8. Directing and writing is another ballgame by itself. I found with writing my screenplay that it is hard even as an FX artist and actor to keep things in a perspective that can be brought to the camera. With “Won Ton Baby” being your first step behind the camera, what new challenges have you found and what can you tell us about the movie that you may have envisioned one way, but when you got to it, may have had to change?
I guess the most difficult aspect of co-producing “Won Ton Baby!” was the long hours and limited time we had to film. We shot the entire film in 12 days, some of which were 19 hour days. After like the 17th hour of filming, you start to hallucinate and see apparitions of dancing monkeys and midgets.
9. With Hollywood being on such a remake craze and not really looking for new and original material, have you found it harder to get your films to the masses or do you relish the “grassroots” approach to promoting your films?
I definitely think studios and big distributors are much more conservative when it comes to horror films. What I mean is that they tend to embrace mainly the tried and true (ahem remakes), rather than take risks on films that might be more unusual or avante guarde. Hopefully this will change in time though. And I think the power of the internet cannot be under-rated. Even a company like IMDB creates some of their ratings based on web/google hits. You can get your product (whatever it is) out there to so many more people via the WWW. You can have a global audience for your film, whereas in the past, making contact was a lot more difficult.
10. With all of the films that you have worked on and all of the Scream Queens that you have had the opportunity to work with, who are some of your favorites today and who where some of the ones from past years that inspired you to be who you are today? Also, what did you think of VH1’s Scream Queens Reality Show?
I loved working with Debbie Rochon in “Won Ton Baby!” I have admired her ever since I began acting and saw some of her films, such as “American Nightmare” and “Dead and Rotting”. I love how she embraces such strong, kick ass female characters. She’s sexy, but she by no means allows the industry to take advantage nor objectify her. I also love working with Melantha Blackthorne, April Monique Burril,and Magenta Baribeau. Many others too!
I saw a few episodes of Who Wants to be a Scream Queen. I think there was some decent talent there, but way too much whining and crying. There’s absolutely no room for whining babies on any movie set. Any director worth their salt will avoid that shit like the plague. Of course, since it is reality tv, the producers probably worked pretty hard to coax diva-like reactions out of the contestants. However, what in God’s name made some of them cry so hard while in the coroner’s room for like 60 seconds? That was absolutely pathetic. I don’t even think there were any dead bodies there. The “criers” should have gotten kicked off then and there just for being spineless weaklings.
11. Now that you have had a taste of being behind the camera and calling the shots, will we start seeing less of you in front of it or are we going to see you directing yourself in a feature film (hopefully horror)?
I think my main love is acting, so you’ll definitely see more Suzi in front of the camera. I would be tempted to produce/assistant direct again if the right project presented itself. I definitely plan to have just as active a role in production on “Won Ton Baby! 2”. We plan to develop this after obtaining distribution for WTB 1. I have my hands full with this little devil baby.
12. Having worked with so many talented actors, actresses, producers, directors and companies, do you have any great stories from set that you would like to share and who would you like to work with that you have not had the opportunity to yet?
Oh my gosh! So many stories! Not enough time to write! But I will tell you about one. I was on the set of “Music and Lyrics”, in which I had scenes in the hospital room with Hugh Grant. I remember the director telling Hugh that he could take a break, as they were going to shoot my closeups. He said , “No, that’s ok. I’ll stay so that I can be in the shot for Suzi so she has someone to react to.”. I was blown away, and thought to myself, wow Hugh Grant is actually trying to help me with my scenes. Very surreal. He was very funny and very British, just as he comes across in many of his films. Great sarcastic sense of humor. I remember during one other scene, he was lying on the hospital table, and looked up at me and remarked, “Is that all your real hair?” The style for this part of the film was very 80s, so I had huge hair hair sprayed like I was a member of “Whitesnake”.
13. I would like to be the first to say thank you for the years on entertainment, and would like to know what is next for you and what advice would you give to young actresses that want to be the next generation of Scream Queens or filmmakers?
A few things. I would tell them to pick and choose the roles they accept carefully. Film is permanent. Do not be too nice. You can still be kind, but you have to be a businesswoman and look out for your own best interests. There are many people who will take advantage of you if you let them. Also, study your craft. Work on student films. Sign up for acting classes. Try to find a mentor. Always work on making yourself a better actor. Network. Submit submit submit! And finally, have a kick ass time doing it! We only live once, and we’re all in this industry because we love it. Never forget that.