|Tiffany Helm (fourth from right) as Violet in Friday the 13th: Part V|
I just thought I would post these great q&a sessions with Tiffany Helm from long before she has come out and done interviews. In my eyes, these are pretty classic.
This first interview was conducted by Erik Nash from the long-gone www.campcrystallake.com website.
How did you first get started in the acting business?
Most of my family was involved in the industry in one form or another. While I was raised by my mom, who was a successful actress, I decided that acting was too unstable of a career and I would do something else. When I was 18, I signed on with a modeling agency, in hopes of supplementing an income while I was going to school. Quirky looks were not "in" back then, so my modeling agency encouraged me to try commercials. Feeling that commercial acting was not like theatrical acting, I gave it a try. I started booking and my commercial agency started finding little theatrical auditions for me. Well, I started booking those too and then I was in. I gave up trying to do school and acting, when I booked the Robert Altman film, O.C. and Stiggs. The experience of a location shoot with a director like Bob and an extremely talented cast got me hooked.
What attracted you to do a horror film like Friday the 13th Part V, and had you seen any of the previous four films prior to getting the role of Violet?
The film was presented to agents as "The Repetition". There was no indication that it was part of the Friday the 13th series, as the producers knew that managers would ask for huge salaries for their clients if they knew what a cash cow the film was. A low budget horror film? Absolutely! I wasn't really in a position to pick and choose my projects. And, back then, colored hair and tattoos were not "in", so my agent would jump at any project looking for "off beat", "punk-ish" or "new-wave" looks.
When is the last time you've seen the film, and how do you feel about your performance since having some time to look back on it?
I actually watched it recently. I purchased the DVD (along with my other impressive work…haha), so that my daughter would have it and see what mommy used to do. Well, I don't embarrass too easily. It is what it is. I enjoyed it for being the piece of pop culture that it is. For awhile, I was ashamed of my weight during the filming. But, I guess if there are any quirky-freaky kids with body image issues who see it, and don't feel so bad about themselves, then I've done a good thing.
|Tiffany Helm from His Name Was Jason|
Was it a pleasant shoot for you? I've heard there were some tensions between yourself an another actress on-set.
The shoot was fun. Juliette and I were good friends. We knew each other from school and were pretty inseparable during the shoot. If there were any problems, they couldn't have been too stressful, because I have no recollection of any tension.
Violet had a very distinctive look and attitude in the film, and remains one of the most well-liked characters in the series. How much of your own personality was reflected in your portrayal of Violet and how much was specifically written that way?
Nothing about Violet in the original script stayed. Back then, Hollywood had a very skewed vision of what the alternative scene was about. They were always about 8 years behind. Not only was the character dated, but she was a little hard body. I convinced the producers that I had gained weight for a different project and I would shed the pounds by the time we started shooting. I guess my look worked as a whole and with a little rewriting of some scenes, it worked fine.
How long were you on-set for, and were there any interesting events that happened during shooting?
My shady memory tells me that the shoot was probably between 6 and 8 weeks. Interesting? I don't know about that, but I do remember that we were shooting in an orange grove and it was very creepy at night. I would walk through the groves between scenes to keep warm and Tom (Jason) would lurk in the shadows and scare me. And Jerry would scratch and scrabble at my trailer to scare me. My best memory is from quite a bit later when I got to meet Iggy Pop. I guess the mutual friend of ours had told him about my work and before I could squeak out a "nice to meet you", he shook my hand vigorously and said "you were in Friday the 13th? WOW! Coooooooooooool!" I was stunned.
Pictures of your alternate death-scene in the film (showing you in some very blood-soaked jeans) have been seen from time to time. Can you describe that scene as it was originally written, and tell about the events surrounding its removal from the final release version (whose idea was it to cut it out, etc.)?
Well, as I said, Violet was originally written as a little aerobic hard body (I think Pat Benatar was the prototype). I was supposed to be doing scissor leg-lifts in my room, when Jason comes in and cuts me in two length-wise. Well, after make-up made me a grisly mess, the director assessed the blood and gore and decided that the censors would not approve. It didn't take long to rewrite that I was dancing and with the help of an unseen teeter-totter, Jason could lift and slice. The goofy robot-popping dance thing I did, was what all the other goofy-freaky outcasts at my favorite club were doing. The only thing I couldn't convince the director to allow was that I wanted to die next to the photo of Sid Vicious. We couldn't do that for estate reasons. I was bummed. I thought that would "so cooooooooool!".
|Juliette Cummins and Tiffany Helm from the set of Friday the 13th: Part V|
Did you keep any souvenirs from the shoot (props, costumes, etc)?
I think I still have the script. Also, some photos. That's it.
Have you kept in touch with any cast or crew members you worked with on A New Beginning?
No. I talked to Juliette briefly. But, it was when my daughter was just a few days old and I was absolutely overwhelmed. We never connected again.
I'm convinced there is a secret society of Tiffany Helm worshippers out there. How does it feel to have such a large following of fans?
Honestly, I can't even imagine. That makes me giggle. Tell them all to come over and help me clean this house! Haha!
You've left the Hollywood scene (for lack of a better term) some time ago. Are you still acting at all?
No acting. I recently started a portrait photography business and the artistic fulfillment I get from that is tremendous.
What other upcoming projects (acting or otherwise) do you have in the works?
Well, I just put in some French doors. I also built a dog house. And I am perfecting frame making for the framing end of my business. Oh yeah, and I'm deciding what kind of wood I am going to use to build my potting shed. What do you think? Pine? Or cedar?
Any last words for the fans reading this?
Be nice. You never know what you'll be remembered for.
This next interview was conducted by Brendan Hill, also from the long gone Tiffany Helm Online site.
What initially made you want to pursue an acting career, and what was your first role?
I did not want to get into acting cuz I saw how seductive and unreliable it was. I started modeling while I was in college. My agency thought I had a good"Commercial look", so they referred me to another agency. I started booking and my agency thought I should go in on theatrical auditions. I started booking those too. Before I knew it, I had been bitten by the bug (Great job...hang out with the beautiful people,play dress up and get paid disgustingly large sums of money). I dropped out of college and pursued it full time. A series of unpleasant events halted the flow of work and my attentions were forced elsewhere. I dabbled for many years but I couldn't deal with L.A. and the games anymore. Yes...everything you've heard about Hollywood is true. I love Seattle
|Tiffany Helm as Kate in The Zoo Gang (1985)|
The Zoo Gang is one of my favorite films, a brilliant piece of nostalgia from the better years. How did you get this role? Did you enjoy working on it?
My agent set up a reading. I was willing to cut my hair and I told the directors I was a great gymnast (I lied). The part of my brother was between 2 boys. I read with both of them. The kid that didn't get it was River Phoenix. I told the directors his reading was phenomenal. It was a weird shoot cuz I gained about 15 lbs during it. So in each scene, my weight fluctuates. Pretty funny now. At the time, I wasn't too happy and Wardrobe wanted to kill me.
When's your birthday?
You shouldn't be asking an ol'lady like myself age & weight questions, but b-day be 5/12/64
What was your last acting role?
Last acting role was yesterday (June 21, 2000) at the grocery store when I pretended to care what the weirdo behind me felt about the meaning of life, so I wouldn't be followed home. No, actually it was the cd rom Arthur C Clarke RAMA game deal. The film commission in Seattle makes shooting here a very negative experience. Anyone pursuing acting (Unless it is theater needs to go to L.A., N.Y, Chicago or Vancouver B.C.
What's your opinion on Hollywood and the acting scene? Hollywood?
Well, I left it for Seattle. That should tell you something. However, my dearest friends who I left behind are all very successful in the industry. They love it. They enjoy L.A. It definetly takes a specific species to keep up and put up with the crap there. It is very surreal. There is no town quite like L.A. It can be very rewarding work. But it is a tough tough gig. Most steadily working actors are more rich in ambition than talent. When you get a happy medium of talent and ambition,you have a star.
|A shot of Tiffany Helm of her initial machete-to-the-crotch death|
Have you ever had any odd, funny or peculiar experiences on the set?
There is an unusual/funny story to every project I worked on. Friday the 13th. Besides the guy playing Jason trying to spook me by following me silently through the orange groves, my death scene was a last minute rewrite. As the original had me exercising in my room with my legs in the air. Jason comes in w/ a machete and cuts me in two. Makeup did their job. And as you can imagine, I looked like a girl who had an obscenely heavy menstrual flow. It was pretty funny. I have pix. The director freaked. "That will not get by the censors" Quick rewrite. Yes, that was the way the cool kids were dancing then (Cheesy,eh?) And yes, that was my music. Pseudo Echo,the title "His eyes". There was a disagreement cuz I wanted to die under the pic in my room of Sid Vicious, but there were copyright laws in question. Reform School Girls: There was a particular extra I had problems with. She copied my wardrobe ideas,attempted to steal scenes, camera hog and just generally irritate me. After several attempts to talk to her,her manager the director about acting etiquette,respect and professionalism she decided to threaten and bully my best friend and me (Which we found amusing because we actually were doing the punk thing then and we weren't used to being messed with) In response to her and her "Badass" friends threats, we waited till the cameras were rolling on the dorm riot scene. My best friend sat off camera, lobbing books at the offending girls' head. She couldn't do anything (Cuz we were shooting) except look at my friend smiling and waving and hurling books at her. We got a good laugh, and she didn't mess with me anymore. More to that story later.
What is your favorite role to date?
Definitely Santa Barbara. They made me look so saucy. And I got to do my Southern thing (So Freddies' Nightmares was pretty cool too). Soap operas are such fun cuz you can go so over the top with them. But the most fun I had was on O.C. & Stiggs. Working on that got me hooked on the Industry and the people in it.
What part did you play on Santa Barbara?
I was on for a week or something. I was this saucy bimbo with a southern accent, who got a wee bit drunk and was about to get gang raped on a pool table (Ala Jodie Foster-The Accused) when handsome hunky soap regular.."Dash"(Puhleeze) saves my sauced ass and promises to testify to the scantily clad and weeping victim...moi. Much fun.
Did you devise that groovy dance (Friday the 13th) yourself?
Yes, I choreographed my own stuff. It's what all the freakster hipsters were doing at the time. Robot meets break dance. Plus I didn't have the bod to be doing the funky booty shake.
What did you make of that new-wave/goth look back then and what do you think looking at it now?
New wave goth? That's what I was doing. I'm still a freakster, hipster. But, sometimes I feel a little crazy and dress normally. I look at the industry now and it's so much more hip! I lost a lot of roles cuz I needed to tone it down. No tattoos, weird hair...bla bla. It seems like Hollywood is finally accepting the off-color folks more.
|Tiffany Helm (center) as Fish in Reform School Girls (1986)|