The Movie Waffler Waffling With... Horror Icon AMANDA WYSS | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With... Horror Icon AMANDA WYSS

We chatted with the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Shakma and Fast Times at Ridgemont High about her career, past and present.

Interview by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

How did you first get into the acting business?

​I started out in theatre. My first play was The Innocence when I was 11. Then The Bad Seed. Started my horror career early (laughs). I went on to do tons of commercials as a teen and in my early twenties. I was the Stridex girl, the Pepsi girl, the McDonalds counter girl, the Jordache jeans girl. When I was older I was the Bud Light girl. To name but a few. My first guest star TV role was on Buck Rogers - I was a toga wearing alien wood nymph. I went to a two year acting program as a teenager. I still study. 

What are your favourite movies, and do you have any acting role models?

​I love Casablanca, Gaslight, The old Topper movies and other screwball comedies from the '30s. Definitely Star Wars! Old and new vampire movies. And I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy. Carol Lombard, Bette Davis, ​Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren are a few of the actresses I admire.

In 1982 you appeared in the cult high school drama Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a movie that launched a bunch of high profile stars. Did you have any idea at the time that so many of its cast members would have such big careers?

​I was so young when I made Fast Times, I was just enjoying filming the movie. We certainly had a lot of fun.​ Loved working with Amy Heckerling. I admire her talent and career. Definitely a fan of hers.

In A Nightmare on Elm Street you're famously Freddy Kreuger's first onscreen victim, and given the nature of horror fandom, it's probably the role you're most remembered for. Is the 'scream queen' tag something you embrace?

​I'm always pleasantly surprised that my role, and the movie itself, live on with new audiences. ​It's wonderful. I'm so blessed to be in so many iconic films. Plus, the Highlander series. 

Can you tell us what it was like to film your death scene, which is quite extravagant.

​It was challenging in the rotating room. I got a bit of vertigo. The scene was choreographed and very well planned out. We just shot it by the numbers. Slow and steady. ​

Wes Craven sadly passed away last year. Horror fans will forever treasure his legacy, but do you think he deserves more recognition in the mainstream? There tends to be a snobbish attitude towards genre filmmakers.

​I believe Wes was admired across the board by other filmmakers. He was a fierce story teller and a wonderful director.​

You had a large role in the 1985 comedy Better Off Dead, alongside a young John Cusack. At the time Cusack brought a unique sensibility to his roles that really made him stand out. How was he to work with?

We all had so much fun making Better Off Dead. Lot's of laughs and silliness. John was a sweetheart!​ 

The same year you had a part in western Silverado, a movie packed with stars. What was your experience like on that one?

Silverado was definitely the most fun I've ever had making a film. Brian Dennehy took me aside one day and said, "Enjoy this. Most movies aren't this magical on and off the set." He was right. Beautiful location, brilliant cast, great director, great script. We laughed constantly. Motown dance party every Saturday night. I love Westerns and country music, so I was in my element.​

1990's Shakma is one of our favourite cult horror movies. That baboon was terrifying. Was it as scary to work with?

​I was terrified of the baboon. He was corralled behind an electric fence with his wrangler...but he would run through it occasionally. ​I was pretty sure that he was actually going to kill me (laughs).

You've worked heavily in TV since the early '80s; what would you say are the biggest changes you've seen in the industry in that time?

​Well, the obvious change is the proliferation of networks. There is so much more content. The cable stations are doing some pretty great shows - ​Penny Dreadful, Ray Donovan, Breaking Bad, Deadwood... So many talented actors. 

It looks like you've been busy recently, with a bunch of movies on the way. What can you tell us about them?

​I have a movie coming out called The Id. It won best thriller at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. It's my favourite role thus far, very intense. I have a web series called Devil's Gate. It's a thriller/horror. I play JC, a crime scene photographer. You will be scared! I have a film called Oct 23rd - SO SCARY - and another film I can't say the title of yet, also scary. Then Catch a Fallen Star, about a country singer in Nashville. I'm also attached to a film called William Froste with tons of your favourite horror actors. A really good script. I'm waiting on the start date.
Also, I'm going to two comic cons in the UK this summer - Showmasters, Exeter and Bolton. And Texas Frightmare at the end of April.​

Thanks so much Amanda.

​Thank you!

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