A scream queen in every sense of the words, Dee Wallace’s name has become synonymous with the horror genre. With leading roles in Stephen King adaptation Cujo, cult classics Critters and The Howling, as well as a career-defining role as the mother in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Wallace has been combining shrieks of fear with buckets of blood and tons of fun for years.
Her latest film, Dolls, jumps in on the summer of the killer toys and follows an alcoholic writer (Thomas Downey) and his rebellious daughter (Trinity Simpson) as they isolate themselves in an attempt to recover after the mother’s (Elise Muller) extra marital affair. But what they don’t know is that the three dolls staying in the attic have a sinister – and murderous – past.
I recently had the chance to speak with Ms. Wallace about her upcoming film, as well as her iconic career, and the aesthetics of her hometown horror genre. Check out our conversation below and enjoy!
I was really interested to read about your career outside of the acting business that involves promoting self-creation and channeled healing. I was wondering how you utilize those concepts when you’re working on sets that have demonic dolls and morbid things of that nature?
Dee Wallace: [laughs] That’s an interesting question. It’s all pretend, you know? We’re not really working with dark energy here. I don’t believe in dark energy, anyway. I know from my healing work and we know from our fifth-grade science classes that everything’s energy. That’s all there is.
You can take energy and you can direct it toward the light like Chris did or you can direct it toward the dark like Hitler did. So, when people really understand that when you get to do what you love doing, whether it’s a horror film or a comedy, it’s good for your energy. It feeds your energy. It feeds your happiness because you’re doing what you want to do. So, I just look at it as going in and having a good time doing a lot of stuff I really like to do. And that just creates a happier life for me.
Absolutely. I was going to say so much of your career has revolved around the horror genre – you’re one of the scream queens – that’s fantastic.
Dee Wallace: And proud of it.
You should be. Quite a career. I was wondering what it is about the genre that keeps you coming back?
Dee Wallace: Well, you know, it’s my favorite genre quite frankly because it allows me to really play all the emotional arcs that I love to play. I love the emotional drama and the vulnerability and the anger and all of those things that we’re all really made up of. And whether we have control of them in our lives or not really creates whether or not we live in our own horror film. So, I love really working my chops, you know? To do light comedies for my entire career I think would literally bore the shit out of me. [laughs]
By now, I’m so well known in that particular genre that people call for me. I have people come out to the conventions all the time and say “I don’t know what it was about, Dee, but I saw you were in it and I thought, well, it’s got to be ok if Dee’s in it.” I think I’m just kind of known for it now, even though I do a lot of other stuff. I’ve got a nice family film called The Renovation of the Heart that I just finished. But a lot of my work is in the sci-fi, horror place.
How often do you get calls to join these horror movies? Are you always really excited to jump onto a horror project?
Dee Wallace: No. The script has to be good. I have to know that the people who are doing it know what they’re doing, so I look at some of the other stuff that they’ve done. But I’m always open to coming in and helping new filmmakers. A lot of the times, they need a new name to get the rest of their financing. So [if] I think I know what they’re doing and the part’s good, and I think that the project has potential, I’m totally open to coming in to help anybody. Some of my best experiences have been with brand new filmmakers. You know, Steven [Spielberg] had done Jaws, and a couple of other things, but he wasn’t Steven Spielberg when I did E.T. with him. So, I think we all have to support each other.
I mean Bobby Miller, that I did [Critters Attack] with that will be on Syfy in October. You know, he doesn’t have a ton of films under his belt. But what he has are new and innovative and quirky [ideas] and he was great in his own films with a lot of puppetry. And I think that’s why he was hired for Critters.
The first time I worked with Rob Zombie, you know, he hadn’t really done a mainstream film. So yeah, I just think if it’s good and the part’s good and I’m working with talented people, then I tend to say yes. You know, I’m not going to go in and work for nothing. Like last week, I got three offers to come in and work for $200 a day and I don’t do that. I earned the right not to do that, don’t you think after 200 films?