by Mike Schoonveld:
Danielle Harris is this generation’s horror icon, a legend in her own right. She got her big screen debut when she beat out a slew of other actresses, including Melissa Joan Hart, when she auditioned for the role of Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. She reprised the role a year later in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and was quickly labeled a “Scream Princess.” After Halloween 5, Danielle appeared in some family friendly films like Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Free Willy and Wish Upon a Star. She also appeared in a few action packed films such as Marked for Death, Back to Back and as Bruce Willis’ foul-mouth daughter in The Last Boy Scout. She even worked in various television projects, with recurring roles in The Wild Thornberrys, That’s Life and Roseanne.
Through it all, Danielle has managed to keep her head securely fastened to her neck, avoiding the pitfalls that had claimed other child stars and establishing herself as a respected and versatile actress. In the last six years, Danielle has gone full-force horror, claiming the “Scream Queen” title, thanks in part to Rob Zombie casting her as Annie Brackett in his remake of the John Carpenter classic, Halloween. While reviews were mixed, Halloween became the top Labor Day Weekend box office winner and still holds that title to this day. It was a welcome return to the genre for which fans know her most dearly. Who would have thought that the same film that started her career would give her another one? In 2009, she returned to play Annie once more in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. From there she has appeared in numerous horror films including Devil’s Night (aka Left for Dead), The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond, Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2, Hatchet II, Stake Land, Shiver (for which she received an award for Best Actress), and five episodes of Fear Clinic with horror icon Robert Englund. She even directed her own short segment called “Madison” for the horror anthology film Prank, which also featured segments directed by genre favorites Ellie Cornell (Halloween 4-5) and Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1 and 3, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare). Sadly, the film was never released.
Getting her taste of directing on Prank, and a webisode to accompany Stake Land, Danielle was anxious to direct her first feature, but that didn’t happen until 2011. Written by Alyssa Lobit and produced by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and Athena Lobit, Among Friends is Danielle’s directorial feature debut, scheduled for release on DVD this year! So keep your eyes open for it! With several other horror films set to be released this year, including The Ghost of Goodnight Lane, Shiver, Dead.tv, Hallow’s Eve, Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, and the highly anticipated Hatchet III, also starring Derek Mears, Zach Galligan and Caroline Williams, to name just a few, it’s quite obvious that Danielle has no intention of abdicating her throne and relinquishing her crown any time soon!
Danielle took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for DarkMedia. Enjoy!
Mike Schoonveld: Hello Danielle and welcome to DarkMedia.
Danielle Harris: Thank you!
MS: First off, congratulations to you, the cast and crew on the success Among Friends has received. Are you surprised by the positive feedback?
DH: My fans have always been extremely supportive of anything I’ve been a part of, so I wasn’t surprised by the positive feedback but I am grateful and excited that everyone enjoys the film as much as I do!
MS: You have quite a few films that are set to be released this year, among them Hatchet III. What can we expect this time around as Marybeth faces off against Victor Crowley?
DH: I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but I can promise you that this one is bigger and badder than the last two!! Marybeth is back this time with a vengeance.
MS: Marybeth is a tough chick and we can’t wait to see her kick some major ass! Was it harder to shoot Hatchet III when compared to Hatchet II?
DH: The location and battling the extreme weather in New Orleans, mixed with an extremely tight schedule was extremely challenging. By far the most difficult film I’ve done to date!
MS: It’ll definitely pay off. BJ McDonnell took over directing duties this time around. How do his and Adam Green’s style of directing differ from each other?
DH: They worked in collaboration from day one on the Hatchet series, so while the style may differ at times, it is still very much a Hatchet style film. The series has evolved with each film, so this one is even darker and more intense than the last, but it should be considering what has happened in the previous two films!
MS: The Hatchet films are among my favorite horror films. How big of a part did Adam have during production? Was he always on set or did her just let BJ do his thing?
DH: He was always on set, but still gave BJ the reigns to do his own thing.
MS: It’s great that Adam trusted BJ to take over something that has such a huge fan base. I’m sure we won’t be disappointed. Getting back to Among Friends, how difficult was it making a film in just 10 days?
DH: It was EXTREMELY challenging in every way possible. I learned an enormous amount but I’ll never do another film that has a 10 day shooting schedule again. Not as an actor or a director. 18 page days with seven leads cast in every scene is something that I don’t want to tackle ever again, but we did it!! It can only get easier from here on out! I hope…
MS: Haha! Are you anxious to direct a follow up or are you taking your time for your second feature?
DH: I will cross that bridge when I come to it as far as a sequel to Among Friends. I am looking forward to directing my next feature, but am happy to have a bit of a break and get my butt back in front of the camera for the next few months before I tackle my next directing gig.
MS: Were you surprised by the fans who donated to help make Among Friends?
DH: My fans are the best and am always surprised but so grateful that they wanted to support my dream of directing!!
MS: You do have an amazing support system when it comes to your fans, especially in the gay community. Is that another reason why you did the NOH8 campaign photo shoot?
DH: I just wanted to show my support in general. For equality, for the right to have a voice in any outlet I can be heard. Whether it be speaking out about my support in the gay community, protecting child actors, shelter animals or women in film. Being an actor, I’m grateful to have an opportunity to show people what I believe in and have a voice that close minded people will hopefully hear. I am a big supporter of the NOH8 campaign and was excited to be a part of it.
MS: That’s amazing. We all need to speak up and be heard. So, Halloween turns 35 this year. Why do you think it has stood the test of time?
DH: Because nothing beats the Boogeyman!!!!
MS: This is very true! Annie’s death in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, is probably the most emotional scene in the series and a bittersweet send off that we never got in Halloween 6. Was it written differently or was it something that just happened naturally?
DH: Rob basically gave Scout (Taylor-Compton) and I the freedom to go for it and let it unfold the way it naturally did. He let the cameras roll and sat back and watched. I thought it was the perfect way to go out. To sit in a theater and watch people cry when Annie dies was pretty amazing. I do believe that they were emotional because it was me though. If another actress played that role the fans might not have been that invested. It was everyone who grew up with me from when I was little Jamie Lloyd. I think they were watching her die more than Annie Brackett and that’s what made it so emotional.
MS: The scene does pack a punch. What advice can you give to aspiring directors, especially women, who are breaking into the business?
DH: Just do it!! You will be challenged, but keep pushing forward. Make your own shit happen, women!!!
MS: That’s sound advice! Just do it, ladies!! Danielle thank you so much for taking the time to talk to DarkMedia. I, along with the fans, appreciate it greatly and I thank you for this interview.
DH: Thank you!!!
DarkMedia contributor Mike Schoonveld covers mainly movies, and there’s nothing that gets his blood going like a good horror film, old and new. When he’s not writing or watching horror, you can find him catching re-runs of television shows like I Love Lucy, The Simpsons, and Reba, among many. Last year, Mike was able to flex his writing muscles by submitting a screenplay to the Shriekfest Film and Screenplay festival where he was a finalist for “Best Feature Screenplay.” While he didn’t win, that hasn’t stopped him from pushing forward to establish a screenwriting career in horror. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @horrorguy30, Stage32.com and you can check out his blog at horrorguy30.blogspot.com.
Mike is currently working on two scripts: Slicer: The Sauk County Massacre (formerly titled Hell Weekend) and The Haunting of Willow Falls Manor.
This interview is part of DarkMedia’s official Women in Horror Recognition Month coverage! Stay tuned for more interviews, articles, and special features, right here on DarkMedia.com.