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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Deborah Theaker, Gerald and 'the Unflappable'!

I am delighted to finally post my long awaited interview of the talented, witty and busy (wow! Check out her credits!) TV and film actress Deborah Theaker. Read our informative and funny UCAP interview below.



ME: Hi Deborah. Thanks for being here. First, can you speak about how you got into acting? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?



DEBORAH: I was always into movies and entertainment since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I grew up in a very small mining town in Saskatchewan where my Dad was the mayor and local mortician. I was forever rounding up the neighborhood kids for impromptu shows. Relatives remember me going on about being an actress in Hollywood since elementary school. I always had that flair for the dramatic. I went to university in Saksatoon where I earned a degree in theater and then moved to Toronto fresh out of school and successfully auditioned for The Second City.



ME: LOL! I can't believe your dad was a mayor and mortician!? That sounds like a TV show! Amazing! Can you speak about your recent film Gerald (2010/22) by Marc Clebanoff, which is incidentally a Film Planet film! Hurrah! So, what is Gerald about?



DEBORAH: Gerald is a terrific little quirky indie about a mentally challenged young man, played by Louis Mandylor who loses his Mother and finds himself rootless and lost for the first time in his life. I must say Louis was wonderful, sweet and completely convincing as Gerald. It's tough to pull a part like that off, playing beneath your intelligence. His sincerity and commitment to it, is the heart of the, did I mention?...he's a total dreamboat, that one.



ME: Yes, Mandylor is a dreamboat. What was it like working with director Mark Clebanoff and Mickey Rooney? So cool! And how do you hope the international audience will receive it?



DEBORAH: Marc Clebanoff is fantastic! One of my all time favorite directors! He's like the charming host of that great dinner party you never ever want to end. He's got such a sharp eye...I think he's editing in his head as he shoots. He's completely unflappable, nothing rattles his cage. When you are working on low budget indies, there's always something happening that could push you over the edge, trust me, but Marc is always smiling, always got a kind word for people. He's really a lovely man. I expect big things from him, I really do. I met his mom, Margie, on the set. She's a doll. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Mickey is a walking legend. I think he was 90 or just shy of his ninetieth when we met. I was quite mortified at the thought of him crouching between my legs for the childbirth scenes. It somehow seemed undignified that this show business great would have to direct most of his lines to my crotch. I opted for a body double. Mickey was a real dynamo...shorter than I anticipated.....but, then everyone is when you are almost 6 feet tall. I bet he was a whirlwind back in the day, because he had more energy than folks a fraction of his age. I wish we had more time to hang out, so I could pick his brain and hear some amazing tidbits....



ME: So funny! First, I love the word ‘unflappable' to describe Marc. Love it! And I'm super glad you survived the scenes with Rooney and childbirth scenes. You have quite a platter of films you've just completed. Can you tell us about them? Which were your favorite roles and which ones should we look out for and when?



DEBORAH: Well, first up is Dirty Girl from Killer films which opened at the Toronto Festival on September 12th. It is set in the early 80's in Norman Oklahoma and is the first feature from writer/director Abe Sylvia. It stars William H Macy, Dwight Yoakam, Mary Steenburgen, and Milla Jovovich. I think it will put the young actress, Juno Temple, on the map. She is an exquisitely beautiful English actress, very talented, like a young Cate Blanchette. I play the teacher of her special education class. Also, Summer Eleven (2010) is another sweet, inspired indie from first time writer/director, Joe Kell. It's a story about the last summer before Middle School for a group of eleven year old girls. It's a stylish Stand By Me for little girls, very sweet. It stars Valerie Mahaffey and Adam Arkin. Then there's Mangus (2010), a dark comedy set in Waxahachie, Texas that reunites me with writer/director Ash Chrisitian, and my old pal, Jennifer Coolidge. Not to mention, Leslie Jordan does a hilarious turn as a high school drama teacher. Ryan boggus plays Mangus, an aspiring musical theater star in a sleepy little backwater town. Gleeks will dig this one with a shovel! There's a terrific musical within the movie that will have you in stitches.



ME: Congrats on that list of titles for this year. Do you have any funny or frustrating stories from filming?



DEBORAH: Do I ever! I did Ash Christian's first feature, Fat Girls (2006), in Waxahachie some years ago. The production was plagued by all sorts of problems, as small indies can be. There was a lot of ill will directed towards the film, because of the homophobia the script stirred up. We lost locations, and actors. Just before I flew in to shoot, the costume designer left town with the wardrobe. All that Sarah, the young girl who bravely stepped in, had....was a big plastic garbage bag of odds and ends bought at a flea market in Mexico. Well, I'm no feather weight twig of a girl, and so nothing fit. And I do mean nothing! Pants wouldn't zip up, so I'd disguise that by walking with a heavy wool coat in my arms to cover my panties and gaping fly. At one point, Sarah cut a blouse up the back and gaffer taped it in place, and leaned me up against the wall for a shot. Finally, I just wore my own pajamas, and ratty old housecoat for a chunk of though my character had suddenly become a bedridden invalid for some obscure reason.



ME: I'm loving this. Ha! The costume designer took off with all the clothes!



DEBORAH: I once did another low budget indie in a house that had super waxy, slippery wood floors. I was wearing a long skirt and ruffly blouse. We were behind for the day, and I had to cross the room to greet arriving dinner guests. As I made my way to the door, I slipped and ended up doing a perfect splits that any Olympian gymnast would have envied. I knew they needed the shot, so I never let on that I was on the floor with one leg in front, one leg behind, and my skirt in a bunch, like a diaper, around my waist. I just kept going with my dialogue.






DEBORAH: On the set of "A couple Of White Chicks at The Hairdresser" (2007), I had a super dramatic scene with Shelley Long, and Harry Shearer. Harry played our gay hairdresser in Beverly Hills, and Shelley and I played adversaries who become friends who share him. In one scene, Shelly is called to the phone to get the news that her father has had a stroke. Well, she forgot to take off her heavy glasses which weren't in any previous takes, she had her script in her hand, and nobody noticed but me. As the scene progresses, I am supposed to rush in to comfort her. In this particular take, after her uber dramatic phone call, where she slowly lowers the phone says "my father's had a stroke"...usually to our horrified silence, I go, very dramatically, "Wow, that's rough. but I've got worse weren't wearing glasses in the previous takes". Everybody fell out laughing. Everyone, but Shelley, who is probably still seething to this day.



ME: OMG! Shelley had no sense of humor! So funny! I love the roles you pick as well. They all seem to match your own jocose good-humored take on life. Where do you want to take your acting? Do you have a specific dream as an actress? To make a certain type of films and/or live in a certain place?



DEBORAH: I would like to do more stage work, Broadway of course. I think I am craving New York. I would love to live there and be able to sustain myself through theater.



ME: And the New Yorkers all want to come out to LA! So, what are your next acting projects?



DEBORAH: Nothing at all on my plate at the moment. I would love to launch a storytelling tour, as I started onstage and I've been away from it for far too long. Film is very collaborative. Many a performance has been made or destroyed in the cutting room. The same cannot be said of the theater. You have to have some serious chops to sustain an audience's attention for a few hours live.



ME: You're right about that. It always amazes me how with after the editing process, it can come out almost an entirely different film than what it began being. Editing can affect everything. Well, Deborah, thanks a million for your exceptionally entertaining interview. I especially love the anecdotes. Please come share more stories with us from other film and theater projects ASAP! See you soon!



Interview by, Vanessa McMahon October 07, 2010


actress Deborah Theaker


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