For most of you reading this, Danielle Harris needs no introduction. But just in case you don’t know, Danielle is widely regarded as horror’s reigning ‘Scream Queen’ and one of the most famous “Final Girls.” She is probably still best known for her role as Michael Myers’ niece, Jamie Lloyd, in Halloween 4 and 5. She would also go on to appear in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes. It wouldn’t be fair, however, to only recognize her for Halloween alone. Danielle has gone on to have numerous appearances in the genre, and has become one of the hardest working actresses horror has seen in quite a while. You may also have seen her in such gems as Hatchet II, Hatchet III and Stake Land, among many others. Danielle has also tried her hand recently at directing with the film Among Friends.
Recently I was given the opportunity to chat with Danielle leading up to the release of Image Entertainment’s DVD of, Shiver, which should be available by the time you read this (October 8, 2013).
JP: Can you tell us a little bit about Shiver and how you became involved with it?
Danielle: Actually, I auditioned for it. I read the script a few years ago, and I knew it was based on a novel, and the idea was that I actually hadn’t really done a character like that. I’ve always sort of played the tough, sassy bad girls, and this was sort of the first time that I could have a character that had to go through that much one on one and find the strength through her troubles and then some. So I had met with Robert Weinbach, we talked and talked, and I loved his ideas and I loved his script. He was open to my ideas and things that I had to bring to it. I’m a huge John Jarrat fan so I was really excited to work with him. I was really looking forward to it. It was the first time that I actually played an adult in a movie in a while. Even after the Halloween movies I was still playing younger roles like, 17 and 19-year-olds, so it was nice to play a role closer to my age. It gave me some great opportunities do some things in front of the camera that I hadn’t been able to do.
JP: I know you’re currently in the middle of shooting See No Evil 2. What’s it been like working with the Soska sisters?
Danielle: They’re amazing, they’re like family. They’re coming to my wedding. If I didn’t invite them they would probably kill somebody (laughs). They’re lovely. I adore them and I’m having so much fun watching them being so inspired. We just have a lot of fun. We talk shop during lunch breaks. Normally you go to your room and take a break, but I actually don’t leave set, because I’m so excited to be a part of this journey with them. Being a female director myself, in my entire career I’ve only been directed by two females, so it’s been an honor to be a part of this.
JP: What about the big guy Kane?
Danielle: He’s lovely. I know we’re probably not supposed to say how awesome he is, and sweet, wonderful, kind, considerate and all those things that, you know, we don’t want people to know ’cause he is Jacob Goodnight. I find that a lot of the guys that play these bad guys are the nicest guys, so it’s great. We’re filming in a really awful, creepy place, and we actually went ghost hunting the other day in the tunnels. It’s pretty cool but I felt safe, let’s just put it that way.
JP: He probably felt safe with you being there as well.
Danielle: I think he did, you know, the (Soska) twins said to me that no doubt if we ever really had to deal with a serial killer, that I’d be the first one in there fighting for us and I was like,”hell yeah!” They said we wouldn’t need to help you, we’d just be there for backup. I thought, “Great, had enough practice.”
JP: You’ve definitely had to deal with some pretty tough bad guys.
Danielle: Yeah, and they’re all three times my size. Kane is the biggest by far. He’s a big, big boy. He makes me look very, very tiny.
JP: He’s even bigger than Tyler (Mane) from Halloween, wouldn’t you say?
Danielle: He’s the same height as Tyler, I believe, but he’s just much, much more muscular than Tyler. (JP’s note: Tyler is 6’9″ 295lbs, Kane is 7’0″ 323lbs.)
JP: You directed the film Among Friends. I’m sure you have plans on directing more in the future. What genre are you mainly interested in? Do you want to stick to horror?
Danielle: I’m such a part of the genre community, and I feel like that’s what I know more than anything. But really it’s about the characters within the genre. There are such great roles to explore, especially for women. I actually just closed a deal on a script that I optioned for screenplay on Friday. So I just got the rights to it and now I’m gonna start shopping it around. I’m going to be getting married in January and hopefully raise my funds by then and start production. The goal is to be pregnant by spring and be able to have finished the movie and be big and fat in my sweats putting the movie together (laughs).
JP: Congratulations, by the way. I just found out recently that you are getting married.
Danielle: Thank you, thank you.
JP: Halloween 4 was the first horror film I ever watched at a movie theater back when I was a young guy. I’ve always been curious, if you were given the chance to take direction of the Halloween franchise, what would you do with it?
Danielle: I wouldn’t. Totally wouldn’t. I don’t really want that. You always have everyone sort of side-eying it. I saw what Rob Zombie had to go through, and the criticism. People would expect tenfold if I were to do it, and I just don’t want to be under that kind of pressure. I would rather do more original content. I mean, I do know Michael Myers, don’t get me wrong. I would never say never. If they came to me with a script and wanted me to do it, I absolutely would consider it, I just would really have to think about it. And it depends on what the script was. But I do know Michael Myers probably better than anyone else and I do have first hand experience. If I were to do it I would take it back to how it was when I first started.
JP: A lot of your fans I’m sure would love to see what you would do with it if it was all in your hands.
Danielle: I would probably make it in the style of Halloween 4. I want it to be more about suspense and would want the white mask back on – keep it nice and clean and simple. The butcher knife would be of normal size and it would be more about stalking. When you unveil the man behind the mask, it’s never as scary, in my opinion. I just don’t think that we need to be as brutal.
JP: Rob Zombie’s version was definitely quite vicious.
Danielle: Rob is really stylized. I love Rob’s movies and that’s a style where, I don’t necessarily know how to make movies like that.
JP: What are some of your interests outside of film-making and acting?
Danielle: I’m a big cook, actually. I love to run dinner parties and cook for everyone. I get excited when I get to come home when I’m away. When I’m at the airport and everyone else is buying Vogue or Mademoiselle, I’m buying cooking magazines, ’cause I can’t wait to go home, go shopping and start making dinner for everyone. Since I’m traveling so much, I’m just dying for home cooked meals. I also love body art. I’m obsessed with tattooing. I’m actually in Inked Magazine, which is out on newsstands now. Actually, I’m on Halloween Wars, which is also gonna be on the air tonight, where I get to be a judge. That was really cool.
JP: Do you embrace the “Scream Queen” tag?
Danielle: I think there’s only so far you can go. You’re either the victim or the heroine, and I’ve been both so many times. I think I’ll continue to get behind the camera. If something comes my way that I wanna do, absolutely. But of course I embrace it. It’s different nowadays than back in the day when being the “Final Girl” – which I think is the more appropriate term, anyway – you kind of have to go through hell and back, and back again. There’s only so much that you can continue to do where it all starts to feel the same, so I think making a romantic comedy would be a nice vacation, that’s for sure (laughs).