April 26, 2018 Interview – Amanda Bearse
When it comes to film, television, or plays, what do we always remember most? That is simple, the characters! Characters go hand in hand with storytelling, and if a character is nondescript, chances are they will easily be forgotten, thus making the impact fall flat. Fortunately, the talented Amanda Bearse has portrayed memorable characters throughout her career in entertainment. From her innocent, sweet portrayal of Amy in the 1985 vampire classic Fright Night to her 11 season run as the strong-willed Marcy on the hit sitcom Married… with Children, to directing, Bearse has certainly left her mark on mainstream pop culture. Forever keeping her creative impulses charged, Bearse continues to work, now as an educator, and most recently, directing the off-broadway play Party Face. Recently we caught up with the busy actor turned director to talk her journey in the world of entertainment, her work on Fright Night, her life-changing experience a part of Married… with Children, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in film and television for over three decades now. Having done a list of feature films, as well as be a vital part of the hit series Married… with Children, how would you describe your journey in the world of cinema?
Amanda Bearse – I’ve had a very fortunate ride within the entertainment industry. It hasn’t been free of disappointments, but the opportunities that continue to come my way are a true blessing. I’ve just finished the run of the first off-broadway play I directed, and I have to say it was one of the best creative experiences I’ve had in my career.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, and the production you are talking about is called Party Face which ran through April 8th. It is great to see you still very active! Everyone has an interesting story how they followed their career path. That in mind, was film something that interested you from an early age?
Amanda Bearse – I’ve always loved the grand epic pictures… often historic… still do! I remember seeing Doctor Zhivago (1965) during its initial release, and found it thrilling to watch, not just for its grandeur, but for its storytelling.
CrypticRock.com – The story is a vital part of any film, and you certainly have been a part of some really fun stories in your career. Among your credits, one adored by Horror fans is your role as Amy in 1985’s Fright Night. How did this role come about for you and what your experience like on set?
Amanda Bearse – I was submitted to audition for my agent at the time, and that is still the typical path to getting a role. The Casting Director, Jackie Burch, was very supportive, which helps give you the confidence to do your best during a nerve-wracking experience. I was 26-years-old when I played Amy, and they were auditioning a lot of real teenage girls. The fact that I could play young enough and then portray the character arc of Amy was due to my being a bit older.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting, it seems many films have casted actors/actresses older than their projected role, and thank goodness they casted you to play Amy! Fright Night is one of the most memorable Horror films of the ’80s era and certainly right up there with one of the most unique next to 1987’s The Lost Boys. Over thirty years removed from the film, what do you think makes Fright Night as special as it is?
Amanda Bearse – The success of Fright Night begins and ends with Tom Holland’s script. He is a true fan of the vampire folklore, and was able to do it justice at every turn; but then he was able to write characters and relationships that were utterly believable set amidst this Fantasy/Horror story.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and the characters are all quite memorable. Perhaps one of the most memorable scenes in Fright Night is the dance club where you are under Jerry’s spell and proceed to dance with him. Wonderfully shot and choreographed, what are your memories of creating this scene?
Amanda Bearse – The days at the nightclub were probably the most intense for me. Lots of extras and camera set-ups, but working with Chris Sarandon and William Ragsdale during those scenes was very collaborative. Chris had such a calm and professionalism and it helped to support my work, too.
CrypticRock.com – Well, the chemistry with yourself and Chris, among the rest of the cast was magical. Following Fright Night, you went on to join Married… with Children, portraying the unmistakable role of Marcy for nearly a decade. What were the Married… with Children years like for you?
Amanda Bearse – My experience during the ten years working on Married… with Children changed my life, for many reasons. I loved the role of Marcy, and playing her till the bitter end was my privilege. Working with actors like David Garrison and Christina Applegate were wonderful experiences… I learned a lot from David and watching and directing Christina was a pure joy. Married.. with Children gave me my second career as a director, and I will be forever grateful to Michael Moye and Ron Leavitt (the show creators) for giving me that opportunity.
CrypticRock.com – Marcy certainly was an intricate part of the series. A little whacky at times, yet always extremely funny, you did a great job creating her character. Did you feel more comfortable developing Marcy as time went on?
Amanda Bearse – All the characters went off in crazier directions and storylines, some better than others; but Marcy always had a strong point of view, and that is always fun to play.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, Marcy’s character really did grow a lot from the series debut in 1987. Beyond playing the role of Marcy, as you stated, you actually went into directing on the series, first doing so in 1991 and taking on a list of episodes until the show’s conclusion. What was it like taking on directing the series during the prime years of success? Did it change the dynamic at all on set?
Amanda Bearse – I was the only member of the cast to direct, and they were very supportive when it all started. By the series end, I was directing more and more, but I was also able to direct other sitcoms during our weeks off.
CrypticRock.com – That is great, it really did open a lot of new doors for you, which you excelled with. Since Married… with Children, you have gone on to a list of acting and directing projects over the years. Additionally, you have also gone on to teach at the Seattle Film Institute. What led you to academics, and how redeeming is it to assist aspiring actors/actresses?
Amanda Bearse – My acting career ended (for the most part) with Married… with Children. That was a deliberate choice on my part, because I was annoying direction and the momentum for my career was behind the camera. I moved away from Los Angeles in 2000, and balancing my work with my family was always very important to me. Now that I’m living in Seattle, I wanted to continue work, so teaching has proven to be a good next chapter in my career. Teaching and directing are not that far apart.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. As briefly mentioned earlier, you were recently involved in an off-Broadway production Party Face. Hosted at the New York City Center in NYC January 11th through April 8th, what can you tell us about this project?
Amanda Bearse – As I said earlier, directing the US premier of Party Face was a dream. When we finished our final week of the run I returned to NYC to take over one of the parts – one of the actors had to move on to another project, and it left a gap that the producers asked me to fill. Being given the chance to return to the theater and be acting again has been a wonderful full-circle experience… I’ll never forget it!
CrypticRock.com – That is really wonderful to hear. Hopefully we will see more of you in the theater and beyond, acting and directing! Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Amanda Bearse – Without a doubt, Fright Night is my favorite Horror film, and probably one of the few I’ve ever seen!! I’m more of a Fantasy fan, and thoroughly enjoy the Harry Potter films… again, great storytelling!