February 2, 2018 Interview – Danielle Harris
Entering the world of acting at a very young age, Long Island, New York native Danielle Harris has learned a thing or two about her craft. One of a handful of child actors who has transitioned into a successful adult career, Harris went from the adorable Jamie Lloyd in 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers to her memorable role in the 1991 Comedy Don’t Tell The Mom the Babysitter’s Dead to a powerful leading lady in modern Horror cinema. An actress who prides herself on professionalism and experience above all, what you see is what you get with Harris, a talent who does not conform to the model of Hollywood. Recently we caught up with the candid Harris to talk her career in film, her latest role in Inoperable, the twists and turns of the film industry, plus much more.
Crypticrock.com – You have been involved in acting for three decades now. In that time, you have starred in a list of memorable films. Seeing you began at a very young age, what inspired you to continue a career in acting like you have?
Danielle Harris – I think when you start so young you kind of don’t know anything else. I have always loved to work and love being on set. I was recently talking to someone saying how much I love going on location to film: when would you have the opportunity to live in some of the random places I have lived in? While shooting, I have lived in amazing places like Rome and Canada. I have also lived in podunk little towns that I actually had even more fun in; places like Benton, Illinois, Ottumwa, Iowa, and Oklahoma City. In real life, when would you ever be able to say you lived in these places? I definitely enjoy the art of filmmaking and couldn’t have imagined not doing it as I got older. I definitely did other things as I got older, but I always went back to what I knew best.
CrypticRock.com – It is great that you have been able to follow your passion as long as you have. You have worked in a variety of genres, from Comedy to Horror. Building a strong following in the Horror community, is that genre something you have a passion for?
Danielle Harris – Yeha, I think it is what I know better than anything else. I know what works, I know what fans want, and I know what I like to see. I had taken a bit of a break from it, not intentionally, but to focus on other things. I only did one genre movie in 20 years. Everybody goes back to where it started. Between Halloween 5 (1989) and Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), I only did Urban Legends (1998), which is kind of crazy to think about. It is kind of what you know, it is the same with acting. I definitely feel most at home on the set of a Horror movie, that’s for sure.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. You have remained extremely active in recent years, starring in a list of films. One of your most recent films is Inoperable, which is set for release on February 6th. How did you become involved with this project?
Danielle Harris – I get sent a lot of scripts ranging from your average Joe down the street that wants to make a movie for $10,000 and hoping you will star in it. Hey, you never know! I read everything! A lot of the time we get kind of the same script over and over again. Every once in awhile, you get something that is a little bit different. I just keep trying to keep it fresh. The characters I play are kind of similar to who I really am, I bring myself to everything that I do.
I just try to find a script/project that isn’t just like the one I did before. I think the Slasher stuff I am really not all that into; I don’t think you can beat the Halloween franchise. Obviously, the Hatchet franchise is a very different kind of movie that is ’80s style, old school Horror. Then you have the Psychological Thrillers like Inoperable. I think that was definitely on my list, I hadn’t done a movie quite like it yet.
CrypticRock.com – It is good to keep things fresh. Inoperable has a compelling concept, vaguely touching on quantum physics and altered timelines. Was this something that attracted you to the script?
Danielle Harris – It is definitely stuff I didn’t understand. (Laughs) Which is totally fine because I didn’t need to understand it. I felt like I was losing my mind a little bit trying to break it down and figure out how to get to the end result, which really works. I depended on Chris to guide me through his story, which was fairly confusing at times. We managed to pull it off. Like I said, I didn’t need to know what was going to happen next because the character was figuring it out as I was; which I thought was pretty cool.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it worked well in your performance. You seem to have a very good rapport on camera with co-star Katie Keene. What was the working chemistry like on set?
Danielle Harris – I actually, in my whole career, have never not had an awesome relationship with the actors that I have worked with; never had any drama or issues and always had such a great time. I think everyone is so happy to be working and be on set. Actors love making movies and getting to do what they love to do, so the mood is always really positive.
Katie and I have a bit of a lovefest with each other – she stayed with me a couple of weeks when she was back in L.A. I am protective of the newer Scream Queens/genre actresses who are finding their flow. I tend to be a bit protective on set making sure she is comfortable and making sure certain things they are doing to her she was cool with. I am kind of like the mother hen a little bit when I work with some actresses, I am definitely protective.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good thing! You come from experience so you know how things go. That in mind, what advice would you give to up-and-coming actors/actresses getting into the industry?
Danielle Harris – You know, if you asked me that question about 5 years ago, it would be a totally different answer. Fortunately and unfortunately, nowadays it is almost like anyone can do it. I find a few years ago I would have said you have to pay your dues; it is a long process, you need to go school, do your homework, you’re not going to be famous overnight, keep fighting. Now I would say, shit, you can have a video that goes viral on YouTube, next thing you know you are being offered a TV show. Which is great for people who are brand new, but it is very difficult for actresses such as myself who have been doing it for so long and find we are losing out on parts to someone who is a blogger, has a YouTube channel, or an Instagram ‘Influencer.’
These are new things I am finding out because it is a fast way for studios and producers to insure they are going to make their money back. I don’t think they are caring as much nowadays to get the right actors to do a really good job. They are hoping people will have other kids download/buy it online because they want to see their favorite fashion or makeup blogger or whatever. I don’t even know. I am 40 but I don’t know about this stuff! I am finding more and more people are casting things on Instagram followers. Times have changed, let’s just say that.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is very confusing how things go as far as entertainment nowadays. It is not to say some people are not truly talented, but it seems like social media following outweighs talent sometimes.
Danielle Harris – It is true. I just lost out on a movie I really wanted to do. I am very close with the director, fighting for me the entire time, but the money just doesn’t get it. I understand, most of the time, the money has never really understood it. They just wanted to make their cash back and really they have left the creative forces alone to make those decisions to make a really good movie. Then, in return, you make your money back. It is different, it is definitely different nowadays. There is a different kind of trust.
I feel like the directors and some of the producers hands get to be tied sometimes because they don’t have a say. The money is looking at numbers online and they say, ‘Well, what am I going to do, this girl has 2 million followers even though she has never acted a day in her life.’ I only have 50,000 followers, but I have a resume with a 100 movies but that doesn’t matter.
To be honest, as an actress, I don’t know what it would be like to act opposite someone who has never done a movie before. I am doing it too long to really partake if that is the way the business is going to go. I have to pick and choose my roles wisely.
CrypticRock.com – It is unfortunate how things are going in the industry. Hopefully it will get better.
Danielle Harris – It will be interesting if you have a couple of men or women and you put them in these Horror movies, I don’t think anyone really understands how difficult they are to do and to sell. Also, how hard it is to work on them and how much ability it takes to make it real. There is a movie I wanted to do and the director said, you know, you are probably going to have to carry the weight of this movie. It doesn’t sound so exciting! You want to be able to play opposite someone. I am thinking of the days I played opposite Brad Dourif and it was a dream. That is showing up for work! I hope, one day, all of these people who are doing these movies, maybe some of them aren’t that fabulous and we can go back to having real actors do movies.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed 100%. Well, Inoperable comes out on DVD and VOD February 6th, so that is very exciting! Seeing you have strong connections with the Halloween franchise portraying leading roles in 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers as well as Rob Zombie’s 2007 vision of Halloween, what are your thoughts on the forthcoming, new Halloween film?
Danielle Harris – I am excited to see it. I am excited to see it. I think it is time to go back to the way it was. I have always liked the original Halloweens; I love Rob Zombie’s style, but I am looking forward to going back to the way it was. You have to go see it because Jamie Lee Curtis is in it! I am a little bummed that she has a kid, and again it’s not me. I was bummed out when Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) came out and it was Josh Hartnett, but I got it because he was a movie-star heartthrob. I totally get it! Now she has a daughter, so I think it hurts a little bit more. Maybe one day in my life I will be able to bring Jamie Lloyd with Laurie Strode and have it be Jamie Lee Curtis and myself. I think fans would totally dig that, but I don’t necessarily see that in the future. I will for sure go to the theaters and see the new Halloween. Hopefully I will love it and if I don’t, I am sure everybody will know!
CrypticRock.com – We will see what happens with it. It would have been nice if John Carpenter was involved.
Danielle Harris – I met him one time and told him I was involved in the Halloween movies and he asked what I do for a living. I told him I was an actress… he had absolutely no idea. (Laughs) I don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes, but hopefully he will have some say. I feel like Jamie Lee will protect it and do a good job. I think Judy Greer is awesome, so I am excited to see what they do with it.
CrypticRock.com – As mentioned earlier, you began acting professionally as a child and continued on as an adult. You told us some of the things you have learned, but what are some of the more important things you have learned about acting and the business?
Danielle Harris – Wow, that is an interesting question. The business has changed so much. I was just talking to someone and I said I love working but as far as the need to be prim and proper, I never really felt like that. Most actresses I can pick out of a crowd, because they are all kind of the same for the most part. I think just showing up and rolling with the times changing. Everytime I think I have learned something, something else happens. Bring your life experience and things that are happening in your own life to these movies. Try and do the best job you can, don’t take anything personal. I just show up trying to have fun. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and what is the point of it all if you are not having fun? 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?
Danielle Harris – I am all old school: I love the movies that I loved as a kid! I love Poltergeist (1982), Gremlins (1984), I even think Goonies (1985) is scary. At one point I thought E.T. (1982) was scary. (Laughs) I still like all the movies I grew up with! Honestly, I think that is probably why I have had the career that I’ve had. I believe most of my fans are about my age and they saw their first Horror movie around the time I was a kid in them, around 10 years old maybe. I think, over the years, I have pieced that together; maybe I have been successful because Halloween 4 came out the same time you were 10 when you saw your first movie. I think that is why I love the movies I love. I saw Poltergeist when I was around 6, I saw Gremlins when I was 5. It is kind of the same, I still love those movies when I was a young kid.