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Mania Exclusive Interview: Danielle Harris
The Scream Queen Directs her first film
By Tim Janson
August 19, 2013
Danielle Harris got her start at the tender age of eight starring in the soap opera “One Life to Live” from 1985 – 1987. But it was her role as Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 that established her as horror’s youngest Scream Queen. Since then, she has starred in such films as “The Last Boy Scout”, “Free Willy”, “Daylight” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and Halloween 2”, “Stake Land”, “Laid to Rest 2”, and Hatchet 2 & 3. “Hatchet 3” was released on Blu-Ray and DVD last week.
(Below) Danielle Harris in Halloween 5.
After nearly 30 years in front of the camera, Danielle now gets behind the camera with her debut directorial effort “Among Friends” which will be released on DVD on August 27th. Danielle sat down with Mania to talk about her latest film projects.
Mania: “Among Friends” is your first feature film as Director. Tell us about how you got involved with the project?
Danielle: My good friend Jen Blanc came to me with the opportunity to direct and sent the script my way. We soon had a lunch meeting with the writer, producer, and star Alyssa Lobit and after hearing my suggestions and ideas we just vibed creatively and I knew it was the right project for me!
Mania: What was the biggest challenge to you in going from in front of the camera to behind?
Danielle: Only challenge really is the amount of time you need to devote to one project at a time. It takes up every moment of every day for years until that movie is released! As an actor you work a few weeks then don't need to revisit it until press right before the film is released!
(Below) Danielle in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake.
Mania: Who are some of the Directors who have influenced you and what films, if any, helped shape "Among Friends"?
Danielle: I love all films. Good and bad! Directors who have distinct styles and take risks and aren't afraid to draw outside the lines are influential period!
Mania: Most of the cast members of “Among Friends” (Dana Daurey, Jennifer Blanc, Brianne Davis, Alyssa Lobit, etc.) have worked with you on other films, and Lobit wrote the story. How did your familiarity with these actors help?
Danielle: It made it easier to push them out of their comfort zone and fortunately for me I could push their buttons and get performances I needed. Unfortunately for them I pushed their buttons!
Mania: Much of the film takes place with the main cast around a dining room table so it relies on each actor giving a strong and unique performance. How did you go about trying to bring out the best in each actor?
Danielle: I Gave them the freedom to create and bring who they really wanted the characters to be to the table (literally) then I would encourage and push them to take it even farther.
Mania: The setting of "Among Friends" is a dinner party murder mystery that is supposed to be set on prom night in 1984. Why was that particular era chosen as the backdrop for the film?
Danielle: We are all kids of the 80's and it just seemed fun and kind of paid homage to the types of movies that were being made when I started my career in the genre. Colors, music, wardrobe. All the stylistic accents that are different from the way horror is shot now.
Mania: The film reunited you with Kane Hodder who you worked with on Hatchet II and III. I’ve met Kane several times and he is such an affable guy. You give him the opportunity to step out of the masks and makeup for his role as the limo driver. He seemed to enjoy the chance to play a normal (although still creepy) role. Tell us about working with him.
Danielle: He's a great actor and enjoys not being in makeup every once in a while, so I wanted to give him a shot at having fun on set and playing around for once! All his dialogue was mostly improvised by him and I crack up every time I see that scene!
(Below) Danielle taking on Victor Crowley in “Hatchet II”.
Mania: I’ve met you at Motor City Comic Con and Motor City Nightmares. You genuinely seem to enjoy these shows. How many do you do a year?
Danielle: Depends on what movies are coming out and what I'm promoting!
Mania: The thing I’ve noticed is that there is a strong fraternity among the horror actors at these shows with people like you, Kane, Sig Haig, Michael Berryman, and others.
Mania: You’ve been given the title of Scream Queen…but you appear to embrace that label having done many non-horror roles?
Danielle: Of course. While I'm still acting in the genre ill take it! It hasn't limited my career so why not!
Mania: As an actress, what is your preference? Horror? Comedy? Drama? Or do you just look for the best part?
Danielle: Depends on the day and where I am in my life at the time. There are lots of factors that go into me accepting a role.
(Below) Danielle directs “Among Friends”.
Mania: You’ve done film, TV, daytime TV, voices for animated shows and videogames…What has been your biggest challenge and which have you enjoyed the most?
Danielle: Horror is the most emotionally and physically challenging and animation is the most fun and easiest!
Mania: Will we be seeing more Danielle Harris directed films in the future?
Danielle: Absolutely! I'm hoping to start my next project spring of 2014.
(Below) Danielle Harris on the set of “Among Friends”.
Mania: I know you have several other films in the works including Dead.TV and The Farm. Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects?
Danielle: In August “Hatchet 3” and “Among Friends” hit the stores and Shiver will be released in October. I also have the “Ghost of Goodnight Lane and Dead.tv hopefully coming out before the end of the year!
Mania: Last question…Michael Myers or Victor Crowley? Who scares you more?
Danielle: Neither. Haha. I can take em both!
Mania: Danielle, thanks so much for taking a few minutes to talk to Mania today.