Clare Kramer is best known to sci-fi fans as Glory, the evil hell goddess from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s worked steadily since then, taking time out to raise a family and test the producing waters with shows like Take Five. She appears in Mike Mendez’s new film Big Ass Spider, a monster movie parody that she likens to her time on Buffy. She talked about making the movie in an exclusive interview with Mania.
Question: What do you say when someone asks you to appear in a movie called Big Ass Spider?
Clare Kramer: You don’t say no, I’ll tell you that much. [Laughs] This project was just so fun and funny, just such a labor of love from Mike Mendez, I was thrilled to be in it. It reminded me so much of my Buffy days: knowing and funny without quite descending into parody. That’s a really tough balance to reach – tougher than a lot of people think. I couldn’t resist!
Q: Is it better to have a director for whom it’s really a labor of love?
CK: Absolutely! It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you want to be surrounded by people who are invested in it. I’ve seen the other kind and it’s frankly a little depressing. You want passion where you work. You want people who care what they’re doing and want you to care to. That really helps you do your best.
The film was going to be a Syfy Channel movie, and it will probably end up there when it’s all said and done. But it’s done festivals and has a Blu-ray release and has this life way beyond that. That comes from people who really care about it and want to fight for it. Yes, it’s a bit of fun, but it’s fun that people really wanted to work hard on, to make as good as they could be. That makes all the difference in the world.
Q: How hard was it to handle the CGI?
CG: I actually find the ping pong balls easier to work with than practical effects. Practical effects typically look great in the final product, but when you’re on set with them, they’re pretty cheesy. We tried to shoot with an actual giant spider at one point, and it just wasn’t working. Mike finally said, “get that thing out of here!” It’s easier to use your imagination and figure out what it would look like, rather than have something silly and try to work over that.
It was funny. When I shot the film, it was, like four-and-a-half months pregnant and I didn’t tell anybody. It was fine – and the shoot only lasted 17 days, so I got in an out quickly – but towards the end I was starting to show, and I think I just wrapped it up in time. That part was tougher than dealing with the CGI. But I got through it, and went on to have a beautiful baby.
Q: You’re certainly very Buffy-like in this film. Do you think we’ve moved past the damsel-in-distress notion for women?
CK: I hope so, though I’d say more important than one type or roles is a lot of different roles for women. It’s great being a strong woman and a role model and someone who can take of herself. It definitely beats the alternative. Before I did this, I had this role where I basically spent the whole time tied to a tree, so I was definitely ready to kick a little butt. But she was also kind of a straight man, and that’s kind of unique about her. I want to see more of that. I’d love to see more roles in movies – whoever the actress is who gets them –where you get to sample a lot of moods and emotions and characters. Strong is great. Strong and funny and conflicted and a little mischievous? That’s even better.