WILDE THING or CENOBITE BARBIE: BARBIE WILDE TELLS ALL by Owen Keehnen

Canada born Barbie Wilde has training as a mime, but as you will soon discover her lips are anything but sealed. Many will recognize her as the female Cenobite in Clive Barker’s ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’, or as a drummer in ‘Grizzly II: The Predator’ (as opposed to what ‘Grizzly I: The Cuddler’?). She was also a very predatory punk in the Charles Bronson vehicle ‘Death Wish III’, and even appeared in the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Janbazz’. This woman has had a great wealth of other experiences as well – from performing in a cabaret in ‘Bangkok’, to working as a casting director and film critic, to various music video appearances, as well as working as a choreographer. Barbie even has several recordings to her credit including the dubious honor of contributing the background vocals to the theme song from ‘Morons from Outer Space’.   With a resume like that you expect something sensational, and you won’t be disappointed.


 

 
Hello Barbie, can you start the racks and razors readers off with a visual and describe the room where you are answering these questions?

I'm in a room that has a window overlooking the sea.  Unfortunately, I have to keep the shutters down most of the time, because I find looking at the sea far too distracting.  One day I sat down to work, turned my head to look out the open window and hours went by without me noticing.  The sea is a mesmerizing force.

I suppose first off I want to hear about how you came to be cast as the Female Cenobite in '
Hellraiser II' (1986).

I went to an audition and got the part.  I had actually looked up what the word 'Cenobite' meant beforehand, so I could be prepared for any questions.  Tony Randel, the director, thought that Cenobite was a word that Clive had made up, but I put him right.  Maybe I was a bit snippy when I did it, so in revenge, he gave me the role.

I've talked to Doug Bradley about this - but I have got to hear your take on the entire make-up process for that movie.  How did it figure into the entire day you were in the shoot?


We were picked up anywhere from 4 to 6 in the morning.  The make-up process took about four hours for me.  It was very grueling to sit there without moving for so long.  However, the make-up guys were all adorable that it wasn't so hideous.  (The worst bit was having the full cast made of my head.  I thought that I was going to suffocate.)  The costume took half an hour to put on and it was quite uncomfortable because it had been made for Grace Kirby (who played the first Female Cenobite).  She had a back problem so when I was laced up into the costume, it pulled my spine a bit out of whack. For some reason, I thought that I would be cold on set, so the first day I wore heavy Lycra tights and knee-high leather boots under the costume.  That, on top of the make-up being applied to every exposed surface on my body as well as the heavy leather costume, meant that I didn't leave any place for my skin to breathe (a la Shirley Eaton's character in 'Goldfinger').  I felt distinctly odd by the end of the first day.  But I was also very jet-lagged because my plane had been delayed from Toronto, so I had to take a taxi from the airport straight to the studio.  Not a very nice first day experience!

Do you remember the primary bit of direction you were give by director Tony Randel when it came to acting like a cenobite?

I remember him telling me the background of the scene (where the Cenobites threaten Imogen Boorman in Channard's office) and that I had to really work that bit of business of sharpening the knife.  Basically, he wanted me fairly unemotional, i.e., . . . dead.  

I also want to hear a bit about your work in 'Grizzly II: The Predator' (1987). 

My boyfriend at the time, Richard Burgess, was producing the music for the film.  He was also going to play the drummer for the band that was going to appear in 'Grizzly', but at the last minute he was asked to produce Adam Ant in Sweden.  So he trained me to take his place as a 'mime' drummer.  The premise of the film was that an enormous, angry bear was rampaging through a State Park at the same time a rock concert was taking place.  To get thousands of free extras, the production company paid for Nazareth, of all people, to come over from the States and perform a free concert.  Before they came on, the film band (complete with exotic dancers choreographed by 'Strictly Come Ballroom Dancing's' Bruno Tonioli) filmed a few takes in front of an extremely bemused crowd of Hungarians. (We filmed near Budapest.) I heard that there were major problems with the mechanical bear, which was supposed to attack the hapless extras.  That and the rather fragile state of mind of our director meant that the film never made it out of the producer's basement. Sadly, I never met George Clooney or Charlie Sheen who were also supposed to be in the film. When I got back to London, I embarked on a very strange episode of my career by appearing as not only a mime drummer, but as a robotic mime drummer for an outfit called Rondo Veniziano who had an album out at the time.  They were just a couple of blokes from Italy who couldn't be bothered to make personal appearances in the UK, so a few musicians were rounded up to put on robot masks and Renaissance costumes and appear in nightclubs across the capital, vigorously miming to the tracks.  It was ridiculous really, but it paid fairly well.

Of all the predators in the (uh) wild and civilized world which one frightens you the most?

The human variety wins in all categories.  (However, I don't think that I would like to be eaten alive by a Great White Shark or have a Tarantula crawl up my arm.)
 
You were also featured in 'Death Wish III' with Charles Bronson -- another popular film series.  What do you mainly recall about filming that movie?

I spent most of my time napping in my dressing room until I realized that I wouldn't get used unless I was down on the set.  (On most film sets, the actors hang in the dressing room until they're called, but for me DWIII was an exception.)  'Death Wish III' was a strange experience. After all, we were filming in London and pretending that it was NYC.  It was shot in a partly demolished hospital in Lambeth, South London.  The atmosphere on set was drenched in fear. The director, Michael Winner, spent most of his time shouting at everyone, except Charles Bronson, of course.  But Mr. Winner was also very witty and funny (in a vicious way).  I think Mr. Winner fancied me a little bit, because he asked me to do a scene topless.  However, I demanded more money to do it and so he used another actress in the scene.  But he didn't ask her to take her clothes off!  I remember that Charles Bronson was a nice guy, very gentlemanly; totally unlike his hard man image.

I also want to hear about '
Dating By Murder'.  The premise sounds terrific.  Would you please give a plot synopsis for the readers as well as an account of your involvement with the project?

Ever since I can remember, I've been fascinated by the criminal mind.  When I was kid, I preferred reading Sherlock Holmes (along with an unhealthy dose of Sci-Fi, courtesy of my big brother) to cute little girl stories.  The book that really started my fascination with the psychopath mind was 'The Order Of The Assassins' by Colin Wilson.  Wilson's 'A Criminal History of Mankind' is also a big fav. To research the novel, I read around 65 books about criminal investigation, forensic science, forensic psychology, real life crime, psychopaths, etc.   I also had some contacts in NYC that allowed me to meet lawmakers and forensic psychologists at a couple of conferences as well as interview a detective on the Manhattan North Homicide Squad.  'DATING BY MURDER' QUICK PITCH -- Small town, art history scholar Professor Michael Friday is a man with a problem.  Actually, he is a man with many problems.  First, he is recovering from a botched suicide attempt that injured him and killed his wife.  Second, he is tormented by nonstop, sexual fantasies that are arousing and violent.  Third, he is obsessed and enraged by the stream of banal TV drivel that is being beamed into his living room.  And finally, he has fallen in love with forensic psychologist Dr. Elene Sheppard, who doesn't even know he exists. When he loses control and strangles a prostitute one night, Michael experiences a rush of Godlike power that catalyzes into a brilliant and sick idea; something that will really grab Elene’s attention.  Michael orchestrates a sex-murder spree designed to guarantee Elene’s participation as a forensic profiler in the investigation.  And, by intentionally leaving behind a powerful art signature at his crime scenes, he also ensures his participation as a technical consultant.  Dating by murder might seem extreme, but Michael is an extreme kind of guy. Enter into Michael’s world through the pages of his personal journal, where every diseased thought, sick fantasy and disturbing dream highlights his journey from zero to psycho.

Now you got into movies via being a mime --- how do you think that helped when it came to acting?  Is acting very movement oriented for you? 


I think that most of my roles in film came about because I either looked weird (throughout the 80's I had either blue, pink or golden orange hair) or because of my mime training.  I'm not that great at memorizing lines, so I was quite happy in that niche.  To be frank, I've never rated myself as much of an actress.  I preferred being a TV presenter where I was able to be myself and write my own material (as well as use an autocue, thank you very much.)

You also are quite highly regarded as a casting director.  So how about some tips?  When someone comes in to audition for a gig -- what are the primary things to look for to give a big thumbs up or thumbs down?


It all depends on the brief.  I actually didn't enjoy casting that much.  I used to work for a commercial casting director and sometimes she would just look at photos coming through the mail and then throw them immediately in the wastebasket without a glance at the poor actor's CV.  It was very demoralizing.   I discovered that the obvious choice wins hands down every time.  Sometimes we'd throw in a 'wild card' on the off chance that the director and the clients would go for something unusual, but that happened very rarely. Although it was a big job, I think that casting the punks, skinheads and other extras for the BBC's adaptation of  'The Buddha of Suburbia' was the most fun.  I met some really interesting people.  The director, Roger Michell, wanted real people as extras and background artists, so there were some interesting times on set! Casting Tips For Actors:  Be polite and follow instructions.  Funny is good, but don't be over the top.  Be respectful to the casting director.  Remember that he or she has seen dozens before you and even more after your turn is over.  Don't waste their time.
 
Okay, we're pulling the car into the Barbie Wilde Drive In where you are the sole proprietor.  What three horror movies are on the triple bill and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?   
 
1. I loved the American remake of 'The Ring'.  Naomi Watts was fabulous and I thought the direction was excellent.  However, I haven't see the original Japanese version which everyone tells me is much groovier.
2. Any vampire film.  My favorite is still the classic 'The Horror of Dracula' with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.  I once saw Christopher Lee walk down the street and disappear into a graveyard.  Perfect.
3. The original 1962 version of 'The Haunting' directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Harris, Richard Johnson and Claire Bloom.  I remember seeing it on television when I was a kid and not being able to go to sleep that night.  Also, as far as black and white movies go, 'The Innocents' (starring Deborah Kerr and directed by Jack Clayton) is excellent stuff.  (Doug (Pinhead) Bradley is with me on this one!)
4. (Sorry, I'm breaking the rules here.)  Must have the first ‘Hellraiser’ film, of course!  A nasty tale of sexual obsession and horror.  Brilliant stuff.
5. (I guess this is a multiplex drive-in) There has to be a space for the highly regarded 'Witchfinder General'.  I've never had the guts to watch it myself, but anything that has Vincent Price being really damned scary instead of just joke scary has got to be exceptional.
6.  Oh, I've got to stop.  I found that Sci-Fi films were more frightening than horror movies to me as a kid.  Is there room for the 1956 version of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'?  My brother made me watch Saturday afternoon science fiction movies and they really disturbed me.  Probably explains a lot of about me now.  
7. Finally, John Carpenter's remake of  'The Thing' really grossed me out, but it had humour as well. I really respect Carpenter as a director because he manages to make low budget movies that have the ability to scare the socks off you.
As for snacks, I'm a traditionalist:  Cheesy Nachos, Nuts, Popcorn and Hot Dogs.  Also, if it's allowed, I'd like to provide a full cocktail bar with vodka martinis and margaritas staffed by George Clooney lookalikes.


What makes Barbie Wilde go psycho in real life?

1. Do not pull my hair, even accidentally.  Woe betide you if you do. 
2. Watching the news doesn't help my temper either.  Large chunks of my novel are based on my own personal rage at watching human beings go 'insane in the membrane' because they've been infected by the triple whammy of fundamentalist religion of any kind or a skewed kind of 'patriotism' or political extremism.
3. Reality TV: truly an Ebola of the mind.
4. Jerry Springer.  He deserves a special mention because I actually wasted two hours of my life watching 'Jerry Springer: The Opera'.  Brilliantly sung, brilliantly acted, great music, great production, but for what!!???  About whom???!!!  Yeeech.
5. Injustice of any kind.
6. Andrew Lloyd Webber's music.
7. The smug smiles of those entrenched in power.
8. Political Correctness. 
9. The smug smiles of those who believe that their way is better than yours, whether it is through religion, politics, art, or whatever.   Those who think that their faith in something is better than rational thinking.   I'm a great believer in the power of science and in the power of the human mind; a powerhouse of imagination.  I'm a rationalist and I think it is our duty to inform ourselves, rather than just hoping or praying that someone else will take care of us or solve our problems for us.  That's what we have brains for. 
10. Ignorance.  The biggest killer of them all.   And how dare those in power seek to keep us mired in it.