Owen: First off I was wondering how you came to
initially be cast in all those wonderful Hammer
pictures 'The Vampire Lovers, 'Countess Dracula',
'VAMPIRE LOVERS' was the direct result
of sitting next to Hammer boss, Jimmy Carreras,
at the apres premier dinner for ALFRED THE GREAT.
I had just finished 'WHERE EAGLES DARE' and he
thought I would be right for the film he was
about to do. I met him in his office the next day
and I was in. I learned about 'COUNTESS
DRACULA' when I went to the theatre. I
heard a couple of men behind me discussing
Hammer's upcoming picture. I thought they were
talking about Vampire Lovers but they were
talking about Countess D. I went straight up to
town next day and confronted Jimmy Carreras. He
told me that the Director, Peter Sasdy, wanted
Diana Rigg. I convinced Jimmy that the part was
made for me and I got it.
The films were very progressive in their view of
lesbianism, especially in 'The Vampire Lovers',
was that a problem with censors at the time or
was the main to-do over the nudity?
I've only recently found out that it was a
lesbian film. At the time I thought it was about
a couple of friends having fun on hot sunny
afternoons. And I can't remember the nudity being
a particular problem
Do you find you have a large lesbian following
today as a result?
I've never noticed one.
I am also a huge fan of your classic
"chapter" film 'The House that Dripped
Blood' as well as the profoundly creepy 'The
Wicker Man'. Did you have any idea at the time
that people would be asking you repeatedly about
these films years later?
I'm afraid my work ethic is very basic. Do what
you have to do and beat it. It's wonderful that
people still remember stuff I did 30 years ago
but at the time it was just earning a living.
You've also done a number of esteemed films
outside the fantasy genre and worked with so many
amazing actors in your career Richard Burton,
Peter Cushing, Clint Eastwood, Christopher
Lee...who has taught you the most about acting?
haven't mentioned Alec Guinness in
'SMILEY'S PEOPLE'. He was marvelous.
Didn't hog the camera and was willing to let
others take the shot. One scene I had with him
the camera was focused on Alec. I was emoting
madly but off camera. Alec called time out and
suggested to the director that it was in fact my
scene and the camera should be on me. Reluctantly
the director agreed. Alec was too good an actor
to be petty - unlike G.B.
What makes you scream in real life?
Are you at all superstitious...and if so of what?
I don't think so. I can't think of any little
What is the favorite/most common question that
fantasy/horror fans always want to know?
Fantasy horror fans? I guess it's something about
how long it took to put on the make-up in
'Countess Dracula'. What happened to the
dummy of my head that Peter Cushing chopped off
in 'The Vampire Lovers'? The
answers are four hours and I dunno. What most
people ask is what was it like working with Clint
Eastwood/Richard Burton. The answer to that is
As someone with such a strong and loyal genre
following, are you frequently offered roles in
horror films today?
Frequently but not often with money attached. And
in my old age I've become very mercenary. As they
might say in Yorkshire - " .I do nowt for
nowt" So I write. That way I'm sure of a
reasonably steady income.
Owen: Do you have a favorite "on the set of
a horror film" memory from all those
classics in which you starred?
I suppose it must be Edward Woodward sticking his
freezing feet up my skirt in 'The Wicker
Man' burning scene. It was hilarious.
There he was being dragged around in a nightshirt
and bare feet by the villagers and every time a
'cut' was called he rushed around trying to keep
his feet warm. I tried to comfort him with the
thought that he was about to become very warm but
that didn't seem to help.