EMILY PERKINS: Part 2 of 5 Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
June 29, 2004
In part two of our interview with Emily Perkins, Emily takes the time to discuss some of her smaller roles in a variety of feature films.
RadioFree.com: You've played quite a few characters who have to deal with their fair share of problems. In Anything to Survive, you were stranded in the snow?
Emily: Right. It was a shipwreck in Alaska. That was a true story as well.
Anything difficult about that shoot?
It was cold. That was the tough thing about it.
In Stephen King's It, your character deals with an incestuous father, is picked on by bullies, and gets rocks thrown at her...
You're noticing a pattern here. [laughs]
Was that a particularly difficult project?
They just make it look like that. Physically, that one wasn't demanding.
While you were shooting It, were you aware that the first half of the story that focused on the kids was pretty good, while the second half on the adults was really, really bad?
I heard that afterwards. [laughs] But obviously at the time, I didn't really know.
You heard that as a kid?
When the movie came out, I read some reviews that said that--because I did read reviews. [laughs]
Venus Terzo, one of your co-stars on the television series Da Vinci's Inquest, was also in It?
Yes, she was.
Did you two have a scene together back then?
No. She played John Ritter's girlfriend when he wins the architect award, I think it is.
Speaking of John Ritter, were you or the other kids in awe when the incomparable "Jack Tripper" came onto the set?
Yeah, I was. I used to watch Three's Company reruns when I was a kid, so I was pretty intimidated. And I would just sort of not talk to him. He was such a nice guy. Like he was a real clown. When the kids were around, he'd always come and start joking. He'd be like, "Oh, come over here," "Hey, how's it going?" And I'd be really shy. [laughs]
This probably can't be said for a lot of actors in Hollywood, but he always seemed to be a very nice and decent person.
Yeah, a really genuinely nice person, for sure.
He had such a remarkable talent for comedy and made so many people laugh that his untimely death seemed all the more tragic.
Yeah, it was really sad to hear about that. He was a really talented person and a nice person, which I guess is a pretty rare combination.
You had a small part in Prozac Nation as a girl who is autistic. Did you have to do any special research for that role?
No, I just auditioned, and they basically said, "Can you pretend that you're severely autistic and that you're upset about something?" So I tried to do that. I didn't have any lines or anything.
While you were filming that movie, were you aware that your character is probably the happiest character in a story filled with depressed people?
[laughs] Well, I read the book when I was 19, so I knew what it was about, and the characters were all pretty depressed. But I didn't really think of her as being necessarily one way or the other.
By any chance, did you audition for the main role in that movie, played by Christina Ricci?
No. I don't really get auditions for large parts for American shows.
Even though it was filmed in Vancouver?
Yeah. They usually cast larger roles in L.A. It is possible to get an audition for a larger role, I think, if you have an American agent, which I don't. So I don't tend to get a chance for those roles.
[light switch gets flipped on] So that's why we're not getting to see you in higher profile gigs in U.S. films! We're really being deprived here in the States...
[laughs] Oh, thanks.
You had a brief onscreen moment in Insomnia. Did you audition only for the role of the girl who delivers the eulogy at her friend's funeral?
Yeah, just for that small part.
That film credits you as Emily Jane Perkins, but other sources list your middle name as Jean. Which is it, really?
Your Ginger Snaps co-star Katharine Isabelle mentioned that she got into a poker game with Al Pacino and a bunch of producers. Did you get involved in that?
Any interest in the game? You'd have quite an edge, given your psychology background, acting ability, disarmingly youthful look, and general insight.
Oh, thanks. [laughs] Maybe, I don't know. I've never tried it.
Mimi Rogers, another of your Ginger Snaps co-stars, was making the rounds on celebrity poker shows. She was pretty good at talking trash to opponents, one of whom was Carrie Fisher.
[laughs] That's funny. Two smart women, I'd imagine. Well, I know Mimi is really smart. I'm sure Carrie Fisher is, too.
You've had appearances in a couple of movies based on the Christy stories from novelist Catherine Marshall. Did you focus on the women's issues in those films, like Christy working for respect or the subplot concerning women's suffrage?
Well, I didn't read the script before I auditioned for it. I actually read for a different character than I ended up getting.
For which role did you originally read?
I can't remember her name, but the girl that is the girlfriend of my older brother in the movie. She's just talking about how she wants to move in with him, and they'll have a house or something. I can't remember. But it wasn't very feminist! [laughs]
Your character Zady Spencer was quite young. About how old was she?
That girl was supposed to be like 12.
Many of your scenes were with Lauren Lee Smith, who played Zady's teacher and title character, Christy. Was it odd playing such a young student opposite an actress who is actually younger than you?
Not really. I've always been in pretty good touch with my inner child, you could say. [laughs] I'm used to being perceived as younger than I am. The last couple years, I've started to look a lot older. But before that, I did really look like a teenager, and people would always think that I was. That's just part of life for me. But it's kind of good in a way. People tend to take their guard down around children, so you can really see people more clearly, I think. Children have a more accurate perception of adults for some things. They can't necessarily articulate it, but I think that's what allows them to grow so quickly. They can be very good at imitating adults, because adults let it all hang out, essentially.
Looking younger than you are is such a great thing in real life, but can it be a hindrance for an actor or actress?
Yeah, definitely. Part of the reason why it's hard for me to get auditions now is because I am sort of thought of as being really hard to place age-wise, for example. I don't really fit into any of the molds for the various characters that tend to come up repeatedly when they're casting. And it's really hard. Casting directors think of me as a child actor. There are some casting directors that I haven't seen since I was 13, and there are so many shows that I've never auditioned for just because that's what happens to a lot of child actors. It's really hard for casting directors to know where you can fit in because you're so much older than you actually play. And sometimes that doesn't work because your mind is too advanced. Like it's hard for me to play a bubble-headed, typical 16 year old girl. I have to play a character that has a little bit more meat, somewhere where I can direct my energy.
Like your Ginger Snaps character Brigitte?
You put on a noticeable accent in the Christy films. In what region did those stories take place?
It was rural Tennessee.
Having been born in Vancouver and having lived here all your life, what accent would you say Canadians most readily associate with Americans?
Hmmm...I guess it would sort of be a hybrid between the South and the Midwest. Just a little bit slackjaw, I guess. That's what I think of.
Americans typically think that Canadians say "eh!" all the time. But I haven't heard any of that in my time here in Vancouver. Is this just a myth, or do Canadians really say that?
They do, but they don't say it as much here. I just got back from Winnipeg and everyone was saying it there. "Eh!" I really noticed it. It seemed alien to me, though, too.
A lot of Americans also think that Canadians say "aboot" rather than "about," but I've found it to be less pronounced than the alleged oo sound.
Yeah, it's just more clipped, and Canadians speak more quickly. Well, you speak very quickly I noticed, so it's an L.A. thing, maybe?
Sorry. But yeah, I know your time is valuable. Caffeine doesn't help, either. [points to melted Frappuccino]
This concludes part two of our interview with Emily Perkins. In part three, Emily takes us behind the scenes of Ginger Snaps and Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, offering her insight into the making of those two films.