Having worked on nearly 100 films, Dee Wallace is familiar to many moviegoers, particularly genre buffs who remember her from The Howling, Cujo and Critters and have seen her recently in The House Of The Devil and Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Her most famous role is as Elliott’s mother Mary in Steven Spielberg’s beloved, family-friendly fantasy film E.T., which recently received its Blu-ray release. I spoke with Wallace for MSN Movies about E.T. and how 1982 was a monumental year for sci-fi and fantasy films. She also shared her thoughts with A.D.D. about acting with green screen, changes in Hollywood thinking and working with Rob Zombie.
How much creative control did the filmmakers have over E.T. at the time? Was there a lot of studio interference?
I wish I could answer that question. I wasn’t involved in any of that. My instinct would tell me that they probably left Steven alone more than they interfered. He had had two really great successes. Raiders Of The Lost Ark had just come out. Working with Steven, I would think that he set up with less studio interference than more.
How do you feel about a lot of the CGI work you’ve done recently? Do you find it more challenging as an actor?
Sure, it’s more challenging. Acting is a lot about reacting and the connection that you have with the other actor. With CGI and green screen you have to imagine that, but that means it’s even harder to throw your energy out towards something that’s not there. It’s a real talent. People don’t appreciate enough actors that work a lot with green screen.
It seems like a lot of movies today have a lot more plot lines, especially as younger people can multitask and juggle more ideas. Some movies seem to have multiple endings and toss in many different elements to keep people interested.
I think what you have here is a problematic lack of agreement between studios and creative people. The studios always want more blood, more gore and more sex, and the creative people know that you don’t need all that. But there is a prevalent belief in a lot of the studio system and a lot of the people that are releasing films that you need all that crap for people to actually want to see the film.
You made an appearance in Ti West’s The House Of The Devil, which is a very understated throwback to classic ’70s horror movies. Most of the film is driven by suspense and dark shadows.
I love it. Didn’t you like it?
I did. At first I thought, “Nothing’s going on,” but the suspense got to me and made me wait for the big ending.
Exactly. That’s a good horror film for you.
How do you feel about working with a horror director as brutal as Rob Zombie?
When I’m doing it I love it, and when I watch it I turn away.