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INT: Cynthia Garris

01.21.2002by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Cynthia Garris

Cynthia Garris is the gal pal of horror director Mick Garris. She's appeared in all of his projects and, in consequence, made her own contribution to the genre (Critters 2, The Shining (TV), Sleepwalkers to name just a few). Arrow had the chance to toss a couple of questions this lovely lady's way and this is what she had to say.

1- What’s your favorite horror movie?


2- Were you into horror films before meeting “genre” aficionado Mick?

When I was two and a half years old, my dad took me to THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. I was so excited I peed all over his lap, and toddled about for days saying “funny lookin’ man take a lady to the slip.” Thereafter he took me to every science fiction and horror film that came out. In addition, of course, I watched all that had come before on TV over and over, so we’re talking serious second-generation buffdom. As for my excitement levels, they’ve remained as high, but the bladder control greatly improved for quite a few more years before meeting Mick, who offered me the role of Zanti. Hearing those magical words “action” and “cut” hooked me, and I enrolled in acting class the very next week.

3- Was acting always a goal for you or did you fall into it by accident?

No, although I was a film-crazed kid, I was far too shy to try acting. But being musically inclined, I went instead into the world of ballet for some years (still a great passion of mine). Then I was a rock’n’roll bass-playing singer/songwriter

4- You went through extensive costume/makeup sessions for you role of Zanti in "Critters 2" and for the part of “Lady in room 217” for Mick’s "The Shining". Is it as grueling as everybody makes it out to be? Would you do it again for the right part?

It depends on the makeup artist. Zanti was a nightmare. The makeup artist Chris Biggs designed applied makeup that had no nose or eyeholes, and was so thick that I panicked, had to take quite a lot of Valium, and then begged Mick to get the shot as quickly as possible. I was claustrophobic for several years after that. When the dream role of Lady 217 came along, I was so tentative about applied makeup, I said I’d only do it if Steve Johnson’s people could come up with something very light and wearer friendly. My wonderful pal Bill Corso experimented with Saran Wrap and latex pieces here and there on my face. The result was a very comfortable makeup. Don’t forget, I was also the cover girl zombie in MICHAEL JACKSON’S THRILLER, so I’ve done this three times. And yes! I am eager to rot for the camera once again, if the makeup’s doable.

5- Of all the parts you’ve played, which one do you hold closest to your heart and why?

Has to be Lady 217, because the part, although small, was the centerpiece of fear for the show. And, another dream come true, I got the cover of Fangoria out of it.

6- Apart from acting, do you have any other artistic inclinations?

My main occupation is music. For many years I was a songwriter (you might have noticed my name in the end credits of a few movies and miniseries as a composer). Now I mainly write neo-classical music for the piano.

7- When you’re not being turned into a horrific creature (shame on you Mick) what do you to relax?

I love traveling, SCUBA diving, skiing, reading philosophy, and of course, I love going to the movies.

8- Is there a part you regret NOT taking or a part you regret having played?

I regret saying “yes” to the director of a horror workout tape that shall remain nameless, when one of the actresses didn’t show up. I was hired to choreograph the exercise scenes, but soon found myself in front of the camera with dirty hair (it was our second or third grueling day of shooting), quickly smeared on makeup, and a handful of hastily learned lines. Not to mention that I was at least 10 years older than the other girls.

9- What’s next on your plate? Will we get to see Cynthia Garris on the screen again?

I hope so. But since I don’t audition any more, I just work with Mick whenever there is a part that I am right for. There are several films he’s developing at the moment: Stephen King’s DESPERATION (great part I’d love to play), King and Straub’s THE TALISMAN (also great part I’d love to play), and a neat little film noir called CLANDESTINE by James Ellroy, with a neat little part I’d love to play. But in this biz, nothing’s a given, so we’ll see.

10- What’s your favorite Mick Garris movie?

My favorite Mick Garris movie has got to be THE SHINING miniseries. I, like many, was a big fan of the book, and felt Kubrick did not do it justice. But I feel Mr. King and my very talented hubby more than made up for it.

I'd like to express my thanks to Cynthia for visiting the page. Come back anytime! I hope that we'll get to see this talented actress playing a part closer to what she is soon: a charming and beautiful woman.



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