THEN: I’ve always been a fan of Brian De Palma’s work from the Seventies and Eighties. The psycho-sexual goodness that he knew how to deliver always felt like something I shouldn’t be allowed to watch when I’d sneak and take in as a kid. One of the great things about it was his excellent choices in leading ladies. There are a ton worth noting, but today, as I revisit THE FURY, I’m reminded of one of my favorites growing up. Amy Irving was a unique beauty, and she had a voice that was always music to my ears. She also had major roles in a couple of De Palma’s classics, ones that are still iconic today.
Ms. Irving began her career in the Seventies; she was featured in a number of television shows including Happy Days, Police Woman, and The Rookies, all in 1975. And then came her feature film debut, one that has become a classic for genre lovers everywhere. In Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s CARRIE (1976), Amy played the sympathetic Sue Snell. With so many awful teens terrorizing Carrie White, Sue was one of the few that wanted to understand and be kind to Carrie. That certainly helped make her all the more charismatic. And who can forget that final scene? Of course this movie garnered incredible critical reception, even earning both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie Academy Award nominations.
Amy made an impression with audiences, and De Palma as well. In 1978, she was given the female lead in the political supernatural thriller THE FURY. Once again, the director brought together an impressive cast including Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning and Andrew Stevens. This time however, Amy had the opportunity to play a character with special powers. Part mystery thriller with a surprising bit of humor, THE FURY is an intense ride that may feel slightly dated, but it nevertheless is still a great flick. I’ll never forget when Amy’s character is asked to read the mind of a snotty classmate. Once again, Amy Irving shined in yet another De Palma genre flick.
After a double dip of De Palma terror, Amy lent her talents to dramas such as VOICES in 1979 and THE COMPETITION and HONEYSUCKLE ROSE in 1980. This incredible actress earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for YENTL, opposite Barbara Streisand, in 1983. She continued to work steadily in the Eighties. There was MICKI + MAUDE and a TV mini-series called The Far Pavilions in 1984. The actress even earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by and Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical in 1988 for the delightful CROSSING DELANCEY. However, she finally did return to do a little bit of the scary for an episode of Nightmare Classics, with their adaptation of The Turn of the Screw in 1989.
Over the next few years she worked less and less, but she didn’t completely stop of course. There was A SHOW OF FORCE in 1990, AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST in 1991, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT in 1993 and KLEPTOMANIA in 1995.In 1996 she appeared in CARRIED AWAY and I’M NOT RAPPAPORT. She was also featured in DECONSTRUCTING HARRY in 1997, ONE TOUGH COP in 1998 and then came 1999 where she once again played a character familiar to horror fans… but not quite what audiences were hoping for.
In the less-than-stellar THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999), Amy returned to play Sue Snell. Truthfully, I vaguely remember this sequel, and I wasn’t blown away. If memory serves, I enjoyed seeing Ms. Irving back, but not much else really worked here - however, I prefer this over the recent CARRIE remake. That same year she was featured in BLUE RIDGE FALL, THE CONFESSION, and an episode of Spin City. And every once in awhile, she’s appear in something like the critically acclaimed TRAFFIC or a sweet romance like TUCK EVERLASTING (2002). In 2005 she stepped in thriller territory once again with HIDE AND SEEK. And then, in 2009 she starred opposite Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in a sweetly touching feature called ADAM, about a man with Asperger’s Syndrome who falls in love with his downstairs neighbor.
NOW: In 2013, you may have caught Ms. Irving in a TV series called Zero Hour. And in 2015, she appeared in one episode of the hit series The Good Wife. Currently living in New York - according to Wikipedia - the 62-year-old actress has slowed down when it comes to her acting career. This talented and beautiful stage and screen actress may not be on-screen much, but she has given several great performances, and thanks to her work in horror, she will always have a place in our hearts. There is only one Sue Snell, and that would be Amy Irving.
I wish that we could see more of Amy Irving today. And while it was easy to write about her impressive film career, it was actually difficult to not talk about her personal life. This includes a very public marriage to Steven Spielberg from 1985 to 1989. However, this column is all about career so I leave anything personal to the side. Either way, I’ve always been a fan and I’d love to see her return to work on a regular basis. Or better yet, make another thriller to add to her resume. We’ll always have a very special place in our hearts for Sue Snell.