We'll discuss her rich history as an actress, what she's up to now, and what she has planned for the future.
Q: You've played a wide array of characters over the years, from a hooker with a heart of gold on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman to a traumatized mother in Evil Under The Skin. Despite your long list of credits, is there a specific type of character you haven't had a chance to play that you would love to give a shot?
A: I am really into “Legion” and would love to play a non-binary type of dark angel that had both the elements of ying and yang at their disposal. I am looking forward to broader expressions of what the female form can do. I think we have been underestimated. Movies are so powerful they can lead in future visioning and open doors to expanding our thinking on what is possible or not yet speak-able.
Q: Out of all the acting you've done, what would you consider the most stressful scene you've ever filmed? Why was it so difficult?
A: I was in a movie called Katie-bird Certifiable Crazy Person. It was such a disturbing movie. Really relentless and I was going through an incredibly disturbing time as we were shooting anyway, coincidentally or not. I think the movie reflects all that darkness in a really terrifying way. I felt that I was in a place of incredible danger and spiritual sickness, so I am not surprised I drew that movie to me. I am glad I survived it. In it’s way it is a work of art. Definitely a visionary director. Definitely a time of insanity.
Q: Have you always had an affinity with horror, or was it a passing interest that took stronger hold over the years?
A: I never liked horror movies growing up. I found watching them frightening and unnecessary. Though doing them was incredibly fun. But as I have grown older, and experienced more of life’s joys and it’s terrors I have found a sweet place for them. Horror movies are so distracting. And the adrenaline rush is addictive. The audience goes on an emotional roller coaster ride and the more compassionate the soul the more emotionally expansive the ride. It has struck me what a lovely lovely soulful bunch of people the horror fan community is, from the events I have attended. Contrary to what one might think, I find most of the people I meet incredibly sweet and emotional and open beings. So it is not surprising that these beings I have met, when walking around in this really crazy and beautiful and terrible real world of ours, Being especially in tune to the waves and thunder of it all, would be exposed to even more personal emotional danger than the average Joe, and so, find some cathartic relief in a horror movie. That’s a long thought. Sorry. Hope you get through it. I love the horror fan base. I sympathize. I lurff them. I love them. I larf them.
Q: Out of all the roles you've taken part in, which character/performance are you most proud of?
A: It would have to be the series role of Myra on the TV Show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Myra was the character of my dreams. I am so grateful to the writers of that show. To make her frail, and courageous, and hopeful and moral even though she was a prostitute. To give her dreams to believe in. To imbue her with such goodness despite her very low status in society. I often say that her character is the kind of human being I still aspire to being. She is a beacon for me in the darkness, even now.
Today, Support Indie Flix visits with seasoned actress and cult classic icon Helene Udy!
Q: Are there any filmmakers out there that you would love to work with?
A: When I started, I did every audition for Martin Scorcese. It did not matter what I was auditioning for, to me it was always a Martin Scorsese movie. It kept me centered and it must have imbued me with a tone that got me work in all sorts of crazy places. Even my Dr. Quinn audition was for Martin Scorcese. I love the depth and richness and rawness of his characters. At least the men. But who is that who did an amazingly raw and emotional performance in Raging Bull? Cathy Moriarty! I adore her. More Cathy Moriarty please. I still have yet to work with Martin Scorsese . Little does he know how much emotional context and inspiration he continues to give me. That and the orphanage I grew up next to. It’s an endless source as well.
Q: Perhaps one of your most memorable moments on screen was your death scene in the original My Bloody Valentine. Can you take me back in time and tell me what it was like shooting that sequence? Did you expect it to have the impact it did?
A: It was a thrill to shoot that sequence. I drove everyone on set a little nutty because between shots I was standing on the sidelines trying to maintain an honest sense of fear. I was really concerned about it being an honest performance so that meant I had to remain in a high state of anxiety. I was "Sean Penn-ing" it to coin a new term but I was only 16 and I think that everyone did give me a break for it. Amazingly supportive. It was a beautiful set. Very convincing. Damp and dark. And it was fantastic flying through those falling miners suits and getting lost in them. It was absolutely spooky and very easy to convince myself that a hand was going to reach out and grab me. The hairs really did stand on end. When recently I saw a clip of the miner lifting me up and skewering me to the shower head. I think, how in the heck was Leam (the stuntman) able to do that?... It was a masterful scene. Honestly. But we were just kids. Even George, our Director was arguably still very much a kid at the time. He had such a strong sense of mood and style. But none of us ever knew how it would be received. Nor how long the great friendships we forged on that set would last. But George was smart that way. He wanted our bonds to feel real and he chose the right folks for it, And lo-and behold those bonds between us have proved both precious , and unbreakable. And I am so very grateful for that.
Q: You’re a unique trailblazer of sorts in the sci-fi world for playing Pel, the first female Ferengi on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. For our non-Trekkie readers, a Ferengi is an alien species that requires mountains of creature makeup that takes hours to apply to a human actor. Was this when you first discovered you had claustrophobia? What was the root of this affliction (if you’re comfortable discussing it, of course)?
A: Yes. This was when the dangers and extent of my claustrophobia were confirmed. When I was five years old I got run over by a car. Very luckily the car stopped just before crushing my head but it did split my eyebrow just above my eye. Because I was so young and the situation was delicate the surgeon decided against anesthesia. Instead they wrapped me up securely like a mummy so I could not move my limbs at all. But I could see and feel the needle going through the skin on top of my eye. When I screamed at the top of my lungs in horror and agony the surgeon I remembered told me angrily that I was being difficult and a baby. Since that day I would fall into a panic if anyone held me down by the shoulders or threw their arms around me preventing my arms from moving. But I did not know until I was hours and hours into makeup for the role of Pel that I was in fact severely claustrophobic to the extent that after twelve hours on set I began to lose my mind. They had to call my then boyfriend in to calm me down and hold my hand through hours of shooting which did help to prevent me from clawing my makeup off. Too bad. Because it was a lovely role and had I been able to stand it, Pel would have been a recurring character on the show.
Q: In Evil Under The Skin, you play a lonely woman repressing a whopper of a traumatic past. What kind of research did you do to get in the mind of this character?
A: I have had enough trauma in my life that I did not need to go that far. The death of my father years ago has carved a permanent sense of anxiety in me that I control daily. I fight agoraphobia and panic on a daily basis. Deep breathing helps. And then there are days where I have appointments but just can't make it out the door. So I understand the basis of trauma form loss. Almost all of us will experience this trauma and loss in our lives, so I think a lot of people can identify with the character that way. But also I took the journey of the character at face value. She was on her way to a wonderful vacation with her daughter and then confusing and frightening things began to occur. I took each moment of confusion at face value and played it for the truth as best I could. And as I have a terrible memory for things and am often reminded of things I sincerely have not remembered to occur, I could also play those moments with some truthful anxiety. without saying too much, The ending was as much a shock to me as it was to everyone else. To be honest the flip side of it being entirely fun to be on location with my dear friends writer Luc Bernier and actress Donna Hamblin, and our superb Director Jeff Schneider, was that it was incredibly depressing playing this character and that not all days were easy days. And my daughter was truly lovely and I honestly did worry about her welfare quite a bit.
Q: How has life changed for you since the COVID-19 rampage? How has it hit the indie film industry in your viewpoint?
A: COVID has gone through so many stages for me. At first I was relieved and excited to be out of the rat race. It gave me time to be creative and clean up the corners of my mind. I was so sure it was only going to last three months that I had a list of things to get done before it ended. I made a dragon stilt walking costume from scratch in the first three months. I have yet to be able to use it. I loved loved loved that period of time. I was also lucky to have a cabaret that I continued to produce and it was invigorating to have to rethink it and keep it covid safe. I would say the first nine months of covid were incredibly invigorating and exciting. Looking for new ways to make this new normal artistically effective. Paring my life down financially so I could live within the means of unemployment as my kids party entertainment company ground to a stop (but that also gave me so much more free time to re-imagine a world of beautiful possibility). And strangely, I have worked on more indie movies this past year than any year before. So I am clearly not alone in feeling this freedom surge of productivity. But in November my cabaret had to shut down for safety and moral conscience. And it has changed my mood. I am grateful I have only recently suffered from COVID fatigue. Staying up too late, getting up too late, wandering around in my day accomplishing nothing and having even that take so much time. Feeling worried about my direction and unsure of who I want to be when I grow up this time. So …I have been begrudgingly embracing the cocoon phase… It is terrifying to know nothing and feel nothing…But all things change. I know this will, too.
Q: What projects are on your slate throughout 2021? What opportunities are you on the lookout for now?
A: Up first “Blood Covered Chocolate” is a really dark and disturbing work of art of a movie that I will be shooting for director Monte Light in March. I’ll be traveling to England in October for the beautiful gothic ghost story, "The Haunting of Lady Jane", set on the English canals, with award winning filmmaker Kemal Yildrim. Really excited to be shooting a very campy colorful twist on the summer camp horror genre with the fantastic director and writer duo of Rebecca Rinehart and Rob Mello called “Tin Roof” sometime in September. It’s an even bigger perk because I never got to go to sleep away camp as a kid and we will be working and sleeping at a real summer camp. Fuuuuunnn. I’m seriously excited. Then I have a wonderful twisted sci-fi /horror project that is waiting on a firm start date this year with Filmmaker Matt Burns called “Phobias” in which I get to play quite a despicable human. And I will finally get to work with the uber talented Del Harvey on a really stylish and brutal horror thriller film called "Run Like Hell" that just got its financing and is finding it’s slate for later this year. Savage Vengeance, my third film with the truly visionary young, I mean young, filmmaker Jake Zelch is in ongoing production and should be out later this year. Red vs Wolf, Evil Under The Skin, And Loose Luck are really substantial and atmospheric twisted tales from The greatly inspired talent of Jeff Schneider (often in combo with the fantastic writings of my dear friend Luc Bernier) have all just been released on various platforms over Christmas (Amazon Prime, Tubi, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu). And the beautiful and broken “Reflections of a Broken Memory” by filmmaker Marco Bacci just finished shooting and should be making its debut this year. I have been busy. I am incredibly grateful to be getting to work in this way. Sounds trite. But some true things do.
Thank you very much for your answers and taking the time to join us, Helene. It was a pleasure.
Helene Udy: Thanks so much for this interview. It was great stuff to think about.
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EVIL UNDER THE SKIN is now available from Midnight Releasing.
Attention bloggers, horror magazines, and freelance writers, for follow up interviews with the cast and crew, be sure to contact Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment at: SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com
ABOUT MIDNIGHT RELEASING
Founded in 2009 by Darrin Ramage, Midnight Releasing is a premiere home entertainment distributor of quality independent genre films released only in the North America Region. With a following of thousands on social media outlets, Midnight Releasing continues to draw attention with each release.
ABOUT SAMERA ENTERTAINMENT
Sharry Flaherty CEO and Founder of Samera Entertainment is a seasoned and well known film producer and Acquisitions Executive for Midnight Releasing. Samera consults with filmmakers on their projects that are either in development, pre-production or post-production. Filmmakers are welcome to submit their horror and thriller titles to:
SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com