it’s been a while since our last site interview with Deborah, so we decided it
was time to talk again. Deborah’s perpetually on the go, but she always finds
the time to answer her fan’s questions, and to just shoot the breeze about
whatever subject happens to come up. Whenever I speak with Deborah, I’m always
impressed with her candour and positive outlook, and as you’ll see, this
session is no exception…
Erik: Well, here we are again – another interview! Once again, my timing
sucks – I always seem to pick a time when you’re running even harder than
Deborah: It never rains but it pours - things just seem to come up. I’ve
been working on another movie, and I’ve been auditioning a lot – it’s pilot
Erik: This is another film, not The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and
Deborah: Yeah, it’s tentatively titled Surprise, Surprise. I
can’t reveal any of the plot details right now, since the film’s still in
editing. I have no idea what the release date will be. But I can tell you that
I play an aging movie star, and she’s a real ballsy broad! I haven’t had a role
that ballsy since I was kicking ass as a cyborg in Nemesis! (Laughing)
I’ve also been busy doing commercial work. I have a commercial coming out for
this super eye cream – it really works! It’s all based on the fact that it has
a very tiny molecular structure, and is very easily taken up by skin cells.
Gets rid of all those under eye lines! And then there’s all of my charity and
Erik: Can you tell us a bit about that?
Deborah: Well,one program I’m very involved with is Spirituality for
Kids, which gives kids a spiritual base, and teaches them that they can
positively impact the world by sharing and proactively taking control of their
destiny. They never have to be victims, no matter what their background. The
program supports over 200 inner city kids a week.
I’ve also been out of the country a lot lately. Mostly Mexico, but I was in
Erik: But you never made it up to the Laurentians over Christmas…
Deborah: No – I love Canada, but in winter, I tend to gravitate to
Erik: Yeah, I can relate…
Deborah: But I’ll be up there over the summer. We’ll have to hook up
Erik: Yeah, especially since we live about a half hour apart. Up here,
that’s like living in the same ‘hood. Anyway, time to go to our first question,
which comes courtesy of Johnny from Montreal:
About Body Double: I recall that in order to give you a “feel”
for the character of Gloria Revelle, De Palma had you watch the performances of
several actresses in different roles. Which actresses, and in what roles,
inspired your interpretation of Gloria?
Deborah: The Liv Ullmann role in Scenes from a Marriage, and the
Kathleen Turnerrole from Body Heat. Brian De Palma had medo scenes from
those films to develop a feel for the Gloria character – the sensitivity and
vulnerability of Liv Ullmann, with the erotic passion of the Kathleen Turner
Erik:Speaking of Body Double, that flickwas very controversial
when it was first released back in ’84. I’ve always wondered if De Palma
intended the film to be essentially a black comedy - a response to his detractors,
who accused him of misogyny and ripping off Hitchcock. Many of the scenes, like
the “spinning kiss” and “Driller Killer” sequences, are way over the top, and
the plot depends heavily on coincidence. Was De Palma just having a little joke
at the expense of his critics?
Deborah: Well, it’s an interesting theory Erik, but I’m not sure I
agree. I don’t think he was joking at all – it’s just the way he envisioned
those scenes. There’s no denying his creative genius: De Palma is very meticulous
when it comes to every visual detail. Every frame is beautifully laid out, and
he knows exactly what he wants. I remember the executive producer offering a
suggestion once, and Brian just ignored him. It was a Brian De Palma film,
after all, and exclusively his vision.
I think we’ve talked about my objection to that whole “Driller Killer” sequence
you mentioned, because I also thought it was crazy: who stands around like that
when their life is threatened? I said “Just let me punch him once or bonk him
on the head with the lamp! Or just take off out of there…”
Erik: My point exactly…
Deborah: …but Brian just said “Pathos, Debbie, Pathos”… It’s all about
acting, about seeming fragile so that the scene works. And, upon reflection, I
have to admit there have been times in my life where I haven’t reacted to a
situation the way I might have thought I would, because sometimes you’re just
in shock. So maybe Gloria’s illogical reaction is just because she’s in shock;
the whole situation is pretty surreal…
Erik:What’s your opinion of the quality of movies and TV shows that are
being produced in Hollywood today? And how do you feel about Reality TV shows?
Deborah: I really love movies and I can appreciate most of them for some
aspect or another, be it a great, inspired performance, an interesting plot
idea, or a positive message. I really enjoy art films; it’s such a shame they
aren’t widely seen. I can even appreciate a lot of frivolous films if they’re
fun and if they convey a positive message - if there’s a moral to the story.
Especially if it’s a kids’ movie.
As far as TV goes, it’s all over the map as far as I’m concerned. There are
some really good shows, like Commander in Chief, but there are some
atrocious ones as well. Reality TV? I’m so over Reality TV, I could
throw up. It’s gone from bad to worse, seeking out ever-lower common
denominators, appealing to people’s basest instincts. It’s more than the fact
that it’s taking jobs away from actors – this stuff is pure crap. Period.
Erik: (Laughing) So, do you have an opinion on Reality TV?
Deborah: (Laughing)I think I expressed my opinion…
Erik: Several fans asked variants of the following related questions:
You’ve worked with a lot of different actors over the course of your career.
Who have you particularly enjoyed working with? Who did you learn the most
from? Did anyone ever serve as a mentor?
Deborah: I’ve really enjoyed working with almost everyone I’ve had the
good fortune to work with, and I’ve learned from just about all of them as
I’m always a little uncomfortable mentioning specific names, because I don’t
want to offend anyone by way of omission. But Jeff Goldblum comes immediately
to mind, as does Tony Todd who recently worked with me on The Strange Case
of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And of course, I loved working with
Larry Hagman, who’s one of the most gracious and appreciative actors I’ve ever
worked with. He really took me under his wing, and taught me a lot. I’m so
happy and excited for him for the success he’s had! He’s just so giving and
supportive, and full of gratitude. He’s not the least bit egotistical, he’s
just very thankful for his good fortune.
Erik: Over the course of your career, you’ve played both Good Girls and
Bad Girls. Do you think you’re better at playing a heroine or a villain, and
which do you prefer? You do seem to have fun with those Bad Girl roles!
Deborah: I used to be cast in “Girl Next Door” type roles, which was fine,
but more recently, I’m often cast as a villain, and I love it! I like all
roles, but the role of the villain is more visual, you get to do some
interesting things. As De Palma once told me, “Violence and sex are visual”.
Nice Girl roles don’t get as much conflict, not as much dramatic traction.
Erik: In a thread on our old message board, we had a long discussion
about the difficulty actresses over the age of 25 have in getting work. You’ve
had to contend with that yourself, but you’ve managed to keep working. How have
you managed to accomplish that?
Deborah: Perseverance! I love it so much; I just don’t want to give it
up. I love acting, and I continue to take acting classes, so I’m continually
improving and evolving as an actress, keeping myself sharp.
Erik: What are your thoughts on the sexism and ageism that continue to
prevail in Hollywood?
Deborah: It sucks. It’s unfair, but I think it may be finally changing.
Shows like Desperate Housewives give me cause for hope. We’re finally
seeing women over 25 featured in popular, mainstream shows.
Erik: Speaking of going beyond the Hollywood stereotypes, what do you
think of Kirstie Alley’s Fat Actress? Does it ring true to life?
Deborah: She’s tremendously gifted, and more power to her for
challenging the stereotype! Did you know that only 10% of people have that
ectomorphic body type? The remaining 90% of actresses are starving themselves
to achieve that look. It’s not very realistic or true to life. The camera adds
15 – 20 lbs, so you have to be a “0”, a “1” or maybe a “2”. Heather
Locklear is a “0”. It’s ridiculous that everyone feels that they have to be
Erik: It reminds me of that Family Guy episode where Chris is
discovered as a great artist (“You are no longer Chris – from now on, you will
be known as Christobel!”). He gets to date Kate Moss, but she’s so
skinny she keeps falling through cracks in the floor, or getting blown out the
window by a slight breeze. And when she turns sideways, she literally disappears…
Deborah: (Laughing) …and later, when he’s alone with his dad, he
says, “Kate Moss is my girlfriend, but don’t say anything bad about her,
because she could be here right now!” I loved that…
Erik: One of the cool things about these interviews is that we get to
discuss subjects that have been kicking around for a while, stuff that people
have wondered about. Probably the most controversial revolves around the
“erotic thriller” phase of your career. A few years ago, in an interview in The
Virginian Pilot, you mentioned that you now regret that phase of your
career, primarily because it was difficult for your children. Would you care to
Deborah: Sometimes you want to work so badly that you focus on the
positive aspects of a project to the point of exclusion of other aspects that
are not so appealing. You might get so enthusiastic about a character that you
overlook the less than optimal elements of the production. It comes from a
desire to work.
For example, in “Sins of the Night”, there’s that scene where my character, Roxy
Falcone, is forced by her abusive husband to crawl to him on her hands and
knees. The way that scene appears in the finished film is somewhat of a
disappointment to me – it just doesn’t have the emotional impact it should
have. But it impressed me when I first read it in the script. I was really
attracted to that role of the abused wife – I thought there was some really
good dramatic potential there.
But I also never knew that scenes from those films would turn up all over the
Internet - it was only the early ‘90s, after all. It’s one thing to appear in a
film that ostensibly only adults will see, and another thing altogether to have
stills from those films easily available to anyone. It was embarrassing for my
children, and I deeply regret that.
Erik: I think Sharon Stone went through that with the famous
“leg-crossing/no panties” scene from Basic Instinct. There are only a few
frames involved - the audience is only supposed to get a glimpse, a little
tease. Ms. Stone never anticipated screen caps of those few frames being posted
all over the www. It seems very unfair that the rules of the game were changed
after the fact…
Deborah: At least I can honestly say that I’ve never hit the casting
couch! Well, except when the director was my husband…(Laughing)
Erik: (Laughing)I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count!
Having worked on both “A” projects and “B” projects, what are the differences
between life on the set of an “A” project vs. a “B” project from an actor’s
Deborah: You get good people on the set of both “A” and “B” films, but
there’s a lot more money to go around on an “A” project, so everything tends to
be on a different level: better equipment, accommodation, food, etc.
There’s also more time for everything, whereas “B” films are shot over a
relatively short period of time, so they have to be very efficient from a time
perspective. That means less waiting around for the actors, which I prefer!
That’s one definite advantage of a “B” project…
Erik: Here are a few questions from Pauline from West Dunbartonshire,
Howdid you start out as a model and how old were you?
Deborah: I think I was around 14. I attended a charm school, and that
led to some local modelling work: local businesses, some runway modelling,
bridal shows. After Miss USA, I went to Chicago to avoid the New York jungle
until I was ready for the Big Apple…
Erik:Chicago! That must have been when you posed for the famous Stan
Malinowski Playboy cover…
Deborah: Yeah, and I went to New York a year later…
What was it like to win Miss USA?
Deborah: It was unbelievable! I was such a tomboy; I had no clue that I
would win. My Dad didn’t even want to show up, because he was sure he was going
to have to suffer watching me lose!
It was a lot of fun, a great year, and so different. It was a major turning
point in my life – I had to grow up a lot…
Would you encourage either of your children to go into acting?
No, I wouldn’t! The rate of rejection is so high. The busiest actors still have
to live with a 95%+ rejection rate!
What was it like to work with Larry Hagman, any funny stories?
Deborah: It was wonderful! Like I said, he’s a really good human being,
and he made me feel so at home when I first came on the set.
I remember our first long scene together – the one at J.R.’s private box in
Texas Stadium. It was like 105 degrees that day, and I was wearing a red wool
dress. It was so hot; they had to keep rolling out my hair. Well, we had caviar
and champagne, and the champagne was the real thing! They kept retaking the
scene – and I got pretty hammered! (Laughing) From then on, Mandy only
ordered soft drinks…
Erik: Didn’t Larry say that back in his Dallas days, he used to
kill a bottle of champagne every day before lunch?
Deborah: Really? I didn’t know that…
In another scene, I was sitting next to the bathtub while he was taking a
bubble bath. I was wearing this beautiful, expensive white silk outfit. I was
talking to him, when he suddenly reached out and dragged me into the tub with
him, totally destroying my outfit!
Barbara Bel Geddes is my favourite actress. I know that you didn't have many
scenes together, but what was she like?
Deborah: She was a warm, wonderful human being, very welcoming when we
first met. I was so saddened to hear that she had recently passed away. Outside
of the Oil Barons Balls, though, we had no scenes together, so I never had the
opportunity to get to know her really well. Dallas was shot on something
like 5 separate soundstages, which was a huge set by television
standards at the time. So you didn’t necessarily interact with the other actors
if you didn’t have any scenes with them.
What was it like on the set of Cheers; I remember you appeared as one of Sam
Deborah: It was a lot of fun, and I had a really good time. Ted Danson
is a very nice guy.
Who makes you laugh?
There are so many comics that I enjoy, it’s hard to limit it to a few names.
But a sense of humour is one of the most important qualities in a human being.
I’ve always been a huge admirer of Lucille Ball – the woman was brilliant, way
ahead of her time. I saw Jerry Seinfeld live at a charity event, and he was
great. I really enjoyed working with Chris Elliot; he’s very gifted.
Unfortunately, I had a ‘straight’ role, as opposed to a comedic one, in that Get
a Life episode. I even enjoy slapstick, like Jim Carrey…
Erik: Do you like the Stooges?
Deborah: I love the Three Stooges. When I was younger, I used to
watch them every day…
Erik:Garland English, from Richmond, Virginia, has been a fan since your
Miss USA days. He asks:
What are the things that keep you so busy these days? You are always on the
Deborah: Well, like I said, I’ve been working and auditioning, and I do
a lot of volunteer and charity work. I workout for 2 hours every day. Then
there’s being a mom – that takes a lot of time! I’m also a ‘scratch’ cook – I
prepare everything from scratch, avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
How are your mother and Boo Boo doing? You also mentioned that you own pets:
two cats, a bird, and a fish. How are they doing?
Deborah: Well, my mom and Boo Boo the Maltese are doing well – they’re
coming for a visit next week. Ophelia, the Boo Boo-hating cat, will not be
pleased! (Laughing) My cockatoo is doing great as well.
But there’s some sad news too. Shaky the Cat is no longer with us – he died of
cancer, and my Beta fish died too. Ophelia was very sick for a while, but she’s
made a complete recovery...
Erik: Yeah, I remember you saying that she was so sick you thought she
was going to check out…
Deborah: Yeah, but she made a miraculous recovery and is doing great!
Erik: Cool! Speaking of your animals, Jan Steppy from Dallas-Fort Worth
had these questions:
There is a photo of you on the site riding on a beautiful Arabian. I read an
article many years ago in TV Guide that you were gifted with an Arabian. What’s
Deborah: When I went to Morocco, the Princess gave me a horse - an
Arabian stallion. At the time, I was her favourite female soap star. But he was
never shipped over – I never got him. I had two horses at the time, and one was
a palomino named “Rocket”. He’s still alive today – he lives at a friend’s
ranch in the Valley.
What types of music do you enjoy most? Do you have any favourite songs or
Deborah: I have very eclectic musical tastes: R&B, Motown,
Classical, Latin, New Age, Classic Rock… As far as favourite artists or songs
go, there are too many to mention here…
I know that you've written music, is this something that came naturally for
Deborah: Well, I write lyrics, not music, but it does come naturally to
me. I really enjoy the cadence of lyrical poetry…
What is your beauty routine for facial and skin care?
Deborah: I strive for a really clean face, and avoid all products with
mineral oil, paraffin, or beeswax. There are some great, inexpensive products
out there. I’ve used Avon for a long time – it’s so clean! It’s really not
necessary to spend a lot.
The most important factor is water, for both your skin and your overall
health. Drink at least 3 litres every day. Eating well is really important too!
You mentioned organic foods in your last interview; do you believe in herbal
supplements for health?
Deborah: Absolutely! 1000%!!
Erik: It’s pretty hard to interview you without Mandy Winger’s name
Deborah: Yeah, I know…
Erik: So, Ognian Georgiev from Bulgaria asks:
How does it feel always being associated with the Mandy Winger character?
Deborah: I no longer have to struggle with type casting, but back in the
80s, it was a different story. Everyone called me “Mandy”, wherever I went,
including abroad. When I was in Thailand, everyone was whispering “Mandy,
Mandy” to each other. It was the same in Greece. In one Greek village, people
were watching Dallas on the communal TV set!
What were you concerned with after finishing your participation in the show?
Deborah: I was consumed with getting work where I wasn’t typecast as
Erik: Chris from Texas had these questions:
I was wondering if you'd ever consider doing a daytime soap? I think you'd
be really great on The Bold and the Beautiful or Guiding Light.
Deborah: Sure – I‘d love too!
Who was most fun to work with on Dallas?
Deborah: Larry, but Ken Kercheval was lots of fun as well…
What were your best and worst auditions like?
Deborah: Probably the worst was when I was at Warner Brothers, and I was
trying to demonstrate my melodramatic chops. I was crying and carrying on, when
the casting director interrupted and said, almost apologetically, “You were
aware that this project is a comedy…” I was so embarrassed…
My best auditions had to be for Dallas and Body Double. So many
people at the Dallasaudition supported me – it always was a very
welcoming environment, even at audition. As for Body Double, well, just
auditioning for Brian De Palma – that was exciting…
Erik: Karin Schill from Sweden wanted to know what your best memory from
filming Dallaswas?AndPatrick Hirang from Seattle wondered what it was
like on the set?
Deborah: There are so many good memories; I really can’t narrow it down.
It was a great environment, very supportive and welcoming, and lots of fun. The
cast and crew were all great – it was like one big happy family! There was
constant practical joking – Larry was the biggest perpetrator! (Laughing)
I had some great scenes too, ones that I really enjoyed doing: Flushing the
diamond bracelet down the toilet; angrily telling JR that I’m not for sale when
he tried to seduce Mandy with a fancy apartment, and throwing the keys at him;
throwing champagne in his face in another scene…
Erik: (Laughing) Sounds like your favourite scenes involved Mandy
really giving it to JR…
Deborah: Yeah, I loved that…
Erik: Eric Traversier from France asks:
I like you very much and I'd like to know if you regret having left DALLAS
before the end of the show, and if you have chosen to go or if that was the
Deborah: I think I was written out at a good time. It was probably time
to go, even though I was leaving my work family. Of course, it’s very scary to
be out of work, especially for an actor…
Erik: Nikie from Arkansas had an interesting Dallas question:
I want to know, who did you have better chemistry with in your opinion –
Larry or Ken?
Deborah: Both were great! I worked a lot longer with Larry, but Ken is a
great guy, and I had a lot of fun with him too. He’s a very gifted actor as
well, which maybe not all of the show’s fans appreciated…
Erik: Nikie also wanted to know:
What is the one role (or what are the roles) that you would love to play?
Deborah: I enjoy any role that challenges me. I’m less concerned about
the type of role, but rather whether it has any substance to it. I think I
might have fun being cast in a role where I have to wear a lot of prosthetic
makeup, where no one would recognize me (laughing). That would certainly
be different from the usual roles that I get. But as long as the role has some
interesting elements, and some meat to it, I’ll have fun with it…
Erik: Gustavo Conforti from Argentina had a few questions:
If you could make your dream film, what genre would it be?
Deborah: Well, I don’t really have a “dream” genre. I would love
to play in a period piece – I loved Pride and Prejudice! I’m also
attracted to films where the plot revolves around justice being done, but that
could encompass any number of different genres…
Would you like to see a sequel made of any of your films?
Deborah: No, not really. After I play a role, I like to move on…
Who would you choose to play Mandy Winger in the Dallas movie?
Deborah: I really have no preference; I could care less. Once again,
that role is in the past and I’ve moved on…
I liked High Tide from the first year and when you were on it. Did you have
a feeling the show would get cancelled though after only your first year there?
Deborah: No, I had no idea. Actually, the comings and goings of
television shows is beyond me. Who are these Nielsen families anyway?
I’m hoping that more episodes of Commander in Chief are shot, but I’m
told by my Industry contacts that the show’s future is uncertain because there
are still too many people in this country who have a problem with the concept
of a woman being President…
Erik: Yeah, that amazes me in this day and age… Then again, we’ve only
had one female Canadian Prime Minister (Kim Campbell), but it’s just a matter
of time until we have another…
Scott from So Cal tells the following little story:
Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of Our
Lives told me her publicist took her to the Academy Awards one year, arriving
in style at the red carpet on a motorcycle-- which they got on just a couple
blocks away. Anything to make a splash. Then they went and sat in the back row
of the auditorium.
Scott then asks:
I was wondering if Deborah ever had
a publicist with wild ideas for getting attention?
Deborah: No, but I wish I had! I’ve had several publicists over
the years, but none with a cool idea like that!
Erik: Deborah, we know you love movies. Any recommendations?
Deborah: Yes! I strongly encourage everyone to go out and see Pride
& Prejudice, Syriana, Good Night, and Good Luck, Capote, Transamerica, and
Eight Below. Different genres, different themes, but all great films! I
want to especially encourage people to see Syriana and Good Night,
and Good Luck, which are especially important films within the context of
what’s happening today in our nation. Check out those films, and think of all
the implications for the future of our country and our world…
Erik: Two very timely and important films that should
encourage critical thinking. I sincerely hope people follow your
recommendations and at least check out Syriana and Good Night, and
Well, that’s it! We’ve come to the end of the interview. Deborah, on behalf of
Deborah Shelton Online, and all of our members and guests, we want to sincerely
thank you for giving of yourself and your time, and for sharing your stories
and experiences. So kind, and very gracious of you…
Deborah: You’re more than welcome! I really appreciate the opportunity
to communicate with everyone. It’s always a pleasure to share with my fans, and
I’m eternally grateful for their interest and support. I’ll keep in touch with
any new developments…