Johnny Caps 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, Big Bad Mama II, Chopping Mall, convention, Conventions, Face Down, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Hell's Kitty, Kelli Maroney, Night Of The Comet, Sam And Mike, Servants Of Twilight, True Blood 0
My newest interview subject, Kelli Maroney, is actually a talent I’ve interviewed before. I interviewed her via e-mail for RetroJunk, my previous writing base, in 2007. The interview may have happened only 10 years ago, but for me, it’s more like a lifetime ago. When I first interviewed Kelli Maroney, I was in a very dark place emotionally and mentally, dealing with a whole host of problems on multiple fronts in my life. Kelli Maroney’s work in projects like Night Of The Comet and Chopping Mall helped get me through some very rough times, and Kelli herself has been a friend of mine for over 10 years now. I knew I wanted to interview her again, this time reflecting not only the changes in her career, but in my life as well. We spoke on December 4th, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her, either for the first time or all over again.
Say hello to Kelli Maroney!
Kelli: Hello. Johnny?
Johnny: Yes, that’s me. Hi, Kelli!
Kelli: How are you?
Johnny: I’m doing good. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Kelli: Thank you for asking me.
Johnny: Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve definitely changed since our first e-mail interview all the way back in 2007 with the help of therapy and medication, and that changed has also shown up in my writing. I have my questions ready to go, and you’ll find them to be rather different from the 2007 questions, starting with this one: What inspired you towards an acting career?
Kelli: Well, I remember that my mom used to let me stay up and watch movies with her, the old movies. I just saw how much they meant to her and how important that time was, and I just fell in love with the movies, how they made you feel things. In real life, I feel, we can all
be discouraged from doing things, and in the movies, you’re allowed to feel. The audience can sit in the dark and cry, or get angry, and have a catharsis that they might not otherwise have had because, in real life, sometimes we’ve just encouraged to stuff things down. That meant everything to me. It was sitting there with my mom, having that wonderful time with her and knowing that it was meaningful. Sometimes I’d fall asleep because I was little, but I always was looking for something meaningful that felt like it mattered.
Johnny: Alright. I told you at Chiller Theatre, which I’ll be asking about later, that I loved Fast Times At Ridgemont High, where you played Cindy Carr, and it made me wish I had attended a high school like that. You mentioned that you were sure the students at that school had bad times, too, saying, “Don’t judge your life by someone else’s highlight reel”. That made me think: As the movie was fictionalized, but based on Cameron Crowe’s real experiences about returning to high school, do you think the movie could be viewed as a fictional documentary about a California high school?
Kelli: Oh yes, because he actually did go back to high school undercover, and he posed as a real high school student. Even though he was very, very young, he wrote that for Rolling Stone because he was a writer there already. That was what he was going for, and then it became a book. I would say that it pretty much IS kind of a documentary if you read the book, which I think is out of print now, unfortunately. The movie is entertaining. It’s lighthearted because it’s such a time in our lives that everybody universally recalls because it was fraught with all this life-or-death stuff. I definitely think it was a documentary. It’s fictionalized and the names were changed, and a lot of the things that were in the book didn’t make it into the movie, but I think you’re right in saying that.
Johnny: Okay. On a similar note, what do you think Cindy would be doing by the time of the 35 year reunion of Ridgemont High’s Class Of 1982?
Kelli: That’s a great question. I think that she would have married well, have children, and be very active in the PTA and all those kinds
of things. I don’t know if she’d be an attorney, but I think she went into some sort of corporate job and had done very well at it. I think that she would work for charities because one thing that is in the book, but did not make it into the movie as a minor point, is that the reason why Cindy was so gung-ho is because Cameron was kind of spying on her a bit. She had a little brother who was handicapped, and so I think she always felt that need to make up for things in the family. I think that’s where her ambition was actually coming from. She’s not as snotty as you might think she is, judging from the movie. I think her drive came from that, so that’s where I think she would use her accomplishments when all was said and done. She’d be a pillar of the community somehow. She would have her vanities and her flaws, and she’d be a pain in the butt, and people would roll their eyes, but she would get things done.
Johnny: A very fascinating outlook. Jumping ahead to 1984, but staying in California, you played Samantha Belmont in Night Of The Comet. If events like those of the movie happened in real life, and you were one of the survivors, would you handle it differently from Samantha, or in the same way?
Kelli: What a great question. I would hope that I would handle it the same way as Samantha (laughing). I always am a little bit afraid with
these survival movies of how we think we’re going to act, but we’d probably be hiding under the kitchen table instead, or just fall down dead in fear. I would hope that I would handle it like Samantha.
Johnny: Okay. Chopping Mall, where you played Alison Parks, would be the first of many collaborations with director, and our mutual Facebook friend, Jim Wynorski. Jim is a man who knows both how to have fun and get a movie quickly done. What do you like about working with him?
Kelli: He’s really funny. I enjoy his sense of humor. It’s probably not for everyone, but I really like the fact that he’s so driven. The world
could come crashing down around his ears, and he would continue to try to prepare a movie or be shooting. Nothing will faze him, and I think that’s quite a great quality to have. I really admire people who are not deterred, no matter what, and like I said, he’s funny. He makes me laugh. He doesn’t make everyone laugh, but I always appreciate it when somebody can laugh and see the humor in things because we’re not saving lives. We’re making a movie, and sometimes, when you’re able to laugh at yourself, it brings more creativity into it because you laugh and something else will occur to you. It eases the creative process. If you’re too serious, you sometimes block the creativity that wants to come out of you. He’s fun, and it’s infectious. He’s so into what he’s doing, and he’s such a big personality that…How could you not be into it? He encourages that gung-ho quality. Ideally he does. Anytime somebody is really gung-ho or enthusiastic, it always gets me on board within reason, but not if they’re going to do something destructive (laughing).
Johnny: Okay. The working title for Chopping Mall was Killbots, which is still retained on some international prints. Robots were frequently featured in the pop culture of the 80s, from movies and TV shows to music and commercials. What do you think made robots such a big thing in the 80s?
Kelli: Well, first of all, when we first signed on to do it, it was pitched to us as Robot, just the word Robot, and Robert Short, who created Daryl Hannah’s tail in Splash, is going to be creating the robots. (Laughing) They made it sound a whole lot different than it turned out to be. We probably would not have signed up for Chopping Mall, but we signed up for Robot. That was the idea. What people don’t realize is that many, many times, a working title is not at all what you’re going to be ending up with because first, the distributor gets a hold of it, and then they try and think of a name that they think is going to be successful in sales. They then do focus groups and everything, and whatever title is not selling is going to get changed, and even Killbots wasn’t selling, so that’s how they came up with Chopping Mall. With the robot thing, I think technology was on fire. It was going at an even brisker clip than it was previously. People were thinking of The Jetsons. “The transporter room and flying cars, all that stuff is going to come true”. We were all very aware of it. Well, where’s the transporter room? (Laughing) I’m still waiting on that transporter room. I need it, especially because of Los Angeles traffic. Seriously, I think that it was really coming home to us. A lot of the technology was actually coming true, and it was bought home to us that this was going to be real, not fantasy. The whole robot thing was happening, and I think we all sort of jumped on that. I think creatively, as a species, we’re all kind of thinking, “This is really happening. What’s it going to be like? We need to think about this”. Whatever we are thinking about, we can all expect to see show up in the movies.
Johnny: Alright. Also in 1986, you played Cissy Barnes in the Murder, She Wrote episode Menace, Anyone?. What was your favorite part of working on that show?
Kelli: My favorite part, actually, was meeting Linda Hamilton. I really liked her very much. Also, it was a very hot show. You’re always so impressed with yourself (laughing) when you get to be on such a hot show. I was playing a tennis pro, and so my primary concern was that I’d never played tennis one day in my life. I was hoping that people would buy that. I also got to work with Van Johnson. He had been on Ryan’s Hope, which was the soap opera I was on a couple of years before. I almost had another chance to work with him. I’d gotten cast in Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose Of Cairo, but I was shooting Night Of The Comet so I couldn’t do that, and here comes Van Johnson again. It was kind of like he was my lucky charm. He kept turning up. We kept being thrown together. I thought that was so cool. My mother had loved Van Johnson when she was a girl going to the movies. Just some of the many, many things, that was a really fun job.
Johnny: Several of my previous interview subjects who appeared on Murder, She Wrote, including Jamie Rose, Michelle Johnson and Audrey Landers, made multiple appearances on there, playing different characters, of course. Did you ever audition for any other appearances on the show, or was it just that one appearance?
Kelli: It was just that one, and I didn’t audition for it. I was in an enviable position in those days, and now, too. I didn’t have to audition much. People would just make me an offer, and it was fantastic. The downside of that was I never really got to know the casting people in town. I never met them. I got an offer, and I showed up. They didn’t really know me as, “I’m going to call her agent and she’s going to audition”. We didn’t have a relationship and that hurt me later on as I got older. People would say, “Oh, I know who she is”, but they didn’t have a relationship with me, and it was harder for me to convince them that it wasn’t 1984, I didn’t have a weird hairdo. I wasn’t a kid anymore, and they should really see me and bring me into auditions. It was kind of a disconnect, which was unfortunate. I’m trying to change that now and build relationships, but, being “straight to offer”, that’s what they call it, is what every actor dreams of, and I was living it. It was great, I loved it, and always appreciated it.
Johnny: Alright. In 1987, you appeared at the end of Big Bad Mama II as Willie McClatchie. Was that the role you had in mind, or had you auditioned for the roles of Billie Jean and Polly, played by, respectively, Danielle Brisebois and Julie McCullough?
Kelli: I had auditioned for Julie’s part, and, obviously, she got it and I didn’t. It was kind of a consolation prize, but I loved ending the movie, and Willie was a much cooler character for me. I auditioned for Stacy in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and then they gave me Cindy because I didn’t get the part. That can happen a lot. It’s happened to me twice now.
Johnny: I see.
Kelli: They’ll pick somebody else for whatever reason, but they’ll like your audition so they’ll give you a part.
Johnny: Alright. To my next question: You did some modeling in the late 80s and early 90s in, if I may be so bold, some gorgeous bikini pictures. Were those pictures taken for a potential calendar, a magazine article or a different project altogether?
Kelli: That was a calendar. I wanted to be taken as a serious actress, so I had feelings about doing that in the first place. I didn’t want to be known for that, but I’ll tell you what, Jewel Shepard and Tony O’Dell were the first people to tell me about conventions and stuff, and I thought they sounded terrible (laughing). I love them now, but at first I thought, “That sounds awful”. Jewel said, “I’ll tell you one thing. People are not going to want to buy pictures from you if you don’t have something sexy. You’ve got to have some bathing suit shots”. I thought about this. I had done a calendar when I was on the soap opera. I was Miss July, and I had a sports shirt on. It wasn’t a bikini or anything.
Kelli: I thought, “Okay. You know, I’ll do that”, and then I come to find out about the calendar thing that, although people always want to do calendars, they don’t make money. I can’t remember who talked me into the calendar thing, but it never ended up happening. It never got off the ground, but I had these pictures and I thought, “Well, maybe Jewel’s right, you know? What should I do with them?”.
Kelli: I have them on my website. I do want to be taken seriously, but I know people also like them, and I’m happy to accommodate so I still have them available until I run out. I have a couple in a red, white and blue flag bikini because I have a lot of service people and veterans write to me that have said that they were fans and stuff like that. I was so honored by that, and I thought that fit well.
Johnny: Alright. On a related note, some talents have redone vintage photos from their younger days to reflect how they both have and haven’t changed in the years since they took those pictures. Would you ever redo some of your older pictures for a magazine article, wearing now the fashions you wore then, or do you just prefer to move to something new?
Kelli: I’ve never thought about that. I mean, it might be kind of interesting. I’ve never thought about doing that. I’ve been fighting so
hard for people to realize that I’m here in 2017. I’m not dead! I’m still alive, and like I said, I’m not that kid anymore. I don’t have that funny hairdo. I’m still an actress, and I think I’m a better actress now than I was before, and I’d really like to do roles in my age category today. I’d hate to do something that freezes me back right where I feel, “Oh, the 80s. There she is”. That would be my hesitation, and also, I would hate to have it be like Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, where she’s still running around with her hair bow, you know, and her little girl dress (laughing). It’s kind of creepy and scary, right?
Johnny: I can understand where you’re coming from.
Kelli: Yeah. It’s just like, “Get over it”. I’m in the present, looking towards the future, and, of course, I have a fan base that I’m so
grateful for, and I’m lucky enough to have been in some real classics that are alive to this day. I do not want to say that I’m not grateful
for that because I am, and that is how people know me. I want to appreciate that and honor that, but also expand it so that people start to accept me as a middle-aged woman and cast me that way, so I’m not forever stuck in everyone’s mind as Samantha or Allison or Cindy. If I died tomorrow, I’ve had such a great career that anybody would be thrilled to have, and I’m super-grateful for it. I don’t ever want to sound like anything different because it’s true, but since I’m still here and I still want to work, I’m looking for that kind of a part that makes people notice. When John Travolta did Pulp Fiction, that brought him into the present moment. When Burt Reynolds did Boogie Nights, that brought him into the present. I’m looking for something like that myself that brings me into the present. I think that that’s an interesting idea artistically, and I’m not going to rule it out because I think it would be kind of fun artistically, but that would be my hesitation.
Johnny: Alright. We’ll get to the present soon enough, but I do have some more questions about the past, starting with this: In 1991, you played Sherry Ordway in Servants Of Twilight, adapted from the Dean Koontz novel. I often ask this of talents who appear in novels adapted from books, so here it goes: Had you read the book before auditioning for the movie, and if so, did the book influence your portrayal of the character?
Kelli: You know what? I’ve got to be dead honest. Even though I love Dean Koontz, and I read all that stuff, I had not read that book, and I didn’t get a chance to read it. Andy Lane was producing it. He called me and said, “Would you like to come and play this part?”, and I said, “Sure”. All I had to go on was the script and what the director wanted me to do, and I had no idea about the book. I didn’t know. Probably, if I had read the book and known the material, it may have been a whole different portrayal. I don’t know. Sometimes people do that with actors on purpose. They don’t want you to read the book or see the previous film because they don’t want it to influence what you’re going to do or what they want you to do. I don’t think he did that on purpose. I think that they were just moving quickly. He didn’t have Sherry and he thought, “What about Kelli?”.
Johnny: Okay. Going to 1997, you starred as Merre in the movie Face Down. It’s a movie that you’re obviously very proud of as you often discuss it on your social media. What is it about that movie that makes it hold such a place of pride in your career?
Kelli: So many reasons. The dual part, playing a schizophrenic, is a part people would just die to play. The actors I was working with. They were such a well-respected cast. I didn’t feel like, “Hey, let’s go make a movie”, which is great, but “by the skin of our teeth and I’ll shoot it in our backyard”. (Laughing) I’m exaggerating, but I’ve been in those situations so many times. Working with Joe Mantegna, Peter Riegert, Adam Ant, getting to work with Thom (Eberhardt) again, and having that wonderful part that, as an actor, you just really hope that you get.
Kelli: You don’t even think that you’re going to get a great part like that, unless you’re Sally Field or something. It’s for all those reasons, and it’s also one of the few things where I got a big enough part so that you could actually see my work as I become older. A lot of times, the part is such that I don’t get an opportunity to do a lot. It’ll be a cameo or something like that, you can’t really tell, but that was a part I really got to dig into. Also, as women get older, they don’t tend to get as good roles as they did when they were kids. It was just a perfect storm that way, for all those reasons.
Johnny: Alright. In 1999, you not only co-starred in the short film Sam And Mike, but produced it as well. What inspired you to take the producer role on the project, and would you like to do more producing?
Kelli: I produced that because, and it’s very true today, but it was true starting back then, you have to produce your own content. You can’t sit around and wait for somebody to cast you. That was the first time I started hearing that, and also, I was interested in producing. When I was on Night Of The Comet, Wayne Crawford let me follow him around. I was fascinated. I asked him, “Can I learn how to be a producer?”, and he said, “Actually, there’s not much to it. Yeah, you can watch what I do”, so I did, and then I kind of put that on the back burner because I didn’t know how to go about doing it any further than that. My friend had written a short film and she needed help getting it going. I said, “Well, I’ll help you produce it”, and it was just as simple as that, how it happened (laughing). I’ve produced theater before, too, and I’ve also produced corporate videos and things like that, so I have other things in process. I have a production company, and I’ve got three movies that…I’m not going to say I’m actively producing them yet, but I’m thinking about doing it. Once you start producing, it’s like you jump off a cliff. Once you start, you’re there. It’s like getting on a train, you know? A train leaves the station, and you’re committed. There you go. That’s my hesitation. Once I jump in, then I’m in. I hate when there’s a surprise in the budget, and there always is. I need all the ducks in a row, and I need to figure out exactly where the financing is coming from, get exactly the right director and all these things. For me to do this is to commit a huge chunk of my life. However, I do have a few things in place and they are forming. I’ve also signed on as producer for a couple of things that are in development. They’re not my own particular projects, but I am signed on as a producer. If they get a green light, then I will be a producer on them.
Johnny: Sounds good. You appeared on True Blood in 2008 as a televangelist. I know that you were supposed to appear in more episodes, but that never happened. What would you like to have done with that character?
Kelli: Well, I think that she was supposed to be more Empire Of The Sun, the Christians. I’m not sure exactly. The other thing, too, is they may have told me that because there’s a thing in television, and I hadn’t done television in a few years, where they’ll get you to come in and do a small part by telling you it’s a recurring role. Contractually, if they use it as a recurring role, they don’t get in any trouble for that. In that way, they can get actors that normally wouldn’t come in and do a small part like that. If they say, “There’s a possibility this could be a recurring role”, then you’re going to go in and do it (laughing). It’s kind of sneaky, but then, on the other hand, they can say, “For all we know, it was going to be a recurring role”. I was very, very flattered that Alan Ball that was a fan of mine, and he really wanted me to come on his show. I was very flattered that he even knew who I was, and he was so appreciative of my coming in. He loved those movies from the 80s, and I had heard that about him, too, and so I thought, “This would be fantastic if I could come in and do this as a recurring role”. I didn’t get a chance to think about what I was going to do with the part or anything. I just assumed that the part was going to be a vehicle for how the other right-wing Christians could come in, and the show was going to be a vehicle for that. I don’t know that I was ever actually going to get to be a vampire or fight a vampire, or anything like that. I think it was always going to be a peripheral thing, like people would come on my show, but I don’t know. I think that that was probably a one-shot deal, but they said possibly recurring so that I would do it. I loved True Blood and would probably have done it as a one shot deal, anyway.
Johnny: Well, kind of sticking to that theme, you’ve recently done work on the web series Hell’s Kitty. What’s been your favorite part of working on that show?
Kelli: Well, we all did it because the proceeds are going to rescue efforts for cats, spay, trap and neuter. That was appealing, that any money made was going to go to that charity, and also the fact that it was all of us horror people. I just thought it was a great idea. First of all, I thought the idea of My Cat Is Possessed was hilarious. Everyone who has a cat knows that, sometimes, you feel like your cat is possessed (laughing), plus, the cat, Angel, was a great actress. It was uncanny how she knew just what to do at the right times. She has since passed away. It was very sad. So, the writer-director, Nicholas Tana, is putting together a film from all the episodes we shot in her honor.
Johnny: I certainly know that.
Kelli: Yeah, and it was all of us. Doug Jones, Adrienne Barbeau, me, Lynn Lowry, Michael Berryman…I mean, you name it, we were all in that thing, and it was very appealing to me. Just the fact that it was goofy and I had no idea how it was going to turn out? It just struck me as one of those independent, rebellious things that I’m kind of known for jumping into.
Johnny: Okay. Our mutual friend, and your fellow Chopping Mall star, Barbara Crampton penned an editorial this year, expressing her discontent with the label of scream queen. What are your feelings when you’re referred to as a scream queen?
Kelli: To me, if I take what I think is the pure definition of scream queen, which is Jamie Lee Curtis or Janet Leigh, note the word “queen” in the title. It does not refer to everybody who is in one direct-to-video movie that takes their clothes off and scream into the camera. That’s not a scream queen. However, the catchphrase has caught on and it just kind of means women who scream in horror movies, and for that reason, I don’t like it, either. I’m right behind Barbara with that. However, having said that, any time somebody wants to call me a queen is fine with me. If I want to tweet something, I will use the hashtag Scream Queens because people look that up. You have to accept the fact that that’s what people are going to be calling it, whether you like it or not. I don’t care for it. Barbara doesn’t care for it. It’s just that people who have done one straight-to-video movie are running around saying, ‘I’m a scream queen”. It’s not cool, you know?
Johnny: Yeah. I can understand that.
Kelli: Bette Davis is a scream queen, okay, and Joan Crawford. I remember when Barbara wrote that. I’m right behind her with that.
Johnny: Okay. A different direction your career has taken in recent times has been magic, including doing performances at the famed California landmark The Magic Castle. What drew you to that realm?
Kelli: Well, I have not ever performed at The Magic Castle. I’m a MEMBER of The Magic Castle. The Magic Castle is a venue for the greatest magicians in the world. They’re dying to play The Magic Castle. I have never performed there. What happened was my husband, while I was still dating him, is a member there and writes for their magazine, Genie. He would have to interview the magicians, and so all of our friends, as I became a couple with him, were all these amazing famous magicians. Maybe outside of The Magic Castle, down the street, nobody knows who they are, but in the world of magic, they’re like Barbra Streisand. There’s a rule that magicians don’t talk in front of muggles. “We don’t speak of magic in front of muggles”. We just say that to be funny. Not everybody says it, but a lot of people would just go, “Oh, they’re a muggle”, meaning they’re not a magician and you shouldn’t speak of magic in front of them…You know, tip off any tricks or anything like that. I didn’t want to be just a magician’s girlfriend, which is a lame thing to be, and I also wanted them to be able to speak in front of me. I mean, it’s such a close-knit family there. I wanted to be part of it. The only way to do that was for me to audition as a magician to get in, and I did. Bear in mind, these guys have been doing it since they were six years old. it’s all they do, and they’re famous, and they’re on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and all this stuff. I’m trying to learn this stuff, and plus, they know me as an actress. They would just think, “Oh, Kelli thinks she’s just going to waltz in and become a magician”, (laughing) which I didn’t, and they didn’t really think that. It was more that perception, or, “Oh, she’s just going to get accepted as a member because she’s a famous actress and because her boyfriend is a magician”. No, I auditioned, and I had to audition three times. The third time, they passed me, which is good because I really deserved to be passed that time. It wasn’t just like they were giving me any special passes or favors. I passed because I deserved to pass. I became a member, but honestly, I don’t perform magic. In order to do that, I’d have to practice every single day for
hours. If I was 9 years old or something, I’d really want to be a magician with all my heart. That would be fine, but I have my acting career and other things like that that preclude me from spending the hours of practice that it would take for me to be good.
Johnny: You are a versatile talent. Over the course of the 10 years we’ve known each other, we’ve discussed the possibility of you singing and you’ve turned it down. I know you did a Pink Floyd stage musical several years ago, but didn’t do any singing in it. While you may not feel comfortable singing professionally, have you ever considered singing at a karaoke party with your friends and family, and if you have, which song would you like to sing?
Kelli: I would never inflict my voice on anybody I cared about (laughing). Nobody wants to hear me sing. It’s really a tragedy. It really is. I just can’t sing. I’ve been to karaoke, but I do not get up and sing. I just can’t sing. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s really true.
Johnny: I attended karaoke evenings at a local bar for almost seven years, and there were plenty of people who may not have had the best voices, but I don’t think it’s about being a good singer as much as it is having fun with friends and people who like you. I wouldn’t really sweat that myself in the future if you were to sing. If you think about it as just having fun, and not singing professionally, you can have a good time with it.
Kelli: I don’t know. One thing is I can lip-sync like nobody’s business. That’s something that I’m really good at doing. It’s just that somebody else’s voice will have to be coming out of my mouth (laughing).
Johnny: You’ve made a lot of convention appearances, and as I mentioned earlier, I had the great pleasure of meeting you at Chiller Theatre. You kind of alluded to this briefly, but to elaborate, what’s been the most rewarding part of attending conventions?
Kelli: People have said that to me. I do not attend a lot of conventions. I might do one or two a year, but some people are doing a million conventions. People say, “Oh, you do so many”. I don’t. I really don’t. It’s like one or two a year, and I’d hate for people to think that I do a lot of them because then they think, “She’s done so many. Let’s not have her”. I haven’t. What’s fun about them is people actually come up to you and they know your lines. They really feel like they know you, and you can see that they really feel like you’re part of their life. That’s amazing because when you’re standing there, doing a role, especially in the movies where you don’t get feedback right away, you don’t realize it. The whole point of what we’re trying to do is that we’re trying to connect with people, and make people, including ourselves, realize that we’re all one person. We all have the same fears, and we all have dreams and wishes, and that’s the whole point of being an actor. When somebody comes up to you and confirms that that’s what happened, then you know you did your job and that’s great. It’s very rewarding. It’s really fun, too, and they bring up stuff that you’ve never seen before in your life. I usually see something or another that I’ve never seen, like some sort of a photo or an album cover or a video box that I’ve never seen. I don’t even know where they get this stuff, but that’s really sweet to see.
Johnny: It was definitely great to meet you finally after having known each other online for over a decade. I mean, your work definitely touched me as a man who’s a big fan of the pop culture of the 80s and who is also on the autism spectrum, dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome. Whether it was Fast Times At Ridgemont High or Night Of The Comet, it’s work that spoke to me, influenced me and, as I’ve matured over the course of the past 10 years with the help of therapy and medication, it’s inspired me towards not only living a better life, but also towards my writing. That work has touched me, and I thank you for having done that work.
Kelli: Thank you.
Johnny: I’m not quiet done with the interview yet. I just wanted to mention that because it really has made an impact on me. To stay with conventions for a moment, although you sold your original cheerleader costume from Night Of The Comet, have you ever considered having a new one made for convention appearances, and if not, have you given thought to maybe doing cosplay at a convention, like maybe dressing up in a costume for one day of the show?
Kelli: No, I haven’t. The collector that has my cheerleader outfit told me that if I ever wanted it back, he would sell it to me at the price that he paid for it, no matter how much it was worth, which I thought was very generous of him. I probably will not take him up on that. Again, it’s that Whatever Happened To Baby Jane thing. I don’t want to show up at a convention wearing an old costume of mine. I just don’t. I think that it’s kind of creepy for me. One time, somebody said, “I didn’t know it was you because I was looking for your hair”, and I thought, “Well, alright. If I’m going to do these conventions, maybe I should play the game and try to do my hair like that”. I did that a couple of times, and I just felt silly. I mean, first of all, you couldn’t really tell that’s what I was going for (laughing), and it just didn’t look right. I don’t know. I just thought, “Alright, if you don’t know it’s me, we’re going to have to deal with that another way”. I enjoy when people come up cosplaying as me. I think that’s awesome, but that’s not for me, uh-uh.
Johnny: Alright. In addition to your many on-screen credits, you’ve also done quite a lot of stage work, and one of those works, according to the resume on your website, was spending time with the famous Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings. As I asked Hilary Shepard when I interviewed her earlier this year, what was your favorite sketch to work on as part of The Groundlings? Which was the one that stood out?
Kelli: Well, I studied there, but I didn’t perform with them, but recently, The Groundlings came over to The Magic Castle and worked with
the magicians on improv. It was fantastic. We’ve done that for a few years now. That’s my favorite thing, watching The Groundlings enter a room full of magicians and try, and succeed, to take a whole Groundlings course in an evening. It’s just the basics. “Here’s the Cliff’s Notes of being a Groundling”. It’s a challenge for them, too, you know, but they have a ball. Watching them helps the magic so much when they feel like they can go of script and improvise. It’s useful for handling crowds. Magicians have to deal with a lot of drunks, you know, and so improv is handy that way. One of the audience members pulls you off-script, and you figure out how to get yourself back. The most rewarding thing about The Groundlings is the fact that they come over and do the workshop. There’s also a magician convention called Magic Live! in Las Vegas, and we did the workshop there, too. We had one of the Groundlings come in. It was a huge crowd to do improv. You see all these super-famous magicians who, again, only famous in the magic world, but in the magic world very famous, get up and do this improv. It’s fantastic, so that’s my favorite part of The Groundlings, but I still go on Thursday nights, and we’re just laughing so hard we’re crying. I mean, some of them are friends of ours’, like Mindy Sterling, for example. We’ve had her to The
Magic Castle and I’ve had her on my podcast, so it’s even more fun when you get to know them. Daniel knows them very well because he’s been going there a long time. We kind of have a different relationship than having just studied there, but no, I’ve never performed with The Groundlings. Basically, every actor needs to have improv on their resume because people look for that. I was told, “I don’t see any improv on your resume”, and I said, “Okay. I’ll go get some”, so I took classes there. It was really fun. I learned a lot that I still use today. It wasn’t just, “Go take a class and put it on your resume”. I really learned a lot. It was very helpful.
Johnny: I think it’s fantastic to have that kind of training. Now I come to my final question: What 5 talents, be there directors, writers or actors, would you most like to work with that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Kelli: I’d love to work with. in no particular order:Patty Jenkins, Quentin Tarantino., Robert Rodriguez, David Fincher, James Franco, Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, The Coen Brothers, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Kathryn Bigelow, Damian Chazelle, Sipke Jonze, Alexander Payne, Jeff Nichols, Andrew Dominik, and I could go on for a lot longer. There are so many great talents coming out of independent and the horror and scifi genres it’s like an embarrassment of riches. I think we may be in for another golden age of cinema. At least, I hope so.
Johnny: Well, that does it for my questions. I again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. You’re the first follow-up interview that I’ve ever done, and it was an honor to do so. I definitely have changed a lot since 2007. Back then, I wasn’t on the right mix of medications. I was seeing a therapist who didn’t understand Asperger’s Syndrome. I was voting against my interests because I was scared by the 9/11 attacks, and was still scared years after they happened. I was really in a dark place, and pop culture was one of the only things that served as something of a light for me. You were one of those lights. When we did the e-mail interview all the way back in 2007, I had no idea that our friendship would last at least a decade, and I look forward to many more years of it. I’m glad that you’ve been able to see the changes I’ve made, and it’s just something that really makes me feel good.
Kelli: Well, I tell you, I’ll go even further than that. I think that you’re a brilliant interviewer. You’re extremely intelligent and that comes through. You’re extremely thorough and professional, and I think that you’re doing exactly the right thing, unless you plan on doing other things, but I think you’re doing a great job. I’m just very, very impressed, and I’m proud of you, and I’m honored to be your friend. I didn’t know that I was your first follow-up interview. Cool!
Johnny: It’s an honor to be your friend, too, and I look forward to many more years of friendship.
Kelli: So do I. I’m very impressed wih you, and you’re just doing a great job, really fantastic.
Johnny: And so are you. I thank you for everything, and I’ll catch you on Facebook. I hope you have a good afternoon.
Kelli: I hope you do, too. Have a really great day, and thank you. I look forward to seeing it.
Johnny: I look forward to speaking to you again also. Have a good day.
Kelli: You, too. Bye bye.
I would again like to thank Kelli Maroney for taking the time to speak to me. For more about Kelli’s work, you can visit her official website, which was recently updated, as well as her Facebook fan page.
Coming soon to The Flashback Interview is a conversation with Mickie McGowan, the voice-over actress and ADR director who has collaborated with several of my previous interview subjects, including Kelli Maroney on the movie Hard To Kill.
Thanks as always for all your support, and happy holidays.