Interview: Debi Sue Voorhees (Tina, A New Beginning)
Below, Debi discusses her experiences having to deal with her history acting in a Friday the 13th movie and how that affected her personal and professional life. She also talks about her passion for literature and her new film, which she finished directing last year! Make sure to check out her Facebook account as well as the Facebook and Twitter account for her new film at the end of the interview. Big thanks go to Dan (Skarymoviez) for conducting the interview and Debi Sue Voorhees for taking the time to answer the questions!
Debi Sue Voorhees Interview
(DAN PETERS) Let’s go back to the beginning a bit. Tell us how you got started in the business. What made you want to choose a career in acting?
(DEBI SUE) Simply put, I had dreams of being famous, walking down Hollywood Boulevard and seeing my star and hand prints.
(DAN PETERS) You appeared in quite a few episodes of Dallas. That must have been quite a great experience working with all of those celebrities. What was it like working on the series?
(DEBI SUE) Working on the Dallas film set was a blast. Not only did I perform in 7 episodes I also worked as a stand in behind the scenes. Larry Hagman used to sing: DebiSue, I love you… to the tune of Peggy Sue when I walked on set. This was my first glimpse into Hollywood.
(DAN PETERS) After Dallas you appeared in Friday The 13th part 5: A New Beginning. What was the audition process like?
(DEBI SUE) I came back to read two or three times. Danny Steinnman wanted me to play the role, but the producer, who hadn’t seen me yet, had chosen someone else. The two went back-and-forth until Danny won.
(DAN PETERS) I remember reading about how you were up against John Robert Dixon’s girlfriend for the role of Tina and that there was some conflict between you and her because of the nudity and the sex scene. What do you think you did differently than her to win your role?
(DEBI SUE) Basically, I understood that when Tina told her beau “Fuck you” she was flirting, not angry.
(DAN PETERS) Being that you share the last name of the infamous killer Jason Voorhees, do you think that helped you secure your role in the franchise?
(DEBI SUE) It certainly helped me get the interview. That was one of the first things the casting agent mentioned when I came in. “We knew the second we saw that name we had to audition you.”
(DAN PETERS) Was there any chemistry between you and John Robert Dixon who played Eddie? He was really good looking and appealing. Since you were shown in all your glory, should John had been shown in all of his? After all, fair is fair!
(DEBI SUE) No chemistry at all, but I don’t know how anyone can feel chemistry on the set. So much is going on, cuts and retakes, move this arm, tilt your head this way. Far too restrictive for chemistry; besides we kissed so much my lips and jaw hurt. I didn’t want to kiss anyone for two weeks.
(DAN PETERS) Do you regret all of the nudity you did for your role, or even the role in general now that you look back on it?
(DEBI SUE) Regrets aren’t healthy. I have had some tough times because of that decision, such as being judged unfairly and not being allowed to teach (one of my passions) in high school. I taught British Literature, English, grammar, and journalism in high school for four years. Two school boards exiled me because of it. At one school, some boys got a hold of the tit shots from the film and text messaged them around the school. This was three weeks before my seniors graduated and I wasn’t allowed to stay through the end or sit with my students and fellow teachers at graduation. I still went to graduation and sat in the stands with the public. When the public was allowed to go down to congratulate the kids, I held my head high and tried to find as many of my seniors as possible to congratulate them. That was hurtful, but after only four years I have so many students who have let me know I have made a difference for them. I have so many e-mails and letters that warm my heart. Several of my kids signed a petition on my behalf, wrote letters, and spoke with the principal on my behalf–even several months after there was no hope of my returning. One of my boys gave me a huge hug at graduation and told me how sorry he was. “You have no idea how guilty I feel. You’ve taught me so much and helped me so much.” That meant the world to me. I do not regret the times in my life that have made me who I am. So many live a life of “quiet desperation.” My life has been anything but that. I’ve gone from working as an actress to writing as a journalist for 16 years (last 11 years at the Dallas Morning News) as well as writing fictional screenplays and my novel Memoirs of a Hit Man, to experiencing the joy and pain of teaching teenagers, to coming full-circle back to the film business. So, absolutely, no regrets.
(DAN PETERS) At the time, the movie was called “Repetition”. Would you have done the film if you had known it was a sequel to another Friday The 13th?
(DEBI SUE) Actually, I knew it was a Friday the 13th sequel. So, of course, yes I would have.
(DAN PETERS) Did you see any of the previous Friday The 13th films?
(DEBI SUE) I’m just too big of a chicken to watch scary movies.
(DAN PETERS) Is there anything that you would have changed? More importantly, would you do the same role today if given the chance?
(DEBI SUE) I can’t change the past, so speculating different choices smacks too close to regret. So, no changes.
(DAN PETERS) It was said that Danny Steinnman had shot your sex scene with John in a very graphic way. Most of it had ended up on the cutting room floor. Were you aware of Danny’s background in the porn industry during the production? Do you have any resentment for Danny shooting the scene so long and with such a gratuitous amount of sex?
(DEBI SUE) Rumors are a funny thing. Rarely, do they speak of truth. No the sex scene with John was not shot in a graphic way. It was all make-believe. Danny is a fabulous man—always kind, considerate and always careful that I was covered as well as possible. No I didn’t know about his background in the porn industry, but that would not have changed my thoughts about him. I’ve been judged too much for my past to judge others for their past. In fact, I hope to be able to tell him that I’m directing my first film. I know he’ll be proud of me. He always saw me as more than boobs and legs.
(DAN PETERS) Set up your death scene for us. What was the makeup process like for you? Was there anything else shot for your death that didn’t make the final cut or any other scenes that you did that also didn’t make it into the finished product?
(DEBI SUE) All my scenes made it to the final cut. The makeup took forever. The hardest part was when I could no longer see and had to be lead around on set. The fake blood burned my eyes.
(DAN PETERS) It must seem strange watching yourself die on screen. What’s it like to see yourself get butchered in such a successful horror movie franchise?
(DEBI SUE) It really didn’t bother me–probably because I was there during the whole process, but my mom took to bed for three days. It traumatized her.
(DAN PETERS) What was the atmosphere like behind the scenes? Any wild and crazy stories?
(DEBI SUE) We just had a lot of silly moments joking about the “dead” walking around and standing in the lunch line or laughing at the dead chatting with Jason.
(DAN PETERS) In the Crystal Lake Memories book by Peter Bracke, Dominick Brascia (Joey) mentions that at first you and he unfortunately had quite a bit of personality conflicts. John Shepard was of course mostly all “Method Acting” throughout the whole shoot and you apparently came to his aide one day when Dominick was being particular obnoxious to him, demanding that he talk and simply “get over that”. He does go on to mention that “from that point on, she was much cooler to me”. What was the particular basis of that on set argument, if you care to divulge that particular information, and are there any hard feelings there that you can remember?
(DEBI SUE) Honestly, I don’t remember that. But we all forget most of the thousands of moments we’ve lived. I just remember that everyone was fun to hang out with on set. I’m not surprised I stood up for John; giving others a hard time isn’t necessary. I liked Dominick, though. He was cool.
(DAN PETERS) Do you keep in contact with any of the other cast members today?
(DEBI SUE) I didn’t know where anyone was until a couple years ago when I attended my first Horror convention. Now I do keep up with a couple cast members on Face book. It was really nice to see them. Everyone has grown into neat individuals.
(DAN PETERS) You mention that you were at one point a Playboy Bunny. What was that experience like for you? Did you get to meet Hugh Hefner during this time?
(DEBI SUE) Life in the bunny suit was certainly different. We walked into the club as the girl next door and when we donned the tail and ears we became celebrities. Yes, I met Hugh and went to his L.A. mansion. It was a fantasy that if filmed wouldn’t seem real.
(DAN PETERS) After a while, you decided to give up the acting career. What was it that finally made you walk away from it?
(DEBI SUE) Honestly, my biggest desire was to go to college and get my education. I graduated at the top of my class with a journalism degree. That’s an accomplishment that I’m very proud of.
(DAN PETERS) Do you think you’d ever give acting a shot again, especially in the horror genre?
(DEBI SUE) I leave all possibilities open. Hey I’ve had my throat slashed, my eyes gouged out, and chest stabbed. I figure I have six more lives to kill.
(DAN PETERS) You also went back to school to become a journalist and a writer. Do you find yourself more creative freedom to write, or does acting allow you to express yourself more?
(DEBI SUE) Writing is by far my most creative medium. I have a passion for words. Sit me in a room with paper, pen, a dictionary and I’m content. The other day I was heading to a test shoot for my film Billy Shakespeare that I’m directing and I stopped in this completely out of the way antique shop. It had an encyclopedia-size British Oxford Dictionary set—probably 12 large books in the volume. I was drooling. I sooooo wanted to sit down and just play in the books. I have some great books on word origins and such but that has to be the “granddaddy” of them all. Ultimately, I am a big nerd.
(DAN PETERS) Most recently you completed your first novel, Memoirs Of A Hit Man and composed a comic memoir titled Diary of a Mad School Teacher. Tell us a little about these projects and how they came to fruition.
(DEBI SUE) I have put Diary of a Mad School Teacher down to direct my film, Billy Shakespeare. Currently, it’s not complete. I started writing “Diary” to tell about my bizarre experiences teaching. Nothing like teaching misplaced modifiers while your tits are being texted messaged around the class. Yes, I kept my cool. Still teaching high school can rival anything I’ve seen on Hollywood Boulevard such as being accused of being a Satanist and having preachers speak out against me for teaching the classic epic poem Dante’s Inferno, which speaks out for the separation of church and state—hundreds of years before that ideal came to fruition in the U.S.
The fictional assassin in Memoirs of a Hit Man is a composite character created from three former assassins I have interviewed as a journalist. The story is about one man’s search for his soul and redemption, as well as one man’s connection to his displayed son and grandson—not so much a shoot ‘em up mystery.
(DAN PETERS) In the last 4 years you have taught English, journalism, grammar and punctuation to high school students in Texas and New Mexico. Do any of your students recognize you from your acting days? If so, how do you handle it when they bring up your role in Friday The 13th part 5?
(DEBI SUE) Oh, yes. It became a huge scandal in both towns. I was the girl with the Scarlett Letter. Two school boards kicked me out because of a film that happened almost 30 years ago. It goes back to judging others without really knowing them.
(DAN PETERS) You’ve also recently completed your screenplay for Billy Shakespeare. Give us some background on the story and how it came about.
(DEBI SUE) If Shakespeare were alive I’d be his groupy. While studying his works, I fell so in love with his language that I knew I wanted to write something where I could play with his language and the language of the Elizabethan era. Before long I created Billy, a modern reimaging of what the Bard would be like in modern times. For the script I have woven historical facts and events from his plays to create the modern Billy Shakespeare. This comedy of errors asks: What if Shakespeare never lived in the 1600s? What if he were here today in Hollywood peddling his screenplays?
(DAN PETERS) Aside from writing the screenplay and producing it, what roles will you be taking on for this movie? Will we be seeing any cameos from you?
(DEBI SUE) I’m directing the film as well. Yes, I do plan on making two cameo appearances. I plan on disguising myself and seeing which of my fans can find me. Sorta like Where’s Waldo?
(DAN PETERS) It’s slated for a release date of January 7th, 2011. You must be working very hard to get everything finished in time. What’s the process like for you as a writer and producer versus being an actress in film?
(DEBI SUE) My favorite role right now is working as the film’s director. As a director I get to make all the final creative decisions. I get to work with artists of all types: set designers, cinematographers, make-up artists, actors, etc… It’s like having a playground filled with friends who want to play my favorite game and want to play by my rules. Yep! Pretty cool. Only my friends/crew/cast want to help me create my comic vision.
(DAN PETERS) Any final thoughts or words of wisdom to the fans out there reading this?
(DEBI SUE) Everyone gets beat up in this world. Trust me. No exceptions. No, that pretty girl doesn’t have it made; nor does that rich guy. All get knocked around. The strongest do not hit back with force but stand up against the enemy by simply refusing to allow the enemy’s behavior to control your emotions. Staying positive in a sea of venom isn’t always possible, but find your way back to that place as soon as possible. Anger eats away at the one who is angry, not at the enemy.
(DAN PETERS) I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to answer the questions. It is a real honor to hear from you! We wish you the best of success in your current and future endeavors!
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