Beck, Kimberly (Final Girls)
For many genre fans, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was the ultimate sequel of the entire series. The Final Chapter was chock-full of great deaths and brought together a stellar ensemble cast including the now notable Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman and re-energized the franchise with a trip inside the mind of our favorite machete-wielding madman.
However, at the center of all that magic you have actress Kimberly Beck who portrayed the older sister, Trish Jarvis, to Feldman’s character Tommy. Trish was literally “the girl next door” as she came to realize one fateful night that at a neighboring rental home, Jason Voorhees was laying waste to a group of promiscuous teenagers who should have known better than to pick Camp Crystal Lake as a vacation spot.
In honor of her place in final girl history (as well as her being one of this writer’s favorite final girls of all time), Dread Central contacted Beck, who is now retired from acting, and spoke to her about her experiences working on Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter as well as what she’s been up to since fans last saw her in front of a camera.
Heather Wixson: I want to start off at the beginning of your career. I noticed that you started off as a very young child actress. Did you find growing up in front of a camera a very challenging phenomenon?
Kimberly Beck: The only really hard part growing up as a child actor was that I never was in real school and when I was I didn't fit in. I did all the Barbie commercials so all the kids recognized me. I lived in a very conservative town, Glendale, and the kids didn't know what to do with me. I was so different yet all I wanted was to fit in. To be a kid. But I lived in an adult world. My parents were divorced, no one in Glendale was divorced, my mother had a different last name, every kid had the same name as their mom, and the list goes on and on. When I was a senior in high school we moved to Beverly Hills and I finally felt I belonged!!! Everyone was from a different family configuration, everyone was in show biz, and I found my peeps, albeit a little late!
HW: When you auditioned for the role of Trish, how familiar were you with the Friday the 13th film series? Were you nervous at all about stepping into one of the bigger franchises of the genre?
KB: I had never seen a Friday the 13th, nor did I want to! I am the BIGGEST scaredy cat of all time so I never would see a horror film. Even today! I was in the middle of getting divorced then from my first husband and I wouldn't take money from him. So I needed to work, it was a great part, so I jumped in and counted myself lucky to have a job! A good job!!!
HW: The one thing I loved so much about part four was that it wasn't just a bunch of reckless teenagers at stake this time; that at the core there was the Jarvis family who you really cared about. Can you talk about working as a screen family alongside Corey and Joan? Was it a natural fit for you as an actress?
KB: Well, we all got along and I tried to do things outside of work with Corey so we could have a relationship that would read on screen. I took him trick or treating even! How appropriate! And Joan was a lovely woman, she was sort of maternal, and we all got along really well.
HW: Can you discuss a little bit about working with the rest of the cast and Joe Zito as a director? Do you have any fun memories from the set?
KB: Joe is a fantastic man. He is energetic and committed and he loved it when we treated the movie not as some lame horror film but as a film and took seriously the story we were telling. I remember having to cry so much, to be wet and cold filming at night, yet I was excited because we were really throwing ourselves into this film, to make it as good as we could!
HW: The idea of a "final girl" generally means that there is one innocent girl left standing at the end. Did it strike you as a precedent that at the end of Part Four, there was both a young girl and a boy left standing? Were you aware of the formula generally used in like 90 percent of 80s slasher flicks where it was just one girl left standing in the end and how unusual of an ending Part Four was?
KB: That's funny! I never thought about that! I really loved that we were both spared the grisly ending everyone else got! Because seriously who wants to see that sweet 12-year-old boy meet his maker??? But I was never aware of any rules of slasher films because I was too chicken to see them! I still have only seen my Friday the 13th and only because my husband plays it on a loop at Halloween!
HW: Part Five started off with a new Tommy Jarvis and a whole new direction for the series. Did they ever ask you to reprise your role as Trish for a five? Do you think that the story of Trish and Tommy was finished being told (I say that just because I really don't see the story they told in part five as a "real" story - and most fans would agree).
KB: I don't know anything about that part. Sorry! They never called me back and it was fine, I was onto other things and never looked back. I am happy I did the movie though, really happy. I have never met such nice people as the fans of these movies. I have been asked to appear at a lot of conventions and sort of shied away from it. I thought no one cares, but I did a Monster Mania (think that is the name) in New Jersey and it was so much fun. I brought my then 10-year-old son, Miles, and he just thought I was Mom, but he couldn't believe people wanted my autograph. He was impressed and I was happy he got to see a different side of his mother.
HW: Why do you think women featured in the horror genre are generally seen as the "warriors" when most other genres tend to view women as the weaker sex?
KB: Maybe because it is sexy to see a woman kick some ass!!! I really don't know the answer but I am sure it fulfills some male fantasy. Aren't they mostly written by men?
HW: Is it strange to you that one movie that you did 25 years ago still resonates with so many fans? I know that you haven't done a lot of horror films so I was just wondering if sometimes the fan-dom can be overwhelming.
KB: I can't believe it really! It is so nice to be remembered. I am always shocked to know I have fans to be honest, it is a lovely honor and I am very grateful to them.
HW: I noticed from IMDB that you seemed to have taken a breather from acting since 1999. I'm sure working at such a young age in the industry may have influenced your decision, but I was wondering if you could talk a bit about what made you decide to step away from being an actress. I want to hear about what you have going on in your life now. Part of my reason behind doing this series was to focus on the "final girls" and really see where they've gone in their lives since they played these roles. Do you have other creative outlets, interests, etc., that you are passionate about?
KB: I stopped acting because it was something I had done for soooo long, since I was two. I mean, I worked with Hitchcock, the original horror master when I was a child. I had had enough! So I wanted to be there completely for my husband and children too. Also my husband is a producer and I started to work with him. I really like not having to go on auditions and make people like me, think I am great, look amazing, etc... It is nice to be appreciated for my work today for our production company! Acting/auditioning can take a huge toll on one's sanity and self confidence.
I am so grateful to be married to a man I love being with and have so much respect for! He is a very ethical and kind man and the world of show business isn't always ethical, much less kind. So I am writing, reading scripts, books, looking for new material to be made into movies. My husband has made a lot of great movies (Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2, Monster House, Hotel For Dogs) and there are more to come! A horror movie actually is coming out next January that he did with Joss Whedon called "A Cabin In The Woods.”
A very special thank you to Kimberly Beck for taking the time to speak with Dread Central.
Make sure to check out our next Final Girl in the Dread Central series, Meg Foster!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Be the final girl in the Dread Central forums!