Exclusive: Traci Lords Talks Excision, Reuniting with John Waters and More
Last week first-time feature filmmaker Richard Bates, Jr.'s wickedly twisted high school horror flick Excision (think Heathers meets Santa Sangre hit Blu-ray and DVD shelves everywhere courtesy of Anchor Bay Films.
Based on the award-winning short film of the same name, Excision (Blu-ray and DVD review) follows a delusional and socially awkward teenager named Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord); shunned by her peers and her own mother, whon she desperately wants to please, Pauline's obsession with surgery and blood grows as her younger sister's Cystic Fibrosis worsens, and soon Pauline's quest to save her sister spirals out of control in unimaginable ways.
Excision also stars Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, John Waters, Ray Wise, Malcolm McDowell and Marlee Matlin.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to speak with cult icon Lords about her role in Excision as well as how it was reuniting with director John Waters on this project and her thoughts on collaborating with her co-stars as well as what the future holds for her.
Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with Lords below, and look for Excision on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere now!
Dread Central: How did you get involved with Excision? I'm sure this project had to be highly appealing to you considering how strong the material was that you were given to work with here.
Traci Lords: Oh, definitely. The script and Ricky's short came to me through my agent, and I really thought it was interesting and provocative. Plus, when I read the script, I realized he wasn't asking me to play the role I usually play. Usually I play the "Pauline's" of the world, but in Excision Ricky wanted to cast me against type and have me become this tightly wound mother who kind of loves one of her children more than the other, which of course is something a parent never, ever wants to admit.
So there was a lot for me to do in Excision - Phyllis has a real journey from start to finish - and that excited me; I thought the relationships between these characters were just extraordinary. You know, it would have been very easy to make Phyllis into this one-dimensional antagonist to Pauline, but that's not what Ricky did; he chose to show her flaws and how a lot of those flaws come from her relationship with her own mother that has jilted her love towards her oldest daughter.
Phyllis is someone who was the Prom Queen, who always had everything she wanted in life and had this picturesque idea of how her life would turn out; but that's not how life happened. Instead, she has a failing marriage, a teenage daughter who might be a psychopath and a beautiful, young daughter who is going to die any day because of a deadly disease. There's an interesting dynamic at play in Excision as you watch Phyllis take this truly broken life and try to put Band-Aids all over everything because she thinks that will keep everything "perfect." Phyllis was truly an incredibly fascinating character to me, especially considering I'm a mother.
I only have one child so thankfully I can't relate to a lot of Phyllis' emotions about loving one child more than the other, but as an actress I can understand the place those emotions are coming from, and that's what I used while I was on set.
Dread Central: I'll admit that I probably wasn't the nicest teenager to have had to contend with so a lot of Excision really resonated with me, especially the scene with you and AnnaLynne on the couch where you're trying to reach out to Pauline...
Traci Lords: Oh, I love that moment! It's one of my favorites. It's so subtle and powerful and AnnaLynne is simply a remarkable young actress. She's just so vibrant; she's fearless, and I think that's one of the main reasons - her and Ricky, really - why this movie is so great.
Dread Central: How did it feel reuniting with John (Waters) on Excision, especially considering he's in front of the camera this time?
Traci Lords: Oh, John and I are very dear friends; Ricky was a huge fan of his so I asked him to come in and play something in the movie. You know, there's a lot of that "John Waters humor" in Excision, and I thought that this would be something right up his alley. When he read the script, he really loved it and agreed to it. I was so glad it worked out for everyone, and having John play a priest of all things- priceless!
Dread Central: I really loved the relationship between Phyllis and Bob, played by Roger Bart; there was something sweet even about them. You could see they still loved each other but there was this distance between them. How was it collaborating with Roger?
Traci Lords: You know, Ricky had a lot of problems casting that role; nobody wanted to play that role because it is a bit emasculating. I think a lot of people really missed what Bob was really all about- that ultimately he loves his wife no matter what. Even when she freaks out and isn't the nicest person to be around, he loves her so much that he's just ready to be there to support when she falls. It's love for Bob, it's not about him being a doormat for Phyllis.
And I thought Roger was the perfect person; Ricky really needed someone who could give this role a bit of a "twist" so there was some intelligence to the character. Bob wasn't just this spineless husband either. Roger has this brilliant sense of comedic delivery but also this gentleness that made every scene I worked along with him a pleasure.
There was this really great scene between us that was cut; it may be on the DVD but I'm not sure. But anyway, Roger is there and I'm just unloading on him and he's just sitting there, taking it all and silently brushing my hair. He never speaks, but it's all about his actions in that moment, like he understands the pain I'm in. It's not about all the trivial things I'm complaining about- it's more about my oldest kid who may be a lunatic and my other daughter who's going to die any day. That's where Phyllis' pain is and Bob accepts her pain because he understands it. Roger was really wonderful, in that scene and all together, just wonderful.
Dread Central: Now that Excision is out, what's coming up next for you? What kinds of roles are you keeping an eye out for?
Traci Lords: Well, I never want to repeat myself; I've been very lucky throughout my career to be a part of a lot of different genres - on both TV and in movies - so what I'm mostly looking for is something where I won't be repeating myself. I just want to keep pushing myself because it is a bit harder being a 40-year-old actress in Hollywood. The business is a lot harder when you hit 40 so I just want to keep digging for those prime roles, like I found in Excision, and just continue trying new things, too.
My new album M2F2 just came out, too, which is really exciting because I'm doing a lot of promotional work for that right now. I’m also adapting my book, Underneath it All, into a screenplay, and I’m doing more writing and directing, too, while I keep looking for more great projects.
Based on a short film of the same name, Excision follows a disturbed and delusional high school student, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), who, with aspirations of a career in medicine, goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother (Traci Lords). While dealing with being an outcast teenager and obsession over curing her sister’s cystic fibrosis, Pauline becomes continually deranged as her fascination with surgery and the human flesh grows into something abysmal and demonic.
Bonus feature on the Excision Blu-ray™ and DVD: audio commentary with writer/director Richard Bates, Jr., and AnnaLynne McCord.
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