View Full Version : Interview with "Suspiria" star Jessica Harper

04-17-2011, 06:32 PM
In February we asked you for your questions for Jessica Harper, the star of such cult classics as SUSPIRIA, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and SHOCK TREATMENT. She also proves to be quite the cook and an affable subject, answering all our questions in good fun. Here's what she said

In February we asked you for your questions for Jessica Harper, the star of such cult classics as Suspiria, Phantom of the Paradise and Shock Treatment. She also proves to be quite the cook and an affable subject, answering all our questions in good fun. Here's what she said

http://horrordigital.com/vb3forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=5753&stc=1&d=1303060554 (http://www.amazon.com/Crabby-Cook-Cookbook-Recipes-Rants/dp/0761155260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303060583&sr=8-1)

Horror Digital: First off, I love your movies. I speak for practically everyone on our boards when I say Suspiria has had a major impact on our film watching lives! For me, Stardust Memories is a masterpiece too, both your performance and Allen’s film are terribly underrated. With that out of the way...why cooking and why a book about it?

Jessica Harper: Thanks for loving the movies! And your question is a good one...
In addition to other activities, I've been cooking for a very picky family for over twenty years, which has been sometimes wonderful, and sometimes...not so much. A few years ago I started writing humorous stories about my family, from the perspective of a slightly irritable home cook, and I liked doing it so much, I ended up with a book, full of anecdotes, survival tips and recipes. if you want to get the dirt on my home life, buy the book!

HD: If you could recommend one of your recipes from your book to horror fans, which one would it be?

JH: I'd recommend "Famous Hummus" or "Super Bowl Bean Dip 'N Guac" to dip into while you're watching Suspiria again...and you might want to mix up a Mojo Mojito to go with that!

HD: In your movies you always look so bright eyed and happy about life...are you really crabby deep down!?

JH: Not really, but don't tell my publisher!

HD: Were you cooking your dishes back in the Suspiria days? Any chance you ever made anything for Dario?

JH: Back in Suspiria days I think the most complex thing i cooked was scrambled eggs (which i did NOT cook for Dario!)

HD: What are your thoughts on the planned Suspiria remake? Did you see Argento’s Mother of Tears and if so what did you think of it?

JH: It's hard to imagine remaking that movie...it just is so what it is. But stranger things have happened...

HD: You are an actress, a singer and a writer. At this point in your life, which of these vocations is your greatest passion?

JH: I love doing all those things and I'm sure I always will. But my greatest passion of all is my commitment to my family.

HD: Would you ever act in a horror movie again?

JH: Sure, if the I liked the director and other actors, why not? It's a great genre...

HD: Some actors dislike watching their own performances. Do you enjoy watching your own films?

JH: Not really. It makes me a little squeamish (and very self-critical) to watch myself in movies. But if it's a really good movie, it's easier.

HD: Had you seen any of Dario Argento's previous films prior to signing on to Suspiria?

JH: Yes, I'd seen Profondo Rosso and thought it was really interesting...

HD: What were your thoughts at the time on Dario Argento's attention to detail and use of set design, color and lighting? Did you have any idea how visually stunning the movie would end up being and what a lasting impact it would have on the horror genre?

JH: I was aware, at the time of filming, how striking the use of color and lighting were, but I was not prepared for how beautiful the film would ultimately look. And who knew how important the film wold be in the genre? You never know those things until they happen...

HD: From the cover of your book it sounds like you have some clever names for some of your dishes. Any chance we can get a Suspiria-themed recipe?

JH: Yes! I'm gonna work on it. If any fans have a suggestion let me know!
I do have a "Witchin' Martini" on my website which is certainly in the Suspiria mode...

HD: I would like to know what your favorite foreign dish is?

JH: Does champagne count?

HD: Do you have unusual eating habits or rituals?

JH: I eat way too many PBJ sandwiches.

HD: Any specific food you would love to try?

JH: I will try anything, except organs (no brains, thank you very much, or spleen) and animals that could be pets. (I will never knowingly eat a golden retriever or a goldfish.)

HD: You've recorded children's albums, was it difficult to compose music that was aimed at such a young audience?

JH: No. The trick is, you don't aim young. You aim to make fabulous music. Of course, you have to write lyrics that are kid-friendly, but I used a lot of sophisticated word play and arrangements, so the music is appealing to all ages, just like the best children's books do.

HD: I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the frequently voiced theories that Dario Argento is a misogynist--and whether you personally saw any evidence (either way) in your interactions with him.

JH: I never saw any evidence of that when I worked with Dario. He was extremely respectful of me, and also of Joan Bennett and Alida Valli.

HD: You’ve got a great set of lungs...how did your singing come to the attention of Brian DePalma to be cast in Phantom of the Paradise?

JH: I was in an off-Broadway musical that got a lot of attention, a show called "Dr. Selavy's Magic Theatre," and a lot of people saw it, including Brian (and also Woody Allen's producer), so that led to an audition for Phantom and lots of other things.

HD: How did Woody Allen pitch Stardust Memories to you? Many have interpreted it as a hate letter to his fans, others a jibe at European art cinema, and others still a jovial celebration of life. Which one is it!?

JH: I can't really answer that. It would take all the fun out of the speculation! Maybe some day Woody will explain...and he didn't pitch it to me, he just offered it to me and I said, "Uh, YES."

HD: What was more fun to work on: Suspiria or Phantom of the Paradise?

JH: I had so much fun on both movies...Phantom was my first movie, and it was a great crew, brilliant director, so I had an incredible time and learned the basics...Suspiria also had a brilliant director, and I shot in Rome, and Munich, so it was an amazing experience...I loved it.

HD: Most known actors today prefer not to talk about their work with Argento in the past (Jennifer Connely is a good example) but you seem to embrace this whole cult thing. What's the most attractive part of it? Why do you think films like this are still kept alive?

JH: Good question, but hard to answer. Certain movies have long lives because they seize the imaginations of a group of people, but who knows why that happens? It's a coming together of the elements of a film in a certain way that just strikes a chord with people, and I think that's a sort of magical or chemical thing that nobody can predict when a film is being shot...

HD: Most American actors that appeared in European exploitation movies (or ones that dabbled in horror) were in the twilight of their career, so was it hard going there after appearing in Phantom of the Paradise during the blossoming of your career? What was your main goal?

JH: I did not think of it that way...

HD: Were you able to give a lot of input in the interpretation of your role in Suspiria or was Argento very specific about what he wanted?

JH: I followed my instincts, and most of the time, Dario agreed with where they took me. I think he felt we were in sync on the character before he hired me...otherwise, he would not have...

HD: Have you ever thought of appearing in more horror or being labeled a 'horror film actress' afterwards? Did you have many horror offers post-Suspiria?

JH: No, I didn't have a lot of horror offers after Suspiria...I had other types of offers, but not in that genre.

HD: Being able to work with such great directors like Dario Argento, Woody Allen, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, and Jim Sharman, who was your favorite/least favorite director to work with and why?

JH: It's a secret! Let's just say, they all had amazing qualities and talents that I admired, some more than others.

Thanks Ms. Harper for taking the time to answer all our questions. Jessica Harper has an amusing kind-of confessional cookbook with recipes and experiences that should appeal to any kind of cook. It's called "The Crabby Book" and can be found at all major retailers. Click here (http://www.amazon.com/Crabby-Cook-Cookbook-Recipes-Rants/dp/0761155260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303060583&sr=8-1) to check it on Amazon.

04-17-2011, 07:55 PM
Nice interview. Jessica Harper is one classy lady.

04-18-2011, 03:13 AM
Great interview - really enjoyed reading this

04-18-2011, 03:34 AM
Great interview, Rhett.

I LOVE Jessica Harper. She's a true class act.

Erick H.
04-18-2011, 08:22 AM
A great talent.Nice interview !

04-18-2011, 08:47 AM
Great interview rhett!! Glad to see my question was asked and answered. ;)

04-18-2011, 09:05 AM
Excellent very in depth

04-19-2011, 05:36 AM
That was awesome!! This interview made my week! Thank you!!

05-07-2011, 08:48 PM
Jessica should be working more nowadays.We need her talent.Newcomers should learn a thing of two from her.

05-08-2011, 02:56 AM
Great job on the interview.

05-12-2011, 06:16 PM
Great interview. Took notice my question suggestion was used in the interview. Pretty cool.