The 80’s were obviously a sort of silly time in history when it comes to the world of film and pop culture. Of course, in retrospect doesn’t every decade have some hilarious little quips that we make fun of once time has passed? Each decade has that band or that film or what-have-you that probably wouldn’t work in any other decade. One great thing that the 80’s had, was some pretty stellar babes in the acting world! And I like to think that a beautiful and talented actress is timeless!
And few actress embody this spirit as the wonderful actress Diane Franklin! As the star of such classic 80’s films as The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, she is on par with the likes of other 80’s babes like Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Jason Lee, etc. And even more so to me personally, as I absolutely loved this woman (well, in the 90’s, while I was watching 80’s movies) more than all the rest after I saw her in Better Off Dead. Now that was timeless smoking hotness!! And I am pleased to see that Diane has continued to work in one way or another, even with a bit of down time in between gigs. I was very interested in seeing what exactly she had going on these days, so I am so pleased to announce that this brilliant actress agreed to have some fun with us and answer a few questions. So Ladies and Gentlemen….Diane Franklin!
I have come to understand that besides acting, you have also studied biochemistry, which is definitely a very cool and different thing to hear of an actress doing. Tell us, what draws you to the world of biochemistry? Do you find any similarities to the world of acting?
If you had asked me in college if there were similarities between my interest in science and acting, I probably would have said none except for the fact that one day I may play the role of a doctor. But, today? Yes! I see so many connections that, as you know at Trainwrecked, it has taken me a while to get back to you. In essence, my approach to acting has always been somewhat scientific.
When I started acting at the age of ten, industry professionals frowned upon drama training. It was thought to make kids stiff and unnatural. I still, however, had to figure out a way to memorize lines and connect. So, the first thing I needed to do was find a method (or process). Adult actors were trained at the time to work from the “inside-out.” I, of course, didn’t know this. I had to figure out something on my own. Something that made sense to me, and that I could connect with. My own method. I worked from the “outside-in”. I would look for a real person who I thought represented the role.
Which brings me to my next scientific/acting love: analysis. I have always enjoyed breaking characters. What makes this character the way she is? What does the she do? What doesn’t she do? The funny thing is, I remember thinking like this since I was little. Maybe 5. It found it fun! I would watch TV without the sound and think, ”Is this person believable? Why? Or why not?”
Then comes the actual practice or experimentation, which involves hard work, creativity and spontaneity, all of which, I really enjoy. I just love the feeling of when I am in the moment so much, that I don’t remember acting at all. That’s when I know it’s right. And of course, with every experiment, (or scene) there is the potential of a discovery. It’s so cool to bring written words to life, and then push further to perhaps create a role that goes beyond words.
Yet, with all these scientific tools, I still am drawn to human nature. My personal passion is to express human emotion, heart, energy, instincts, and share it with others. So, I guess looking back I didn’t changed my scientific interest or give up on my acting dreams. I just found a way to make them work together.
In your own recollections and opinions, what do you believe it is about pop culture in the 80’s that has kept it a relevant metaphorical being to this day and age?
Every generation gets its time to be the role model for a younger generation. Today, the 80s generation is middle-aged and now in the limelight. What does this mean?! 80s music is back! 80s celebrities are being celebrated! 80s fashion is back in style! But perhaps, the most interesting callback is the VALUE of 80s culture!! Yes, TOTALLY!! The 80s was a time of freedom, self-expression and well…fun! There was an excitement to growing up. Not panic. There were work opportunities, so you could move out of the house at 18 and support yourself. Being different was in, and holding your own was important. Assertively sexy women were admired. (OK, maybe not when they were wearing power suits and sneakers) And there was an open, (and yes tolerant attitude) towards drugs, sex and abortion, (which ironically were areas one had to be a real adult to navigate.) Today, to my surprise, things are not the same. I think economics have a lot to do with it. The 80s adult generation looks back and thinks, “What happened? Where did all the freedom go?” Well luckily, we at least have totally excellent 80s films to remind us to keep having fun;)
What do believe it is that keeps so many of the films (i.e. The Last American Virgin, Better Off Dead, etc.) you did during that time so relevant to this very day, as they have proven to be?
The Last American Virgin was made in the early 80s. It is the perfect example 80’s fashion, 80’s fun and 80’s realism. If you watch the film and it makes you feel uncomfortable, it should. It was not made for entertainment. It was made to speak to speak the truth of teen heartbreak. That truth is the cake of 80’s films and is what grips us today. The upbeat, colorful, fun style of 80s films is the icing. Put a candle on it and you’ll see the passion and fire that went into the filmmaking;) Better Off Dead was mid 80s, breaking the sexist mold and suddenly giving the audience an option to watch a teen film without sex in it. This word of mouth iconic hit eventually brought it’s style to television, with Danny and Savage at Nickelodeon, producing The Amanda Show, iCarly, Drake and Josh and Zoey 101. Entertainment could now make live action staged as cartoons, using double entandres that were used in all the classic cartoons. Finally, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Now in 1989, here is a film that not only homage’s the 80s, while being made in the 80’s! Bill and Ted bring the Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High back. Teen films in the 80’s were about friends and Bill and Ted where friends you wanted to hang with. I totally get that!
You released an autobiography in 2012 entitled The Excellent Adventures of The Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80’s. What compelled you to write this book? Can you give us a bit of a preview if you would?
I decided to write this book off several realizations. One, Paul Newman. Famous actor or salad dressing? It all depends on the generation you grow up in. I know him as both. I realized that fame is relative to the people that know you, so I thought I better put this book out fast! Second, I originally was going to save all my memorabilla for my kids, but then I realized I will always be mom to them (as I should be!), so then I thought “OK, I better write all this down before I forget!”. Third, I wanted to make a book I could be proud of, that told the truth about my life and my experiences. I wanted it to be the kind of book a college student could use as a primary source on the 80s, and it didn’t have to be boring. And I wanted to make sure it was written in my cadence, like I was taking to you at a coffee house after having an espresso, AND that the book expressed my upbeat personality and point of view.
Another interesting venture you have gotten into is broadcasting. Can you tell us a bit about your show Babes of the 80’s? How did the idea for this show come around (besides being a total babe from the 80’s)?
One day I was contacted by Cult Radio A Go-Go to do an interview, and it went so well they asked me if I ever thought of hosting a show. I think they probably thought that I would only want to do one, but I had this really cool idea and I think they were kind of surprised. In the 80’s there were so many beautiful and talented teen actresses. I would generally see the same girls at each audition, but never get to know them because we would be competing for the same role. Yet, I have always had such respect for my peers because in order to be a teen actress you had to be a combination of smart, vulnerable, dedicated and hard working. There is not one actress from the 80s that did not work really hard to stay in it, and these young actresses each made very cool contributions to film and television. So I pitched them Diane Franklin: Babes of the 80s, wrote a sample script and they totally got it! I wound up doing 4 shows including such 80’s babes as Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, E.G. Daily, Betsy Russel, Claudia Wells, Jennifer Runyon, Laura Leigh Hughes and Mary Wornov and Kimmy Robertson. I even did a dude special with Curtis Armstrong, Christopher Atkins and Rex Smith. My next vision is to bring from radio to live action, but for now the shows can be heard on Sound Cloud under CRAGG.
When you look at back on your career as an actress, what do you believe to be your overall greatest accomplishment?
There are moments as an actress, when you do something that is beyond what you think you can do. Some of the greatest acting I ever did was in screen test. I think this is because a lot was on the line and I really had to give my all. There is no better feeling as an actress to memorize your lines, know your character inside and out, and then just be in the moment. When I don’t even remember performing, because I was just being, that is the best. Reading for network executives and producers for SummerGirl was like that. I came out of the audition feeling like I knew my character so much more than anyone else in the room. It was cathartic. That feeling also happened with getting the role of Monique Junet in Better Off Dead. I knew the character of Monique so well; I could improvise being her in any situation. Of course, that still does not get you the role. You get the role when the director, producers, financiers all agree that you are what they want. So that said, I would have to say my accomplishment was GETTING the role of Monique, because convincing that many people that the role I want is what they should want is an accomplishment!
Your daughter has begun making her own way in the film world, in front of and behind the camera. What is some advice you have given her to help guide her in her own direction?
The one thing I have always told my daughter is “trust your gut.” You know when something is right and when it is not. This goes for career, relationships, school, and friends.
What is one portrayal you have yet to do, but would absolutely love to?
For drama, I’d love to play a leader. This could be in the form of a doctor, teacher, investigator, commander, or even mom. Someone faces their fears and deals with problems using bravery and insight. I know I would bring great depth to this kind of role on the comedic side; I’d also love to play a “Mrs. Robinson” type character. Someone who brings sexuality and fun into being an older woman! AND if possible, as a celebrity, I would LOVE to host Saturday Night Live!
So what does the future hold for you? Any new projects in the work you would like to talk about?
I presently completed a role in my daughter’s newest film project, Devon Bright and the Sensitive Boys. It is a boy band parody and I play a crazy stage mom! VERY fun and she wrote a hilarious script. Olivia (DeLaurentis) writes, directs, acts and edits her films. She just turned 18 and the one to look out for! She is just…amazing. We will be submitting this film to film festivals, but in the meantime you can catch some comedy sketches she is doing with a friend on Funny or Die under Barely Legal Comedy. Other shorts and trailers she has done (and some of which I am in also) are on You Tube: Agouraphobia, My Better Half, Humanized, Lovechild, Recruiting Violations Olivia, Royal Effups, and Dad (llama), which has a baby llama in it;)
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Squished in bed with my family, cat and dog, watching Ghost Adventures. 😉