Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview to share with you all today here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we have some wonderful words from a person who has been consistently displayed a brilliant amount of perfection as a performer over the last few decades. It’s the legendary Kelli Maroney! This is a person who has appeared in so much of our favorite things over the years, specifically she is a legend in the world of horror films, and even more specifically, she is an iconic figure from one of my personal favorite non-horror films of all time, which is the brilliant Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Seriously Folks, the plethora of work that Kelli has done is incredibly impressive. We talk specifically about three different projects in this interview, and it was so informative and exciting to learn about these projects. But, I have to state that you need to look even further into the career of the incredibly talented Kelli Maroney. She’s one of the best in the business.
I am so damn excited that Kelli was able to take some time to grace our digital pages with her wonderful responses. This is an interview for the ages here, Folks. Maroney is such an inspiring figure that has made me feel so honored to know that she was even remotely interested in being featured on our humble site. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant and remarkably talented actress Kelli Maroney!
When did you first discover your passion for the world of performance? Was it something you that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?
My mother and I loved watching old movies on TV with Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, and all those fabulous stars. I gravitated towards the weird, big surprise–Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I Want to Live!, The Birds (Yes, she actually let me watch that! I was even shocked that she did!). Then I did a little scene in the 4th grade–no big deal, just in class–and got a huge laugh! I was hooked! What a great feeling! So, ever since then I’ve been torn between being funny and being scary. I always knew this was my world. It’s the place I feel at home and where I belong. As a kid my goals were: Princess/Queen, The Virgin Mary/devout nun, or Movie Star, so becoming an actor was actually the most realistic choice of the bunch!
What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And was there anything thing taken from that experience that continues to influence your work to this day?
As a teen, I had the enormously fortunate big break of being cast in a popular ABC Daytime Soap Opera, Ryan’s Hope! It was one of those things that only happens in the movies, and when it does, you go, “That would never happen.” But, it did! I was attending a summer conservatory program to be a classical stage actor and ended up with a plumb TV gig in New York City within two weeks of landing there. And I learned everything on that show. The actress who played my mother, Louise Shaffer, could have had me for breakfast but instead taught me how to act on a three camera stage and guided me in creating a character, crying on cue, giving interviews and making appearances–you name it, I learned it all from her. She is an unbelievably generous actress and person and one of my favorite people to this very day. I’ll never be able to repay her for her kindess and care. From her I also learned the power of giving a damn about your fellow performers, creators, and crew, and that may be the greatest gift of all. Nothing goes further towards making a film or TV or stage play or anything than supporting you fellow cast and crew.
One of the genre’s you have done some truly exceptional work in happens to be one of our favorite genres, which is the world of horror. I am curious to know how you enjoy working in the world of horror? What sets it apart from the plethora of other genres you have worked in?
Thank you! I didn’t consciously gravitate towards the genre in the beginning, but I always say that you don’t choose Horror, Horror chooses YOU. I’m a no-holds-barred type and so feel comfortable with things getting wild. What I loved about the field was and is the individuality and rebeliousness of the producers, writers, directors, SFX, and everyone involved in the making of the project. It’s courageous and spirited to have a vision with not enough money or time to lavish on it and still be determined to realize it and do it in their own way. The talent that I meet in Horror are brilliant, original and complex thinkers with creativity, kindness and humor to burn. It’s much more of a family than any other genre, Vulnerability is a requirement. People are using the medium to say something about life and the human condition and that requires opening to one’s deepest fears and loves in a completely non-judgmental way. The audience may judge but the fillmmakers are all just about love and acceptance.
One project you have worked on was the very unique project that was directed by a past interview subject known as Jim Wynorski, entitled Chopping Mall. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this project? I have heard that it was a kind of weird one?
Well, it was guerilla filmmaking in that we could only use the Galleria Mall when they were closed for the night and had to put everything back so they could reopen in the morning. I have no idea how our crew did that to this day. All hell broke loose every night of shooting, with things exploding and us running around breaking things, etc. No one had any idea we were making a movie called Chopping Mall. First we thought we were doing Robot, then Killbots and then when we heard what the actual title was going to be we couldn’t believe it. No one is chopped?! So as a young performer i learned the concept of marketing and what sells very quickly! I had a great time working with the cast and crew and have many friendships from Chopping Mall to this day. Barbara Crampton is a jewel of a friend and I met er on that set. And I love playing the badass final girl and always will because it’s awesome.
Beyond the world of horror, you had an absolutely wonderful appearance in the legendary comedy, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I am always curious to know what it is like to work on a project that eventually becomes a true cult classic. When you were working on this project, was there any indication that something was special about this project? Anything that would have led you to believe that you were being a part of something special?
I feel like I DID know, although I have to take into account that it was my first time to Hollywood/LA and first time at the veriy iconic and impressive Universal Studios, so all that could have combined into feeling that it was special. However, from the time I read Cameron Crowe’s book through auditioning in NYC I knew it was the first time that these kinds of things that high school kids go through were being explored on film, so I knew it was daring. By the time I got to the set the first day it was obvious to me that we were involved in something extraordinary, with the true story of how Cameron Crowe infilterated a high school undercover (making it based on real people!), and Director Amy Heckerling coming out of NYU, and all the gifted and serious young actors. There was so much talent just walking around set all the time! It was edgy enough that Universal considered not releasing it at all. You know something is important when everyone fears and rejects it-haha! And yet, today my cheerleading outfit is in the Universal museum and Fast Times is in the Library of Congress, so mission accomplished.
You appeared alongside our dear friend Catherine Mary Stewart in another cult classic, this time in the sci-fi realm, in Night of the Comet. This was a truly wild experience of a film that I truly enjoyed. So, sort of the same question as before, but I am more curious to know how it was to work on a project like this? What it as much fun to work on as it was for me to watch?
Yes! Again, there was that sense of something special happening. Catherine Mary Stewart and I didn’t even audition together but from the second we started working it was as if I’d always known her. That kind of chemistry is pretty unique. I remember feeling that the story and our work was respected on that set. Maybe because the producer Crawford/Lane through Atlanic Releasing) was an actor, or the fact that Thom was so hands-on and available 24/7 throughout shooting, or that we had an excellent crew led by Gordon Booz (RIP) or because there were so few of us actors on-set–I don’t know for sure, but I felt comfortable being able to go deep and then to be silly the very next minute. And best of all, Catherine Mary Stewart, who is a dear friend to this day.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?
I have a film coming out called Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, and two others, Blowing Up Now and A Well Respected Man heading for the festival circuits. I’m going to be shooting a revenge film soon if all goes well with the financing, and I’ll be in Canada April 26-28 for a Horror convention. All my appearances are immediately scheduled on my website: http://www.kellimaroney.com
What was the last thing that made you smile?
This question! Also, my followers on social media post who say some hilarious things. And the Springtime–it’s gorgeous in Los Angeles now. And animals always. My cat Purrsephone and everyone else’s pets, too.