ED- There comes a time for every magazine to meet a great celebrity in person and able to share an interview of them with its readers. This is the case with actress Calista Carradine and The Eerie Digest. Calista is the granddaughter of John Carradine, and the daughter of actor David Carradine, and a famous actress in her own right. Calista, I had the pleasure of meeting you at the American Film Markets festival held at the Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica. It was a wonderful evening and I was very impressed by your warmth and style. Tell us about your family’s influence on your career and your early acting days.
CC- Well my parents had me in the theater in vitro .My mother danced in shows with my father before, during and after my birth. They had met at 16 and their families were close I have pictures where my great grandparents are together with my parents at birthdays and holidays. My parents did shows together in San Francisco, Virginia and New York. My father played the Catholic priest in The Deputy and the Inca King in The Royal Hunt of the Sun, both on Broadway. He and my mother did Othello and Mid Summer nights dream together to name a few and my mother went on to choreograph at a fine arts college in Geneseo New York and Alvin Alley asked her to join his company but she opted to give me roots instead later she choreographed musicals at a college in California. The first time I remember seeing my grandfather was at the cow palace when he played Scrooge in a Christmas Carol. When my mother and I moved to California it was an exciting time. My father was Kung Fu, Keith won an Oscar for I’m easy in the movie Nashville, Dad was nominated for playing Woody Guthrie in Bound for Glory .I got to meet Mork and The Fonze at the academy awards my grandfather came and made a grand event of it as always. I am most happy when I am in rehearsals or on stage. I feel at home when I get anywhere near a production. My battle cry is The Show Must Go On.
CC- My father directed this and I would compare his work in this film to Bernardo Bertolucci. . We shot on three continents in cinemascope with live Dolby stereo. I was to age in the film and he cast my childhood sweetheart John Barrymore the third as my childhood sweetheart and the same with my fiancé at the time Patrick Culliton.as my husband and my father played my father the mad hatter of the town . The girl, the woman ,the legend, her whole life He did the sound track on the piano and hired a cellist a violinist some brass. I have a copy He was a genius. The movie is yet to be released.
ED- The next year you appeared in the documentary ‘The Carradines Together’. How exciting was this for you to appear in this family documentary?
CC- That I barely remember I think I played some Bob Dylan songs. I should get a copy
ED- Your next set of films were ‘Project Eliminator’ and ‘The Killing Machine’. What were the themes behind these productions ?
CC- Project Illuminator was the most fun. I played a vamp assistant assassin and I ended up being shot in the bulls eye on my T shirt The killing Machine was renamed the killing man. I played a waitress whose head gets delivered to her boyfriend in a hat box, also fun and they used one of my original tunes in this a nice bonus. If you want to know the plot though you’ll have to see the movie.
ED- Please tell us about the roles that you played in them and some of the other actors in the casts.
CC- Jeff Wincott was in this We shot it in Toronto This film had plenty of martial arts in it which makes it fun because you always get to learn some tricks and do some play fighting. The makeup people created what would be special effects now to show where my head was cut off and the hair dresser made me beautiful Actresses are so lucky we get made up before work by the best
ED- Following these you played Sharrisse in the video ‘Fugitive Rage’ . What was this project about?
CC- Oh yes another Fred Ollen Ray film I did a few of these yes I had a small part in the jail in that . Check it out
ED- From 1993 through 1996 you appeared in ten episodes of the TV series ‘Kung Fu: The Legend Continues’. This must have been quite thrilling, and the chance to work with your family must have been exciting. Please tell us all about your time with this famous television program.
CC- It was we got to stay with Dad a lot and play, sing, dance, learn, fight, party, hang out and there were so many martial artists to learn from. We had a lot of Carradines come up to do the show as well as my step uncle Mike Bowen and he did a great job . I brought my daughters up to Toronto. Dad world school me on how TV was done, it’s a little different. One time we had done a scene and I felt he was making it drag, giving me no energy, and talking too slow. he said the director Zale Dallen ( David Dallen) had broken my spirit and would be better off letting me do my own thing .Zale said you couldn’t break my spirit with a baseball bat, Turns out it looked great on camera and we all loved it after all. It’s one of my favorite episodes, Redemption Two. It was a great show to work on from the art department to the finance department we were a fun bunch. The driver played piano the stand in was a singer the costume girl was an artist. Everyone was great at what they did and so much more. We had a big dance party at the end of every season and I would force every man to do two dances with me the second of which I would mimic their moves One of the the producers surprisingly busted out with some slick ball room moves Had I have known earlier …
ED- In 1997 you were in a series of related films as the character, August. Please describe both projects, ‘Total Force’ and ‘Absolute Force’, for all our readers.
CC- I was an assassin. with Frank Stallone and Tinothy Bottums It needed a bigger budget really but it was fun I got to fight and shoot a semi automatic a similar script to what you would find in modern cartoons evil doers out to end the world as we know it for profit. Our worst nightmares I also sang a song in each of these We had an ultimate fighting champion in this as well Oleg .I remember I cut my head open and didn’t want to lose the day to a hospital run I suggested a needle and thread or a vet They insisted on the hospital a little emergency room in Burbank got me out in a jiffy
ED- This time period was extraordinary as the following year found you in three major projects. Please tell us all about ‘Black Widow Escort’, ‘Dear Santa’, and ‘Mom’s Outta Sight’.
CC- I don’t know what black widow escort is or who is in it but the others are Fred Ollen Ray movies sweet movies for kids , delightfull basically the same cast for both films
CC-I have a few projects pending a western comedy, a country music TV show , a Hollywood offspring show, some theater with The New York Actors Ensemble West a couple of film scripts and a Fose burlesque show. Which ones will get done when I haven’t a clue.. In five years see myself with my own TV show followed by a musical and then and film and repeating this in a bigger and better and more challenging way each time through. I also expect to do some music events some Country, some Soul, Some rock but mainly in films
ED- Calista, we have many students who dream to perform, or work, on film and television. What advice can you give them to guide them on their quest ?
CC- In my opinion , from what I can see I’d say ,Perseverance furthers. He who hesitates is lost. Create, create, create. Never be lazy practice and practice until you go crazy. I grew up around it .there are teachers and techniques and books that I was lucky to see in my living room. I’ve had lessons and read books on it talked to my friends and then there is experience I am working on an art form and life is part of it, life, love, loss, family, as well as ups and down and professional experience. It’s all part of portraying a person and being emotionally available. When I watch my favorite actors and actresses I know there is much more to do .Also don’t get jaded or self absorbed caring for others and being strong builds character and actors need character. Look for the good in everyone an every situation and realize everyone as something to teach you. There is always a different way to do it . Be Humble
ED- Calista , it has been a sincere honor , and pleasure, to meet with you and to share this interview with our legions of readers. Please promise to continue this relationship with us, and keep us informed about all the new projects in your life. Many thanks again!