Interview: Dee Wallace on E.T., Stephen King, and the ultimate dog fight
Actress Dee Wallace was the guest of honor for the Cujo screening at last week’s Phoenix Film Festival (PFF) and International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival (IHSFF). She will probably forever be known as “E.T.’s Earth Mom”, but she is still actively working today (she currently plays Wesen’s Mom, Alice, on the current season of NBC’s Grimm.)
Ms. Wallace looks like she hasn’t aged a day since the eighties, when, in addition to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Cujo, she also starred in such cult films as The Howling and Critters. Fans got to meet the personable actress at a Q&A and autograph session following the Cujo screening, but she was nice enough to give NERDVANA a few minutes of her time before the show.
Did you ever think that after thirty-plus years your body of work from the eighties, with so many genre themed movies, would be as celebrated as it is and that you would be celebrated as a genre figurehead from that era?
You know, I think that’s the hope of every actress and actor, is that their work lives on; but, no, I don’t think that any of us ever think about that when we’re doing it. I can tell you when E.T. came out I actually said, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be everybody’s Wizard of Oz,’ and I was right. I think it’s going to live forever.
Am I really, really happy that movies like Cujo and The Howling have such a huge following and such an appreciation? Absolutely! Cujo is my favorite film that I’ve done.
I am now [laughs].
It’s my favorite Stephen King film.
Actually Stephen says that himself. He thinks it’s the best rendition [of his work], film wise.
Have you read the book?
Tad dies at the end of the book; was that version ever filmed?
No, we decided early on we weren’t going to do that; that we weren’t going to put people through two hours of this gruesome journey with no payoff. Maybe now, in 2014, that would fly; but I still think people would hate us.
Actually, Stephen King, when he saw it, wrote us and said, “Thank God you didn’t kill the kid. I’ve never got more hate mail from anything else I’ve ever done.”
It definitely would have changed the tone of the film, not that it’s a feel good movie.
Yeah, there would be no victory at the end, there’s no victory over evil. I don’t want to go see a movie like that. We’ve got enough of that in life.
Oh God, I’ve always had dogs and they’ve always been rescues. I’m a big dog person.
You were also on the Lassie television show for a while, right?
Yeah [laughs], kids and dogs, kids and dogs.
Who would win in a fight between Lassie and Cujo?
[Laughs] I don’t even have to think about that one, Honey, that would be Cujo! There were about eleven of those dogs, and they were so well trained, by Karl Miller, they could do anything. Lassie is a whole other story. [Laughs]
More Phoenix Film Festival 2014:
Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Friday’s rabid film roundup
Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Saturday’s cinematic spectacles
Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Sunday’s fun day of films