Lisa Wilcox was my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street final girl. I loved that she was the quiet girl everyone ignored but actually had the power to defeat Freddy. Although it did freak me out when she turned blonde in Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.
Wilcox is back in a new horror movie. The Slamdance hit Clinger is about an overeager box whose elaborate gesture to his girlfriend decapitates him. His spirit remains in love, and really, really needy. Wilcox plays his mom in one scene and the funeral. I got to speak with Wilcox by phone about Clinger, Nightmare on Elm Street and Star Trek. Clinger is out Friday, Oct 23.
Nerd Report: Was this a fun role in Clinger?
Lisa Wilcox: I was absolutely fun because other than Nightmare on Elm Street where I play a very young mother, this was my opportunity to play a conservative mother. A really fun scene. Yeah, it was great. I’m really proud of that young team. Mel House, I did one of his movies called Imago, is the one who suggested me to the boys. I call them boys because I’m twice their age so I can call them that. I have to say, when I read Clinger, I have never laughed so hard out loud in any script I’ve ever read. The teddy bear scenes, I’m sorry, reading it in the script, I laughed, laughed laughed. They’re a very adventurous and smart group of young men and I think they’re going to do really well.
Nerd Report: Did you work more than a day on your scene?
Lisa Wilcox: I would say I think I did a couple days, and it was fun to do something a little comedic. I was there several day and to do some comedic work too was awesome.
Nerd Report: I can sort of relate to Robert as a young teen in love being a little overenthusiastic. Is there anything a mother can say to save a kid like that from making a fool of himself or blowing it with the girl?
Lisa Wilcox: Oh, “Just try again, hon. Just try again. Maybe there’ll be a new girl but just keep trying. You’ll get it right. We all learn from our mistakes.”
Nerd Report: That’s very supportive.
Lisa Wilcox: Yeah, I have two boys myself.
Nerd Report: Are they at that age yet?
Lisa Wilcox: 20 and 24.
Nerd Report: Oh, so they’ve been through it.
Lisa Wilcox: Oh yeah. They’re still going through it. What are moms for, right? A sounding board.
Nerd Report: I guess it never goes away.
Lisa Wilcox: No, does not. Probably even when they’re married it’ll still be, “Mom, she didn’t like the anniversary present. What do I do?”
Nerd Report: Did you get to go to Slamdance with Clinger?
Lisa Wilcox: I did. It was my first time in Park City. It was really rather magical. It was a lot different than what I had pictured or imagined. It’s just such a darling [town]. There’s this one big Main Street and that’s where you hang out. We went into fun clubs, great little restaurants and bars, and then you go see a movie. It was just so much more charming and not city-like at all. It was really lovely and I did stay some extra days too and visited Salt Lake City as well. I stayed about seven miles outside Park City at this darling chateau place. I felt like I was in Austria. It was a great experience.
Nerd Report: Had you taken some time off from the business?
Lisa Wilcox: Oh my goodness, yes. I had my own company with Tuesday Knight who’s also from Nightmare on Elm Street. We did something called Toe Brights for about nine years. Then I was also raising my children and it was really hard for me to leave for two and a half, three months to go do a movie. I kind of took a sabbatical, let’s put it that way. The interesting thing is because of Nightmare on Elm Street and Star Trek as well, all these kids that watched it in the ‘80s, they’re all grown up now. Now a lot of them become writers, producers and directors. It’s been really lovely that they’re like, “Loved you in Nightmare on Elm Street” and they’ll just call my agent and offer a part. “Is Lisa available and here’s the role, can you get her the script?” That’s been a fantastic perk of being in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, I do have to say. This year has been exploding though, seriously exploding. I was just making a list of the projects. I’ve got one coming up in October and of course Clinger’s premiering October 23. Then I’ve got another movie William Froste and just signed a contract for a movie in Canada next year. It’s very exciting. I’m back in. I’m actually going to be back in full time.
Nerd Report: Had you even though about coming back before the filmmakers contacted you?
Lisa Wilcox: No, but then when this kind of deluge of them came, I went, “Hmm, I think…” It’s not out of desire, because I totally missed it, but you just get into a life pattern. My kids are now grown so it’s a new chapter in my life.
Nerd Report: I think you’re the only character who survived Freddy twice. Was that significant to you?
Lisa Wilcox: Oh, in two ways. This is bittersweet. One, I’m like, “Why didn’t I ever get my death scene?” Okay? Why didn’t I get my death scene? I want my death scene. The second way is like oh, Alice is that tough. She survives. Maybe that’s nice to have that little offshoot of the leading lady in a horror film doesn’t always day.
Nerd Report: It’s usually in her second movie she finally dies, so I was worried for her in Dream Child.
Lisa Wilcox: Well, it could be the first one or the second but yeah, they didn’t write it that way. I think that was a really awesome, brave choice.
Nerd Report: I thought it was really significant that the one who could defeat Freddy wasn’t her big strong martial artist brother. It was the girl who no one paid attention to.
Lisa Wilcox: Yup. My gosh, I feel like the script to Nightmare 4 is so tender hearted and thought out. I completely related to that character. That’s me in grade school, junior high, etc. Daydreamer, all I did was read books all summer long, looking out the window at the cute guy playing soccer in the backyard. Literally I was Alice. That was my life, so I completely related to the character and I think a lot of us can relate to the character at times in our life when we just want to be part of the wall. We just want to be wallpaper and not bring attention to ourselves and disappear into fantasy worlds. I believe a lot of people, at least a lot of people have told me that they really related to that character. But at one point in life, you have to make a decision to stand up for yourself and stand up for those that you love.
Nerd Report: It freaked me out a little that you changed your hair between 4 and 5. Was that a deliberate choice?
Lisa Wilcox: [Laughs] Okay, here’s the story with the hair. When I auditioned for Nightmare 4 I was a virgin blonde. Now Renny Harlin, he likes blondes. So Tuesday’s blonde. Brooke Theiss is blonde and I’m blonde, right? When I auditioned for Nightmare, my headshot you would say I looked like a cheerleader on the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe not the cleavage, but I was total cheerleader. Fred, I have to tell you too, when my manager submitted my picture I did not get to audition. They went through over 600 auditions before they went through the ones they’d thrown in the no pile and I finally got to audition. Annette Benson, the casting director, told me this. So I went in and I had no makeup, greasy hair, I wore my worst color and this and that and oh my gosh, I got a callback and then I booked the role. But everyone was blonde, so Brooke wore a wig, Tuesday got to keep her hair and this is appropriate, they asked me if I would dye my hair to this mousey, reddish, brownish thing. I said, “You can’t dye my hair but let’s put a rinse on it. We can rinse it.” It doesn’t matter because I had a rinse in my hair for two and a half months and it stained anyway, whatever. So then when Nightmare 5 came, they’re like, “Okay, we’re not going to do that rinse thing anymore. That took an hour and a half every morning in the makeup chair.” So I had the residual of stained virgin blonde hair in Nightmare 5. This sounds like girl talk I guess. Can you relate to what I’m saying at all.
Nerd Report: I’m just glad there was a whole story behind it and I wasn’t crazy.
Lisa Wilcox: There is. This is the acting world and I don’t regret my stained virgin blonde hair an iota. It’s all about the part.
Nerd Report: Well, they had to keep Tuesday blonde so we would believe she’s Kristen.
Lisa Wilcox: Exactly, Patricia Arquette, of course. She had to look like her.
Nerd Report: And by 5 you could believe Alice could change.
Lisa Wilcox: Yeah, Alice can start going to the hairdresser and get color.
Nerd Report: I took it for granted they were doing a movie a year. Was that really quick prep time?
Lisa Wilcox: In Nightmare 4, I feel it was fine. It was a typical filming. You have long days, 12 hour days. Now and then you might have an overtime day, but I can’t say I felt rush, rush, rush, rush. I’ve heard stories from Heather [Langenkamp] and Amanda [Wyss] from Nightmare 1, we’re all buddies. Their stories about doing the first Nightmare, it was a completely different ballgame. I think by Nightmare 4 and Nightmare 5 they had more budget. It never seemed frantic to me. There’s always some frantic moments but no.
Nerd Report: Did they ever try to get you back for 6?
Lisa Wilcox: No, nope, nope, nope. They did a whole different storyline. And that’s fine. I got to be the surviving Nightmare girl.
Nerd Report: Star Trek: The Next Generation came out on DVD, Blu-ray and now Netflix. Do you get people seeing your episode anew every time that happens?
Lisa Wilcox: Yes. In fact, they came out with a new trading card, and I just sent Rittenhhouse, who does the trading cards, signed 1000 that are going to be available through Rittenhouse. The card is absolutely lovely. I think it’s just really, really nice. I literally just mailed back 1000. Don’t ask me about writer’s cramp, but anyway, there’s a new trading card I’m really excited about. Monopoly did a Next Gen Monopoly board. I’m actually one of the properties. Out of all the guest stars, all the characters, it was an honor. I’m Yuta the assassin. It’s pretty cool. They made 50,000 of those which are all sold and gone. I have one. I sold one but of course I’m keeping one. The kids and I would play with it and they’re like, “Oh, I landed on Mom.” I think it was St. James Place.
Nerd Report: It was short lived, but was the Bill and Ted TV Series fun?
Lisa Wilcox: Yes, to play Missy, are you kidding? Loved the movies and it was short lived but that was a great time. I got to be in Vancouver for about three months and live there. My first son was born and he was just seven months old, so he wasn’t in school or anything like that, so we could do that. It was a totally fun experience. It’s always fun to do comedy too, and I think their casting was good.
Nerd Report: Staying in touch with all the Nightmare on Elm Street people, did you ever get to meet Wes Craven, even though you weren’t in the movies he directed?
Lisa Wilcox: One time I met him. I would be years and years ago. I just remember him being a very intelligent and gentle man. All I can say is I’m ever so grateful for the work he did, brilliant work. I look at him as the Alfred Hitchcock since Alfred Hitchcock. He was innovative and had quite a long career. My feeling is I wish that I’d gotten to know him better, but he was more affiliated with the first Nightmare, I think 3 too. I guess something for me is that I feel like he brought back horror cinema as something everyone can like and not be embarrassed to like. He brought it to the forefront and that it’s okay. We can have fear. It’s something we all share in common, is fear. A universal truth.
Nerd Report: Which upcoming roles should we look forward to seeing you in?
Lisa Wilcox: I’m doing a film called Running with Fear in October. I’m doing something called Red Hollow in Canada, a project called Something Horrible. Tippi Hedren is actually affiliated with that project as well. The Church with Ashley C. Williams and Bill Moseley for writer/director Dom Franklin, Nightmares with Lance Henriksen and Kane Hodder for writer/director Jin Kelley and Survivors for writer/director Billy Butler. I was talking to my agent and I said, “In December, I’m just going to break loose and let’s just do this.” She’s very excited because pilot season starts in January so I’ll actually start auditioning for projects again. My work is all over the place as far as TV and theater and all that. I’ve done comedy, dramatic, I’ve played from nuns to prostitutes. She’s very excited to actually start getting out there and not just doing projects that fabulously and I’m so grateful they come my way, but actually start doing it full time again and maybe do a TV series here or there. The sabbatical has ended.