What sold me on wanting to get to know actress Tara Price better was the intro on her MySpace page. ("My name is pronounced TAR-a. If you call me Terra I'll correct you.") Being that you can change the T to a Z in that explanation and you've got the pronunciation for my own name, if that didn't win me over, Tara's looks, best only described as the second-coming of Clara Bow, sealed the deal. Diminutive with a hint of that "cross me and you'll get an ass-whoopin' that you wouldn't see coming," two clear blue eyes that hold you in a tight gaze and a look of composure more steady than Billy the Kid's aim, Tara knocks you out before she even gets started.
Actress Tara Price
I'd be more than willing to wager a bet that you couldn't find another woman who can do a pitch-perfect Christopher Walken impression, drive a stick-shift and claim to have starred in movies both Gerardo "Rico Suave" Mejia and Luke "Dylan McKay" Perry. All of which are just appetizers on a long menu of interesting that Tara serves up.
I was very fortunate to be able to interview Tara and get the full meal. So, open up and say Tara, the fun's about to start.
AwesomeZara: As you could probably tell from my first message to you, I love your explanation of the correct pronunciation of your name. But I have to ask, do you still correct mispronunciation at auditions?
Tara Price: Always... although more often than not they'll ask me "Is it TERR-a or TAR-a?." I always thank them for asking.
AZ: When did you first become interested in acting? Was there any one movie or performance that set it off for you?
Tara: I was fascinated with certain aspects of it from a very young age. I was the kid who would play dress up all the time. I would put on sock puppet shows for my younger brothers. Some other neighborhood kids and I used to re-enact episodes of our favorite TV shows out in the yard. Nancy Drew, Charlie's Angels, The A-Team. My mom took me to see a stage production of Peter Pan when I was little and I was completely mesmerized. I was about 11 years old when I decided I wanted to become an actor.
AZ: I noticed from some of your more recent pictures that you've cut off a great deal of the hair that I saw in your older movies. Do you see any difference in the roles you're being offered now that your "look" is somewhat different?
Tara: I definitely started going out more commercially after I cut it. I also go out for more character types which is much more up my alley than playing the pretty ingénue with the billowy long locks. I do think that short hair represents my personality better. It's rather funny you should ask this question because I'm actually cutting it again. This time into a pixie cut ala Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. It will be interesting to see how that plays into future auditions.
AZ: As for the movies I watched, it was in DOWN THE BARREL that you had the lead female role. While I did review the movie and gave it low marks, I won't say that it was because of your acting. Being a female, I was frustrated that the movie featured your character as such a stereotype, leaving you with little creative wiggle room. Do you get a chance to offer any input as to how you perceive the characters you play, or have you found yourself limited to what the directors want to see from you?
Tara: I think this sort of ties in with playing that sweet ingénue type. Sadly, many leading female roles are stereotypical and usually quite boring to play. Also, a lot of them require gratuitous nudity which I have turned down roles because of. I love character work. I'll play the supporting screwy messed up gal or the homicidal nut case over
the lip-glossed leading lady any day. The best projects are the ones where the character actor is the lead. Look at what's been nominated for Oscars this year: No Country for Old Men, Juno, There Will Be Blood... all those movies have character types as their leads. Way more interesting, don't you think? Unfortunately there are just too many writers, directors and producers out there who want to go with something formulaic with your typical model-looking leads who will flash their abs and breasts and make a lot of noise but never actually tell a story. The filmmakers who want to really tell a story are the ones I find to be the most open to character development suggestions.
Clara Bow, for those not in the know
AZ: On your IMDb.com profile, it's listed that you'd started on stage at 16. Is theatre still one of your passions?
Tara: Theatre remains my first love. It always will. I still do it as often as possible. The most wonderful thing about theatre is that there will always be parts for me regardless of my age or look. There is nothing like the feeling of performing in front of a live audience. The fourth wall is this living entity. You can feel them breathing, laughing, gasping, crying, clapping... it's an incredible rush to be able to evoke instant emotion in strangers like that. I love it.
AZ: You've also had roles on television, including "CSI: Miami" and "Raines." What are some of the differences between working on films and working in television?
Tara: Television is exciting because of it's quick turn-around. You work on a show and it airs the following month and your whole family can plunk down on the couch and watch you and be excited. Film is a much longer process. You are committing for weeks or months at a time and post-production can take forever. Overall, I do think the latter is more fun though if only because of the family type atmosphere that I have experienced on film sets. When you work such long hours you become pretty tight with the cast and crew, whereas doing a guest spot on television barely gives you time to learn everyones name before it's all over.
AZ: I've done some other interviews where there was a request to not disclose their ages. So I found it refreshing to see your birthday posted on IMDb. Do you ever feel as if your age is a factor in your getting cast in certain roles?
Tara: Hahaha... you know the funny thing about that IMDb listing is that neither I nor my agent put my birthday up there. I have no idea who did that. In my personal life I'm quite proud of my age. I've never lied about it. However, many actors do feel the need to be a bit vague about their exact age for fear of it holding them back from being cast. I try not to let it worry me... but many times it has certainly been a factor.
AZ: You've also mentioned that the New Beverly Cinema is your favorite theater. Director Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) has also made clear his affection for the site. He doesn't have anything to do with this question, I just get a tingly feeling when I mention his name, so I do it often. What is one of the best forgotten classics of cinema in your opinion?
Tara: Doesn't everyone get a tingly feeling talking about Edgar? I think he is just awesome for helping put that cinema on the map. He had his own little film festival there where he screened some of his favorite movies. I went to most of them and it was a blast! I'm such a huge fan of seeing older films on the big screen. There aren't many movies theatres like that left. The Rialto (in Pasadena) closed its doors and I was brokenhearted about it. The Arclight (in Hollywood and Sherman Oaks) occasionally screens some of the classics. I recently saw Gone With The
Wind there. I had never seen the whole movie before and was so blown away by how beautiful it looked on the big screen. It was gorgeous. There are too many forgotten classics... this interview would turn into a novel if I tried to list them all. Y'know, I was talking about movies with this gal recently and she had never heard of A Clockwork Orange. Not just hadn't seen it, but had never HEARD of it. I was just dumbfounded. There are so many films out there that need to be dusted off so that we can introduce the latest generation to what movies are supposed to look like... and more importantly, that these movies are meant to be seen on a BIG screen... not on a computer... or even worse... on an iPod.
Tara in the upcoming AUDIE & THE WOLF
AZ: Thinking of classics, it reminds me of the onslaught of mediocre remakes that have been either released or greenlit recently. However, there are some movies which might improve from a retelling. Are there any movies that you'd love to be in a remake of, and if so, who would you like to have direct you in them?
Tara: I just don't understand when people remake something that is already a classic. Why? Is the industry really that strapped for ideas? There are some movies that should not be touched. Most remakes just piss me off. Every now and then there is a real gem of one though. Most often if it is something that was rather obscure the first time around. However, I must admit if they ever decide to remake Flowers for Algernon I would kill to be a part of it. That was one of my favorite books and although the original film version, the 1968 Oscar-winning Charly, was great, I would be extremely interested in seeing a new version of it.
AZ: My train of thought keeps on a'goin'. As a lover of books, I'm sure you've had discussions over which novels you'd like to see made into movies. Is there a literary character out there that you'd love to get a crack at?
Tara: Besides Alice in Flowers for Algernon... I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter books. I loved the character Tonks and would have loved to have played that part. The movie versions came out almost as quickly as the books... so by the time I even discovered that character I realized that all the films had already been cast. I still haven't seen the movie versions yet, but I look forward to watching them eventually. As for other books, I'm such a huge fan of John Irving that I would be thrilled to play any character in a screen version of one of his novels. I think he is absolutely brilliant. He is most certainly my favorite author and I'd say I own about a dozen of his books in hardcover.
AZ: Included in your acting resume's list of skills is your ability to drive manual transmission. Having had many zany experiences with friends who never learned to drive manual, I was wondering if you had any tales from the stick side that you could share.
Tara: How some people don't bother to learn how to drive manual transmission is beyond me. I truly prefer it. If it's an automatic it just doesn't feel like driving. I will drive a stick-shift until I get old and arthritis sets in and I can't do it anymore. I plan to get my motorcycle license too. I don't have any crazy stick shift stories other than the usual stalling out on a hill that happens to everyone when they first learn to drive. Man, I hated that. However, in regards to manual transmissions, I can tell you that a couple years ago I took a brief hiatus and went trucking with a friend of mine. We drove across the country multiple times in an 18-wheeler... and I definitely have some fun trucker tales from that experience. You haven't lived life until you have showered at truck stops and slept in the cab of a truck for two months.
AZ: The Christopher Walken stuff was
wonderful as well. You have a wide range of dialects in your repertoire. Have you ever gone into an audition "in accent" and been able to fool the casting director?
Admit it, those eyes are mesmerizing.
Tara: Dialects are fun. So are impressions. It's almost a weird hobby of mine. I went into an audition once for a film that called for a Scottish accent. That particular accent is a difficult one to do while sounding natural at it, so I spent the entire morning speaking that way. When I finally arrived at the audition one of the other gals in the waiting area tried to strike up a conversation with me. I stayed in accent the whole time. At one point she gave a heavy sigh and said that I certainly had an edge on her in getting the part since I was actually from Scotland. Haha... that made my day.
AZ: What have been some of the greatest challenges that you've experienced in your acting career?
Tara: To say this business is a tough one would be the understatement of the year. The industry has changed immensely in the past couple of decades. It's less about making art and more about making money. Studios aren't as willing to take chances on unknowns as much as they used to. They want people that they feel will guarantee a lot of money at the box office regardless if the person even has shred of talent. I'm sure the fact that I have no family in the biz or that I refuse to appear on some stupid reality TV show has held me back a bit. That's the nature of the beast though. I have no desire to be a flash in the pan anyway. I don't want to be famous. I just want to work. And I plan on working for a long time... until I'm old and grey and playing spooky old ladies.
AZ: You have a new movie coming out later this year, AUDIE AND THE WOLF. Can you tell me a little of what that's about?
Tara: It's a great little dark comedy. Sort of a reverse werewolf story about a wolf who turns into a bloodthirsty man during the full moon! I play Audie, the quirky weird girl who falls in love with him. The film was written and directed by B. Scott O'Malley whom I had an absolute blast working with. It's very bloody and very silly and it was a lot of fun making it. Check out the trailer!
AZ: Anything else on your schedule for 2008?
Tara: Well, I've been tapped to do a character bit in the upcoming horror movie Frigid, written and directed by cult filmmaker Nick Palumbo, that will be shooting in Europe sometime this year. I'm really looking forward to getting out of the country for awhile. I think it will be exciting!
Tara has the presence of a star, a quality that is undeniable when you have it, even if it takes the blurry-eyed vision of those execs in Hollywood a while to catch onto it. In a world where there are too many celebrity off-spring and spoiled socialites gaining the fame on a dime, it makes it all that much more delicious to discover true talent, intelligence and grace, like that found in Tara.
I will continue to do my broken record dance and remind the masses that sometimes the brightest stars are those that have yet to be discovered. Look farther out into the universe and open up your peepers to find brilliance beyond what is conveniently packaged for you. The real stuff tastes better, believe me.
From myself and all at MatchFlick, look for Tara's glow and don't forget to catch AUDIE AND THE WOLF as well as FRIGID when they're released.
Check www.taraprice.com for future updates and performance dates
Tara's IMDb Profile
Check out the trailer for AUDIE AND THE WOLF
Check out the website for Tara's flick, Frigid
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