Barbeau, Adrienne

Barbeau's not a ‘scream queen'


From the Nov. 19, 1982, Deseret News

HOLLYWOOD – Adrienne Barbeau says she is not becoming Hollywood's newest horror scream queen – despite insistent press to the contrary.

"This is something I'm having to fight in the media," she explained during interviews for her latest film, "Creepshow."

"Out of the six pictures I've been in, only two films are horror films, but because I'm married to John Carpenter . . ."

Her voice trails off as she mentions her husband, taking for granted that the four entertainment writers gathered around the table with her already know that Carpenter is the writer-director of "Halloween," "The Fog" and "Escape From New York," as well as the director of the recent gory remake of "The Thing."

Then she pauses, and adds: "Of course one, ‘The Cannonball Run,' might have been a horror film to some people. But ‘Swamp Thing,' a fantasy, a comic book; ‘Escape From New York,' an action, science fiction, futuristic picture; and one that is not yet in release, a romance with a sort of science fiction flavor, called ‘The Next One.' I did that one because I wanted to go to Greece."

There's little doubt, however that "Creepshow" is an out-and-out horror movie. In it, Ms. Barbeau plays a boozy loud-mouth who is constantly picking at her mild-mannered professor husband, played by Hal Holbrook.


                    Adrienne Barbeau in a scene from "Creepshow"

"I don't drink, so I've never been drunk. And this person (the character she plays) is always drunk. Normally you work very small, the blink of an eye on the 40-foot screen being enough. But we played it broadly, and I said to George (Romero, the film's director), ‘Are you sure it's not too big?' Some people may think it's just overacting, but if you take it in as part of a whole . . . I really loved it, I had a great time doing it. There was no halfway point."

Adrienne Barbeau first gained national attention as the feminist daughter of TV's "Maude," a role she played for six years. She hasn't been back to television much since then, playing mostly in theatrical films and stage productions. One TV-movie she did, however, changed her life. While making "Someone Is Watching Me!" in 1978, she met John Carpenter, the film's director, whom she later married.

More recently, she guested in a "Love Boat" segment, and considered a TV movie, until she found it was a pilot for a series.

"I wouldn't mind another series, but I just didn't want to play this character for several years."

There have been a number of film roles she has also turned down over the past few years. "Most of the things I have turned down have been blatantly sexist, like one where I was the token feminist who meets a guy at a hospital, says, ‘Hey, you want a beer,' and they're in bed together in the next scene. A lot of those things have gratuitous sex scenes as a sign of a liberated female. No thanks."

One of the things she said was interesting about the directors she has worked with, such as Wes Craven for "Swamp Thing" (a director famous for gore-horror such as "The Last House on the Left" and "The Hills Have Eyes"), Romero for "Creepshow" (he wrote and directed the very gory "Dawn of the Dead" and "Night of the Living Dead"), and, of course, her husband, is that each of these men, despite the extremely violent films they churn out, is actually a very gentle person.


Adrienne Barbeau receives direction from her then-husand John Carpenter on the set of "Escape From New York"

In the case of Carpenter, "I think its' not so much the desire to show violence as the desire to elicit a reaction from an audience. He doesn't want to see talking heads, so the horror genre gives rise to more opportunities to do that."

Though she would like to work with her husband again if the right project came along, Ms. Barbeau said she is wary right now of any more films with horror overtones.

She just doesn't want to perpetuate what she perceives as a myth about her film career. A myth that "Creepshow" isn't helping to squelch.