Interview with Veronica Cartwright

veronica-cartwright-2Here’s a brief interview I did back in 2007 for Video Business with veteran actor Veronica Cartwright regarding her work on the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers–which was issued as a Special Edition DVD last week by Warner–Philip Kaufman’s outstanding remake of the original 1956 chiller directed by Don Siegel. (Abel Ferrara also did a version, 1993’s Body Snatchers, and a poorly received fourth attempt, The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, was released theatrically in 2006.)

Ms. Cartwright only had fine things to say about the film and its director.

“Phil is a wonderful actor’s director. He brings all of the essence out and he loves you to have questions and to try things,” she said. ‘He created a calmness at the beginning of the film. Later on, once everybody began becoming a pod person, then it became more frenetic during the production. Things got a little crazy.”

InvasionDVD_optHer affection for Donald Sutherland, Body Snatchers’ leading man, was also apparent, if a bit more irreverent.

“Donald is one of the great whack-jobs of all time,” she laughed. “He was so hysterical – he insisted on wearing pink perma-rods in his hair to get that wet, curly look.”

Before we wrapped up our phone chat, I pried Ms. Cartwright for some behind-the-scenes dirt on another movie she appeared in back in the Seventies, 1978’s Goin’ South, directed by and starring Jack Nicholson and featuring Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Danny DeVito and John Belushi. It’s not one of the great ones, but a definite guilty pleasure whenever I bump into it on the tube.

“Oh my, Goin’ South was one big party,” she recalled. “It was shot in Durango, Mexico and that big party scene, well, we shot that after we had several days off and had been partying ourselves. It never ended.”

And her memories of working with Belushi rival those of collaborating with Kaufman and Sutherland.

“I loved John Belushi–he was great. Yes, he was a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” she admitted. “I had lunch with John before I did The Right Stuff and then, three days later, he was dead. He could be so fabulous and wonderful, but a bit of a wreck.”

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.