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Ask most people (of a certain age) about Tiffany, and they’ll immediately envision the 17-year-old singer whose album sales broke records in the mid-’80s. That enduring image is probably why Tiffany the Scream Queen is such an intriguing proposition. Pursuing acting in between recording and touring has led Tiffany to her first lead performances in NECROSIS (on DVD April 20 from Brink), featured opposite HEROES’ James Kyson-Lee and horror icon Michael Berryman, and MEGA PIRANHA, debuting this Saturday, April 10 on Syfy ahead of disc release by The Asylum on the 27th.
In NECROSIS, Tiffany plays one of a group of friends experiencing their own personal Donner Party-esque situation—possibly via the ghosts of that doomed expedition—at a snowbound cabin. In the mockbuster MEGA PIRANHA, she’s Dr. Sarah Monroe, trying to save Florida from a strain of oversized carnivorous Amazonian fish. FANGORIA enjoyed a good-natured interview with the very personable Tiffany, addressing both of her new movies and why appearing in horror films is not the departure for her that you might expect it to be.
FANG: So you’ve got two movies we should talk about, NECROSIS and MEGA PIRANHA—
FANG: Are you laughing because we mentioned MEGA PIRANHA?
TIFFANY: When I say, “MEGA PIRANHA is coming out,” people have that reaction, so now I’ve gotten into that habit. When I say NECROSIS, people are intrigued immediately and want to know more, but MEGA PIRANHA stands on its own two feet as a title.
FANG: It tells you everything you need to know. It seems like a great six-pack movie: “Let’s get some beer and watch MEGA PIRANHA.”
TIFFANY: I think people are going to get a real kick out of it. It was a lot of fun to do. Both films were awesome to work on. I started acting when I was young, not really successfully, just out there pounding the pavement. When I was discovered as a singer, then had a number-one hit and toured the world, I never really got a chance to go back to acting. Now I’m having a blast with it. I still do a lot of touring and singing, so it has to be when I’m available, a scheduling thing. NECROSIS was one of those rare finds for me, where I was totally available and could do it. Loved the script, and it’s always great when you get to work with people who make you feel at home, and there’s no pressure. And it came out really well. I’m very pleased with the film and the reaction we’ve gotten at festivals. It’s my baby, I’m proud of it!
FANG: NECROSIS is in the classic subgenre of “the vacation in an isolated cabin turns into a nightmare.” Did feeling so comfortable with the cast and crew make it difficult to act the horror of being trapped in that situation?
TIFFANY: Not really. No matter what you have to set up the environment—the dummy with the blood on it, the shadows on the back wall, whatever you’re going to be playing off of—a lot of it is still imagination. It was easier for us to conjure those thoughts and play off each other because we were in that environment. The production ran very slow because of snowstorms; generators went out, so we were in the dark. The first scene I did was the bed scene—with the [co-] writer, Robert Michael Ryan, who plays my boyfriend. So that was a little awkward, because although we had done read-throughs of the script and were all ready, there’s no way to really rehearse your kissing scene prior to getting on camera and doing it. Right before we had to shoot that part, the generator went out and we were stuck in the dark.
FANG: If you don’t like the people you’re working with, those kinds of conditions could get bad pretty fast.
TIFFANY: Sometimes we had to do my makeup in the dark! The makeup artist became a really good friend of mine, and we laugh about it now. But it was good to have those surprises to remind me, “Oh yeah, OK, I remember, that was scary.” We stayed in the house we filmed in for a good majority of the time, and when things happened like the generators going out, it added to the element of, “Could you imagine being out here and everything going wrong?” And being based on the Donner Party, with a little bit of research on what they went through… It’s very creepy, I have to say. If ghosts had shown up, I would have been the first person trying to get out of those mountains, I’ll tell you. I only like that stuff on film.
FANG: You’re still identified with the teen pop-star baggage. Is appearing in horror movies an attempt to tweak that image?
TIFFANY: Well, I’ve always been into horror and sci-fi. It’s more a way to say to people, “These are my interests as well.” It gives my existing fans a little bit more insight into who I am, and then new fans…somebody is going to like NECROSIS who has never heard “I Think We’re Alone Now” [laughs].
FANG: If you’ll indulge a lapse in professionalism, can we draw attention to how Tiffany the wholesome teenaged icon secretly digging horror movies is pretty hot?
TIFFANY: [Laughs] Well, I appreciate that!
FANG: So you’ve always considered yourself a genre fan?
TIFFANY: I’m naturally drawn to horror; there’s something about a scary movie that gets your blood going. I remember—I probably shouldn’t say this now, as a parent, but—well, my son had to be about 4, and Stephen King’s IT came on. I sat by the television and said, “Oh my God! I love this movie!” and called him inside. It was like a Saturday afternoon, and I popped popcorn and made my son watch IT with me without thinking, “He’s 4 years old, this might freak him out!” And sure enough, later that evening when I had him in the bathtub I went to crack the door, and he started with, “Mom, the clowns! The clowns are going to get me!” and I was like, “What clowns, what’s going on?” I really didn’t think about it because I love scary movies, but I realized I have to tone it down as a parent, what I’m watching around these young people! My son still doesn’t like clowns. That’s what we love about horror, though—it’s not just a movie. There’s always something real, and there’s always a leftover effect.
FANG: What are your favorite horror flicks?
TIFFANY: If we’re talking gushing blood and stuff like that… I’m a vampire person. I loooove vampire movies. Jason Stephens [director/co-writer of NECROSIS] and Robert are talking about writing something like that, and I’m all about it. I want to be a good vampire, a really, really intense one. My favorites—I love INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, I can watch that again and again. LOST BOYS, I grew up with that. I could watch that one with my son—he’s 17 now, but he could hang when he was 10 or 11, we started back on watching horror movies together. I love HALLOWEEN, and CARRIE is one where anytime it’s on TV, I’ll sit down and watch it.
FANG: Could you see yourself acting solely in horror films?
TIFFANY: Yeah, I would love that! I just want to take it one day at a time and do stuff that interests me. That’s most important, and I’m just starting back, studying and going to class and taking it seriously, but I’m not somebody who’s just saying, “I’m back, I’m going to be an actress now!” It has to be something I want to do, and stuff that I can grow and learn from, and be around people who are great to work with, because that matters, but I’m definitely going to keep plugging at it. I would like to stay with sci-fi and horror, because my fans think it’s a kick and it’s something I can draw from. Vampires! That’s my goal!
FANG: Was acting, and vampires, an ambition you carried throughout your music career?
TIFFANY: I believe that now, being 38 and having a 17-year-old son, I’m at a perfect time in my career where I can go back and do things that I was too busy touring the world or making a record to do. Acting wasn’t even an option, because there was only one of me and not enough time. Now I can go pick up the pieces of things that always mattered to me, that I always wanted to develop. I had found success with music, and I actually started out as a dancer; that’s how I got into this entertainment industry. I was a dancer from the time I was 2, touring with little groups and stuff. I was your typical artist, or wanting-to-be-an-artist, when my family brought me out to LA and I did singing, dancing, modeling, acting. I did it all, I took all the lessons, and you have to do that to be taken seriously in this business. And I did some extra work on an actual horror film shot in Simi Valley!
Around that time is when the music contract came up and took me in that direction, which I am still so thankful for, but now I want to return to acting. And have a good time with it! I’m still touring, doing a new album now, living in Nashville, but it’s a great time for me to read scripts and do both.
FANG: So the very first film you appeared in was a horror film? Which one?
TIFFANY: I don’t remember! But we can find it. It’s out there somewhere.
FANG: You seem to have a pretty diverse cross-section of fans. Some people will know you from pop music, some from country music, while others might know you as a gay rights advocate or from your roles on TV. How prepared are you to be mobbed by horror fans?
TIFFANY: I think it’s awesome! I did a horror convention in New Jersey, about four years ago, signing autographs, just because the people were like, “Come down, it’ll be great, maybe you can sing or something!” And I had a blast, but it wasn’t valid—I really had no reason to be there. So my fans came out and were like, “Why are you here?” and I was like, “I don’t know, there was a space for me and it’s an autograph convention at the end of the day, and I get to meet all these great actors here and…well, this is cool, man!” It’s nice now, because I really want to do it this year, and my fans were already coming out when I had nothing to give. So after doing NECROSIS, the response I got from my existing fans, and making new friends and new fans, is the hope of every artist as you continue to grow and stay in this industry. You need to branch out, but it needs to be good stuff that you’re enjoying. So it’s nice to see my existing fans support me in this. I’m on the road all the time, I’m a musician; there’s always something horror-esque to it! [Laughs] I’ve been stuck in places, been around strange people…
FANG: Speaking of which, we have to mention Michael Berryman, who shows up in NECROSIS. What was it like to work with him?
TIFFANY: This sucks, but I didn’t get to meet him. They filmed him after I went back on the road. I didn’t get to work with him, and I was really bummed about that. But you never know what’s going to come down the road! I hear he’s lovely. All the other girls got to meet him; I was jealous.
FANG: Well, even if you weren’t promoting anything, Michael Berryman and Tiffany is a convention panel we wouldn’t miss.
TIFFANY: Somebody needs to make that come true!
Check out the video below to see a message from Tiffany for FANGORIA fans!
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