Gavin Schmitt Interviews Kelli Maroney

Kelli Maroney’s most notable television roles were her first: Kimberly Harris Beaulac on the soap opera “Ryan’s Hope” (1980-1981, 1982-1983) and Tina Lord on “One Life to Live” (1984-1985). Maroney was featured on the cover of the October 27, 1980 issue of People (alongside fellow soap opera actresses Genie Francis and Kristen Vigard) and interviewed in the related story about the “teen temptresses” of daytime television.

Her best known film roles were in the 1982 comedy “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (affiliate link) as a cheerleader named Cindy, the 1984 science fiction movie “Night of the Comet” as Samantha Belmont; as well as two low-budget slasher films, “The Zero Boys” (1985) as Jamie, and “Chopping Mall” (1986) as Alison.

I had the pleasure to quickly chat with Kelli in July 2011.

GS: After a long run on the soap “Ryan’s Hope”, you first appeared on the big screen with “Fast Times at Ridgmont High” (1982). Was it overwhelming having your first film be such a big deal?

KM: It was way cool coming to Los Angeles and being on the Universal lot, but I always knew I’d be there or somewhere like it soon.

GS: What sort of interactions do you recall on set? We would love to hear about Judge Reinhold or Phoebe Cates!

KM: Well, I am not comfortable telling tales about co-stars but I can say that Judge and Phoebe were both fun and excellent to work with — very laid back and professional, but fun, too.

GS: Can you tell us about the half-time scene that was cut? And has it made it back on DVD or gone forever?

KM: Nothing is ever gone forever, you know. I am sure if I’m ever up for an Academy Award it will magically reappear. I just did a half time dance to the song “The Stripper”, but honestly, the scene is about the game, not me prancing around playing sexy.

GS: Rumor is that “Slayground” (1983) which came out later, was actually your first film. Is this true?

KM: Indeed it is — it just was released later. That can and does happen a lot in the industry. Universal didn’t like “Fast Times” so in a way we were lucky to even get a release.

GS: Why did Universal not like “Fast Times”? Obviously we now know it’s a classic.

KM: They thought it was too racy with the abortion, teenage sex and drugs.

GS: Horror fans probably first saw you in “Night of the Comet” (1984). You and co-star Catherine Mary Stewart will both be at Flashback Weekend in August… should we expect some titillating behind-the-scenes stories, or have they all been told?

KM: They’ve all been told. It was a professional set and nothing scandalous happened at all. Sorry.

GS: One of my favorite horror films is “Chopping Mall” (1986) — so thank you for that one! So many great cast members, such a fun story. What stands out for you as making this experience unique?

KM: I made so many long-time friends on that one. Nothing like running around a mall in the middle of the night for bonding, you know? I think the soundtrack makes that movie. l LOVE it to this day.

GS: On “Chopping Mall”, did you get to interact with Dick Miller? I love Dick Miller.

KM: I love him, too. He was pretty gruff with the director, Jim Wynorski. Dick had been doing it so long he didn’t suffer fools gladly.

GS: “Not of This Earth” (1988) was Traci Lords’ non-porn debut. Was she treated differently on set than the rest of the cast?

KM: I was only there one day, but not that I could see… just a professional like everyone else. Just doing her job and doing it well.

GS: Director Jim Wynorski has made a name for himself with B-movies and softcore porn (I just watched “Dinocroc vs. Supergator” this week). How does a low-budget Wynorski/Corman set compare to a studio film?

KM: Well, I haven’t done a Wynorski film in many years so I don’t know what that’s like now, but a studio film is a lot more regimented, plus the food is a lot better. (laughs) More money makes a HUGE difference in your shooting experience! They are both fun and exciting, but it’s like the difference between a Motel 6 and the Four Seasons, you know?

GS: “Hard to Die” (1990) was your fourth film with Wynorski, and you used a pseudonym because you didn’t want to be credited as “Porno Wife”. Couldn’t the character name be changed?

KM: Probably, but Jim liked “Porno Wife”. I was called in to do that at the last minute and when that happens you don’t always think things through like you would normally. It’s HIS movie, and I needed my rent that month, so I didn’t argue too much.

GS: You have said in other interviews you got most of your roles by auditioning, but I have to assume by this point it was probably more like you heard your phone ring and on the other end, “Hey Kelli, it’s Jim again.” Did you actually have to keep auditioning each time?

KM: Not for just the little stuff like “Not Of This Earth”, “Big Bad Momma 2”, “Hard To Die”, “Munchies” — no audition. It was more like, “Are you busy? Wanna come down and be in something?”

GS: I hear you’ll be turning 50 this year. Some people say women’s roles become more limited as they age — do you believe this?

KM: I’m NOT 50. I’m only going to be 46 at the end of December. Reality check — the IMDB is a MOVIE site. I have government documents with seals on the back that dispute them. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Having said that, an actor can’t get into that kind of thinking — you make your own opportunities and I always have, even as a teenager. So, while it’s easier to get people’s attention when you are a hot young thing, there is plenty of things that make you special at any age. When you are standing in your power with your heart wide open, you are ageless. Who wants to keep playing the kid anyway? Grownups are far more interesting, I think!

GS: Well said, and thank you for clearing up a dirty Internet falsehood! See you in August.

KM: Thank you!

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