With Halloween roughly 24 hours away, our thoughts turn to ghouls, goblins, trick or treating and classic scary movies. Thanks to COVID-19 keeping many of us in and binging on Netflix, Hulu or Roku, chances are we may have seen the ever-so-cute and very talented Diane Franklin.
Franklin, who began her acting career at the age of ten, started with modeling, theater, commercials, and soap opera work such as her role as Lois Middleton in the soap opera, As The World Turns back in 1979, is one of the most iconic American film actresses of our generation.
The bubbly and very talented New York-born star quickly became known for her trademark dark curly hair and dialects which helped her land the lead role of the dream girl, Karen, in the 1982 cult classic THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN.
Franklin would soon played the daughter, Patricia Montelli in AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION.
It wouldn’t be until her break-out film role as the spirited French-exchange student, Monique Junot, in the 1985 off-beat comedy BETTER OFF DEAD. Franklin’s most notable commercial success was playing the medieval Princess-babe, Joanna, from the 1989 iconic comedy, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE.
From there, Franklin would continue to find roles in notable shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Murder, She Wrote, The Big Easy, Providence and The new reboot Amityville Murders.
With two new projects in High Holiday and Waking Nightmare completed and in post-production, the now-California native is still making moves and one of the best in the business in what she does.
Below is my Q and A with the lovely and very talented Franklin as we talk Halloween, working during COVID, what it was like working with Keanu Reeves and my secret life-long crush on Keri Russell.
Hey Diane! Greetings from Cleveland and The Inscriber–and congrats on the Dodgers winning the World Series! How are things where you’re at?
Thank you for asking! I live in Los Angeles, where the COVID outbreak is still happening. Most people are working together to stay safe, but there are still supermarket mask battles. Election tensions are running high, but car flags and bumper stickers are doing the talking. And it’s definitely a sad time for entertainment production, with everything stopping due to COVID. My family is healthy, which is the most important thing, and we are using our quarantine time wisely; to exercise, eat healthy, work and be creative.
How has work been going despite the pandemic?
I’ve been very lucky. I actually have been working on film roles during the pandemic. The projects have all been COVID safe, meaning they followed strict COVID-19 rules, but it is still is stressful to be on set. These are very dangerous times. I am just very careful. I also am spending my time writing a tribute book about the 1985 film comedy, BETTER OFF DEAD. I play a French-Exchange student in the film, and thought it would be very cool to share my experiences making the film, interview others from the film and include photos taken at signing conventions of fans wearing the oversized coat I wore in the film!
Are you safe and well with the wildfires raging out there in CA?
Again, we are safe, so far… but last year our house was right in the middle of three fires! Luckily, we were left unscathed, but the prior two years we had to evacuate our home with keepsakes and pets. California fires are no joke! I usually start worrying at the end of October, to early November. My bags are packed and ready to leave at anytime!
Any films catch your eye during lockdown?
No films, but I do watch an HBO MAX, syfy drama series titled, RAISED BY WOLVES. The acting is outstanding, Ridley Scott’s direction is mind-bending, the set designer is inspired, the story is gripping, and the “title” music is the most mesmerizing song I have ever heard! The show is a work of art! On the lighter side, I’m obsessed WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, written and created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. I am huge fans of their work!
And for short form, I loooove APOCOLYPSE GOALS on Snapchat, and SYD and OLIVIA on TikTok. These are comedy shows created, written and acted by my daughter Olivia DeLaurentis, and her comedy partner, Sydney Heller. FUNNY OR DIE wrote an article about them, “these comedians are using Tiktok to create some of the internet’s funniest (and wokest) content…If you like female comedy duos like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, you will love Syd and Olivia!” I highly recommend you check them out!
You have had quite a long and storied career in Hollywood, which role are you most proud of?
Although, I love a lot of films I have done, I am most proud of my role in the 1985 comedy, Better Off Dead. The character I played, Monique Junot, is one of the best role models for young women. She is smart, independent and capable. She is well-mannered, and poised when necessary, but then will fix your car, and not afraid to race you down the K-12! But, I think what I love most about Monique is her positive ‘can do’ attitude about life. She finds solutions to problems…not just the problems. Amazingly, she finds it fun, not burdensome. I feel that this role is the closest to who I am as a person.
What are your thoughts on the enduring popularity of supernatural/horror films?
I read once, that the more our real lives are unstable, the more popular supernatural/horror films become. It is no wonder then, that people all over the world are obsessed with this genre today! Fear is a universal and primal feeling. It warns us to protect ourselves. By watching supernatural/horror films we learn survival skills. It is a safe way to put ourselves in a dangerous situation without suffering the consequences. It causes us to think, what we would do in this given situation? How would we react? How could we survive? Horror films can be practice for dealing with real life.Audiences also like to be scared to test themselves emotionally.
I remember watching horror films as a child and feeling like it was a rite of passage to becoming a teenager! Could I handle it? Was I brave enough? Could I master my fear? And then I’d have nightmares! But… I worked through it, and reminded myself it’s was all make-believe. It’s just special effects, or fake blood. And that is when I was rewarded. I gained emotional confidence! I could face fears. And that is when watching supernatural/horror became FUN!
With Halloween coming up, any plans?
This Halloween, because of COVID, I will be leaving LOTS of candy in a bowl outside my door, and wave to neighborhood kids through the window, telling them to take as much candy as they want! Other than that, I will probably watch the GHOST ADVENTURES series, with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine, and snuggle with my husband!
Thoughts on the new Bill & Ted movie?
I am very excited that BILL AND TED: FACE THE MUSIC came out during this difficult time in history. The Bill and Ted series has brought much happiness to the world, and now during the pandemic, I believe it has been a life-saver for many. But personally, I have not been able to watch the film… It was a real blow to Kimberley Kates,(Princess Joanna) when we were re-cast in the second film, but when we were also not cast in the third, it cut deep… Kimberley and I however,(being the princesses that we are,) took the high road, and encouraged fans to watch the new film. We did not want to ruin the excitement of the film franchise for the fans, and the world needs more fun, positivity during these challenging times. Now more than ever, we needed to hear, “be excellent to each other.”
What was it like working with Keanu Reeves?
When I first met Keanu, I was told he was going to be the next big star. It’s funny, we were all so young at the time, I had no idea what that even meant. He was shy with me at first, but once we started shooting, everything flowed! He knew his character, inside and out, was open, relaxed, and incredibly likeable! We shot our castle scenes in Rome together, and went sightseeing on our time off with the rest of the cast. It was an excellent experience on and off set!
I gotta confess, I’ve always had a soft spot for women with dark, curly hair, as Keri Russell is one of my fave actresses, do you feel that that is gonna make a comeback in terms of style and what audiences look for?
Absolutely! Now that curly hair products are on the market, curly hair styles will be back! We just don’t know what actress will be cool enough to make it popular again!
Any future projects or roles coming up?
In the horror genre, I am waiting for the release of two films: WAKING NIGHTMARE and CLAY ZOMBIES. I also did a cameo in the comedy, HIGH HOLIDAY, which stars Tom Arnold, Jennifer Tilly and Cloris Leachman. And next year I will reveal a secret project, I can’t talk about yet! My most recent films on-line now are AMITYVILLE MURDERS (Starz/SlingTV), WALLY GOT WASTED (Amazon Prime) or the documentary, SKIN:THE HISTORY OF NUDITY IN FILM (Amazon.)
In addition, I have written two autobiographies about my career as an 80s actress: Diane Franklin: The Excellent ADVENTURE of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s. Diane Franklin: The Excellent CURLS of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s. (Amazon/ BarnesandNoble.com)
Final thoughts on working in COVID-era Hollywood?
This has got to be one of the most scary, confusing, and challenging times in Hollywood’s history. People in production can’t wait to get back to work, but it is truly dangerous. Even my own agent passed away from complications with COVID this year… But I will say this… if you work in the entertainment industry, you find a way to make things happen. You do not give up. You are driven by passion and a love for what you do. I believe, no matter how bad things may get, Hollywood will find a way to rebound quickly. As they say…the show must go on.
Special thanks to Mrs. Diane Franklin, Garis Media & Talent Group for their time and assistance.