LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Screen Legend Sybil Danning
By James Whittington, Saturday 2nd May 2009 Sybil Danning is one of the most respected genre artists working today. Many of her movies have gained cult status and one of her best, Howling II is being shown at the moment here on Zone Horror. We caught up with this busy lady to bring you this exclusive interview. ZH: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be an actress? SD: No. I had to drop out of school at the age of 14 to help make ends meet. My parents were separated and I had to help support the family. My teen years were very serious years and I had a younger sister and brother to help take care of. I never had the time or the money to go to the movies. The thought of being an actress never ever crossed my mind. In what little spare time I had I listened to music. Elvis was my absolute favourite. ZH: How did you go about breaking into show business? SD: I was living in Salzburg, Austria, home of Mozart. I was working as a model and one day a photographer called me and told me a film director was looking for a girl in his German Fable to play Lorelei the beautiful Rhine River Maiden who lured navigators of the river to their dooms much as the ancient Greek Sirens did. (Maybe that’s why the magazine Sirens of Cinema just gave me 6 pags in their current collectors issue, out on stands right now) It was November, this cliff where I sat was real, it was freezing cold, like Lady Godiva, I wore only long blond tresses covering my body, I was close to Pneumonia, took the train back to Austria and said, “If this is film making, it’s not for me.” Two full pages in top German magazine, Stern with further offers changed my mind – the rest is history. ZH: Can you remember your first day on a movie set? How nervous were you? SD: My first day ever, was on that original cliff in Goarshausen on the Rhine River, 120 meters above water with dangerous currents below and howling, freezing winds around that icy cold rock I was sitting on. I was not nervous about that or the fact that I was nude underneath my golden tresses. I was just counting the minutes/hours I had to sit freezing while the complicated technicalities of shooting me from all angles, including helicopter shots were being worked out and fulfilled. ZH: You were classed as a sex symbol early in your career, did this sort of tag become a millstone or didn’t you mind it all? SD: First, I think I’ve been in great company being titled that. Marilyn Monroe comes immediately to mind. Secondly, I think being titled a symbol for anything is great. It means you stand for something as example for others, in my case for other women. The most important thing about this title is, that it is Sex Symbol, as a symbol of beauty, sensuality, passion, compassion and NEVER to be compared or mistaken for Sex Object! ZH: Have you ever refused to do a nude scene? If so why did you turn it down? SD: Yes, I have if I felt the nudity unnecessary to bring a point across. Personally, I like leaving a little up to the imagination. Also, partial or total nudity in a movie, if called for appropriately definitely adds to the commercial value of the movie and must be compensated accordingly. ZH: Recently on Zone Horror we showed Howling II, what was it like working alongside horror legend Christopher Lee? SD: Thank you for showing Howling II! For all my fans who would like to order it on DVD, personalized by me, please go to my website www.sybildanning.net to Memorabilia/DVD’s and you can order it along with other DVD’s Christopher and I have done a total of five movies together, Albino aka Night Of The Askari, The 3 and 4 Musketeers, The Howling II, and The Salamander, based on the book by Morris West (The Shoes of the Fisherman) Yes, HII is very popular. I was in Austin Texas at the Drafthouse Theatre in January for a screening with Q&A and it shows frequently on Cable/TV. I don’t have to mention Christopher’s absolute professionalism! He is a man totally committed to every movie he does! His life passion has been his movies and he had wonderful stories to tell me on every movie we did together. HII was shot in the, then behind the Iron Curtain Czechoslovakia. We would sit at night for dinner in the little restaurant in our hotel and Christopher would tell me stories, even in German. Sitting in a corner was a KGB agent with thick glasses and what looked like a dead squirrel on his head watching our every move. The elegant demeanour Christopher has on camera is the same off camera. There is no doubt, Christopher brings to every movie and in particular to every role an absolute sincerity, dedication, ultimately lending his characters a certain dignity. Such is true in HII. What dignity he brings to “Stefan,” my loving brother! ZH: Was it a fun shoot? SD: Because my childhood was so serious, when I can get into a great costume such as in HII, I immediately transfer myself into that character, time and place. I loved working with Philippe Mora. He has a wonderful sense for atmosphere and gives you space while never letting you get away with anything! We got a shipment of monkey instead of werewolf costumes. Philippe was outraged, called Hollywood, ”We’re not doing Planet of the Apes we’re doing a werewolf movie.” Time didn’t allow for a new shipment so they reworked the costumes and I ended up standing 8 hours straight while the special effects make-up artist glued hair to my body starting bottom up. All that just for one scene as the full fledged first time ever, blonde werewolf! The worst part was the removing of the hair, which burned my skin. Why would I want to do anything else? ZH: From your long and varied filmography is there one movie or performance that you are most proud of?
SD: Operation Thunderbolt aka Mivtsa Yonatan (MGM) that got the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar Nomination. My character with the Baader Meinhoff Group terrorist, “Gabriele Tiedemann”/”Halima” was shot and killed by Israeli Forces, who liberated Israelis and Jews from Dictator Idi Amin in the Raid on Entebbe, Uganda. I cast Klaus Kinski as my partner in crime “Wielfried Boesse,” raised the money and got distribution, unfortunately, all without a credit! At that time I was living in Germany and did not know doing this is called being a producer, getting a credit and fee. I’ve learned since! Israeli director, Menahem Golan directed. Other stars-Asi Dayan, Moshe Dayan, Gila Almagor, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin! You can also get this movie on a double DVD, with the documentary on my website www.sybildanning.netMemorabilia/DVDs. I loved playing this freedom fighter because it was a departure for me from playing sexy, beautiful roles. It was challenging to play a character that went down in history. Overplaying this character would have made her a caricature and underplaying would not have captured her sadistic outbreaks properly. The Los Angeles Times praised both my and Kinski’s performance as steely, solid and right on. The German film for “Best Foreign Film” entry at the Oscars this year was The Baader Meinhoff Complex, entailing this group once again as we deal with terrorism worldwide!
ZH: It must be satisfying for you as an actor to be still in such high demand after all these years for not all actors enjoy such a successful career as you have. What does it feel like? SD: It feels f……….fabulous, thank you. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you, my loyal fans who have supported my movies all these years! I have always taken my characters serious and given them my respect, even when only covered in hair! It is my group of loyal followers even when I was away for 14 years atThe Legend Of Sybil Danning at Yahoo Groups that told me they want to see me back on screen. (Please go to www.sybildanning.netHomepage/Fan Club) To all of my fans, I say thank you and for as long as you want to see me, I will do my damnedest to look good, be sexy, horrify, and kick ass up there on the screen for YOU! ZH: Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? SD: An Oscar. Clint Eastwood had to wait a long time, so can I. I want to direct. I’m working on a project to direct and be in as actor. Don’t want to jinx anything right now. Hey – it’s a first for me in Hollywood –Actor, Sybil Danning sleeps with director!!! ZH: Sybil Danning, thank you very much SD: My Dear James, thank you, it’s been my pleasure to sock it to you before I’m off to my home, Vienna Austria for a Charity Gallery auction of my photos along with John Malkovic and others with proceeds for children’s hospitals in Rwanda, then on to weekendofhorrors in Germany on the 9th and 10th of May where I will join my dear friend John Saxon and wife Gloria and I will meet with Uwe Boll who distributed my movie Jump with Patrick Swayze, which just opened the “Jewish Film Festival” here in L.A. this last Thursday. Thanks again to all of you for staying with me on my journey and now join me for our next Fast & Furious trip, Back to The Future! Fangulously Yours, Sybil Danning
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