I’ll never forget the day I met Darcy DeMoss.
Ok, let me clarify something. I didn’t actually “meet” her in person. In fact, I’m sure she didn’t even know I existed.
But when the film “Can’t Buy Me Love” was released I felt an instant connection. There was something special about her. Ironically enough, it wasn’t until this very interview that I discovered what that special something was.
But first things first.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” is one of my all-time favorite movies. The fact that I was a senior in high school myself when it was released made the thought of paying $1000 to spend a month with any of the cheerleaders something worth serious consideration.
In “Can’t Buy Me Love” Darcy got to showcase her full acting and dancing potential. She played the role of Patty, a high school student who suddenly finds the nerdy Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) quite attractive after he starts “dating” her friend and head cheerleader Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) . The infamous scene of Patty and Ronald sitting in his car on a date is one of my personal favorites.
Darcy gets credit for putting up the best and longest fight scene against the infamous hockey-masked slasher Jason in “Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part Six”. A fight that unfortunately doesn’t end well.
But in real-life though, Darcy DeMoss’ passion runs deep. She is a multi-talented actress, dancer, photographer and animal rights activist. One look at her website: “Exotic Visuals“ will show you that not only does she have an eye for photography but also for life as well.
She’ll soon be able to add the title of “Author” to her list of achievements as she is currently working on no less than three books of photography based upon her African adventures.
Darcy is also a member of the advisory board of Shambala, an organization led by Tippi Hedren whose mission is to educate the public about exotic animals and to advocate for legislation to protect them.
In this interview with Darcy we’ll discuss her amazing career in dance and film. We’ll talk all about her roles in “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Friday The 13th”. But more importantly, we’ll discover how a dream she had as a child turned into an epiphany that gave her life new meaning. An amazing woman whose story is yet to be told.
goJimmygo (gJg): Darcy! It’s so great to speak with you!
Darcy Demoss (DD): It’s great to speak with you too!
gJg: Tell me a little about where you grew up and how you first got into acting.
DD: I was born and raised in Hollywood, California. My best friend growing up was Helen Hunt who was working on “Swiss Family Robinson” at the time. I remember going to the set with her all summer long while they were filming.
Helen and I were in acting class and studied dance together as well. It was there that I decided I wanted to become an actress. I did my first commercial when I was 15 for Sony and then started doing a few other little things here and there to get started.
gJg: What was your first film project?
DD: The first real big thing I ever did was a show on cable television called “Aerobicise”. My actual first film role was in a movie called “Hardbodies”.
gJg: Let’s talk a little bit about your role as Patty in “Can’t Buy Me Love”, one of my favorite high school movies.
DD: I was actually 23 when we made that movie.
gJg: You honestly look like you were in high school.
DD: Thank you!
Last year, we had a revival screening of the movie at a local theater here in LA. It was myself, Cortney Gains (Kenneth), Cort McCown (Quint), Gerardo Mejía (Ricky) and Eric Bruskotter (Big John). It was a full house and we did a Q&A afterwards. Seth Green wasn’t able to attend but he sent along a little video where he talked to everyone. It was a really fun evening.
Michael Swerdlick, our writer was also there answering questions that even I didn’t know about. He told the story about how Touchstone came to get it. Originally, it had started out as a little independent film called “Boy Rents Girl”.
gJg: What was the audition process like for you?
DD: I recall originally reading for the role of Cindy Mancini. What they like to do is have you read for the main character because there’s more dialogue. I remember standing in a hallway that was crammed full of people reviewing about eight pages of material.
I went in to read and that’s where I met Steve Rash (director), Michael Swerdlick (writer) along with Jere Henshaw and Mark Burg (producers). But instead of doing the four scenes (8 pages) I had studied, they narrowed it down to just two.
Through that, I ended up getting a callback. I think Michael actually called up my agent personally and requested me which was awesome.
I didn’t get Cindy Mancini, but I was offered the role of Patty.
gJg: Was there anything special you had to do to prepare for the role of Patty?
DD: I hadn’t been in high school in a while so before we started filming I went out to Tucson and had them sign me up to be in school again for a few days so I could do a little “research”. <laughs>
What was funny was that here I was, an adult having this intelligent debate with the geography teacher and I have all of these boys saying: “So, you’re the new girl in school? What are you doing this weekend? <laughs>
So I did go back to school for a few days. We wound up using a lot of the students there as extras which was pretty neat.
gJg: How was the chemistry with the cast?
DD: It was amazing. There was a whole camaraderie with us. We were all newbies and just had a blast. We all laughed together a lot and shared our stories of the day.
I do remember telling the guy I was with at the time: “This is going to be great! I’m going to be able to do method acting and really bond with these girls”. You know, really connect.
So I go to the table reading and find out that the girls are all 15… I’m 23! They had to be DRIVEN to the readings.
So needless to say, instead of doing pub crawls with the girls it was more like “Hey, anyone want to go the movies?” <laughs>
Amanda (Peterson) and Tina Cyphert (Barbara) actually both worked together on the movie “Annie” with Carol Burnett. So they both knew each other previously.
Ami Dolenz (Fran) is amazing and beautiful. She and I still have this incredible bond together. It’s so few and far between when you hear women say: “I love her with all my heart”. But I do and will until the day I die. She’s awesome!
gJg: The scene with you and Patrick Dempsey (Ronald Miller) in the car on a date is one of my favorite scenes from the film.
DD: That was an interesting scene. When we first shot it, I had glitter all over my face and the people at Touchstone didn’t like it . They thought it looked like I was sweating.
Once initial filming was complete we actually had to go back to Arizona and re-shoot it.
gJg: Did you ever think Patrick would go on to have the success he’s had?
DD: I always knew that he’d go far. He was really into method acting. I actually haven’t seen him in many years but ironically, my husband owns an employment agency and I think he staffs him with some of his employees.
gJg: Small world.
DD: When you’re in LA it certainly is.
Although I was once in Bucharest, Romania filming a movie and I’m sitting there waiting in the lobby going over my script when I hear someone across from me say: “Darcy?”
Now I didn’t know if that person was talking to me so I sort of blew it off.
Suddenly I hear this voice again saying to me: “DeMoss?” Turns out he was a casting director I had auditioned for a long time ago and here we are reuniting in Bucharest, Romania of all places!
gJg: Wow, how about that!
DD: The world just gets smaller and smaller. So be nice to everyone because you never know. <laughs>
gJg: what’s your favorite scene from the movie?
DD: It has to be the African Anteater Ritual!
gJg: I LOVE that scene too!
DD: Being a dancer I just had so much fun doing that scene! Paula Abdul actually worked the choreography for that. What’s funny is that Paula was actually my dance rival in dance class so I had already known her for many years before the movie.
Friday The 13th
gJg: What was it like being a part of a franchise like “Friday The 13th“?
DD: It was a lot of fun. Some directors are unapproachable and some are so accessible and this was my first introduction to the most accessible, coolest director ever. Tom McLoughlin, who both wrote and directed this film, was so awesome!
gJg: Your scene with Jason has to be one of the greatest “kills” ever in a horror movie.
DD: It certainly was the longest struggle out of any of his victims, which is something I guess you could say I’m very “proud” of. <laughs>
gJg: You definitely weren’t going to go down easy!
DD: You’re right! Most of the time once Jason gets a hold of you you’re pretty much dead right away. I’m only 5’2 but I really did put up quite a fight.
I remember CJ Graham (Jason) originally wanted to go a little easy on me but I just said, “No, let’s have at it and make it look as real as possible.” Now, he’s about 6’4 and a bodybuilder who could’ve squashed me but we really fought and made it look realistic. At least it sure felt real to me!
gJg: How was that scene filmed?
DD: They actually constructed a whole room that was designed to be the bathroom inside of the Winnebago. All of the walls were removable so they could get different angles and shots. They even had an overhead camera as well. I remember it was an entire evening of filming my fight scene with Jason.
gJg: For the actual “kill” scene was that a mask of your face that was constructed?
DD: Yes it was. I have to admit; when we made that mask it was hard for me to stay still in that position for so long because I’m claustrophobic. And I was completely covered. Fortunately though my mouth was open but I still had to keep it that way for a very long time while they made it.
I actually had the mask recreated from photos taken by the special effects company and I bring them along to my convention appearances.
gJg: It’s amazing how much longevity the franchise has had.
DD: I know. It really is. There’s even a book out about the entire Friday the 13th franchise. It has interviews with all of the people who were involved with it. They’ve even released a CD with all of the music from the films too.
gJg: Why do you think the series has been so successful?
DD: You know, it’s really because of all of the fans. The horror genre fans are just so incredibly loyal.
I’m still getting letters from 16 year olds telling me that they’re my biggest fans and asking me to send them a photo…<laughs>
DD: Thank you! So you’ve seen my website? Fantastic! I’m actually working on three books.
DD: Yes. They’re a real labor of love. I’ve been so inspired by my African “interludes” that I’ve decided to write three photography books on Africa. It’s been a long hard road but they’re finally coming to fruition.
gJg: Tell me a little more about them.
DD: The first is going to be called “Kamoflauge”. The second is a photo book of “Animal Eyes and Asses” and the third book will be a photo book with celebrities called “Private Moments”.
gJg: When did you start doing photography professionally?
DD: I was never really into it as a profession at first but I would always have my camera with me when I’d be on location. I loved to get behind the scenes pictures of the set, the actors and other fun photos.
On a recent birthday one of my dearest friends had bought me a camera. My husband then bought me a great lens for it to take on my very first African safari.
I went to Sir Richard Branson’s Game Reserve (an absolutely unbelievable place) and just started taking pictures. I think I had brought somewhere around fifty rolls of film along with me. I just really just wanted to document everything about my experience even though I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time.
When I came home and started developing the pictures my friends were just in awe at how good the photos looked and told me I should do something with them. So I took some of the best ones and walked into my first gallery and the woman there saw them and said, “Let’s give you a show!”
DD: That’s exactly what I said: “WOW!” <laughs>
I couldn’t believe it. So I had my first exhibit and from that experience became a professional. What I got to see from taking those pictures was inspiring. It gave me this whole new vibe on life.
DD: I had always wanted to go to Africa. It was always my dream. In fact, the very first paper I ever wrote in elementary school was about Africa. It wasn’t until I found that paper again that I said: “Now, it all makes sense!” “The Jungle Book” and all of those films and television shows I loved watching growing up. They were all about animals.
Everything about me just vibrates Africa. When I’m there every sense I have is heightened and so alive. It’s literally the place where everything came to be. It’s where life is what it should still be like everywhere.
gJg: It’s inspiring to see the animals in their natural habitat as opposed to a confined area like a zoo.
DD: I don’t condone zoos or the circus. I think they’re the worst thing ever. I don’t think we were meant to train animals like that. There are books and photographs and the Internet where we can learn so much more about them instead of seeing them in these restricted areas where they can’t move about.
Did you know that there are more tigers in Texas than there are in India? And it’s because they’ve all been poached and killed. They have canned hunts. It’s appalling.
I’m involved with a sanctuary called “Shambala”. It’s a refuge for exotic cats. They’ve even rescued Michael Jackson’s two tigers because no one else wanted them.
gJg: Tell me more about Shambala.
DD: Shambala (www.shambala.org) is a sanctuary in Acton, California that’s run by Tippi Hedren. Tippi is Melanie Griffith’s mother and starred in the Alfred Hitchcock films “The Birds” and “Marnie”. It’s pretty spectacular what this woman does with her life. She is my absolute hero. I’m a member of her advisory board.
Tippi is passing bills and is making a world of difference. She has these amazing sunset safaris that you can go to. You can walk around through the property and be told about each cat and how they came to be there. There’s even a chance to have dinner and a Q&A session with Tippi. It’s an entire evening.
She has two huge actual African tents you can stay at. When you spend the night there you can actually hear the cats talking to each other. It’s the coolest thing. It’s a fun, educational place to really learn about the animals.
gJg: It really sounds amazing!
DD: If you can’t afford to go to Africa and if you’re in the area you just have to go to Shambala!
gJg: Tell me a little about your own animals.
DD: I have two Golden Retrievers: Trubble & Duchess. Duchess was a rescue who we found out needed to have her hip replaced shortly after adopting her. Fortunately we were able to do that for her. It went well and now she’s like a new dog.
I also have an African Grey parrot named “Choo-Chi”. She’s a junk food junkie. <laughs>. She’ll eat pasta and pizza.
She can go out of her cage and crawl around and I also have an area set up for her outside. She’s beautiful and a lot of work but I love it.
gJg: What other projects do you have coming up now?DD: I’ll be working on a new movie project,”Bone Garden” this summer. It’s a film by Mike Gutridge. I loved the script and am really excited about it.
For more information on Darcy and Shambala click on the links below (photographs in this article courtesy of Darcy DeMoss):
Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Darcy DeMoss on Technorati.