Lesleh Donaldson (played Bernadette O'Hara)
Q1: How did you get involved in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME?
I auditioned for the role I believe, don't remember if J.Lee was there but as I had done Funeral Home and had a bit of experience in this genre I thankfully got cast.
Q2: It looked like a lot of fun to make! Was it as much fun to make as it is to watch?
For me it required a lot of running around a parking lot, I didn't get to hang much with the other cast members except for the ending. But I had a blast doing my part. My favorite people on the planet are crew members they are just great people, so yes I had fun.
Q3: Did you make this before or after William Fruet's FUNERAL HOME?
I made this after Funeral Home.
Q4: You got to be a severed head in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (on Alfred's table) and in CURTAINS. Were you afraid of being typecast?
I think I must have been Lady Jane in a previous life as it seemed to be some kind of karmic death I was living out... easy enough way to go. Although I hate getting my head cast done kind of claustrophobic. They could type cast away. LOL!
Q5: The film's press notes say that three endings were shot for HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (and also boasts the cast wouldn't know which ending was used until they actually saw the film), but I've also heard that was just to cover up the fact that the ending hadn't really been written! What was your understanding of the situation?
I don't recall this about this particular film, I remember this was the case for Curtains.
Q6: I heard that all those around the climactic birthday table – in all their gory finery – decided to wander around the neighbourhood and scare the locals. Did this really happen?
Yes, although according to Jack it was Matt. Hmm maybe he did, but Richard Rebiere and I took a stroll around the block which led us up to the main str St. Catharines, I remember a kid on a bike almost fell off in shock. Lots of goofy fun.
Q7: The delightfully convoluted crescendo to HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME is loved and loathed in equal measures. Naturally I love it! SCOOBY DOO'esque fun at its finest. However, did anyone think the mask ripping finale would be taken seriously, or was it a case of tongue very much in cheek? And most importantly, did all you corpses keep a straight face?
I think it was for real. We all took this pretty seriously, and it was J. Lee Thompson of course. Back then they didn't have the sophisticated make up special effects they do now. But I think they really believed people would buy it.
Q8: Did the cast get together to watch the film when it was released in May 1981?
No not at all, no big premiere nothing. I don't think I ever watched it in its entirety until Bryan Norton made me watch it with a group of friends at his house a couple of years ago.
Q9: Have you seen the film recently? And if so, how do you think it holds up?
A couple of years ago at Bryan's. I think its very dated but I think that's why people like it.
Q10: So, I hear that you were a more popular 'scream queen' in Mexico that Jamie Lee Curtis. What do you know about this?
Wow now that's news to me, but I think its pretty cool. I know my image showed up on a poster for a horror film I wasn't even in down there. Funny!
Q11: Would you like to return to the subgenre? Perhaps even in the oft-mooted remake of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME?!
I welcome the genre now. Not sure I would want to be in a remake of HBTM but I did just finish filming a short horror movie for Bart Mastronardi, details to follow.
Thanks Lesleh for taking the time to talk about HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! I'm sure I won't be the only person who'll be looking forward to seeing you back in the genre. Visit www.leslehdonaldson.com to find out what else she's been up to.