What are your memories of filming Ferris Bueller's Day Off ?
Of the main cast, I was the only actual adolescent, so unfortunately for me it was like having your most awkward adolescent year forever memorialised. The cast were all lovely but mostly my experience was feeling very out of my depth and, you know, flailing. That’s just the honest truth. I wish I could say it was a lot of fun but it wasn’t for me. I know, it’s a bummer – but it was a bummer to me at the time!
Were you expecting the film to be so successful?
No, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know what to expect. I mean John Hughes’ films were already very successful, so it’s not like I didn’t think people would want to see it. I mean this is such a long time ago. If it were coming out today with the same kind of reception and with what you have to deal with now – in terms of attention and publicity – I think I probably would have dug a hole and never come out. But it wasn’t like that back then.
Why do you think the film’s appeal has endured all these years?
I just think it’s a great character and it’s such a satisfying rendition of that kind of heroic everyman. I think because John Hughes really had a great take on that kind of outsider/insider, cool-guy persona. I also think that they created this hyper-real, stylised world that doesn’t really date. It’s kind of like this supernatural suburbia, you know. And I guess it continues… It’s still vibrant so that’s why, I think.
What are you up to these days?
Well, I’m mostly retired. Now I’m a mother with a really noisy, difficult house to maintain! [ Laughs ] I’m a poet, so for the last couple of years that’s what I’ve been focusing on. I have worked – I did a film last January [The Witches Of Oz] where I played an evil witch, which was fun.
But you know, when it’s two o’clock in the morning and you’re wearing a corset and tights in a freezing-cold farmhouse in Connecticut, you do kind of think, “Well, this is why I’m retired! I can’t really do this anymore!”
Bird Of Prey
You played the villain, Harley Quinn, in Birds Of Prey [ the short-lived US TV show set in the Batman universe ]. How was that?
Oh, that was a blast – I would do that forever! I had a fantastic time making that – it was so sad that it wasn’t picked up. I love all that stuff – I’m just a sci-fi/fantasy/horror-type gal.
As a consumer, I appreciate beautiful dramas – but really my acting soul is kinda schlocky. That’s what’s fun to me. I think all those kind of comic-book movies are great, my kids love them… well, the ones that aren’t too scary!
Even though you don’t do a lot of acting nowadays, how do think filming has changed since the ’80s?
That’s a really good question. I’m mostly retired and the things I miss the most about working I’m sure are very much the same – I miss call sheets, because it’s always good to know exactly what’s required of you, and I miss the crew because film crews are just a wild assortment of fabulous characters.
So I think the best things about it are the same as they’ve ever been. For me, I would be happy playing fantasy characters forever, so I love technical filmmaking, I love greenscreen, I love acting to a piece of tape on the wall… I suppose Ferris Bueller wasn’t really that kind of film, but I would only enjoy it more and more – the more technical films get, the more I’d enjoy it.
What was your favourite movie of the ’80s?
I really can’t remember. Oh how terrible! I’m kind of an Aliens person – being a Ridley Scott alum myself. [ Sara played opposite Tom Cruise in Legend]
And that appeals to your inner sci-fi geek?
Absolutely. You know, I just feel that those are my people. [ Laughs ]
For more '80s goodness check out the latest issue of Total Film , on sale 28 October.