Chantilly Bridge: Interview With Filmmaker Linda Yellen, And Stars Patricia Richardson And Jill Eikenberry

I realize that Chantilly Bridge isn’t horror, or even horror adjacent. But I was so fascinated by its concept, and that of its predecessor, Chantilly Lace, coupled with the amazing and strong cast, that I had to see it. Chantilly Lace is a 1993 made-for-tv movie that was filmed for Showtime. Written and directed by Linda Yellen (The Last Film Festival 2016), it was unscripted and largely improvised and had a who’s who cast of impeccable and talented women: JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist 1982), Jill Eikenberry (L.A. Law), Helen Slater (The Legend of Billie Jean 1985), Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club 1985), Martha Plimpton (Goonies 1985), Talia Shire (Rocky 1976), and Lindsay Crouse (Buffy the Vampire Slayer series). The ensemble created a funny and heartfelt film about women with very real conversations about sex, sexuality, love, loss, marriage and divorce, children, coming out, and so much more. I wanted to do a double feature, but Chantilly Lace is not streaming anywhere, nor was it ever released on DVD or Blu-ray, so I had to buy it on VHS, ya’ll. V. H. S.

Linda Yellen with the cast of Chantilly Lace.

Thirty years after the first one, Linda is back with the original cast for Chantilly Bridge. This time around, the group has welcomed newcomer Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement), and what a great addition she was to the film. Chantilly Bridge is an exceptional extension of the first film, and once again, we are treated to a very real story about women and their relationships with friends and family. To celebrate the release of Chantilly Bridge, I chatted via Zoom with filmmaker Linda Yellen, and stars Patricia Richardson and Jill Eikenberry about the film.

Linda Yellen and the cast of Chantilly Bridge.

PopHorror: Chantilly Bridge was amazing. I thought it was so good. I watched it in a double feature with my VHS of Chantilly Lace. It was really cool to watch them back-to-back and to see how it evolved. My first question is for Linda. How did the project of Chantilly Bridge come about and what made you want to revisit the world you created with Chantilly Lace?

Linda Yellen: The experience of Chantilly Lace, I think for all of us, was just one of the most extraordinary experiences of our lives – taking the chance, making it the way that we did, the magic of the creative experience, sharing and growing as women and taking risks. The first one broke barriers of its time on the subjects and what it showed of the world of women. So as we all age, I thought there was so little material that showed how women of today who are aging are really like, and I wanted – hopefully – to break barriers again with this new film. I think that was something that when I reached out to all of you, appealed to all of us. Then it was just the miracle of being back with this talent. It was effortless. Not getting to making it of course, not the editing, and not the selling of it. But the actual making of it when we were up there, even though it was 20 degrees below zero sometimes and the equipment froze, it was just like in a magic bubble for me.

Patricia Richardson: I didn’t know the equipment froze!

Jill Eikenberry: Also, Linda had to wait to get the rights to the first one, so the timing is due to that. She really wanted the first one to be a part of this one.

Linda Yellen: Very important, yes, to be able to reflect and have real actors play themselves 30 years later in the same parts.

PopHorror: I liked that you had scenes from the first one dispersed throughout the film. I wanted to say thank you, too, for showing sex, sexuality, coming out, friendship, life and love for women over 40. As someone who is now in my journey through my 40s, I appreciate it more.

Linda Yellen: You look so much younger!

Patricia Richardson: You look so young!

PopHorror: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m 42 so to have something like this come out at this time in my life is perfect.

Linda Yellen: Great!

Helen Slater, Lindsay Crouse, Jill Eikenberry, and Talie Shire in Chantilly Bridge.

PopHorror: My next question is for you, Jill. What was it like to step back into the role of Val, and what made you want to say yes?

Jill Eikenberry: At first I thought, I’m not sure I want everybody to see what I look like now. But my second thought was I was just dying to see everybody again. We had such an incredible experience on the set, a really once in a lifetime experience. I wanted to see where we were. We’d all gone in very separate directions as have our characters, and I wanted to get to know everybody again the way we had gotten to know each other then, to go that deep again. We lived together like we had the first time, and we brought Patricia in and she fell right into it. And I wanted to explore something different because my mother had lived across the hall from for five years and had dementia, and it was very hard. I wanted to explore that from the inside if possible, and it ended up being really heartbreaking. So there were a lot of reasons.

PopHorror: Thank you for bringing that up, because I lost my mother almost three years ago to Alzheimer’s and it is super hard, so to see it in a film and be addressed… You don’t see that very often.

Jill Eikenberry: Thank you.

PopHorror: Patricia, what was it about the script and the role of Shelley that made you want to be a part of the project?

Patricia Richardson, Linda Yellen, and Jill Eikenberry.

Patricia Richardson: I wanted to be a part of the project because of Linda and the other actors. I didn’t really know what the script was going to be. We had a treatment sort of thing. And I loved the idea that I was going to be the newbie and I know JoBeth a little bit. Years ago, I had someone congratulate me for my wonderful performance in Poltergeist, so I thought it was so amazing that someone came up with this idea of having me play her sister because I’ve always wanted to do that. It was just so exciting for me to get to work with these actors. And also I could tell from the treatment that we were going to be going through some stuff together. It was going to be really funny, and really sad, shocking, and so many different things.

PopHorror: I am dying over the Poltergeist comment. That is the best. Although I know better than that, I did love you in Christmas Evil.

Patricia Richardon: Oh, I can’t believe that anybody has even ever seen that! It’s so weird that it’s still around.

PopHorror: Our local independent theater played it this past Christmas.

Patricia Richardson: No way! Are you serious?

PopHorror: Yes! That’s so awesome. One last question and it’s for all of you. Every review that I’ve read about Chantilly Bridge is just raving about it. It’s all glowing. They all focus on the strong female cast, the strong female characters, and the very real conversations that women have among their friends. Do you feel that representation of women in entertainment has changed since the 90s?

Linda Yellen: I sadly don’t think so. We’re stereotypes. It’s a rare film that comes along that doesn’t show stereotypes – the mother, the business woman, the wife. It’s never really full blown characters with eccentricities, humor, and sadness, and dynamics. As a woman behind the camera, I see it, and I felt that I could do the first one and now this other one, that really shows more real people as they are.

Patricia Richardson: I wonder if there weren’t more films that examine women in a deeper way in the 90s than there are now? But the 90s… There were lots of these films that were centered on women. Now it’s always the girlfriend part, or it’s a sci-fi thing. I find more on television that I want to watch than I do on film.

Jill Eikenberry: Then there was the one in the 1940s, The Women, which was such a huge thing. Nobody had ever done a film with all women. It was such a huge idea. But there aren’t very many. There aren’t very many.

Thank you so much to Linda, Patricia, and Jill for taking the time to speak with us. Chantilly Bridge is available On Demand now!

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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