I feel like Dee Wallace needs no introduction. If you don’t know who she is by now… I don’t even know what to say to that. From secretly giving refuge to a displaced extraterrestrial in E.T., to saving her family from aliens again in Critters, to protecting her child from a rabid St. Bernard in Cujo, Dee Wallace has become a favorite in the horror genre. To celebrate the release of her latest film, The Nest, I chatted with Dee about what intrigued her about the film, what it was like working on Cujo, and what’s up next.
PopHorror: Hi Dee! How are you?
Dee Wallace: I’m great, baby! How are you?
PopHorror: I’m fantastic. And I have to tell you that I’m a little nervous talking to you.
Dee Wallace: Oh, stop it. We’re just two awesome broads talking to each other, okay?
PopHorror: Yes, absolutely! So I’m really excited. I watched The Nest, and just like everything you’re in, you’re phenomenal.
Dee Wallace: Aw, thank you.
PopHorror: So what intrigued you about the film and made you want to be a part of it?
Dee Wallace: Well, you know… I thought it was really well written, and truthfully, I just fell in love with the producer. We had talked so many times and I liked the script. I thought it was really well written. The part gave me a lot of colors to play, which I love. So I go from this happy-go-lucky person to this possessed weirdo. The talks went from there and here we are.
PopHorror: Oh, awesome! I love it when it works out that way. What was your favorite part of filming?
Dee Wallace: I think going back to the location and working with just wonderful people. The director… I think the lead actress is quite fabulous in it. All the actors were very good. And as I said, I loved working with the director, and I just had a really good time. Sometimes, the smaller films—sometimes—when they’re organized well and they’re as professional as they can be, sometimes the smaller films are even more fun to do than the bigger films, because it’s more of a community effort. You know?
PopHorror: Absolutely! I think that organization definitely makes a big difference.
Dee Wallace: Oh my God. Night and day, for sure.
PopHorror: You’re a fan favorite in the horror genre. You do conventions and people love seeing you. What is it that draws you back to horror?
Dee Wallace: You know… I didn’t go out looking for horror. But horror was determined to find me. I love playing emotional art, and I love being able to use emotion to tap into all of my emotions. And there’s really no other genre that allows you to do that. Sometimes the suspense projects do, but in horror, it’s given. You’re going to be taken on an emotional ride if you let yourself. And I like that. There’s a lot of actors that aren’t as comfortable having to be responsible for that emotional work, but it kind of rocks my boat.
PopHorror: I think you’ve found a great home in the horror genre. We’re really happy to have you.
Dee Wallace: Aww, thank you!
PopHorror: You’ve been in so many memorable movies playing phenomenal roles that have spanned several genres. What was your favorite role to play and why?
Dee Wallace: My favorite role to play is very much different than what my favorite role is. I would have to say… Within the horror genre, right?
PopHorror: Any of your roles. You’ve spanned so many different genres, whatever resonated with you the most.
Dee Wallace: I think it would be a toss up between 10 and The Howling and 3 From Hell for Rob Zombie. Now, my favorite film that I’ve done is Cujo. I just feel like I went as far as I could go and as truthfully as I could get there, and I’m really really proud of my work in that film.
PopHorror: Cujo is a hard one for me to watch. I know that it’s not real but anything having to do with animals just really…
Dee Wallace: I am a huge animal activist. And those dogs were way better taken care of than I was.
PopHorror: Oh, I bet!
Dee Wallace: And there were actually 13 dogs that played Cujo.
Dee Wallace: So that they would not be overworked. Each one of them was trained to go after toys. So one of them would growl for his toy, and one of them would dig for his toy. So they were having a great, grand, wonderful time. It was all play time for them. So maybe you can watch the film now and when you watch it, notice that there are a couple of scenes where we kept in them wagging their tails, but most of the time, we had to tie their tails down with fish wire because it was a big game for them. Yeah.
PopHorror: Well yes, that does make me feel better.
Dee Wallace: Just know that those doggies were having a lot of fun. And we were not dying of the heat. It was actually cold. I had them put a heater in the front of the car because Danny’s [Pintauro] lips were chattering. You know, the magic of movies and all that. I would never, ever in my life, do a film that took advantage of animals. Ever. So when Dan Blatt, who I had done The Howling for, brought me Cujo, I went, “Dan, you know I’m a huge animal activist.” He said, “Dee, these dogs are going to be so well taken care of.” I mean, the trainer even lived in the barn with his dogs.
PopHorror: That’s so great! I love that.
Dee Wallace: So, put all your fears aside. Those doggies were well taken care of and brilliantly trained by Karl Miller.
PopHorror: Well, now I’m going to search for it later and find it where I can watch it. Thank you for reassuring me.
Dee Wallace: You know, when it came out, that’s one of the challenges we had with the press, because people just get so involved in their own visceral reactions and protection of animals that it kind of clouded the film when it first came out. Until we got a lot of this information out about how well they were taken care of and about how many dogs there were so none of them would be overworked. Of course, there was only one actress, you see?
PopHorror: Right?! So what’s up next for you, Dee?
Dee Wallace: Well, one of the young girls that I did Just Add Magic with, I’m going in to do a project—her first project that she’s written—I’m going to shoot that in a couple of weeks. I just feel that you have to give back. When you have the span of career that I have, you have to give back and help people. If people bring me projects like The Nest, which was a much smaller budget, intimate film, right? Not a big studio film. But I looked at their projects, and I thought they were very well done. They knew what they were talking about. And I’m happy to go in. I’m not going to make the money that I make on a Steven Spielberg film, but everybody wins, I think. So I’m off to do that. I have, other than The Nest, three films coming out. 13 Fanboy was so hot on the internet when we were shooting right before Covid, so I know the fans are chomping at the bit for that one, and I just heard that they have distribution rights. Await the Dawn is a sci fi horror picture that I did. Very, very interesting. I think it has distribution. And then I just signed on for three others, but the contracts aren’t signed, so I can’t really discuss them.
PopHorror: Oh absolutely. Well, we’re all definitely excited for 13 Fanboy. I’ve been following that very closely, so I’m excited about that one. I just have one last question for you this morning. What is your favorite scary movie?
Dee Wallace: The Exorcist. Totally freaks me out.
PopHorror: You didn’t even have to think about that, and I love that so much!
Dee Wallace: The other side of me is I’m a clairaudient channel. I didn’t know if you knew that.
PopHorror: I did not!
Dee Wallace: I have a whole healing practice. So I know that our fears and our stupid beliefs that have been passed down to us are the biggest demons we’re fighting. But, as far as a horror film, to be taken over by a dark side—which I know is not possible—but it’s still the thing that freaks me out the most.
Thank you so much, Deem\, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch The Nest on VOD and DVD now!