Lisanne Falk is an actress best known for playing Heather McNamara in the cult hit dark comedy Heathers. Having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, the film is being put out next Tuesday, November 12 in a Limited Edition Steelbook Edition.
LRM Online sat down with her recently to talk about her work on the film, its lasting impact decades later and her favorite quotable lines from the movie.
LRM Online: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I wanted to start at the beginning with Heathers and how that project came into your life and what you thought when you first read that script?
Falk: I keep saying I wish I had a really fantastic, incredible story to tell about how it came into my life in some quirky manner, but it was through a standard audition process through my agent. And the initial audition, I got just a couple of scenes and went in to read for Heather Chandler, Heather number one, because they were having everybody come in to read for that Heather, even though they were casting for different parts. I would definitely, without a doubt, say I read these however many pages, three, four pages of dialogue and I was instantly blown away and so excited to read for something that felt and read very different from anything that I had ever auditioned or seen in a movie before.
LRM Online: I’m sure you could tell just from those scenes that it’s so different from high school movies at the time, and even 30 years later, high school movies now still don’t go where that movie went.
Falk: Definitely in the short scene, the dialogue was instantly, wow, I haven’t heard people really talk like this, and it was very snappy. Oftentimes I’d be going up and the Valley vernacular was quite popular at that time. And the teen vernacular was something that was real. It’s one of the things that I have learned later that Dan Waters specifically wrote the dialogue so that it wouldn’t be in a time capsule. So it wasn’t 1980s dialogue, it was his own made up world of dialogue. That’s why I think it stood out as something so incredibly fresh and original. I was then, and I always am attracted to things that are a bit subversive and dark because I think within the darkness you can find that the humor and maybe come to an understanding of things in a different way.
LRM Online: Speaking of dark, I was looking up your filmography and you were in Less Than Zero. Talk about dark!
Falk: Yes. Well, that’s real. That isn’t a dark comedy. That’s just dark, I would say. That was my big studio job that I got to be part of the party crew with Robert Downey Jr and Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz. That was a fun job to be on definitely, but a different tone, a different darkness.
LRM Online: As a bit of an aside, were you familiar with the novel, Bret Easton Ellis’ book, before you came onto that project?
Falk: I can’t remember if I knew about the book, but I definitely read it before I went on the interview. Anytime I had an interview, if something was based on something, I would definitely do all my research and try to find out. It is interesting because when you read a book, I have a terrible habit of casting people in my head for who would be right for what parts. So, I do remember I’m always like, oh that’s who I would cast. That’s who I would cast. I want to reread that book again, because I just remember I loved the book when I read it.
LRM Online: It’s one of my favorites, and I believe they’re making a show out of it for Hulu, I think. I’m definitely interested in seeing what they do with that.
Falk: I’ll check that out.
LRM Online: When Heathers first came out, how do you remember the reception to it being? Because it’s now known as a cult hit and as a midnight movie and that sort of thing. But what do you remember about when the movie first came out?
Falk: The movie came out and the studio that had bankrolled it, New World, was basically simultaneously going bankrupt. Was it New World? Did I just say the right company? I hope I said the right company. You know who the company is. So, basically it got a theatrical release, and then there wasn’t any money for marketing and publicity, so it pretty much, regardless of how well it did, it just didn’t have the money behind it to keep going. It was definitely the kind of movie that needs word of mouth because it’s a slow burn, and that’s exactly what happened. Over the years, it just is a force to be reckoned with. And I would definitely say that, within the industry, everybody had heard of Heathers. That I was in it was had great cachet and was a great thing on my resume, but I would say outside of the industry, first it was within the video store, there was always that sign by it. Oh, watch this movie. Highly recommended. And then obviously now, with all the streaming services and any age group watches a certain kind of a movie, and they will get led to this instantly. I think it’s just absolutely more popular now than it’s ever been, which is crazy and great.
LRM Online: Yeah, I was going to say they had really good anniversary screenings around town over the past year or so. Were you at the one at the Ace Hotel that they had?
Falk: I was. I was so lucky. I was there with Michael and Dan. It was amazing. I’m so happy to be a part of that. I just love to support the movie and anything having to do with it. And the audience. To see it in the theater with an audience now was definitely different than when it first came out, because audiences were not sure what to make of it, and now everybody knows all the lines. It’s like THE cult movie. They know when the jokes are coming and when to laugh.
LRM Online: And they can quote along with it, as well.
Falk: Yeah. Infinitely quotable.
LRM Online: Do you have a particular favorite line from it yourself? Whether it’s yours or another character’s?
Falk: In terms of my lines that I’ve said, I love the scene between Winona Ryder and myself, when she comes to rescue me from killing myself and I have a big mouthful pills, and I’m like, what are you trying to do? Kill me? And I was like okay. It made me laugh then, it still makes me laugh. Suicide’s a private thing, it’s so ridiculous. Now being an adult and a mother of a teenage daughter, the line that her mother says, when teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it’s usually because they are being treated like human beings. That’s a line that I probably didn’t even notice 30 years ago that I just absolutely love now. That’s the great thing you can discover. Every time I watch it I discover something new.
LRM Online: I guess as you change as a person to, like you said, a mother, you would notice something like that. Has your daughter seen the movie?
Falk: Yes, she saw it for the first time last year when all this 30th anniversary stuff started. She had just turned 15, and I was like, okay, you’re allowed to watch it. I’ll let you.
LRM Online: Well, thank you so much for your time, and I wish you continued success promoting the movie. Hopefully we’ll see you around in another Q&A sometime soon. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to me.
Falk: Thank you, Daniel.
Heathers’ 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook hits stores on November 12, 2019!
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