We had the distinct pleasure to recently talk to everyone’s favorite new-wave punk from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, Tiffany Helm. She gives us the low-down on her deleted kill scene, how she got in the business and much more. Read on, fiends.
1) How did you first get started in the acting business?
Most of my family was involved in the industry in one form or another. While I was raised by my mom, who was a successful actress, I decided that acting was too unstable of a career and I would do something else. When I was 18, I signed on with a modeling agency, in hopes of supplementing an income while I was going to school. Quirky looks were not “in” back then, so my modeling agency encouraged me to try commercials. Feeling that commercial acting was not like theatrical acting, I gave it a try. I started booking and my commercial agency started finding little theatrical auditions for me. Well, I started booking those too and then I was in. I gave up trying to do school and acting, when I booked the Robert Altman film, O.C. and Stiggs. The experience of a location shoot with a director like Bob and an extremely talented cast got me hooked.
2) What attracted you to do a horror film like Friday the 13th Part V, and had you seen any of the previous four films prior to getting the role of Violet?
The film was presented to agents as “The Repetition”. There was no indication that it was part of the Friday the 13th series, as the producers knew that managers would ask for huge salaries for their clients if they knew what a cash cow the film was. A low budget horror film? Absolutely! I wasn’t really in a position to pick and choose my projects. And, back then, colored hair and tattoos were not “in”, so my agent would jump at any project looking for “off beat”, “punk-ish” or “new-wave” looks.
3) When is the last time you’ve seen the film, and how do you feel about your performance since having some time to look back on it?
I actually watched it recently. I purchased the DVD (along with my other impressive work…haha), so that my daughter would have it and see what mommy used to do. Well, I don’t embarrass too easily. It is what it is. I enjoyed it for being the piece of pop culture that it is. For awhile, I was ashamed of my weight during the filming. But, I guess if there are any quirky-freaky kids with body image issues who see it, and don’t feel so bad about themselves, then I’ve done a good thing.
4) Was it a pleasant shoot for you? I’ve heard there were some tensions between yourself an another actress on-set.
The shoot was fun. Juliette and I were good friends. We knew each other from school and were pretty inseparable during the shoot. If there were any problems, they couldn’t have been too stressful, because I have no recollection of any tension.
5) Violet had a very distinctive look and attitude in the film, and remains one of the most well-liked characters in the series. How much of your own personality was reflected in your portrayal of Violet and how much was specifically written that way?
Nothing about Violet in the original script stayed. Back then, Hollywood had a very skewed vision of what the alternative scene was about. They were always about 8 years behind. Not only was the character dated, but she was a little hard body. I convinced the producers that I had gained weight for a different project and I would shed the pounds by the time we started shooting. I guess my look worked as a whole and with a little rewriting of some scenes, it worked fine.
6) How long were you on-set for, and were there any interesting events that happened during shooting?
My shady memory tells me that the shoot was probably between 6 and 8 weeks. Interesting? I don’t know about that, but I do remember that we were shooting in an orange grove and it was very creepy at night. I would walk through the groves between scenes to keep warm and Tom (Jason) would lurk in the shadows and scare me. And Jerry would scratch and scrabble at my trailer to scare me. My best memory is from quite a bit later when I got to meet Iggy Pop. I guess the mutual friend of ours had told him about my work and before I could squeak out a “nice to meet you”, he shook my hand vigorously and said “you were in Friday the 13th???????WOW! Coooooooooooool!” I was stunned.
7) Pictures of your alternate death-scene in the film (showing you in some very blood-soaked jeans) have been seen from time to time. Can you describe that scene as it was originally written, and tell about the events surrounding its removal from the final release version (whose idea was it to cut it out, etc.)?
Well, as I said, Violet was originally written as a little aerobic hard body (I think Pat Benatar was the prototype). I was supposed to be doing scissor leg-lifts in my room, when Jason comes in and cuts me in two….length-wise. Well, after make-up made me a grisly mess, the director assessed the blood and gore and decided that the censors would not approve. It didn’t take long to rewrite that I was dancing and with the help of an unseen teeter-totter, Jason could lift and slice. The goofy robot-popping dance thing I did, was what all the other goofy-freaky outcasts at my favorite club were doing. The only thing I couldn’t convince the director to allow was that I wanted to die next to the photo of Sid Vicious. We couldn’t do that for estate reasons. I was bummed. I thought that would “so cooooooooool!”.
8) Did you keep any souvenirs from the shoot (props, costumes, etc)?
I think I still have the script. Also, some photos. That’s it.
9) Have you kept in touch with any cast or crewmembers you worked with on A New Beginning?
No. I talked to Juliette briefly. But, it was when my daughter was just a few days old and I was absolutely overwhelmed. We never connected again.
10) I’m convinced there is a secret society of Tiffany Helm worshippers out there. How does it feel to have such a large following of fans?
Honestly, I can’t even imagine. That makes me giggle. Tell them all to come over and help me clean this house! Haha!
11) You’ve left the Hollywood scene (for lack of a better term) some time ago. Are you still acting at all?
No acting. I recently started a portrait photography business and the artistic fulfillment I get from that is tremendous.
12) What other upcoming projects (acting or otherwise) do you have in the works?
Well, I just put in some French doors. I also built a dog house. And I am perfecting frame making for the framing end of my business. Oh yah, and I’m deciding what kind of wood I am going to use to build my potting shed. What do you think? Pine? Or cedar?
13) Any last words for the fans reading this?
Be nice. You never know what you’ll be remembered for.