Theresa Tilly Interview
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Why did you use a fake name in Evil Dead?
THERESA: Fake blood, fake eyes, fake shemp FAKE NAME!! Truthfully, it’s quite simple. When the boys hired me, my signature on my SAG card hadn’t even dried. Being a brand new and good little union member, I went to ask about a Waiver to do Book of the Dead, a feature film, and an opportunity that doesn’t happen in Detroit too often. But the Screen Actors Guild Detroit-local kept putting me off. They implied that it wouldn’t be a problem but nothing definitive. And as bureaucracy goes, several weeks into the shoot they instead denied the Waiver. In my naivete, and with the seemingly low budget quality to the shoot, I thought I’d just use another name, no one would ever see it anyway and that would be the end of it. I must admit, it’s a little strange signing autographs and being called by a name that I really only used to get out of a jam for this movie credit. Isn’t that a SIMPLE answer?
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: If you could reprise a role in another Evil Dead movie, would you?
THERESA: I would HATE to have to wear that make up or live under the conditions we did at the time, I don’t think I could do that now, I’m too smart. But if I had my own bedroom, better food and more money I might consider it. Or do a cameo? I do have some great ideas for the 3 ladies to do an other Evil Dead movie. I plan on selling it.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: How long were you screaming during the Dagger scene?
THERESA: A lot longer than I remembered. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the DVD. Man, was I nuts or what?
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: How do you feel about the Evil Dead achieving such popularity in its “cult” status?
THERESA: I think it’s amazing that people make an evening out of The Evil Dead movies. And they turn it into a party or an event. I think it’s wacky and nuts but what do I know. I’m just glad I could BE OF SERVICE.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Just how long would you put Sam and Bruce under the floorboards with their legs jerking out for?
THERESA: Bruce was under the floor with me when we shot it. I’m pretty sure Rob was the other leg. At least that’s what I thought when I was rubbing it?? Boy that was pretty creepy. I’m claustrophobic too. As for Sam, he and Tim Philo, the D.P. took a little nap while we were nailed underneath the floor. Did I mention I had those Tupperware lids in my eyes? That’s when I threatened to leave that hellhole.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Do you regret doing “The Evil Dead”?
THERESA: No I don’t regret it. I think it’s kind of wild now to be meeting the fans that loved me as a monster. Who’s idea was it to start making appearances as the “Ladies of the Evil Dead”? When Betsy and Ellen and I talked for the first time since the shoot, we were just so happy to talk about things that we felt about the shoot that we had a 2-hour conference call. It was very emotional and we couldn’t stop talking. We learned about doing conventions and that if we were inclined we could go out and meet the fans. Well, none of us wanted to do it ALONE, so in one of those initial “reunion” conversations we decided it would be FUN if we all three did it together. The actual name, of The Ladies, not sure who’s idea that was, probably mine!
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: If you could change one thing about your experience of filming The Evil Dead, what would it be and why?
THERESA: Oh boy, don’t get me going here. First of all, I’d have preferred to by a monster with more definition. I wish I could have been more evil, or sexy or just more of a monster with some personality. I also would like to have looked a little better in my make up. I felt like a blob with Karo syrup layered on me.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Did you ever sneak into the theatre when Evil Dead was released to watch the audience reactions?
THERESA: Truthfully, I just recently found out it was even showing in theatres!
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Besides Evil Dead, what is your favorite film?
THERESA: I LOVE High Fidelity, and of course, they do refer to ED in it!
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Do you take pride in the fact that you were involved in something that thousands of people all around the world have thought to be one of the best and most innovative horror movies of all time?
THERESA: It’s fantastic to be part of what is considered legendary, and to think that for the last 20 years I was hardly aware of it! Is it only thousands of people, I thought it was millions?
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Why do you think The Evil Dead has achieved such a fan following?
THERESA: Well, the fact that it was one of the first videos available has something to do with its cult status. Maybe it’s the powerful monster women, how often do you get to see that? The filmmakers were extremely gifted and lucky for all of it to come together the way it did.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Did you ever think this movie would be as successful?
THERESA: I never thought the movie would see the light of day, the making of it was so gruesome and over the top it just didn’t seem like it would be believable. And even when I saw it for the first time at the Redford Theatre, I thought it was pretty scary, but I had NO idea it would be such and extraordinary success.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Have you seen all of Tom Sullivan’s illustrated pages from the Book of the Dead? If so, which page is your favorite and why?
THERESA: That’s what I’m going to do at our next convention. Look carefully at all the incredible things Tom Sullivan has done. The first time I saw him since the shoot was at the Detroit reunion in February. Each time we’re together we barely have time for coffee because there’s so much going on with the fans. But I know that he’s done some amazing artwork and I plan on sitting down and really looking at it when we’re at Flashback in Chicago.
EVIL DEAD ARCHIVES: Has it been fun on the convention trail?
THERESA: Nothing like going through mid-life as a monster! Boy, am I having FUN now!