"A Conversation with Sharen Camille" by Jason Anders

It's been twenty-five years since Anthony Perkins stepped into the shoes of Norman Bates for the final time with 1990's Psycho IV: The Beginning. Now, A&E is producing the third season of the hit series Bates Motel which masterfully tells the story of a young Norman, his mother, and the events the shaped the mind of one of cinema's most unforgettable serial killers. Like Bates Motel, Psycho IV: The Beginning is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film based on Robert Bloch's novel.  Sharen Camille, who played Norman's "love" interest Holly in the film (who I harbored a major crush on as a kid), was kind enough to lend her time to Fulle Circle to discuss her memories of the production, how she got into acting, and her life post-Psycho.

Jason Anders: So have you been doing a lot more interviews lately with The Psycho Legacy documentary being released?

Sharen Camille: Yeah, there's been a little more action going on lately- It's been fun, though! Rob did a really incredible job and worked so hard on it for the last few years, so it's exciting to see all of that hard work paying off.
JA: What has mostly been occupying your time recently?

SC: I'm still performing and do mostly theater- I also have a son who is now six years old, so I'm sort of a full-time mommy as well. It gets easier as he gets older, but it sort of sucks up all your time in the beginning. I'm in rehearsal right now for a Christmas show which should be fun and not take up too much time, which will be nice. Everything is pretty low-key at the moment.

JA: Growing up, was being an actor something you always knew you wanted to do?

SC: Yes, I always knew that's what I wanted to do. My mom had started out as an opera singer and my dad was a tuba player with the symphony, and I grew up thinking of the performing arts as a legitimate job. I started dancing when I was young and loved doing plays in school. I grew up in St. Louis and there wasn't a big film industry there, so that seemed like the big thing to aspire to. However, theater was where most of the opportunities were for me, so that's what I did for school- I majored in Musical Theater.

So I always knew that I loved to sing, dance, and act... but I wasn't quite sure where any of those talents would lead me to. I got to do a little bit of everything over the years.
JA: Who inspired you early on as an actress?

SC: Well one thing I loved were old movie musicals- It kind of makes me sad that I wasn't around in the 1950s to be Shirley Jones in Carousel or Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain. I loved movies that made you feel good, smiling, and happy. I was never acting to cry or go into a rage. I was pretty dramatic around my own house, but that's another story.

JA: Do you have a "top three" list of your favorite movie musicals?

SC: Carousel, Singin' in the Rain, and West Side Story.

JA: Do you actually like scary movies?

SC: I don't really like slasher flicks, though one of my favorite movies as a child was The Abominable Dr. Phibes with Vincent Price. That was probably the original slasher flick, because that's what he did, running around killing people. Stuff like that, and old vampire movies, just used to be what I loved. I just don't like the ultra-gore. Any time I see a scary movie now I'm just like, "Okay, is this going to scare me or just gross me out?"
JA: Going into Psycho IV were you already familiar with the other movies in the franchise?

SC: Oh yeah, absolutely. I don't remember if I had seen Psycho III before filming, but I had definitely seen the first two.

JA: Tell me about the audition process and landing the role.

SC: It was interesting because it was back in the early 90s when we didn't have cell phones, I don't think I even had a pager at that point in time, and I almost missed it! I had gotten a call-back for it but hadn't gotten on the list. My agent called and told me there was a mistake, asking if I could get back over to the studio within the next five minutes. Luckily, I was able to get back over there, do the call-back, and get the role. It was very exciting.

It was very cool to see the house- It was when Universal Studios Florida had just been built, and there was a lot of excitement down in Orlando about the area becoming "Hollywood East". To do something so iconic as to have the Psycho house there and meeting Anthony Perkins, it felt even at the time like I was a part of history. It was my first SAG shoot too, so it was tremendously exciting for me just thinking about what laid ahead.

JA: What were your interactions with Anthony Perkins like?

SC: It was pretty limited. I can't say that I hung out in his room and played cards or chess or anything like that, but he was very nice and cordial. I was just trying to be in the right place at the right time and do everything I was supposed to do and not cause any trouble. I think I spent a little more time with Henry Thomas since we had scenes together, there was more talking and hanging out involved there.
JA: Was it crazy to be acting alongside Elliot from E.T.?

SC: The whole thing was very surreal. The scenes that we did with him having to stab me are covered in The Psycho Legacy, but at one point he had to use a real knife and Henry actually ended up cutting himself and had to go to the hospital. That just added to the whole sense of thinking what we were doing was so dangerous. I wearing this blood pack that he had to use a fair amount of pressure on for it to burst, and I remember having to go back to my trailer and take a shower to wash all this stuff off of me before I could get in my car and go home- It was another one of those completely surreal moments just standing in the shower and watching the fake blood go down the drain. It looked like the shot from the original movie and I just thought "Oh my God, what am I doing? I'm living Psycho. This is the best thing ever!"

JA: Was it an issue for you to do nudity at the time?

SC: I would say that the sexual stuff wasn't that bad, but the nudity was a big issue. That was definitely something that I had to think long and hard about- I hadn't before that time really thought about where I stood philosophically on it. I never thought something like that would come up for me. When it happened in the context of how much time I had in the film, what I was doing, and the people I was working with, I didn't feel at all like I was just doing some television B-movie with gratuitous nudity, so I was able to feel okay about it. Now, the guy that I was dating at the time completely flipped out, and it was a really bad situation for me in terms of my personal life. Professionally, I don't feel like I've lost any parts or credibility because of it. It was awkward at the time.
JA: Have you watched it recently?

SC: It's been a while. In fact, over Halloween I was wondering if someone might be showing it somewhere. I haven't seen it in a few years.

JA: How was your life impacted once the film was released?

SC: It didn't have much of an impact, really. Maybe it would have been different if I would have already been in L.A. I moved there a few years after the movie came out. It helped me a bit in Orlando because there weren't many casting directors there at the time, so those who were there called me in for things. There just wasn't much work in Orlando yet. What most of the local actors were getting was just a line or two here and there. So I didn't notice a big difference in terms of opportunities.

Once I was in L.A. it made things a little easier because Mick Garris was there and we were able to get in touch and it felt like I at least had a couple of people to talk to and run things by. It certainly helped having my SAG card, which I received by working on Psycho IV. That was the biggest thing.

JA: Do you feel younger or older than your current age?

SC: Younger.
JA: Do you collect anything?

SC: I used to collect glass animals. I still have a collection, but I can't say that I've added to it in a while. I have everything from lions, swans, cats, fish, unicorns, dragons, and frogs. I think my very firsts were the turtle and the cat.

JA: Do you have any weird habits?

SC: Probably, but I can't think of what they are. I think I have the same habits everyone else does.

JA: Do you remember your first job?

SC: You mean aside from babysitting? I did a tour of A Christmas Carol- We did like thirty shows during November and December across the U.S.

JA: Speaking of Christmas, what is the best Christmas gift you've ever received?

SC: I got a pair of diamond chip earrings from my dad when I was a kid when I was about thirteen. Those were very cool.
JA: If you could star as any character in the history of television, which role would you take on?

SC: Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. Love me some Barbara Eden.

JA: Do you have any nicknames?

SC: I don't! Well, my son calls me Sweetie, I guess that's a nickname.

JA: Do you have any phobias?

SC: I used to be afraid of heights, I can do it now if I'm on a roller coaster or something, but it still sends a chill up the back of my leg.

JA: So you wouldn't want to go skydiving?

SC: Actually I would love to go skydiving! It's really weird. I've been parasailing. I guess as long as I feel contained then I'm fine. When I was younger we went walking up this big water tower out in the forest where I just had to sit down and scoot myself back down the stairs. The feeling that I could jump over the railing at any point in time just made me very nervous. We were on the Golden Gate Bridge a couple months ago and that was enough for me.
JA: If you could live in any decade, which would you choose and why?

SC: I would say the 1950s, because I've kinda romanticized them a little bit. I'm sure there were a lot of things about it that weren't so great, but I just loved the way that people at least seemed like the were trying to be cordial to each other. Like those old movies they showed in high school about manners... it just seemed like such a nice, sweet time. Plus, I loved those movie musicals! And the nice, big skirts seemed like fun.

JA: And finally, which three adjectives would you use to best describe your personality?

SC: Kind-hearted, generous, and confident.