She often plays in her husband’s (Mick Garris) movies.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Cynthia Garris: My maiden name is Cynthia Zamperini. I was born and raised in Hollywood, California. My childhood passions were ballet and horror movies. I was either going to go to England to be in the Royal Ballet or act in Hammer films. Alas, I was too tall for the ballet and too shy to be an actor so I went into a career in music. When I met Mick I was playing and singing in my band No Mambo. I went on to write some music for his early films and, of course he helped my realize my childhood dream by casting me in his horror films. Although acting has been fun for me, my main focus is still on music and these days I compose works mostly for the piano.
SKSM: How did you meet your husband Mick? Was it love at first sight?
Cynthia Garris: I was a fan of Mick’s interview show Fantasy Film Festival which aired on The Z Channel, L.A.’s only cable channel back in the late 1970’s. One day I spotted him waiting outside a Thai restaurant in Hollywood and introduced myself. When we shook hands he held mine for a long time and told me he lived in Studio City. Two days later I called and invited him to come hear my band that weekend. Out first date was magic. He took me to the cast and crew screening of American Werewolf In London at Universal Studios where I met John Landis and Rick Baker. For the first month all we did was go to horror movies and make love. A few months later we were married.
SKSM: How is it to live with someone that seems “obsessed” with Fantastic things, and especially Stephen King’s books?
Cynthia Garris: Mick is not an obsessive type. He genuinely loves horror literature and film, but is a very “normal” guy and has interests beyond the genre.
SKSM: 5 words to describe Mick?
Cynthia Garris: Sweet. Funny. Honest. Intelligent. Talented
SKSM: Any detail you’d love to share about Mick?
Cynthia Garris: He LOVES dogs! He has to pet every dog he sees.
SKSM: What do you think that Mick mainly to makes movies in the horror genre?
Cynthia Garris: Mick is attracted to horror because he is greatly entertained by both reading and watching it. He would love to branch out and make film noir aka John Dahl as well, and is looking for an opportunity to do so.
SKSM: Is your husband asking you sometimes for some suggestions for his work?
Cynthia Garris: I read everything Mick writes and sometimes have suggestions which he sometimes uses. I’m always very honored when he does.
SKSM: Inspire you mick also if he is going to make a movie?
Cynthia Garris: I have absolutely inspired some of Mick’s work. And example would be his film for the first season of Masters of Horror, Chocolate. He first wrote it as a short story for me.
SKSM: Have you ever criticize the things that Mick does on his films?
Cynthia Garris: I was critical of some of the dailies he showed me while filming The Shining and realized that is was unfair to do so until the film was cut together. When I saw the finished film I realized that he knew exactly what he was doing.
SKSM: Most of the movies you did are horror, is there a chance we will see you sometimes in a Love or Romance movie?
Cynthia Garris: I have only ever worked once in a non horror genre series for television. It was called Tequilla and Bonetti about a cop and his dog. But even then, I played a woman who is murdered.
SKSM: Are your acting outside his movies also in other movies or theater?
Cynthia Garris: These days I limit my acting work to whatever Mick is filming, if there’s a part he wants me to play.
SKSM: You already did a lot of King movies, what book would you like to on the screen and play in it?
Cynthia Garris: Laura Hillenbrand (Seabisquit) has a new book coming out in November called Unbroken. It’s a biography of my father’s life. I would love to play a part in a film adaptation of that.
SKSM: What was your best role in a movie by Mick?
Cynthia Garris: My favorite role was of the woman in room 217. Although a small roll, I felt that it was the most effective character I have ever played. Plus it was a lot of fun to shoot.
SKSM: You always play smaller role, would not you sometimes wish you had a bigger role?
Cynthia Garris: Of course! Like most actors I have always wished for my roles to be larger, but that is never up to the actor. We must take what is offered to us and treat that role, however small, with the upmost respect.
SKSM: Any specific funny moments to share from a movie set?
Cynthia Garris: Watching Rob Lowe pretending to chew on the jawbone of an donkey that was sitting on the picnic table in a scene from The Stand still makes me laugh. Of course that’s why he did it. He was trying to make me blow my lines in the scene. Very funny guy.
SKSM: Do you love Stephen King’s works too? What is your favorite book?
Cynthia Garris: My favorite Stephen King book is The Shining. I’ve never been so frightened by any other book
SKSM: Which other authors (besides Stephen King) do you like?
SKSM: Is your house invaded with Stephen King’s collectibles?
Cynthia Garris: Well it’s certainly full of signed copy’s of his books as well as photos and posters from the King films Mick has shot.
One of the creepiest scenes in a SK movie was when the dead lady gets up from the bathrub in room 217, in Stephen King’s The Shining.
SKSM: Can you tell us more about the filming of that scene? How long did it took, the makeup process, etc.?
Cynthia Garris: The makeup took several hours to apply, after which I was led to my bath of warm water and gobs of goo. I was never uncomfortable, although there was a key light hanging just over the water which made me very nervous so I asked for a couple of crew members to hold on to it just in case. The entire scene was shot in one day. A little known detail is that the milky lenses in my eyes were the same lenses made for Mother Abigail in The Stand.
SKSM: Do you watch your movies after their release or you let them go and move to the next step?
Cynthia Garris: Yes, I always watch the films I’m in and cringe. I know there are some actors who will not watch themselves for that very reason. But I guess I’m just too curious.
SKSM: Will we see you performing a character in the upcomming adaptation of BAG OF BONES?
Cynthia Garris: Yes. I have been offered a small part in the film and am looking forward to working with Mick again.
SKSM: What are you currently working on?
Cynthia Garris: I am currently working on a recording project of music I have written for the piano.
SKSM: What are some of your hobbies.
Cynthia Garris: I love scuba diving, skiing, horse back riding, and traveling.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Cynthia Garris: I thank every one of you for supporting Mick in his work. And I hope you will continue to enjoy the films he has yet to make.