AA- When did you first realize that you had become a cult icon?
PJ - I don’t know if I’ve still realized it.
I’ve known it when I’ve gone to conventions or things like the Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There was just all these fans there and they all wanted autographs and to talk about the movies I’ve been in.
People who primarily go to horror conventions love to get posters and DVDs signed from as many people as they can that were in a specific film. When they get to my table I’ve got photos from Carrie and Halloween and The Devil’s Rejects, but I also have photos from Stripes and Private Benjamin and Rock and Roll High School. People see it and they say stuff like, “Oh my God, Rock and Roll High School was my favorite movie!” So it’s really nice. I’m known as scream queen, which is kind of strange because I’ve only done three horror movies, but I’ve also done a lot of comedy as well.
Rock and Roll High School has more fans now than it did twenty years ago. Some of the movies I did have really stood the test of time. So, I guess, just like Ramones it took a long time for me to be recognized.
AA - Carrie seems like the first movie where you started drawing attention. How did you land the part of Norma Watson?
PJ - I went to this joint audition with Brian De Palma for Carrie and George Lucas for Star Wars and I was wearing this red baseball hat and these overalls. Brian looked at me and said, “I’ll put her on my list.” And then he told me, “When you come back, bring your hat.”
We went through quite a few auditions and he always told me that for the next one I should bring my hat. After I was cast, when he first saw me on set, I had the hat, but I wasn’t wearing it. He came right up to me and said, “Where’s your hat? I want you to always wear that hat.” When it was time to film the prom scene he asked, “Where’s your hat?” and I said, “You want me to wear a red baseball hat with a prom dress?” and he said, “Absolutely.” That’s why, for joke, in the scene where we’re getting ready for the prom and I’m under a hairdryer with curlers in my hair, the hat in on top of dryer. I told him, “Okay it’s here.”
AA – Sounds like an exciting audition.
PJ - At the time it was no big deal. It was just go see these two guys. They weren’t that famous. Since then I’ve signed a ton of red baseball hats.
AA - Do you still have that hat?
PJ - No, it disintegrated over time. It was made of this felt-ish material and I wore it all the time when I first moved to L.A. to keep the sun off my face. It was ruined after the first couple of washings.
Carrie was a lot of fun for us to make but none of us thought it would last like it did. When we were filming we were all just trying to get as much screen time as possible.
AA - Rock and Roll High School looks like it was such a fun movie to make. Can you give us a little vignette from making the movie, hopefully one involving the Ramones?
PJ - They were very, very quiet and they always sat on the floor in a corner. Not on a chair or a couch or anything. They wouldn’t come to lunch unless we dragged them. I guess they thought because they weren’t actors they shouldn’t get lunch, but we were like, you are part of this movie, you can have lunch. In the original script they had a lot of lines, but after the first couple of days shooting we realized they were really having trouble and a lot of the lines had to be cut. It actually ended up being so endearing in the movie when they do flub their line. It’s the flubs that make it so special. They did have a lot more dialogue but it couldn’t end up in the film because they were musicians, not actors.
AA - I always think you and Sean Young have good chemistry as friends in the movie Stripes. You’re working with two very funny male actors, but what was it like working with her?
PJ - Sean had come in from New York and she already had the part by the time I auditioned. They’d auditioned like 300 girls for both our roles. I had just finished filming Soggy Bottom U.S.A. and they asked me to go to Louisville to audition So, I did and by the time I landed back in L.A. they’d decided I had the role and I had to fly back again.
I remember I used to call her Sean Very Young. It was her first film and I was ten years older than her so we didn’t have a lot in common. She was fun and interesting. She was always surprising in her boldness and I think she continued to be that way.
With Stripes, I think it’s the two couples in the film and the way they interact that make the film interesting.
AA - Every time I see you in a movie I think, “Wow, that’s some amazing hair.” Is there a specific relative that you know you inherited your hair from or does everyone in your family have such thick hair? What’s the history of the hair?
PJ - Let me give you my younger brother’s phone number. He’s bald. Every time I see him he grabs the back of my head, pulls my hair and says, “Thanks a lot! You took it all!”
I’ve always hated my hair. I grew up in Brussels and it rains 361 out of 365 days a year there so my hair would always frizz. I used to iron it with a real iron, not like girls today. I could have invented the flat iron if I was smarter. Brian DePalma knew. That’s why he gave me that hat to wear, to hide the hair.
Although, when I first started out in New York I three spots for Alberto Balsam where they divided my hair in half, the frizzy half and the smooth half after using their product. That’s the only time I liked my hair because it got me those lucrative commercials. At the end I say, “Now can you do the other side?”
AA - What influence has the word “totally” had in your life?
PJ - Oh my God, it’s been very beneficial. When I sign autographs, I just write, “Totally, PG Soles”. When I pose for a picture with someone they don’t want me to say cheese, the want me to say totally. Whenever I hear it from somebody else, my daughter always says, “You started that word.” I’ve been very slowly trying to write my autobiography and I’m thinking of calling it The Totally Girl. It has sort of defined my career. If you can get one word associated with you, that’s a good thing.
AA – You’re writing your autobiography?
PJ - Yes, I just feel like at convention I should offer more. I have pictures, but I’d like to offer something new. I don’t have any childhood trauma or anything like that. I grew up around the world. That to me is the most interesting part. I’d actually be writing it for me really even though I’d call it The Totally Girl.
Stay tuned for Part II in the next day or so.