Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood: Part 2

Note: Read part one of Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood HERE.

Dark Passages is a work of fiction.
While that ought to be enough to distinguish itself from Kathryn Leigh Scott’s other books, more than a few readers have drawn parallels between the novel’s characters and their possible counterparts on Dark Shadows. It’s an easy mistake to make: the book’s protagonist is a young actress working at the Playboy Club in the 1960s hired to play a waitress on a new soap opera.
Scott  worked as a Playboy bunny prior to landing her first acting role on Dark Shadows, but the similarities end there, she said. If you want reality you can find it in the pages of The Bunny Years or her other Dark Shadows books, but Dark Passages is pure fantasy.
“I’ve always thought that I’d like to use those experiences as a backdrop for a fiction piece,” she said. “This novel came out of that. It’s got a sly wink to the Playboy Club and Dark Shadows, but there’s absolutely nothing that happens in Dark Passages that happened to me in my own life. Some of the settings are familiar but otherwise, no … it really is fiction.”
Scott said another character in the novel has raised a few eyebrows among Dark Shadows fans: the British actor cast to play a vampire on the fictional soap.
“The character of Ian, who plays the vampire on the series, is so different from Jonathan Frid,” she said. “It’s a very, very different character.”
Scott and Jonathan Frid in House of Dark Shadows.
More to the point, the romance that takes place between the book’s heroine and the British actor is also fantasy.
“Jonathan Frid and I did not have a love affair,” she laughs. “It was very much a love affair on the air and I love Jonathan Frid. We had such a good time working together, but believe me … we weren’t romantic outside the studio. And in Dark Passages there is a romance between Meg Harrison, the young ingénue, and the vampire.”
There’s another significant difference between the novel’s protagonist and Scott: Meg Harrison is a vampire.
Scott’s book treads lightly into Neil Gaiman territory, sometimes reading like a freakshow memoir. Harrison is born a “vampire” but her powers are more fanciful than sinister.  Left with no other choice Harrison has accepted her situation as a fact of life, and the book’s more disturbing elements (such as being groped by men at work and being powerless to raise any objection) are grounded in reality.
Loneliness is almost the real antagonist of the book's first act.

Early in the story Harrison befriends an older patron of The Bunny Club, a man slowly ruined by despair after the loss of his wife. Harrison gets herself into trouble at work while consoling him (physical contact with customers at the Playboy Club was a no-no) and he gives her a vintage cigarette lighter before leaving the club. The next morning police visit her apartment and inform Harrison that he’d fallen to his death during the night.
Harrison is among the few people to attend his funeral.
“It’s very, very poignant,” she said. “I actually wept when I wrote that … but it was complete fiction. Absolute fiction. There’s nothing even remotely like that that happened in my own life.”
As an actress, Scott has had to accept that fantasy guides a certain amount of her life. Audiences know her through the roles she plays and those roles frequently take on lives of their own. Scott said she learned a long time ago that she’d have to make room in her life for Maggie Evans, Josette Du Pres and her other Dark Shadows characters.
“When you play a role early in your career and you become known for it, there’s a point of reconciliation,” she said. It was common for her to appear on mainstream television shows like Magnum P.I. one evening, only to bump into a fan at the post office the next morning that knew her only from Dark Shadows.
“You just reconcile the fact that a singular role is going to be what you’re remembered for,” she said. “There are a lot of people that have not handled that very well. I suppose the most famous example is George Reeves, who played Superman. There’s a point, as an actor, where you recognize that it is going to happen, you’ve got your signature role. But then you get on with your career.”
Even though Jonathan Frid is seen as a sort of Patron Saint of Typecasting, Scott said he’s never come to resent his association with Dark Shadows.
“I don’t think anyone on Dark Shadows felt that way,” she said. “Even Jonathan Frid. I’m very proud of Dark Shadows. It was my first job and, as Lara Parker says, ‘My first job was my best job.’ You make peace with that. This is life.”
Her 45-year relationship with Dark Shadows has continued into the development of the new Johnny Depp film. While fans are still waiting on a trailer for the film, Scott has read the script and says fans needn’t worry about the movie turning into gothic slapstick.
 “They’ve taken it off into a new direction, which they needed to do,” she said. “Many of the characters are the same but each of these new actors are going to bring something new to the role. Michelle Pfeiffer is going to bring her own talents to a role that Joan Bennett created, just as Jean Simmons did in the 1991 television series. I don’t think the fans need to worry.”

She said there is humor in the film but didn’t think it qualifies as a “comedy.”
“We’ll see,” she said. “I haven’t seen a trailer, I haven’t seen anything. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are making this their own and they’ve got every right to do so. I think it’s going to have a sly humor. I think there are some parts of this film that are going to be incredibly funny and I don’t think there was anything in House of Dark Shadows that was funny.  It was a different kind of film.”
“I’d say embrace it for what it is, enjoy it for what it is,” she said. “We’ll always have House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows.”

 Get Dark Passages at Amazon HERE
Get The Bunny Years at Amazon HERE.
Pre-order Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood HERE.

1 comment:

Sandi McBride said...

I just bought it for my Kindle...yeah!!

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