Though Lin Shaye has been appearing on screen since the mid 1970s, her career peaked nearly 40 years after that thanks to her role as psychic medium Elise Rainier in James Wan and Leigh Whannell's hugely-successful “Insidious” films. Currently, the actress is out promoting the new horror anthology “Tales of Halloween,” which features segments directed by such genre luminaries as Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee and Darren Lynn Bousman.
Below you can check out all the highlights from my recent conversation with the actress, including why she'd much rather cozy up with a good comedy than a horror film, how it feels to reach peak career success later in life and how flipping off a casting director got her a job in Wes Craven's 1985 “Twilight Zone” segment “Chameleon.”
“Tales of Halloween” is now in theaters and on VOD.
1. In her own free time, she's much more likely to seek out a comedy or a psychological drama than a horror film.
“I'm not supposed to tell you this, but the answer is no. I really don't [like watching horror movies on a regular basis]. I mean, I'm much more interested in psychological drama — as a viewer, I'm talking about. I love comedy. …In terms of horror films, I wouldn't go to them right away.
“You know, a movie I just did which I totally love which is not really a horror film is 'The Signal,' which is more science fiction. I love science fiction fantasy. I don't like dismemberment, [horror movies made] for the sake of blood. I'm not a bloody person at all. That doesn't particularly interest me. And it grosses me out. It does make me, just like, 'ugh, what do I need to see that for?' You know, the organs being pulled out. …it's like, it's enough already!”
2. She is over the moon about her post-“Insidious” level of fame.
“I work a lot. But the 'Insidious' movies totally elevated my profile, I mean in terms of the public. I'm recognized at Ralphs now. That's exciting. […] It's usually young girls, who say 'oh my god!' [when they see me]…
“And I am, quote, an older actress, although I honestly feel like I'm twelve. I don't have any concept of the number that I just reached yesterday [Shaye turned 72 earlier this month]. And I'm grateful for that, because — I think it's because I love so much what I do, and I think I am sort of maybe redefining things also for older actresses. There aren't a lot of, quote, 'us.' I mean, I've got a great career, and it's taking off all over again. I love it, I love it, I love it. I'm thrilled to pieces.”
3. People forget that she was in all the Farrelly Brothers movies.
“I was known for a long time, and gratefully so, for the early Farrelly Brothers [movies]. Those were the biggies. 'Something About Mary' and 'Kingpin' really put me on the map in terms of an actress. And today, it's interesting cause people go, 'oh my god, that was you?' They don't even put together that that's part of my career.”
4. Wes Craven gave her a job after she flipped off a casting director in the audition.
“He directed an episode of 'Twilight Zone' called 'Chameleon.' I actually remember the name of it. And I had to audition. I went to the audition. She was kind of an odd character, kind of a robot, but she was also very real…she was kind of an alien, really, but you didn't really know that. So the scene had some emotionality to it.
“And I did my homework, and I kinda teared up in the audition. And the casting director looked at me and he said, 'Yeah, so you could you do it next time a little less weepy?' And I gave him the finger. [Laughs] I mean, I just kinda flipped this guy off. And Wes was standing in the back. And I just remember Wes didn't say a word, he just looked at me and chuckled and smiled, he got real rosy, he got real flushed. And I got the job.”
5. She knows she's a good actor and isn't afraid to say it.
“I'm very good at what I do, I can honestly say that. I feel like I'm a really good actor. I know my craft, I'm a good team player, I'm tough-minded when I need to be tough-minded. I'm soft when that's appropriate as well, on set. And I've studied. I mean, I didn't just like come to be a movie star. I did theater in New York for ten years, I graduated from the Columbia Theater Arts department, three years in New York City. I worked with Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, I'm a member of the Actors Studio. I'm the real deal. And I can say that comfortably without tooting a horn at all. It's just, I really know my work.”
6. She still sees a lot of sexism at play in Hollywood.
“You know, that's a loaded question because things have gotten supposedly better. You know, men are supposedly more accepting of women taking on power roles, et cetera. Are they really? No. [Laughs] I mean, that's a glib answer, but there's still a reticence to it on some level.
“…I think artists in particular are more open to gender mixing. It's important to have different points of view from different artists, whether you're a man or a woman. Gratefully, in our business, I think it is more accepting [on the artistic side]. From the producing end of it, and the business end of it, I really don't know. I mean, I think that still is — there's a lot of suits and ties that still run the money. And that's tough, because they're still gonna go with the most saleable thing. But I think the artist part of us has opened up, or has never really closed up. I think artists have a different perspective on the whole male-female thing.”