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Barbara Crampton

Barbara Crampton

Dubbed as “the most beautiful scream queen,” horror movie icon Barbara Crampton has grown a cult following since her debut in Stuart Gordon’s classics Re-Animator and From Beyond. Throughout her decades in the industry, Crampton has amassed an impressive portfolio of horror films, series, and soap-operas, becoming a leading lady in the genre. After retiring to raise a family, her career resurrected in 2011 with the film You’re Next. Now expanding her career by producing, the horror actress proves to be both beauty and brains – a zombie’s delight! Crampton believes the horror genre is rooted in compassion, and tells all about the importance of confidence, understanding your fears, and embracing vulnerability. Read more about her journey from scream queen to the big screen.

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You are a revered staple in the horror and thriller genre. In your early days of acting, would your younger self - on Days of our Lives or The Young and the Restless - ever have imagined your career to have panned out the way it has?

As a young actor, I think you just want to work. So when the auditions come in, you try out and see what sticks! I happened to have great success with getting parts on soap operas, in my early years, and then later in horror with films like RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, YOU'RE NEXT, and most recently with SUITABLE FLESH. I think horror is really my home, and it feels like it is again having its moment with films like THE FIRST OMEN and IMMACULATE.

Horror movies have the power to evoke such strong emotions in their audience. Has being a part of this genre, or acting in general, empowered you in a specific way?

Perhaps you've heard the term "Final Girl." In horror movies, often someone is in peril, usually a woman, and that person has to fight back. Creating characters who use their wits and smarts to overcome adversity is very empowering to play. Moreover, for audiences to identify with characters and visualize themselves being victorious and surviving dramatic situations can be both cathartic and inspiring to be strong and fearless. 

Let’s talk about facing our fears. Obviously, watching a horror film is scary, but what challenges did you have to overcome in making one? Did you have to step out of your comfort zone when starring in your first big film, “Re-Animator”?

For any role an actor has to put themselves within the circumstances of the character. Horror films can carry with them big moments in scenes that you must make as realistic as possible while channeling emotions of fear and pain. I guess I would say one has to be comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings that we normally suppress or run away from in real life.

The resurrection of your career has become almost as iconic as some of the cult classics that you have starred in. Did the break from your work reinvigorate and inspire you in this second, more developed stage in your career?

I left the business for a few years because when I hit my middle 30's the phone stopped ringing. I was't the ingenue anymore and not quite old enough to play a mom. Years ago, there weren't many parts for women in midlife. Thankfully, that's changed in recent times with more women writing scripts and helming projects, whether they are producing or directing. When I took that break, I was raising my two children and devoting my life to my family. I was asked out of the blue to be in Adam Wingard's YOU'RE NEXT and it was such a wonderful experience to be working again and scratch that creative itch. I decided I wanted to come back to acting and now producing in a bigger way and the response has been wonderful.  I feel like I can draw on more life experience in this latter part of my life and the parts I've been getting in this second half of my career, such as vampire Anne in JAKOB'S WIFE are some of the best of my career. I'm truly grateful.

Hollywood is filled with glitz and glam. What has been your most glamorous moment so far? Can you share a moment that caused you to think, “Wow, this is what it’s all about”?

When YOU'RE NEXT premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in 2012, and there was a bidding war that night from 5 companies, including Paramount and Lionsgate, I felt something special. After the screening in the lobby, the energy was electric, with executives from top Hollywood companies on their phones telling their people they just witnessed a great horror film. My knees were shaking.  Also, opening the film SUITABLE FLESH at the TRIBECA FILM FEST in NYC last year as a producer and star alongside Heather Graham was pretty great. We were very well received with good reviews, and the evening was very glamorous and glitzy!

What about a not-so-glamorous moment? What did you learn from it?

Working in horror films can also be filled with blood and gore and unappealing weather when you're filming outside in -17 degrees because you're filming WE ARE STILL HERE, and it takes place in chilly winter with deaths aplenty! But seriously, it takes a lot of people and creative teams to get a movie together, and it can take years to see a labor of love, blood, sweat, and tears to be realized and available to the public. You take a chance on every project and do your best, and hope you make something special. Every project takes great pains to bring it to fruition.

We are here because we share a common love of fashion. Set wardrobe and styling is a large part of the visual components in the storytelling. Has your style since developed as a result of being in so many films? Was there one character you played in particular whose style inspired you?

That's a great question! I love fashion and with many different characters I've played, I've worn many different types of clothing from period pieces to understated street wear to business attire and fancy gowns. I do feel like my own taste is eclectic. I like to be comfortable and love beautiful fabric. I understand from working with costumers and stylists what looks good on my body and I try in real life to look for nothing but what looks good on my body. I'm short-waisted but have longer legs, so for me lower-waisted pants look best. Crop tops can also work to make the illusion of a longer torso. I tend to look better in petite sizes as the shoulders are often too high for me. I think I would categorize my favorite go-to look as "rock and roll chic." I wouldn't say a particular character inspired my look but rather an amalgamation of working with lots of stylists and costumers and figuring out what works best on my body.

There are many celebrations, red carpets and awards that come with the job. Do you feel like you are playing a persona when you dress up? What types of occasion-wear do you typically gravitate towards?

I definitely feel more confident and strong when I dress up. Not a persona per se- but the very best version of myself: confident, pretty, and ready for anything!

How did you originally find ONE33 Social, and what gravitated you to the brand for your special life moments?

My stylist Emily Burnette picked out a few for an awards show I was going to, and I put on the midnight blue, and I instantly fell in love with it. The fabric was flowy and soft, and the color sublime! We paired it with silver gogo boots, and the vibe was elegant and cool and just that little bit rock and roll, that I love! I then looked at all the dresses on your website and asked Emily to continue to show me your new line and whatever you have going forward. ONE33 Social is beautiful and feminine, chic and powerful. A killer combination. The colors are also fantastic. This green dress I'm wearing really pops and is perfect for a special occasion or red carpet, where you'd like your outfit to really pop!

Appearing in films, photos, and media, what have you learned about confidence from being in the public eye, and what advice would you give to others?

Be yourself and be happy with who you are! No matter what you’re wearing there is no one quite like you. Let whatever you have draping on your body be the frame for your personality, and be the most of yourself! Take a chance and say what you really feel and think! Use a beautiful outfit to be bold and confident in who you already are!