Category Archives: On The Set

Claudia stars with Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) in “The Wrong Woman”

On the set of "The Wrong Woman" with Danica McKellar and Claudia Christian

On the set of “The Wrong Woman” with Danica McKellar

Claudia has been cast in a leading role in a new feature film with Danica McKellar (Winnie from “The Wonder Years). “The Wrong Woman” will be executive produced by Elaine J. Constantine, Richard Lott, and Jen Willis, produced by John Constantine and Michael Amato, and directed by Richard Gabai.

Claudia will play “Officer Ritts,” a “rather stern looking policewoman [who] is a seasoned, unflappable cop who processes Ellen (Danica McKellar) into the system at the police station booking area. Officer Ritts later stuns Ellen by telling her that her bail is set at $500,000.”

Claudia’s Memorabilia & Charity Auction on eBay!

Claudia is cleaning house and is going through tons of her personal history right now.  She’s putting a bunch of her very own TV, film, music, and other memorabilia up for auction on eBay to raise awareness and funds towards a clinical trial for The Sinclair Method (TSM), which she discusses in her forthcoming memoir, Babylon Confidential, due out November 6th.

Check out the below preview video Claudia has put together to tease you with what you might expect to see up for auction. Some items include her very own high-school cheerleader uniform, her personal copy of the script for The Hidden, autographed presskits for Hexed and Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Babylon 5 books, posters, and game cards, Anne Manx audio drama CDs, all sorts of TV and film scripts, music CDs, music videos, video games, trinkets, knick-knacks, Renaissance Faire costumes and accoutrement, and more Claudia-related goodness!

[youtube width=”550″ height=”413″]http://youtu.be/tZCgtjonb54[/youtube]

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A look back at “The Hidden”

The Hidden Logo

Claudia Christian stars in The HiddenIn 1987 I had a bunch of TV roles behind me but only one feature, the rather unfortunate “Mad About You” in which my performance was completely dubbed over because the slimy producers refused to honor their debt to me (I was to receive a new car for my starring role in lieu of pay, and they never gave it to me so I refused to do the ADR for the film until they gave it to me, which they never did! ) so they used a non-actress to dub my entire performance…. not an auspicious first movie experience.

My agent told me about a film by New Line Cinema (who had produced the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” – a big hit at the time) called “The Hidden.”  Apparently the role of the stripper was quickly being recast, for reasons I never found out about other than the director said that the original actress wasn’t right for the role.

Claudia Christian in The HiddenThe role didn’t have a lot of dialogue but it was pretty much the only female role in the film and it was a pivotal, fun part so I gladly auditioned for it.   The description of Brenda Lee Vanburan read “big busted” and I was, at 21 years old, 120 pounds and 5’9” tall with little to no bust so I stuffed my bra with socks and tissue and went in to read for the role.

I got past the acting part of the audition and when I got home my agent called and said that I had a call back the next day.  However, they asked if I could come in wearing a bikini.  I began to panic slightly.  Yet, that night I figured out an ingenious way to stuff my bikini top to make it look as if I had quite the chest.

Claudia Christian in The HiddenOn the day of the callback, I wore a khaki dress with snaps down the front so I could just rip it open when they asked to see my body (another distraction so they wouldn’t notice my fake chest).  Then I did a quick turn around, put my dress back on and thanked them and left, holding my breath.

Thankfully, I got the role !  I was very excited to be working with Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri and I was especially excited to learn how to shoot all of those guns.  They sent me to a police academy and a lovely gent taught me how to hold and fire an AK-47, a Russian Steyr, and all sorts of firearms.  It was a ton of fun!

Claudia Christian stars in The HiddenI also had to quickly learn a strip dance so they hooked me up with a choreographer who had worked with the likes of Janet Jackson.  I’m sure she felt like she had her hands full with me…  Heck, I had certainly never been on a strip pole!

I decided to do a little research so I took my best friend at the time to “The Aladdin” and watched some of the girls strip and dance around.  It was quite heart breaking when they introduced one of the gals as a “former Olympic skier…”  I thought “How the heck did she end up in the dingy joint?”  Some of the girls were obviously drugged up, but a few of them were genuinely grateful for the great tips and easy job, they even seemed to enjoy it.

Claudia Christian stars in The HiddenThe day I showed up for my first day of filming was supposed to be the day I did my dance.  Jack Sholder was the quirky director of the film and let’s just say that he was not terribly thrilled when he found out I had duped them in regards to my “attributes.” Luckily, during wardrobe fittings I had come clean to the wardrobe mistress so the department was already designing a set of prosthetic breasts for me to wear under a cut off t-shirt.  Jack wasn’t too thrilled since he wanted a topless scene but I was very relieved that I didn’t have to be naked in my first “real” film!

I was already pretty skinny back then, but I decided to lose some more weight for the role.  I had to be in a g-string made out of dollar bills for crying out loud and it is every actress’ nightmare to see their butt 50 feet high in a movie theater!  So I went to a place called “The Lindora Clinic” and they shot me full of vitamins and what I later found our was pregnant horse urine… disgusting!  They also put me on a 500 calorie a day menu so I doubt the horse piss was even necessary…  In any event, I got down to a nice weight and looked great on camera, I am happy to say.  Looking back  after all these years later I can still look at it and say “you looked good kiddo.”

The dance was nerve wracking since a) I had never stripped in front of anyone much less an entire crew of people and b) it was my first day of work!

“Hi, I’m Claudia… hang on I just have to strip now….”  Yikes!Claudia Christian stars in The Hidden

The filming was mostly downtown L.A. and it was a lot of fun. K yle was really nice and everything went off without a hitch for me until the big scene where my character gets shot a billion times but won’t go down.

Spoiler alert: I play a stripper who gets taken over by a male alien who loves fast cars, rock and roll, sex and well… you get the point.  After I get killed I “give” the alien to a dog passing by… I also kill Joey Sagal’s slimy character by boffing him to death in a vintage Cadillac… I could not wait to tell my parents!  Kidding…

Claudia Christian stars in The HiddenI was on the roof top loaded with squibs (the little explosives they attach to your clothes, etc. so that when you are “hit” they go off and look like you were shot) . The first time was fine but the second take one of the squibs exploded close to my face and a piece of the metallic jacket I was wearing went into my eye. It burned like a son of a gun.  From that day until now I can no longer shoot a gun without blinking.  I look like an amateur now whereas back then I had the Bruce Willis open eye stare down perfectly…. total bummer, but true.  My mind just will not forget that accident.

Claudia Christian stars in The Hidden
Years later that film still gets me recognized, I guess it turned into a cult film of sorts. People said it was ahead of it’s time.  Siskel and Ebert called it  “A cross between “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Terminator”.  Leonard Maltin chimed in with a “Smart, fast-paced thriller… effectively blends horror, sci-fi, and action with humor!”

I like the film, I think it’s pretty funny at times and well-shot and well-acted.  So, if you’re looking for a little escape, go rent “The Hidden” and Enjoy!

 

A look back at “Murder, She Wrote: The Prodigal Father”

Murder, She Wrote

Murder, She Wrote

In my 20’s I was doing a lot of TV work and excited to be working with actors like Peter Falk (whom I adore), Faye Dunaway, Andy Griffith, and many others…. But nothing quite prepared me for the force that was Miss Angela Lansbury.

As you may or may not know, Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born 16 October 1925) is an English actress and singer in theatre, television, and motion pictures, whose career has spanned seven decades. Her first film appearance was in the 1944 film, Gaslight, as a conniving maid, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Among her other films are: “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962); “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971); and, of course, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (1991). She expanded her repertoire in the 1950s to television and Broadway musicals and was particularly successful in productions of “Gypsy,” “Mame,” and “Sweeney Todd.” Miss Lansbury is perhaps best known to modern audiences for her 12 year run as mystery writer and amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, on the U.S. TV series “Murder, She Wrote” from 1984 to 1996. Recently, her roles have included Lady Adelaide Stitch in the 2005 film “Nanny McPhee,” Leona Mullen in the 2007 Broadway play “Deuce,” Madame Arcati in the 2009 Broadway revival of the play “Blithe Spirit,” and Madame Armfeldt in the 2010 Broadway revival of the musical “A Little Night Music.” She is incredibly versatile in her acting and has won 5 Tony Awards, 6 Golden Globes, and has been nominated for numerous other industry awards, including 3 Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress, and 18 Emmy Award nominations.

Miss Lansbury is a very formidable woman, but nothing prepared me for the experience I was to have playing her neighbor on the long running TV series, “Murder She Wrote.” I was hired for an episode involving a father/daughter story called, aptly enough, “The Prodigal Father.”

Donnelly Rhodes

Donnelly Rhodes

Ironically, the man playing my father in that episode would, years later, be the man Captaining the boat used in my wedding to Hollywood screenwriter, Gary Devore in Vancouver, Canada when I was 23 years old… talk about a small world! His name is Donnelly Rhodes and he appeared in the classic buddy western, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and most-recently in “Tron: Legacy.” His many TV credits include “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Soap,” “The Wild Wild West,” “Mission: Impossible,” and “Hillstreet Blues.” Most of you sci-fi genre folks will know him as Doc Cottle on “Battlestar Galactica.” He is a wonderful man and quite the host to say the least.  He gave up his home and his boat for us and I will always be grateful for his generosity and kindness of spirit.

Larry Wilcox stars in CHiPs

Larry Wilcox stars in CHiPs

Also appearing in that episode of “Murder, She Wrote” with me was Abe “Fish” Vigoda from “Barney Miller” fame and Larry “Officer John Baker” Wilcox of “CHiPs” fame, who was also a very kind and generous actor with patience and humility despite being the Farrah Fawcett of his generation. Mind you, he was a major sex symbol and icon at the time and I have no idea how he handled that sort of adoration because my Sci-Fi fans are far more discreet 🙂

“Get out of my eye line! YOU in the white shirt… MOVE out of my eye line!!!”

That was the first thing I can recall Angela Lansbury saying. Some poor sod had the gall to wear a white t-shirt on the set of “Murder, She Wrote” and by God, no one was allowed to wear white on the set and by golly did she let them know it! Wow, I was shocked! First of all because her son was directing that particular episode so I figured she had given him a break, nepotism and all, so I thought wow, not only can you get your son a gig directing this successful TV series (even though he had little, if any, experience), but you can also be a complete diva! What a gig for an elderly British woman in America!

I admired the fact that she called the shots and truly looked up to her “star” behavior because at that point all I had been exposed to was Larry Hagman (aka J.R. Ewing) wearing lederhosen and quaffing Champers while directing me in “Dallas” and William Shatner hitting on anything with two legs on “T.J. Hooker.” So my male icons were few and far between. Here was a dame I could look up to! She knew her lines, bossed her son around, told the crew where and when to go, and generally ran the show…. Not to mention what a great actress she was!

My other memories of those two or three episodes I did on “Murder, She Wrote” are all about the joy of being at a studio whilst filming. The joys of a commissary and other actors milling about in costume from other productions. I remember that while I was shooting “Columbo” at Universal Studios, they were also shooting “Dick Tracy” with Madonna, Warren Beatty, and a host of other stars. They had a sushi bar and a steak and lobster booth for their lunch and man was I impressed! Mind you, this was 1990 afterall and who had sushi on set???

Murder, She Wrote

Murder, She Wrote

During “Murder, She Wrote” I got to walk around and see other people at work and the set was so settled into a rhythm that it felt more like a well rehearsed play than a TV show. I admire people who can call the shots and I understand now why Miss Lansbury did not want anyone wearing white in her eye line. She was already a well-established and seasoned lady during that shoot so the job of memorizing lines and making production decisions must have been a huge job for her, as it was for Andy Griffith during “Matlock” and James Garner during the filming of “The Rockford Files.” I just thought that she had very specific desires and everyone had to abide by them. I had never seen diva behavior before so this was very interesting to me. It did teach me to ask people to stand out of my eye line and also to be quiet before we rolled camera. Most crew members forget that an actor or actress needs a “moment” to get it together before “performing.” They simply go about talking and shouting and then the director yells “action” and you’re left there without a moment of silence to prepare. It is something I always ask for now.

All in all I had a great time working on “Murder, She Wrote.” It was a wonderful time in my life and then to run into the man who played my Dad in that episode and have him Captain the boat which would take me into my marriage, was simply bizarre! How small the world seemed right then…

A look back at “Never on Tuesday”

L-R: Claudia Christian, Peter Berg, and Andrew Lauer

Back in 1987 I was a 22 years old actress living in Los Angeles and pursuing the same dream I still am chasing..to work as an actress in film and television…. hard to believe it’s nearly 30 years later and I am still chasing the dragon!

I read for a film with a director who was a year younger than me, Adam Rifkin. Adam was a funny guy, very young… always dressed in black Converse tennis shoes and a baseball hat, I had the feeling he was “playing” at being a director…little did I know that Never on Tuesday would be the first of many projects I would do with him and with the producer Brad Wyman who was also in the room auditioning young ladies that day. Adam would go on to direct many, many features and also the Showtime series “Look” which he wrote as well and that I starred in 23 years after Never on Tuesday. His dedication and drive is something remarkable in this business and neither one of us have ever given up on our dream of employment and happiness in this crazy business!

It was clear that they wanted a “hot ” actress and I considered myself more of a thespian than a sex idol… but I tried to turn on the charm and I did the best I could… Adam fought hard for me to get the role and they asked me to lose 5-10 pounds and to work out with a trainer to get in top shape for the movie, I agreed to it. My trainer was an ex-Olympiad athlete, a gymnast with spunk and vigor who put me through the paces at UCLA, running stairs and made me subsist on a bran muffin and humor for the day!

We filmed in beautiful Borrego Springs, California dessert. Borrego Springs is recognized as one of the astronomy hot spots of the world and the evening skies were just gorgeous and filled with stars as far as the eye could see, the warm dessert breezes and perfect climate made it lovely for a film shoot in the middle of no where.

L-R: Adam Rifkin, Andrew Lauer, Gilbert Gottfried, Emilio Estevez, and Charlie Sheen
 
L-R: Nicholas Cage, Cary Elwes, Peter Berg, and Judd Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

I had a lot of laughs on the film shoot. Charlie Sheen was flown in (he was quite hot back then having come off of “Wall Street” and “No Man’s Land”) and was treated like a rock star… I’m convinced they used drugs and hookers to get him to agree to do the small cameo he did in the film! Everyday seemed to bring in more famous and odd people, Nick Cage played a crazy fellow in a red Ferrari with a huge fake nose. Gilbert Gottfried was a lunatic salesman in the middle of the dessert… Emilio Estevez and Cary Elwes (from “The Princess Bride” and “Saw” movies) played hick brothers in a tow truck, gold teeth and all… the cameos were to help get financing and also a release, they jammed a bunch of hot names into the film hoping that no one would notice that the leads were a bunch of no bodies.

Ironically, my co-star Pete Berg has gone on to be one of the most successful feature film directors around. Andrew Lauer, my other co-star, is a fine actor and was a genuine sweet heart during the shoot. We became close, had a lot of laughs and the shoot flew by. It felt like having a lot of fun brothers during the shoot… there were a few other gals on the shoot, including Cheryl Berkoff, who would go onto become Mrs. Rob Lowe, she was my make-up gal. There was a party atmosphere and I recall many a fun-filled tequila/pool playing nights with the boys at the only hang out in town… a dumpy bar-hamburger joint.
 

 

 

 

 

All of us being so young made the shoot feel like summer camp. The voice of reason was our British DP, a man who was probably 45 at the time, but we thought he was the ancient wiseman… we deferred to his knowledge and tried like heck to please him. We shot on film, which is rare now, but back then was normal. We had no money so they used a lot of what is called “short ends,” bits of film left over in the canister which can be bought for cheap but unfortunately would run out in the middle of a take, so we were constantly trying to shove a 4 minute scene into a 2 minutes film stock!

All in all I had a blast filming “Never on Tuesday” and I made friends for life. The “lesbian stuck in the middle of the desert with two horny young men” was a simple concept which turned out to be a sweet coming of age film which I am happy to have been a part of.