Exclusive Interview: Rachel Talalay
Rachel Talalay. Beginning with the original Nightmare, she’s been involved in the majority of Nightmare on Elm Street films. A staple of the Nightmare series, Rachel’s held various titles, ranging from production manager, to producer, and eventually director for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Since leaving New Line Cinema, Rachel has continued to work on a variety of projects in the entertainment industry. She’s best known for directing feature films like Tank Girl and Ghost in the Machine, and various TV episodes of popular programs like Crossing Jordon, The Dead Zone, and Without a Trace.
Rachel took some time out of her very busy schedule to talk to us about her many projects including Freddy’s Dead, the rumored Preacher, and upcoming Terminal City.
NOES Companion: What made you want to be involved in the film industry?
Rachel Talalay: As a pre-teen, I thought I would meet Fred Astaire and dance away into the night in a Carole Lombard satin dress to the lilting tunes of Cole Porter. I have white Jewish rhythm and thought if Barbra Streisand can get Robert Redford in The Way We Were, then all hope is not lost for Jewish girls without 60’s Barbie hair.
What prompted you to move from being a producer to the director’s chair?
Greed. The directors I produced for all made $1mil on their next project.
In your opinion, what’s the harder job: director or producer?
Directing. You get all the blame.
For Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, you are not only credited as director but also as story writer. Can you tell us how you came up with the story for Freddy’s Dead? And, any specific themes you wanted to carry over from page to screen?
We wanted to kill Freddy for good. We’d been making a film a year and it was too much. Also it was the time of Twin Peaks, so we wanted lots of cameos and weird dark humor.
In the Nightmare Series Encyclopedia DVD, you mention that the 3-D ending was not something you would have personally wanted to do. Were you happy with the overall impact of the film? Any aspects you would change?
3-D was really unwieldy and didn’t work very well. We didn’t have the resources to test the technology well enough. So we were winging it. I think it barely worked and limited everything I could do at the end. It was pure gimmick, and cost a lot of money that I would have used to make the rest of the film better and not have a lame ending take place in a room the size of my bedroom.
The other day I was discussing with my man whether it was a mistake to go the humorous, tongue-in-cheek route with Freddy. I wondered if we should have gone full-on horror. He reminded me that at the time it was the right decision. We were burned out on ideas, on scripts, and horror was predictable. We were looking for something to make it different.
I wish I’d been able to make a Nightmare film in the digital age. But, not like Freddy v. Jason, which was the kitchen sink of effects, just selective use of digital, so stuff like Spencer (Brecken Meyer) in the video game would be awesome and simple now. Spencer vs. Baiten Kaitos or in Vice City. Maybe too easy, but kewl.
Can you tell us about the script that was included on the Freddy’s Dead DVD? This is nothing like the shooting script.
It’s not Mike De Luca’s original script. Michael Almereyda wrote a script before Mike De Luca. Almereyda wrote the first script—using my outline. We hated it; De Luca saved the day. I theorize that that is his first script. There’s enough similar to make me think it came from my outline, but I remember we changed all the names. He wanted a credit on the movie, but the WGA ruled against him.
There are some different releases for Freddy’s Dead, each including some different scenes not included on the home video release. The theatrical release included the “Carlos’ Soul” scene, while the TV version and the German DVD release includes scenes like Doc & Tracy training, Maggie finding Freddy’s Lair, etc. What’s the deal with these changes?
It’s really unclear to me why there are so many versions floating around. I have no idea who makes these decisions. I don’t know why they would cut out “receiving Carlos’ soul” it was probably for a specific length. The video transfer sucks. In the breaking glass/leaving Springwood scene, the landscape is supposed to be all red and other-worldly—like mars—but they took the red out for video because they didn’t let me come to my transfer.
Personally, what was your favorite Nightmare film?
One scared the pants off me. I’m proud of Nightmare 3 because of what we accomplished for so little money. Also it took the series in a new direction.
For your film and television projects, how do you go about choosing what project is right for you and what project is not?
Sometimes it’s passion; I love the script or I ‘get’ the script. Obviously Tank Girl was something like that—I had to make the ultimate Grrrrl Movie (until the studio intervened). I love UK TV because you get great actors and interesting scripts—and don’t have to work to a predictable formula.
As a director, can you tell us what film was your favorite to direct? How about television series episode?
Tank Girl, until the studio intervened in their useless wisdom about the “morality of America.” There’s a TV series I did where I wanted to have sex with every man in the cast. That was really fun, because every day you wanted to flirt and not work. It made the whole experience completely tantalizing. I think male directors get that a lot more than women, since the extras are constantly hitting on them. I’m very work oriented, so this was fun (I can’t tell you which series, that would be indiscreet). I loved doing Touching Evil—great script, crew, and cast. Very creative work.
Rumors abound is your attachment to the soon-to-be-developed Preacher (based on the wildly popular comic book series) feature film. Is there any truth to this?
I worked on Preacher for a long time, but everyone is so frightened of it—especially in today’s climate, you can’t question religion. Preacher is about questioning blind faith and fanaticism. This is incredibly important right now. Is religion about killing? It’s an important project that I’m passionate about and would still love to get made.
And lastly, are there any projects coming out in the near future we should look out for?
I just did a mini-series about a woman with breast cancer (ouch, you’re saying, fucking disease-of-the-week) but no, this is really interesting series—the family falls apart, the Jewish 8 year old son has a religious epiphany in a catholic church and appalls his holocaust-surviving grandfather, the 16 year old girl seduces her teacher and blackmails him, it’s like nothing you’ve seen.
Terminal City. I think it’ll be worth watching.
Other than that, it’d be a jinx to talk about any of it.
The NOES Companion would like to thank Rachel for her time (and patience). Be sure to keep an eye out for Terminal City and check out the actual shooting script for Freddy’s Dead under the film’s script page. Also, see the Internet Movie Database for more about Rachel’s career!