A Talk With Joan Severance

My newest interview is with the veteran actress and former model.
June 24, 2010
I was first introduced to my next interview subject when I bought the movie "See No Evil, Hear No Evil". I had heard of her in the past, but it was my first time watching her act as she played the deliciously villainous Eve and looked great doing it.

That actress is my newest interview subject, Joan Severance.

A combination of wonderful acting skills and great looks have kept her busy for many years now, but she's taken some time to do an interview with me.

Several decades in the spotlight can bring a lot of stories to the fore, so without any further ado, here's:

The RetroJunk Interview With Joan Severance!


Caps: What were your pop-cultural likes growing up (favorite movies, music, books, TV)?

Joan: Of course the Farah hairstyle was the top at that time. My hair was really long and being able to be hip and cut the flips so it stayed out of my face was a blessing. The usual; Charlies Angels, The Adams family, The Munsters and Adam 12 (1 adam 12 -1 adam 12 -respond to a...). When I became an actress I actually got the opportunity to work with Kent McCord and to kiss him. I would have to say that was the highlight of my career at that point. I had such a crush on him growing up.

Caps: What were your school days like?

Joan: I was a "brainiac". My goal was to finish school early (high school) so that I could get on with it already and start doing what I wanted to do at that time-be a veterinarian. So I took electives such as Calculus 1&2 and Trig instead of Home Ec to get them out of my way. I graduated from high school early. I also worked as a model during the 3 yrs of high school and saved my money for college tuition. Didn't have many friends, wasn't part of any clic...basically just went to school to learn.

Caps: What inspired you to become an entertainer?

Joan: I had a successful modeling career at the time. I had done everything in that career that I was going to do and was doing it over and over again. I was bored internally. So, with the active mind that I have, I wrote a screenplay. And it was in that process of developing characters that I realized I was either going insane or going to Hollywood. I opted for the second.

Caps: What jobs did you hold before entering the entertainment business?

Joan: Super model and before that model and before that babysitter.

Caps: According to the IMDB, you made your film debut in "Lethal Weapon", one of my favorite movies. What was it like to be on the set of that movie?

Joan: I had just broken up with my fiance at the time and was in Hollywood staying 2 doors away from Joel Silver (the producer of that film). I had met him one month prior at a dinner. He had given me his card and said "If there is ever anything you need at anytime, call me". So I did. He sent his staff over to pick me up, gave me the downstairs room at his Hollywood home and told me I could stay as long as I needed. So I did. I was moping around, due to the breakup, in a strange town. Joel said one morning-"Come on, get over it. I'm going to put you in my movie. You'll have fun". So I went and sat for about 8 hrs on the set (Richard Donner's house) talked with Mel and finally got to be in that miniscule scene. That was no big deal. The best experience was that a basic total stranger had actually kept their word. That never happens in Hollywood!

Caps: In 1988, you played Susan Profitt in the Mel Profitt arc on "Wiseguy". It was the first time you would work with Kevin Spacey. Did you have any idea that he would eventually become a 2-time Academy Award winner?

Joan: That job was Kevin's and my first job. Of course I didn't know and neither did he.

Caps: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" is another one of my favorite movies. You worked alongside Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. What was it like being on the set with these 2 great comic talents?

Joan: I had a blast. They are precious together. Gene was a sweetheart and Richard a prankster. I was so blessed.

Caps: In 1989, you also starred alongside Hulk Hogan in "No Holds Barred". What was he like to work with?

Joan: He was big and a teddy bear. Sweet guy. I feel bad that he has had to go through his recent issues like he has.

Caps: In 1990, you co-starred in "Bird On A Wire". I've heard many stories about Mel Gibson and David Carradine, not all of which have been flattering. What were the both of them like to work with?

Joan: Mel was preoccupied with home trouble and was unavailable to do any scene reading prior to shooting any scenes. He also never uses the script, so you never know what's coming at you when you are shooting. I had never worked that way before so it was new to me. I don't remember working with David at all...Just saw him around and met him at the first cast read through. But you forgot to mention the best of them all, Goldie Hawn. Now she is a class act.
Caps: You played the character of Black Scorpion in 2 movies. Why didn't you return for the TV show?

Joan: They offered me the opportunity but the location at that time was in Hungary and the pay made it impossible for me to even think about it.

Caps: You played Camille Hunter on the short-lived program "The Love Boat: The Next Wave", which aired on UPN. Were the cast and crew of the show thinking of the corporate politics at UPN, or were you concentrating primarily on the show?

Joan: I had no idea of the political situation at UPN and did not care. I was fortunate that Raquel Welch turned down the part and that I just happened to be in town to meet with Spelling when they offered me the role. I was thrilled to do comedy and ensemble and to work with Dan Tanna (Robert Urich). I loved the lightness of the set, the work hours and the comedy.

Caps: What roles did you audition for, but didn't get?

Joan: Once I leave the audition I never look back. I have no idea.

Caps: What was the farthest location you ever went to shoot a movie?

Joan: Barcelona.

Caps: How do you feel the entertainment industry has changed from when you first started out?

Joan: No more filters to hide behind!!! Digital has ruined the beauty shot!! And that has changed the way people cast films and TV. Younger talent is filling every role and the A list actors are being retouched frame by frame. Because of the internet and the "instantness" of everything now, I feel that the industry has lost its direction when it comes to content and creativity. While the internet and digital have opened up doors in so many realms, the sci-fi world antics seem to weave through almost every film now and the digital effects are everywhere. Oceans that aren't real, and now that we are use to seeing them, we know they aren't real. Let's face it...Movies aren't real, but isn't the purpose to be able to escape.

Caps: What advice would you offer to those who are hoping to enter the acting field?

Joan: Don't do it unless you have a solid degree in something that can earn you a decent living. Acting is short lived for most, and that is for those few that actually get to do something in the field. The profession is just too fickle for most people to handle it. But if they do decide to go that path, get top agents, managers and lawyers on your team, a great publicist, stay out of the public eye unless promoting a film and keep your private life private.

Caps: What are your feelings on shows like "Dancing With The Stars"?

Joan: I don't watch that one but American Idol I am hooked on. I think we had shows like this growing up called Star Search. I think that Dancing with the Stars is just for the viewers as the talent does not move on to become a professional dancer in anyway and all the stars either have something to promote or need to rekindle their career. American Idol takes talent and lifts them to the next level.

Caps: You're a busy actress, so what's your idea of the perfect day off?

Joan: I have many days off and I garden most the time. But my perfect day off would be sleeping late, waking up with my husband in my arms, having a great croissant in Paris, a stroll down the Seine, then a wonderful lunch in Tuscany and a coffee at a local cafe, then top that day off with a late afternoon massage in the best hotel, an evening sail into the sunset and a dinner anywhere in Italy.

Caps: In recent years, you've become a noted interior decorator alongside your acting work. What does working on houses provide you with that acting doesn't?

Joan: Work! Designing a house is like producing a film, no different. The client is the Studio, they need yesterday and are never happy till the final product is handed to them. The subcontractors are the different departments on a film. Everything has to be coordinated, changed, eliminated, edited etc. No different that producing a film. Keep your set happy and they will be there for your next gig.

Caps: What's the biggest project you've ever taken on as an interior decorator?

Joan: Decorator and designer are a bit different, but designer encompasses decor, just not the other way around. Sometimes I just do the decor, the furnishings and wall treatments and on others I am doing that and removing walls, adding windows, raising roofs etc. The biggest job is not always the most challenging. So I will speak of the most challenging thus far. I did a house where the client was out of town most of time. We had to communicate by phone, photos, e-mails and Fed Ex about every little detail. The client had to have 3 choices with 3 different price points on each. That was very time consuming at the end of the long day on the job site. The challenge ended up being, was I psychic enough to read their mind and get it on the first try? It turned out I was for the most part.

Caps: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?

Joan: I would have purchased a lot of gold at that low price and invested in Apple when it first started. Ah, if only life was a film, we could all go back and edit.


I would like to thank Ms. Severance for agreeing to do this interview with me. It was a great pleasure.

For more on her career, visit http://www.joanseverance.com/
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