I've seen "Return Of The Living Dead" several times, and of all the characters in the movie, the women stood out the most. I interviewed Linnea Quigley, who played Trash, 2 years ago, and now, I've done an interview with Jewel Shepard, who played Casey in that movie.
I first befriended Jewel Shepard on Facebook. Her status updates are sometimes funny, sometimes serious and always intriguing. A few weeks back, I bought an autographed picture of her as Casey. I've talked about the movie in several of my articles. She has done so much than that, though, as I not only learned through the Internet Movie Database, but through speaking to her on the phone. She has a lot to say, so without any further ado, here's:
The RetroJunk Interview With Jewel Shepard!
Caps: Forgive me if I seem a little awkward. Even though I've done over 30 interviews for RetroJunk, this is only my 3rd phone interview.
Jewel: You're my first computer phone call.
Caps: Oh, cool. I always start off every interview with 2 general questions before getting into specifics about my individual subject's career, so for my first question, what were your pop-cultural likes growing up, like favorite movies and music?
Jewel: I would have to say it was "Corvette Summer". I saw "Corvette Summer" when I was a teenager, and I fell in love with owning a van. I had to have a van, had to have a van with a shag rug, had to have a van with Mark Hammill in it. Of course, I never got that van, although I did have a lot of fun in vans in the 70s. What other pop culture things I liked? I really loved "The French Connection", "Saturday Night Fever" changed my life because, to me, it was a special movie. It just gave me a feeling that I can go out there, I can achieve something because that kid did not achieve something by standing up on that bridge, but I can do it. I don't know why. It was really crazy. What other pop-culture shows that I liked? I really liked "H.R Pufnstuf", and Sigmund, The Little Sea Monster. I can't recall off-hand. I enjoyed skateboard riding. That was what I did a lot of. I owned a Pet Rock. I still have it. I liked Puka shells, but that's not really a movie reference. It's just the culture of the time growing up.
Caps: My next question is: What were your school days like?
Jewel: My school days consisted of cutting class, going surfing, shooting skateboarding videos, or actually it was Hi-8 videos at the time, I remember. It was not even Hi-8, but Super 8. I wasn't really a good school person. I moved around to, like, 18 schools. My Mom and I moved around the countryside, so I was never fitting in anywhere. By the time I got to 10th grade, I couldn't figure out math. At that point, I could barely add 2 plus 2, so I certainly couldn't do geometry or algebra or any of those things that were being offered at the time. High school was an experience that, for me at the time, the teachers hit on me. It was a real sexual kind of thing. I didn't ever feel comfortable because I was always getting hit on by adults, and I didn't know to talk to them. I didn't know what to say. All I knew was it was wrong. My driver's ed teacher kept on rubbing his hand against my leg, and taking me on private driver's education rides. My oceanography teacher would always keep me after class to teach me more about waves and the way the waves arrived at the sand, but always behind me rubbing my shoulders. You know, high school was not a good place for me, so I just didn't go.
Caps: That definitely makes a lot of sense. If I went through that type of stuff, I wouldn't like it, either.
Jewel: Yeah, but you know now you do that sort of stuff and people report it, but back then, I guess it was just something you didn't do.
Caps: Now to go right into the movie questions. My next question is: You played the Present Girl in H.B Halicki's "The Junkman". Had you tried auditioning for the bigger character of Susan Clark in that movie?
Jewel: No. I was doing road shows for George Barris. What I mean by this was I was the opening act for Rick Nelson, for Chubby Checker, for all those people on the car show circuit. I was on a mechanical bull because of "Urban Cowboy". Everyone wanted a sexy girl who knew how to ride a mechanical bull. Now I didn't know how to ride a mechanical bull at the time, but I grew up on a ranch, so I was actually familiar with real bulls, so I could actually hold on. Whoever the operator was who was doing it would try to throw me, but could never really throw me, so that's how I got the gig. So we would pack up this freakin' mechanical bull. We would go to all these car shows from Salina, Kansas to name that Midwest state, and we would set it up, and I would do this little sexy dance to the "Urban Cowboy" movie theme, and then Rick Nelson would come out there and sing "Garden Party", and we'd pack everything up and go to the next place, so I knew George Barris. So then George was telling me about this movie he was going to be in called "The Junkman", and so he took me down to this place in Gardena, where Toby had his big showroom of, literally, I kid you not, hundreds of thousands of little Matchbox cars, in boxes, out of boxes, just toys, just tons and tons of car toys...And in the middle of this big garage place, he had that "Gone In 60 Seconds" car that was sort of hit or destroyed, and he would say "This is a sequel to the greatest movie ever made". Well, you know, I never saw "The Greatest Movie Ever Made", according to him. I don't see movies. The movies I had mentioned to you previously were like the only movies I ever saw because my mother never had money to go pay for a movie, not even a 3rd-rate triple bill. The only movie I ever really saw completely in my childhood years was "Gone With The Wind", so I wasn't exposed to any of that. This was before there was TV 24 hours, and this was before VCRs, before all that stuff, so, you know, what was "Gone In 60 Seconds" to me? I don't know, but at the time, it was also my SAG card film. That was a true Taft-Harley, I don't know if you're familiar with unions, but nowadays getting into the acting unions are a lot easier. Back then, you had to have a speaking line to get into movies, but you had to have experience to get into a movie. I didn't have either, so Toby, as a producer, he was fined 483 dollars to pay me 324 dollars to put me in this movie, and he took me into his office, put the light on like I was being interrogated and said "Jewel, why would I put you in this movie when it's going to cost me money?", and I said "Because I'm cute!". You know, he was reluctant, but he did a favor to George and he just said "You know, you're a sweet kid and I'll give you a break. Just don't blow it"...And I don't know if I didn't blow it. All I know is I was scared to death and I didn't know what to really say, and I sped out the words "Here's your present!", or something like that, and we had to do it, like, 6 times at the wash in downtown L.A. I didn't understand. This movie didn't seem very good, and yet, it was a sequel, and this guy named Hoyt Axton kept on saying "Jewel, this is a great movie", and I'm thinking it looks like crap and who are you people? I mean, Hoyt Axton, I know who you are. I saw you at the Grand Opry. My perceptions were so different from how everyone else saw it. I was just thinking "Man, I was making 300 something dollars", and then, to do that type of movie, you need to go and become a SAG union member, which was at that time 450 dollars, so I didn't even have enough to become a member. That's how I got into stripping, because how do I make up 150 dollars to get into the Screen Actors' Guild. The only job that would take me was taking off my clothes at a bikini bar. I know, not very glamorous, but it was desperation.
Caps: I see. My next question is: You played Crystal in the "Hollywood Hot Tubs" movies, first as a supporting role in 1984 and then headlining the sequel 6 years later. Respectively, what were your most and least favorite parts of working on those films?
Jewel: I didn't have any least favorite parts. I enjoyed both because A: I was acting and B: I got paid. I was young, so I thought "Wow, this is really cool". I barely had to audition. I walked into the "Hollywood Hot Tubs" office here in Highland, and I thought I was going to be a movie star. I had all these movie star dreams. I honestly didn't know the industry...How ruthless, how cold, how cruel it could be. I just thought I'd be a movie star, and I literally walked into this office and I said those words. I walked up to the producer and said "Am I gonna be a movie star? Can I be a movie star?". It was kind of like I'm speaking to you. I was going "Can I be a movie star?", and this guy said "Well, we'll have this audition". Valley Girls...What was a Valley Girl? I don't know. I think I just spoke that way. I think because I was just so wide-eyed that I think that was how I got the part, plus I had this killer body and these giant tits and this tiny waist and I bounced around a lot because...You can kind of tell by my energy right now, I was just this "Aaah!' kind of person, this kind of bouncy person, so it was kind of obvious, I think, then. No one knew how that movie was going to go down. It was only supposed to be made for drive-ins which it showed a lot in. I guess it was a time period movie because it was a hot tub movie, and at that particular time, they needed a lot of product to be on these new start-up channels called HBO and Cinemax and Z Channel and all those types of things that were starting up on cable. They had no product, so me, with the product, being shown over and over again, I guess, to young kids of my age time, I was like this thing to jack off to, and then it just made a ton of money, and so obviously anything that makes a ton of money, and these people were very shrewd, made number 2 and...Again, I thought I was going to be a star, and in actuality, if the Menendez brothers hadn't shot their dad, that movie was going to come out theatrically in 900 theaters, "Hollywood Hot Tubs 2", and I was up for then, at the time, "Spider-Man", that was being done by Cannon Films, and that was before the writer's strike, and I was scheduled to play Spider-Man's girlfriend in that. If all those things had happened at that time, was probably going to become a star of a certain level, like, well, not obviously action, but a star of that time period.
Jewel: You know, it sounds so silly to say now, because now I know this industry so well, but it was just that time period. You could walk into somewhere and say "I wanted to be a movie star", and if you were cute enough or fresh enough or you were stupid enough, you did become a star. I just say that with, kind of, tears in my eyes right now, because if I had really known, if I had really been like Lisa Rinna, who took this industry really seriously...She and I audtioned for that soap opera she was on, and she just told me "Jewel, you are not very serious. If you don't become serious, you're not going to get these parts", and sure enough, she was right. You know, what does that say about growing up? It says a lot. I did some dumb mistakes. Now I'm old and I'm paying for it.
Caps: I certainly don't think you're dumb. I think you're very intelligent, from what I've seen of your Facebook posts, and you definitely are very smart.
Jewel: Yeah, but smart is interesting. I'm not educated smart because I dropped out of high school at 10th grade, and how do you survive? I mean, in a weird way, I had this flawed life. My mother abandoned me. I don't understand why, but I don't think she could cope with having a child. This really nice family called...Marty Sheen. Marty had just done "Apocalypse Now". I was going to school with Emilio Estevez, and I had nowhere else to go. My Mom had literally left me, but she was smart enough to leave me with a car, a Datsun B210, and it was broken down, and I was sleeping in it. So this kid I knew from school, he said "Why don't you come over to my house and you can stay in my house". I got the car to Malibu, and his dad said "Yeah, you can stay there for awhile while we figure out how to have you stay somewhere", so how weird is it to live like that? I didn't know who Marty Sheen was at the time, and I don't think anyone else really did, except for "Apocalypse Now". You know, these movies...You do these movies, and he didn't know it was going to become a classic, and he's just struggling, too, as an actor. I lived at their house. I lived there for an entire school year trying not to drop out, but it was just, I had no real support, and I used to take Charlie (Sheen) to little league practice. I dropped out, and I took off my clothes on magazines. I did it for the money, paying, like, 250 bucks. Back then, that was a lot of money, but I didn't understand where those pictures were going to be. I mean, the first time I saw that was behind a liquor counter, and I was on the cover of some magazine called Cheri Magazine. I almost freaked out, and yet, what else is a girl without education, without family, without any of these things do? I mean, you're prey among lots of people, and I'm just thankful enough that I didn't kill myself like so many of my friends of that time period. Like Savannah, who ended up in porn, and other girls who did naked magazines with me and all shot themselves. This was also a time when coke was not something frowned upon. It was a drug that took people's lives. No one understood what freebasing was. They just did it and it was accepted, and if you didn't do it, people thought you were weird, and that was kind of a culture time, and I guess I'm just blessed to be here because of that, and yet, I never took any of these things really personally. I was in those situations, and it wasn't a fun kind of thing. It was just like "It's only going to be for this time". It was much like how I'm looking at cancer now. "It's just for this time". It's not something I have to really dwell on, because then that would take away my spirit. So I think I approach life always in this "Tomorrow's another day", and I don't know if that's intelligence. I don't know if that's just a coping mechanism. As far as actual intelligence, it's learning it the hard way. I mean, it's going through these things, realizing that "Oh my God, these things could kill you. This lack of knowledge can kill you", and I would start to read more. I wasn't more aware. I think I was just lucky. I think there is some divine spiritual entity that was always taking care of me in the most chaotic times, and as far as intelligence, I don't know. I wasn't really smart back then. I'm smarter now because I've read a lot, and I've had to be because of the situation now in this time period, where the drugs aren't necessarily the thing that kills you, but the corporations kill you. Life in general kills you, so in a sense, I'm doing the same things now, and I'm trying to figure out how to survive in this part of my life where it's trying to destroy me. This time, I have a little better coping skills, and so I just read a lot more and I ask a lot more questions. I don't know if that's necessarily intelligence. I'm just that I'm willing to fail again, and I'm willing to experience things again, to try to gain some insight. So if that's intelligence, well, I guess it's intelligence, but I'm certainly not in the academic phase of life. I still cannot add.
Caps: Well, on a lighter subject, to return to your film career, you played Casey in "Return Of The Living Dead". The entire crew of young people in that movie was varied. As TV Tropes put it, "punks, preppies, greasers". If you had written the back-story, how do you suppose they all would have befriended each other?
Jewel: Well, here's what I think. I've done a lot of these speeches on "Return Of The Living Dead", and normally I like to joke about "Return Of The Living Dead" because yes, I was high. The caterer gave me some coke. The script guy gave me coke. I mean, shooting at night. How do you stay up all night? Yes, you're high. I read the script as "My God, someone is actually going to hire me to, again, say lines. I'm just hoping it's a good movie". It read funny. I had to put on a wig to have that kind of ducktail haircut.
Jewel: Dan O'Bannon, who I met in a strip joint...See, strip joints can lead to movies. Dan came to the strip joint, looking for someone to play the role of Trash. Trash was called Legs at the time, and he originally approached this girl name Legs, and actually wrote the movie after her. She was this really tall girl. I think she was like 6'' 1', with legs forever, and he said to her "I have this part, and I'd like to have you in it". She wasn't interested. She thought he was a joke, and she passed on it. He fell in love with this girl named Dee Dee, who had sort of the slutty Bettie Page look, and then she was going to do it, and then she got pregnant, and so she wasn't interested. So he finally says to me "I want you to play the role of...Now I'm calling this character Trash". I said "Dan, I'm naked every day up on this stage." I'm at this strip joint called The Ball. It was a private strip joint in Santa Monica, a very exclusive area. I said "I really don't want to be naked in a movie anymore. I've flashed my tits for 'Raw Force'". I just didn't want to be naked. He said "Well, you can't play the nice girl. You're not nice"...Not like the nice he wanted. I said, "But I'm a party chick", and he said "Yes, you are a party chick". I said, "I just want to party", and that's how I got Casey. In fact, he asked me what would I like to be called in this movie, and as a kid, I always thought Casey was a cool nickname. Don't ask me why...I don't know. I was trying to reinvent myself by calling myself Casey. I think I saw too many gunslinger TV shows, and someone was Casey on those gunslinger shows. He wrote that for the name of Casey, and I think because Dan was a counterculture kind of guy...How do people he liked visually, how do you all get along? I don't think there was necessarily a purpose. It was just the counterculture thing of that time period. How do you put punk rockers, which he happened to love, he loved the British punk rockers and their philosophy in life...How do you put them together with the American philosophy, and at that time, being a punk rocker was you were anti-social, you were not liked. Dan as a person was not liked growing up, and that's why he and I got along, because I grew up in a very shitty environment. So did he, and we just related, and we were very good friends. Dan was crazy...He was an antisocial kind of person. He didn't know how to talk to people, and I didn't know how to talk to people either, so in that weird sort of way, we got along. He was just able to create those characters that didn't know how to socialize or relate to. The goody-goody girl...The reason he chose Beverly (Randolph) was, at the time, there were tons of goody-goody girls, and people like us did not understand or have that opportunity to get what a goody-goody girl was...What a good solid relationship as Freddy and Tina would be having, and trying to keep his job at this mortuary. It was just "How would these people get along?", and that was the beauty of Dan. He was just able to see these sort of crazy moments and blend them well, and at the time, it was special. You just understood the culture wasn't accepting people. How do you make these people get along within that?
Caps: Would you say that that's what's made "Return Of The Living Dead" relevant in all the years since its' release?
Jewel: Yeah, I think it did. I used to joke about it because I never understood this whole zombie thing. I never watched horror movies. I auditioned for "Friday The 13th"...Part 1 and the one Thom (Mathews) got and the one Miguel (Nunez) got. I auditioned for both of those, and I came down to the last thing, and they said "we already hired Thom" for the one he was in (Editor's note: He was in "Jason Lives"), and "we can't hire another person that was 'Return Of The Living Dead'", even though I had blonde hair at the time, and I was nothing like the "Return Of The Living Dead" character, but they felt it was weird to put 2 cast members from the same movie in that movie, and Thom was already hired. "Friday The 13th: Part 5", the one Miguel was in, it was the exact same thing. It was a different director, and they said "we can't put another 'Return Of The Living Dead' person in this movie", so I lost out on those movies because they were already hired, because at that time period, the men always got hired first. I had auditioned for "Nightmare" ("A Nightmare On Elm Street"). I had auditioned for all the classics, and it was always between me and, like, Heather Langenkamp. I was too cute for the "Nightmare" movies. They just wanted somebody sweeter-looking, and I had this hot body that everybody wanted to fuck. So my hot body, at the time, was really working against me. I didn't have the skill enough in my head to cover it up, how to walk into an audition, more girl-next-door. I would walk in in a cut-off T-shirt and go "Like, here I am". I didn't understand how to be savvy. I do believe, to get back to the subject of "Return Of The Living Dead" being that cultural thing...I do believe that Dan understood that. I don't believe we, as the cast, got that. Maybe Brian Peck, who's always got it...I think he got it, but the rest of us, I think we were just lucky for a paycheck, and we were just hoping for the best when working on a movie. Never had we ever had rehearsal, like 2 weeks in this case, was unheard of, and is still unheard of. To have that luxury to rehearse, and actually say lines with a group of people, I think that's how we connected more. Dan would always rehearse everyone in groups, so you would be assigned to a group, and he would watch you as you interacted with that group, and eventually we all found each other, because there were certain personalities in each of these audition groups, and then he would combine a couple of us together, and see how that personality worked out. When John (Philbin) and I auditioned...John was the surfer dude. That's what he did for a living, and I was always putting him down in the auditions, like "Are you kidding me? Are you coming here to audition for this movie, and going out surfing next?", and John says "Yeah, what's wrong with that?". We were kind of in-character to begin with, and I think Dan saw how he and I were talking to each other in that nasty put-down sort of way. I'm not saying that in a mean way. It was just how we related to each other because I was full of sarcasm, and John was always like "Yeah, I'm going surfing. What's wrong with that?". I think he (Dan) saw that there was this poor guy I was joking with in a cruel, sarcastic way, and he saw that chemistry, and that's what came out with Casey. I could sit there and put down the nerd, and John was able to sit there quietly, and sort of give you that humanity of just wanting to be the guy that got the hot chick. John just got it, and it was just chemistry.
Jewel: John is still one of my dearest friends to this day, and we go surfing together, and we've always gone surfing together, so as much as I joked with him at that whole thing, I think it was my sarcasm that was able to blend with John...And then Miguel. Miguel was this outgoing...I knew Miguel before we did "Return Of The Living Dead", he used to get girls for Jerry Buss, and I was one of the girls that he used to get for Jerry Buss to go party with. Miguel was always this outrageous larger-than-life kind of character, and that's what Dan saw as the character he wanted for the black guy, this take-charge kind of personality. I had known Linnea (Quigley) before "Return Of The Living Dead", too, because we would take off our clothes together in adult magazines and we were always doing girl-girl naked stuff, so when it came down to suggesting people, like who would take off their clothes for this part. I said that the 2 girls I knew that would be perfect for this were Lynda Wiesmeier, who was a Playmate at the time, and this girl named Linnea. They're going "Yeah, we heard about Linnea", so they actually auditioned both and Linnea had the more dry personality that they were looking for, and she had an awesome body, and she didn't mind taking off her clothes, and so, it was sort of like we all just clicked. We all clicked.
Caps: Moving on to a new movie, well, another movie...You played Dana in "Scenes From The Goldmine". As you did a lot of film work, you also appeared in several music videos from the late into the mid-90s for artists ranging from White Lion to Revolting Cocks. How accurate was "Scenes From The Goldmine" to your experiences in the music industry?
Jewel: Wow, that's a good question. Well, again, in my limited viewpoint of my life at that time, I saw "Scenes From The Goldmine", as "Cool, I don't have to audition for this movie. I just got hired because now I'm *Jewel Shepard*". That was my first and foremost thought. I got a movie where I didn't have to audition, which is always nice. At the time, Mark Rocco was directing the movie, the son of Alex Rocco. (Mark) was 22 or some incredibly young age. He saw himself as being the next Steven Spielberg. At that time, Steven Spielberg was a young guy and very, very hot, and everyone wanted to be him. Sadly, Mark did not have the talent for that. I was forced upon Mark to be in that movie because John Daly, who produced "Return Of The Living Dead", said "Mark, this is your first shot movie, and here's a list of people I would like to see in this movie", and I happened to be on that. Mark, in his 22 years of thinking, thought that the only way I was coming on to this movie was because I fucked John Daly, which is not true, but that was how he thought of things. When he looked at me, he would sit there and say "Well, you and I should go out". He thought of me as "Well, we could have sex". That's how 22 year olds, and in this particular case him, thought that way. We had a bad situation because when he found out he wasn't going to get laid, he was very, very nasty on the set. He would make sure that if I did not nail it the first take, he would just move on. If it wasn't for the DP (director of photography), who would sit there at the time and go "You know what, Mark? I didn't get that take"...He would give me a 2nd chance to do it. I really have to thank the DP for that, for saving my performance, what there was of it. There was actually a lot more to Dana, but they just kept on cutting away. Cathy (Catherine Mary Stewart) was very kind, and she would sit there. She would blow a line, so I could get the close-up that he didn't want to give me, or the 3/4 shot he didn't want to give me.
Jewel: It was a really hard battle for me shooting that movie, because it was so obvious he really hated me. I can't really tell you about the rock-and-roll part of it. All I know is Cathy was really jazzed to be able to sing, and that was her first chance. To be a part of this...You're hanging out with the Eagles. You're hanging out with John Ford Coley. You're hanging out with Bryan Adams. At this time period, they were huge people, and you got to go to their concerts. You got to go backstage. You got to meet these other people like Steven Tyler and some dudes called The Rolling Stones. From that perspective, they bought their friends. I got to hang out with Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Don Henley would invite me on his tours, and I got to go to Saudi Arabia with Rod Stewart to go perform for the king over there at the time. I don't look at that movie as a typical rock-and-roll thing because I see it more as "Ooh, I got to meet all these famous rock stars that took me all over the world", and I got to watch their concerts. How crazy is that? I say that to you now and it sounds so silly. The Rolling Stones are going to be here next week, and they're personal friends of mine and I can call them up and go visit. It's a magical moment because I think, for the 80s, and growing up in that time period, as much as a lot of people think different things about the 80s, I was really lucky to have that kind of experience. To go from this little crappy movie, a favored nations financial pay...Favored nations meaning that all actors sign the same financial contract so you all get, pretty much, little money. This movie that I was forced into then opened up the doors to all these rock-and-roll things, of being in White Lion's video, of being in Mojo Nixon's video, of being in the Psychedelic Furs' video, of being in all these types of music videos for that time period. MTV was just starting up. To be part of that was crazy when I think of it now.
(Editor's note: The above is the video for Mojo Nixon's "619-239-KING". Jewel's appearance begins at the 1:52 mark.).
Jewel: Hanging out with this guy who did the song "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"...He was a saucy kind of guy. He was going to turn into *Rod Stewart*. I mean, who knew? People at that time...I mean, I know who The Rolling Stones are, but who knew Aerosmith was going to turn into *Aerosmith*?
Caps: This is amazing to hear. This is a lot of my favorite music as well, and it's incredibly cool to hear all these cool stories.
Jewel: Well, here's the sad part of all that. Steven Tyler and the gang would invite me on their road bus to go to all these places like Madison, Wisconsin, and all these little towns that they were performing at, and they were finally getting these crowds that...They were making stadiums at that point. The music was cool, but what were we doing? We were drinking, we were so hardcore drinkers, and drug addicts. It was amazing that these people got up onstage and could actually still get through, but in a sense, they couldn't get through. My introduction to that type of world was with Rick Nelson, and this is on the declining of his side, where you came from the 50s and this kind of clean guy-next-door, and here we were, doing 8 balls in Salina, Kansas. His career was shit. He couldn't remember the words to "Garden Party". We would go on Merv Griffin. The Stone Canyon band would sit there and give him the intro to it, and Rick would literally stare out into these shows and couldn't remember the lines. Merv would go "We'll help you play this. I know, Rick, you've been really tired on the road". There would be these excuses on the air, and at that time, they were all lies. You had this experience of realizing that you understood that, at some point, you couldn't perform. Steven, at that time, he was having trouble performing because of the drugs, and the worlds started colliding. If you weren't aware to start going "Hey, I'd better stop. I'd better change my life in some capacity", you were losing this moment that was making it special. People started figuring out that cocaine and drugs were not good, and started getting their lives together. They actually started making better music, so you had this sort of transition between this youthful thing of having met all these wonderful people that then started doing better music after the initial stuff. It was a moment.
Jewel: ...Really great moments, and yet, God, how did I survive it? To literally have King Saud out there in Saudi Arabia call up Rod Stewart's manager and say "I'll pay you a million dollars. Can you play at my birthday party?". A million dollars in cash, which they paid to him in the proverbial suitcase that you see in movies, and ride on his private jet, and you would land there. All his prince brothers would show Rod these suitcases filled with money, and Rod would go "Oh, yeah. Cool", and we didn't count it. We would just put it up in the plane. Everyone would go out there. We would be shown the palace, which was set up, and we would play a whole set in front of people all covered up, mainly women and some of his brothers and cousins. We would do "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", and then we would fly home. We were sitting in this plane for the king of Saudi Arabia, who sent you camels. He put on his 747 the gift of camels to go home with you. Rod is going "Well, I don't know what a camel does". It was crazy. You would come home with a 747 packed with camels. It was weird.
Caps: To get back to the movies, you played Amanda in "Caged Heat II: Stripped Of Freedom". Women-in-prison movies tend to be rather unpleasant experiences for those who make them. If someone were to do a spoof of them, a la "Airplane!", and offered you a role as a warden, would you accept?
Jewel: Well, having been in jail many times, in a movie jail, yes, I think I would definitely do that now. I would probably do it like "Ilsa". I would like to do that. It's funny that you mention that. People have approached me about that. Yeah, I think I would. It would actually be a stretch for me, because I sort of see things in a much more happier place, and to the kind of warden I see in my mind, which is sort of like that nurse from "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Ilsa" all combined as a kind of character would be a hard stretch for me. As far as shooting "Caged Heat II: Stripped Of Freedom", yes, shooting it in the Phillipinnes was very, very tiresome. I didn't really understand what a women-in-prison movie was. It was just a paycheck, and I love to travel. It was a country I hadn't been to, and you're offering to pay me to have me stay there for 4 months? Cool. I'll go. I didn't really think it through. I thought it was a dumb-ass plotline. When we were actually shooting this thing, I was thinking "Let's get rid of the princess and go home. Fuck saving the princess. This chick ain't worth it". That's how I wanted to do the movie, but you have to do it seriously. It was a real serious story of saving the princess from some unknown force of kidnapping. I don't really understand that whole women-in-prison thing. I'd seen "Caged Heat" and I thought "Well, this must have been the sequel". Clearly, it was nothing like the first one and, at that time period, they were putting out "Savage Streets" and all these types of movies, and I thought maybe this will make me a star. I guess, on some level, I became a star by just doing movies, but not the way that I thought it was going to be. That's how I kind of got into these movies...I thought "I'll be a star. Finally, I'll be a star".
Caps: To the next question, you've also been involved in the "Garfield" franchise, doing voice-over work on both "Garfield And Friends" and the more recent "The Garfield Show". Were you a fan of the comic strip before signing on?
Jewel: I did the show when it was "Garfield And Friends"...It was "Mother Goose And Grimm" and "Garfield And Friends". I've been doing "Garfield" for 30 years. Jim Davis, who created Garfield, this was his next little project. It was a comic strip that appeared in X amount of newspapers. It was popular, but it didn't really mean anything at that time. It was fresh, it was new, and nobody understood how big Garfield was going to be. Garfield is actually the number one cartoon in the world, and we don't see it here in the U.S, because Cartoon Network doesn't like to air anything that they personally do not own, so by the deal that was set up, they had to air it once. As far as the actual cartoon, it is the number one cartoon in the world, and yet no one in the U.S sees it. I got lucky just to be a part of it, and I've been a part of it for 30 years, and I got to work with James Earl Jones. I get to work with Mark Hammill. I get to work with all these amazing people. Just a lucky thing, like "The Artist", that movie that won a lot of Academy Awards a few years ago.
Jewel: I had just gotten into town. I walked into Trader Joe's. The first A.D (assistant director) for "The Artist" happened to be the 2nd or 3rd A.D on one of my movies, and he said "You know what? I just got this movie and they're auditioning for people. The director likes to hire people from movies he used to watch when he was getting into films". I walked in there, and he said (French accent) "Oh yes, I loved this movie you were in, and yes, I would love to give you this part, but there are no speaking lines. I hope you don't mind, Jewel". It was a cheap little movie. No one got paid much. We were playing 1920s music. You could say anything you wanted to say. John Goodman had to sit there, and he would go "Do I say what's in the script?", and Michel (Haznavicius), the director, would say "For the close-up, say what it says in the script, but you can say anything you want to say when you're not doing that". It was uncomfortable for many of these actors that weren't used to just using their faces, and we thought "Seriously, who's going to buy a silent movie in this day and age, shot on film, one camera so it was like 19 hours a day", and that's all they used, because they had no money. This thing goes on and takes off. What are the odds of me coming into these places? That's been the story of my life. The same thing with "The Cooler". I happened to be up in Tahoe, and I ran into Alec Baldwin. He said "I'm shooting this movie up here, and I'm sure there's a part for you. Would you like to audition?". There's another cool movie.
Jewel: I just get lucky in that way. I can't explain it. I don't question it. I just say "Okay", and they turn into iconic movies, I guess, depending on how you look at movies.
Caps: My next question...You wrote for Premiere Magazine for several years. Did you ever do any cross-overs with Paul Brickman, who wrote under the name Libby Gelman-Waxner?
Jewel: No, but I definitely knew her. It was actually competition. She was signed for a featured article for Premiere, and she was getting a different type of pay than I was. Again, I was a novelty. Here, I'm this person who happens to have a lot of connections with lots of different types of people, and they wanted to see how movies of that kind of genre were made. This was an A-list kind of magazine. They weren't used to movies that were made for 100,000 dollars. They were used to 40 million dollar movies at that time. I just figured I'd write it in a very silly sort of way, and talk a lot about sex, because that's obviously what these movies were about, and initially, that's how you got sold, and that was just unusual for an A-list magazine. It became one of those cult things where people who actually like reading about my little stories...They just started giving me those stories. It's another one of those things that I just lucked into. People had gone to journalism school their entire life, and here I was writing for a major magazine, lots of words. I hadn't gone to school for it. I just wrote what I knew in a silly way that I see things, and I got lucky. I then ended up working for Hillary Clinton on her press plane, and sitting next to Carl Bernstein and those types of people. Again, it was another one of those crazy things where I met these famous writers, these political people, these amazing life events. When Hillary ran for president back in 2008, I was part of her press tour and you sit there in a Winnebago with Bill Clinton and Chelsea and Hillary and you're thinking "Whoa, this is really different". It's another story. I could go on and on about those types of things, and how you would tell if somebody like Hillary Clinton was in this city, because you start getting lost. You're in El Paso, and you have to make sure she says El Paso. We had to pick out people who were vetted well, and had good stories, and we would write up a little bit about them, and she would look at it, and speak about it in that crowd. We would sit back in these little fold-up chairs in back of all the supporters and we understood there was a whole different reality. I've been very, very blessed. I've had an amazing and incredible life in everything.
Caps: My next question is...What has writing provided for you that acting hasn't?
Jewel: The appearance of intelligence, I suppose, because my acting career is based on sex and stupidity, in terms of the characters I play. The writing gave me an appearance of "Well, I must be somewhat intelligent because I can put together sentences". I don't know if it's given me any more or any less than acting. Financially speaking, it hasn't done anything for me. I am almost done with a youth book, which has been difficult, not for the actual getting it to paper...That's never been an issue for me. Focusing on doing another book again in this changing marketplace, and figuring out how do you make money? I have this kind of lifestyle, but I never made money at it, so now I'd like to make money at something for my old age. It's a hard question to answer. I don't really think of it in that way. I just sort of go with the flow.
Caps: Okay. That'll take me to my next question. What's the one talent you've always wanted to show off but haven't had the opportunity to yet?
Jewel: My one talent...
Caps: It can be any one. I mean, you've shown yourself to be a good actress and an excellent writer...
Jewel: A good actress. You see, if you look at "Hollywood Hot Tubs" or "Party Camp", and people like these movies. I think I can say such absolute stupidity in these kinds of movies. If I'm that believable, I think I'm a good actress in that regard because nobody can be that stupid. As far as acting, I think I could do a lot with other things acting-wise, but because of the way I look, because of the way people see my movies, they don't think that way. Perhaps I could get some opportunity now as I get older to try something else, but the leads are gone now when you hit a certain age. You're not able to have that unless you are a Diane Keaton type of personality. I would love to play a deranged mother. I would love to play this psycho mother. I would like to play some psychos. I don't know if anyone would actually look at me and say "Hey, you can play a psycho". I would love to be like a "Clockwork Orange" type of psycho. There's some acting stuff I'd still like to do. As far as what talent, I think the talent of surviving and just living another day is, for me, having cancer issues...You know, that's a talent by itself. That's kind of where I'm at right now, just trying to get through cancer, which is a little more realistic, and I guess that is a talent, because if I can get through to seeing all these doctors and medical issues and insurance issues, then that is a talent. Maybe if I'm successful at it, I can show other people how to navigate through the system when they get sick. It's a system. It's just like anything else. There's a way to get through it if you're smart, and you understand how to manipulate the system, you will have a better experience at getting well, of seeing the right people, if you know how. When you don't know how, you're losing so much besides your health. You're losing your financial life, you're losing a lot of things, so maybe that's where my next avenue is going to go. How do you deal with banks when they take your house in foreclosure? How do you deal with major medical? Maybe that's the talent I'm now seeking...Only I don't see it as that.
Jewel: I gotta wrap it up.
Caps: Okay, can I just ask one final question?
Caps: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?
Jewel: Yes. I would understand that a person is destructible, can die, will die, will get old. I would approach the industry with the intelligence of a job and not the idealistic view of trying to be a movie star, trying to act. I would approach it as "This is a business. I want to stay in this business for a long time. I'd like to make money in this business. How do I do that?", but then, looking at that time period, the Internet wasn't really around, those things weren't really around. I guess you're stuck within your time period. I just wish I'd taken it a little more seriously. I wish I had done better moves in terms of not just being so naïve, but then I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't so naïve and didn't go along with those kinds of things. I wouldn't have had the opportunities, so essentially, we are exactly where we're supposed to be in life, no matter who we are, what we do for a job. Each part of life gives you the richness of who you become, and so, I guess there is no going back. It's just a matter of making the present work for you more now with this knowledge of the past, and that's, I suppose, the big lesson in life.
Caps: Yes. Well, since you do have to be going, I want to thank you very much for speaking to me. It's been a tremendous honor for my part. I've been a fan of your work for a long time, and it's definitely been an honor to speak to you.
Jewel: Well, thank you, sweetie, thank you. Good. I can't wait to see this thing. Thank you so much for your time, too.
Caps: No problem at all. Have an excellent day, Jewel.
Jewel: Alright, thank you.
Jewel: Bye bye!
I would once more like to thank Jewel for speaking to me, and for granting me permission to use the pictures you see in this article.
Jewel's official website is http://jewelshepard.biz/. You can find highlight reels of her work, information about her life, and autographed photos available for purchase.
Jewel has also gotten involved recently in making business cards. More info on that can be found here: http://jewelshepard.net/.
Thank you all for reading, and you all have an excellent day, too.