Last night I went to the historic Loews theater in Jersey City to meet Piper Laurie (Margaret White in Carrie, Catherine Martell in Twin Peaks.)
The evening started with a meet and greet. She had copies of her new autobiography, Learning to Live Out Loud.
She looks so gorgeous in that picture and she still looks good. Ms. Laurie turned eighty this month but she seems vigorous and in good health.
My friends and I were towards the front of the line. I politely said hello and asked if she’d please sign my copy of Twin Peaks. She seemed in good spirits, if a little weary. That’s understandable since, she’d done a meet and greet previously plus a viewing and Q&A for her other movie, The Hustler. She laughed when I told her that I grew up watching Carrie. That’s actually true, Carrie was one of the first scary movies that I ever saw and I’d stop whatever I was doing and put it on whenever TBS was playing it. So, here’s my box-set.
She also signed my friend’s Twin Peaks trading card of Catherine Martell.
There was some time between the meet and greet and movie showing. We wanted to sit in the balcony but that is still being renovated. We were allowed to wander around, though. If you’re a horror fan, you should go to this movie palace because it’s creepy. I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty agnostic about whether ghosts exist. Some buildings have a presence, though. I felt almost like I was in The Shining and expected someone to tell me that I had always been the caretaker.
The Friends of the Loews are working on restoring the theater and making it an entertainment center. I fully support that but I also have to appreciate the building’s inherent creepiness. So here are some photos I took.
You had to pass through this room to get to the lavatory. I was with two friends of mine and we all stopped when we entered the room. It just felt very weird.
I was struck by this beautiful chandelier and took many pictures of it. I think that this one is the best. It’s quite a difference from the movie theaters of today!
This photo came out quite blurry but I think that it captures the strange atmosphere of the theater.
The Landmark Loews is famous for a working pipe-organ that it has in the theater. I went there for a showing of the silent movie Nosferatu that had a live organist, and it was quite an amazing experience. We found this on the second level, I’m not sure what this one is used for.
This is an extreme closeup of the balcony that went all around the second floor of the theater.
Here are some golden cherubs in the ceiling. I like them because they remind me of the creepy ghost children from 1999’s The Haunting. They also reminded me of the blinking statue from Interview with the Vampire.
Finally, here’s a hallway that we found that was cordoned-off. I think that this is my favorite picture.
I’m not a great photographer but I wish that I could have free reign to photograph all I wanted there.
Anyway, there was a Q&A session next. Ms. Laurie first talked about her experiences working under contract for Universal. She was deeply tired of fluffy, vapid parts and being cast in a D-level western was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I was a bit surprised that she talked abotu dating Ronald Reagan. She was eighteen at the time and he was forty. I can hardly blame her for that, I’ve hardly ever dated anyone my own age. She said he was very protective of her. Also, that she was flabbergasted (Her own words) when she found out that he was running for president.
She had retired from acting to Woodstock, N.Y., when her ex-agent called with the part of Margaret White in Carrie. She read the script and thought that it couldn’t be serious, that it had to be comedy, so she initially approached it with some physical bits. Brian De Palma intervened and said it wasn’t supposed to be funny. Ms. Laurie had been out of the movie world for about fifteen years by then, but she said that that had helped her, that she was relaxed enough to just go with the flow. In fact, the last scene was done without rehearsal. They did have to do another take for technical reasons but she’s not even sure which take was used. When asked about Sissy Spacek, Ms. Laurie said that she found her to be very shy and very sweet.
Then she talked about Twin Peaks. Apparently, no one knew she was coming back for the second season. She says that David Lynch called her and told her that they were ending season one with the cliffhanger of Catherine being in the mill fire. He wanted Catherine to fake her death and let Ms. Laurie choose what kind of businessman she would come back as. If you watch season two, you notice that Piper Laurie’s name is no longer in the credits. Ms. Laurie created the character of Mr. Tojamura herself and they told none of the cast or crew that she was playing him. Even Jack Nance, who played Catherine’s husband, was in the dark about who was playing Mr. Tojamura.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. I found Ms. Laurie to be gracious, funny, and frank Plus, it was a great treat to see Carrie on the big screen. There are so many movies that I love that I’ve only seen on DVD, I would love to see them all on the big screen. And the screen at the Landmark Loews is huge.