The lineup for this year’s Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Con is already incredibly stacked. Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd have also been announced with many more celebrity guests being added in the coming weeks and months. They’ll be signing autographs, posing for photos and participating in a must-attend Q&A.
Flashback Weekend will be held August 2-4, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont, IL. For ticket sale information, please visit www.flashbackweekend.com.
I seems like no matter what kind of movies you enjoy, chances are good that Virginia Madsen has been in one of them. She covered horror early in her career with the cult favorite Candyman and has appeared in others over the years, most recently The Haunting in Connecticut. Madsen has also performed in acclaimed dramas including Ghosts of Mississippi, The Rainmaker, and Joy (playing Jennifer Lawrence’s mother). She is also a natural when it comes to comedies, as her Oscar-nominated turn in Sideways proved, as well as her performances in A Prairie Home Companion and the queer-themed A Change of Heart.
In director Yen Tan’s new movie 1985 (Wolfe), Madsen gives what may well be her finest performance. As Eileen, she’s a Texas mom whose oldest son, Adrian (out actor Cory Michael Smith), comes home from New York for Christmas in 1985, the first time he’s been with the family in three years. He’s hiding a few secrets, including being gay and HIV-positive. But Eileen is savvier than she seems, and Madsen gives her all in every scene, including an airport goodbye that requires a box of tissues.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Madsen, an LGBTQ ally through and through, before 1985 was released for a limited theatrical run and on home video and VOD in late November.
Gregg Shapiro: Virginia, early in your acting career, you starred in the classic horror film Candyman and later in The Number 23 and The Haunting in Connecticut. What is it about this genre of movies that appeals to you as an actress?
Virginia Madsen: It’s just very fun making a horror film. It’s like it’s Halloween and you’re a little kid and you’re pretending to be afraid of a ghost that’s not really there. It’s playing dress-up. It should also be very good storytelling. The reason I haven’t done more of it is because the stories were never any good. The focus was more on the slasher aspect and less on the story. That’s why I loved Candyman. It was really like a classic Dracula. When you look at the classic horror villains, you felt for them. You loved Frankenstein, and you hated when the castle collapsed because you have empathy for the monster. We all have a bit of the monster within us.
Virginia Madsen is set as a key series regular opposite Crystal Reed in Swamp Thing, the upcoming streaming drama series based on the DC characters created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. The project, which hails from James Wan’s Atomic Monster in association with Warner Bros. Television, is set to premiere in 2019 on the DC Universe digital subscription service.
Written by Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, Swamp Thing follows Abby Arcane (Reed) as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe.
Virginia Madsen will play Maria Sunderland, who traded in her privileged upbringing for the swamps of Marais when she married local business magnate Avery Sunderland (not yet cast), but Avery’s life-time obsession with the swamp has driven a wedge between him and Maria. Her poised existence is shaken further when the return of Abby Arcane reawakens a deep grief over the loss of Maria’s daughter, Shawna, drawing her into the dark supernatural mysteries emerging from the swamp. Wan, Verheiden, Dauberman, Michael Clear and Wiseman are executive producers alongside Len Wiseman who is set to direct. Rob Hackett is co-producer.
Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated for her performance in Alexander Payne’s Sideways, Madsen recently wrapped Epix miniseries The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair opposite Patrick Dempsey. She can most recently be seen in season one of CBS drama, American Gothic. She also recently wrapped shooting recurring roles on CBS’ Elementary and the new ABC hit drama, Designated Survivor. In film, she can be seen in the independent feature Her Smell, directed by Alex Ross Perry and starring Elisabeth Moss, which premiered this fall at TIFF. Madsen is repped by UTA and Untitled Entertainment.
“It’s expected that I’m going to have an opinion about things,” actor Virginia Madsen said Thursday in a Midtown cafe. We were meeting to discuss 1985, Yen Tan’s acclaimed black-and-white drama about a man named Adrian (Cory Michael Smith) who goes home to visit his family during the titular year, knowing it may be the last time he gets to do so because he has AIDS. Madsen plays Eileen, his mom who, in the words of Glenn Kenny’s New York Times rave review, is “almost desperately radiating affection.” It’s a complicated role, one that finds Madsen playing a woman who’s playing her own role as cheerful caretaker, while clearly aware that something is wrong.
Madsen’s performance is a highlight, as it is in most of her films. She’s best known for her work in the 1992 horror film Candyman and for her Oscar-nominated performance in 2004’s Sideways. But lately, she’s taken on supporting roles in smaller indies like 1985 and Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell, as well as television work (she appeared in the first season of ABC’s Designated Survivor).
When our conversation turned to #MeToo and the sexual harassment she experienced as a young “hot babe” in Hollywood in the ’80s, Madsen surprised me with her candor—she had previously mentioned said harassment in a brief Facebook post last year in the wake of reports about Harvey Weinstein. She doesn’t name names, but she did talk about about her experience and the emotional fallout in detail. We also discussed her experience with Hollywood ageism at 56 and her late realization that she’s “kind of slutty.” An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation appears below.
JEZEBEL: What did you think when you received the script for 1985?
VIRGINIA MADSEN: You know, I read a lot of bad scripts. I read a lot of bad writing. I try to be nice, but it’s work. This script was not work. It was something I fell in love with and felt very moved by. I felt there was an importance to this story, and I was looking for that. “Send me something with meaning, goddamn it.” I do need to pay the rent, but I need something that has depth and meaning. I’d been doing television. That’s the only place where the money is now, but that’s not satisfying. That’s a job. You make sure at least you’re having fun doing it, but I wanted something that people could feel something and learn something from.
A trailer has been released for Yen Tan’s “1985” starring Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung and directed by Yen Tan. Check out the synopsis and new theatrical trailer below., which opens on October 26th.
Having been gone for three years, closeted advertising executive Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, “Gotham”) returns to his Texas hometown for the holidays during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Burdened with an unspeakable tragedy in New York City, Adrian looks to reconnect with his preteen brother Andrew (Aidan Langford) while navigating his relationship with religious parents Eileen (Academy Award Nominee Virginia Madsen) and Dale (Golden Globe Award Winner Michael Chiklis). When he reaches out to his estranged childhood friend Carly (Jamie Chung, “The Gifted”), their unresolved issues force Adrian to confront an uncertain future that will significantly alter the lives of those around him.
Shot on black-and-white super 16mm film, “1985” takes a unique look at a pivotal moment in American history through the prism of empathy, love and family.
Virginia Madsen looks so fresh on the red carpet as she arrives at the premiere of her new film 1985 in the 2018 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival at the DGA Theater on July 16 in Los Angeles, California. She was supported by her boyfriend the actor Nick Holmes also being joined at the event by fellow cast members Cory Michael Smith, Aidan Langford and Christopher Racster. Take a look to all the photos added on the photo gallery, you can see some previews below!