For Karen Allen, it’s a time of movie anniversaries, and CloserWeekly.com’s Classic TV & Film Podcast is right there with her to celebrate in an exclusive interview with the actress whose career exploded in her movie debut, 1978’s National Lampoon’s Animal House. From there she went on to star as Marion Ravenwood in a pair of Indiana Jones films that were separated by more than 25 years; Claire Philips in the modern retelling of A Christmas Carol in the form of the Bill Murray starrer Scrooged — which recently became available on Blu-ray for its 30th Anniversary — and is now growing her career as a director. Some highlights from the interview follow.
Karen Allen on National Lampoon’s Animal House: “On Animal House, we were all making our very first film and we were of a similar age range. So you probably couldn’t be in a better situation for a first film. We had this feeling that we were all kind of in the same boat and we got along really well, and I’m still very, very close friends with a lot of those actors. Prior to that film, I didn’t have a concept of that kind of success. I was auditioning for theater projects when I saw a little notice for an audition for college-age actors and actresses. I sent my picture and resume and got a phone call. Suddenly they asked me to do this film and it was a brave new world. I mean, I didn’t know anything about that world at all.”
Karen Allen on Raiders of the Lost Ark: “I could tell through other’s people’s awe and wonder that it was a big deal I’d been cast. But with Steven Spielberg, now we have this huge body of work that’s so extraordinary, but at the time I really only knew Jaws and Close Encounters. It was such unknown territory when I did Raiders — the script was somewhat mysterious and it was a wonderful kind of world. And it was being shot in a style that I was a little uncertain of.”
Karen Allen on Scrooged: “It’s a truly great story that Dickens wrote, and I had read it many times in my life. I’d also see many different versions that were done on stage and in various films. I was just so impressed with the way the story was structured in that they had taken Bill Murray’s character of Frank Cross and made him a television executive, which I thought was quite clever on their part. And then to take Claire and make her a social worker for the homeless created such a dichotomy between these two characters who had once been in love with each other in their younger days. I just thought it was really good writing and a wonderful retelling of the story, but bringing it into the modern day.”
Karen Allen on Directing: “I’m really enjoying the process of directing and working with actors and, and figuring out, you know, what are the stories I would be interested in telling. What’s worth that kind of investment of time? It’s certainly not monetary, particularly when you do smaller, independent films, so you’ve got to find something that you’re passionate about.”