By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Dee Wallace famously played Elliott’s mom, Mary, in Steven Spielberg’s Academy award-winning “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” The blond, blue-eyed actress subsequently has gone on to star in dozens of films over the subsequent four decades, many of them in the sci-fi and horror genre. The gregarious sexagenarian reveals that her favorite role is 1983’s big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “Cujo.” In all, Wallace, who is a healing practitioner and renowned speaker has made some 200 movies, not to mention appeared on various TV shows, including Amazon Prime’s “Just Add Magic.”
Wallace returns to the sci-fi genre in “Beyond the Sky,” a modestly budgeted feature film helmed by first time feature director Fulvia Sestito, who co-wrote the screenplay with Rebecca Herrih, Marc Poterfield and Rob Warren Thomas. The film arrives in theaters, On Demand and Digital HD on Friday Sept. 21, and stars Ryan Carnes (“Desperate Housewives”), Jordan Hinson (“Eureka”) and Peter Stormare (“John Wick: Chapter 2”), along with Wallace.
Carnes plays a Chris, a documentary filmmaker who sets out to debunk alien beings in the heart of extraterrestrial territory—Roswell, New Mexico. There he meets true believers including a young woman named Emily (Hinson) who allegedly has been abducted by aliens and then returned to Earth three times, in seven year intervals, throughout her life. With her 28th birthday approaching, Emily is due for another abduction. Chris believes he can disprove her belief that it is aliens and somehow uncover a more rational explanation. Wallace plays Lucille, a sassy chain-smoking proprietress of a local store that trades in UFO relics and souvenirs. She also possesses a mysterious memory stealing device, which she refuses to turn over to Chris. Intrigued by the unusual tool, Chris returns to the store with his cameraman later that night and steals it, creating a furor amongst local believers. When Chris and Emily come under attack, a surprising outsider arrives from the skies above the desert. But is their arrival friendly…or not?
Wallace spoke by phone from her Southern California home about her newest role and reminisced about some of her earlier works that made her a star and revealed who she’d love to work with.
Q: You have 230 credits listed on the IMDB website. Does that number surprise you?
Wallace: (She laughs.) My publicist told me I’m up to my 200th film. I like to stay busy, I suppose. I’ve done five movies this year and two guest stars (on TV). It’s been a good year. I’ve gotten a lot of good, really different kinds of projects. I get bored and I like to do it all and do everything all over the map, and that’s what keeps me happy.
Q: Plus, you have your other interests—as a speaker and a healer. You’re a busy lady.
Wallace: I am, and I like it that way. It keeps me young.
Q: How did “Beyond the Sky” come your way?
Wallace: An offer came in and I read the script and I thought, “Wow, they got it right.” It’s been E.T. and the (depiction onscreen) of the friendly alien. That’s what I know to be true. First of all, there really are aliens. Second of all, they’re friendly and they’re here to help and guide us but they cannot intervene in any way—as far as our decision-making is concerned.
Q: Did you go to New Mexico to film this?
Wallace: No. I filmed (my scenes) here. I have a habit of helping new, young filmmakers if I think they’re talented like Fulvia. I liked the part (of Lucille). I thought she was spunky and served the film. And I know that my name helps sometimes get financing and distribution so everybody wins if it’s a good project with good people. I’ve gotta say, I think Ryan and Jordan are really wonderful in this film—simple and understand and some really nice acting. I like the statement of the film. It really combines all the spiritual work that I do with a really good sci-fi movie.
Q: Did your spiritual side surface before you made “E.T.?”
Wallace: Even when I was a little girl, I had that knowing within me. Then I met (author and hypnotherapist) Dolores Cannon. Dolores was the foremost past-life regressionist in the world. She passed away two years ago. She found my healing work and took me on tour with her. We had many discussions about all the people she had regressed that had had extraterrestrial encounters. She’d written a lot of books about it. I told her that I always thought (extraterrestrials) were friendly and she said, “You’ve got it right. They’re here to guide us and be kind to us but they cannot intervene in our decision process.” So, we had a lot of discussions that verified what I believed ever since I was a little girl. I’ve had a lot of supernatural experiences. It didn’t make any sense to me. I know the more energy expands and the more consciousness expands, the more it understands that love is the center of everything and the center of all creation, which happens to be a big message that this movie brings forward. This has brought everything together for me that I was focused on in my life.
Q: It came around at the right time, I guess.
Wallace: If you believe that things just come around, yeah, it did. I believe that we, through our questions and our interests and our perspective, we really create what comes to us. Always.
In my life, things just continually get created at the right time. People find me and projects find me. As I said, I did five movies and two guest projects this year and I only had to audition for one of those projects. Things just find me. We’re the magnets that attract our lives to us.
Q: Speaking of coincidences, I interviewed Jamie Lee Curtis two days ago. She, of course, starred in the original “Halloween.” You, of course, starred in the 2007 “Halloween” by Rob Zombie. Have your paths ever crossed professionally?
Wallace: Oh yeah. I can’t remember when, though, but it was probably at an event that we went to to promote something or a charity thing we did together. So, yeah, I’ve met her but I’ve never worked with her. I’d love to work with her.
Q: I could imagine you and her and maybe actress Lin Shaye—all the scream queens—getting together for a film.
Wallace: I don’t think Jamie Lee considers herself a “scream queen.” I certainly proudly wear that banner. I’m up to doing any kind of genre film that Jamie Lee would like to play in with me.
Q; What’s next for you?
Wallace: I have a little film I’m going to be doing for a friend that I’m going to be doing in December. I’m going to do a TED talk in October. That was one of my dreams to create this year—to do a TED talk, which will be in Cape May, N.J. As far as acting, the film in December is what’s on the books now. But stuff, like I said, just comes to me all the time. So, I just wait until it finds me. I have an audition on the books today (Sept. 17). I’ve been doing a big convention here in town, and I didn’t even know I had it. So, when I finish doing publicity for “Beyond the Sky” today, I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do for that audition.
Q: Do you have a favorite role?
Wallace: Oh yeah. “Cujo,” hands down. I just feel like I went as far as I could go and as truthfully as I could go there. I’m really proud of my work in that film. Of course, I adore “E.T.” and “The Howling.” I’ve been blessed with so many great parts to play. But “Cujo” just kind of has a place in my heart because I feel like I did everything I had in me in that movie.
Q: Are you still filming the Amazon series “Just Add Magic?”
Wallace: We’re not shooting them anymore but they’re still streaming on Amazon Prime. There are two more seasons to be released but we’re not shooting anymore.