Q&A: Actress Debbie Rochon
Geeksagogo: Do you consider your role in Doom Room to be a departure from your earlier work?
Rochon: Well, that would have to be answered in segments. Departure from the roles I began my career in - absolutely! I started in horror movies but also made some exploitation films. My roles have always changed over the years as with any actress. I began in small roles that were more of the ‘fragile girl’ type. I could never relate to them but that was the work that was happening back then. As times changed and I got older the roles of course changed. For a number of years in the early 2000s, for about 15 years, I was very often the villain or killer in flicks. I related to that much more and they were far more enjoyable roles to play. I still play those types of characters but now I also play the crazy or tormented older female ‘professional’. In Doom Room I play a wonderful character. She’s a little crazy, a little deranged but has a lot of physicality to her specific interpretation. I loved working on my role in this film. I really think this is a smart, disturbing movie that should find its audience fairly easily. Anybody who enjoys a unique, different mind-trip movie will dig it.
Geeksagogo: How did you prepare yourself for your role in that film? It appeared to be a demanding part.
Rochon I did a lot of physical preparation for this particular character’s attributes. I worked on a lot of Marionette doll style of movement. I definitely went to a dark place emotionally to be able to play someone who is as despicable as she is. Of course, while you’re playing the character you don’t think of them as such, but after, when I saw the movie, it’s pretty clear she is. Whatever serves the material best is what you have to do. You can never judge the character you play because it’s a piece of a bigger puzzle and it has to be committed to completely to serve the movie as a whole.
Geeksagogo: What was it like working for Troma?
Rochon: I have worked with Lloyd Kaufman since 1992. So, that’s a big question. I can summarize it by saying I learned a lot of things from working on his movies including; how to make broad, absurdist comedy work. It’s fun to play very big characters but it’s equally important to have one foot deeply grounded in reality otherwise you can end up just being silly and not funny. He’s also a wonderful collaborator. He welcomes all input from creative people and that’s a joy as an actor. My top favorite movies that Lloyd has directed me in are Terror Firmer and Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm. They were incredible experiences and I’m so glad I was a part of them.
Geeksagogo: Are there any roles that stand out as your favorites or memorable?
Rochon: There are many. When Jon Keeyes and I made our first film together, American Nightmare, that was an outstanding experience all around. Creatively, emotionally and collaboratively. That is definitely one of my very top favorite filming experiences. He trusted me a lot with the character and I just went with my instincts all the way. I had done so much prep on the role I was able to improvise as much as he wanted me to quite easily because I knew Jane Toppan inside and out. I will always be grateful he let me go crazy with such a fun role. I really could list many films here, so simply I will mention working with Ivan Zuccon in Italy on his H.P. Lovecraft adaptation of the short story Colour from Out of Space, titled Colour from the Dark for our film version, that was another spectacular experience. Another role like Jane Toppan where I was so deep into the character, I could improvise anything that was required for the film. I also made Wrath of the Crows with Ivan which was another terrific experience. If the material is great and the director is great then as an actor you can really do your thing and it will be captured and the performance and movie will shine.
Geeksagogo: How did you get your role in 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains' and to what extent has Punk influenced you?
Rochon: I was homeless at the time it was shot in Vancouver, BC and I walked into Lynne Carrow’s casting suite and had a Polaroid taken. I was willing to bleach my hair and had no scheduling conflicts for the 3 months that they wanted me on set so I was hired. It was on that film that I really saw how actors worked and if you give 100%, even as background, it’s appreciated. Background is really important in a film. You are still playing a character. And when you’re working on a movie for that length of time and you work really hard at following the instruction from the 1st AD people notice and appreciate it. It helps the film as a whole. There’s nothing worse than seeing lame extras in a movie. Takes away from the world that is being created. As far as punk affecting me or influencing me - it has completely. It’s a state of mind, it’s a true indie mindset. You can work in independent films and know that they have the potential to be even more important than mainstream films. They are a truer reflection of what’s going on in any decade. It’s the ultimate DIY mindset and that’s what punk was always about. Not for the masses. For the underdog, the disenfranchised, the unique and the counterculture. That’s always been me.
Geeksagogo: Do you have any advice for aspiring models and actors?
Rochon: I don’t have any advice for models never having been one, but I imagine there’s a small crossover for the professions. Always give every job your all. Even if you’re off the mark. A good director will help mold a performance and if you’re not lucky enough to have a good director then no one can say you weren’t committed to the role! Treat every role like it’s the most important role you’ll ever do. It might end up being the most important role and if it’s not then you have practice learning discipline. Don’t ever be on a set and hate it. You’re not doing anyone any favors if you don’t really want to be there. Like I said before every person on a set on both sides of the camera is vital to making a great film. And that’s what we all hope to do every time out, whether we succeed or not.