Well traveled and eternally radiant, Irene Miracle has enlivened everything from dramas such as Midnight Express to a variety of cult films (Night Train Murders, Inferno, Puppet Master, Watchers II) with densely layered and completely believable performances. But her favored work has come on the stage and from her own passionate filmmaking efforts. Here, Big Gay Horror Fan chats with the kind, eternally changing artist about Dawnland, her take on the American Revolution from the Native American perspective, and the challenges she faced when filming the unusual genre film, In The Shadow of the Kilimanjaro.
BGHF: Hi, Irene! So, how did you start your own adventure in filmmaking?
Irene: That’s really easy. I wanted to create projects that I loved. Many of the scripts that were coming across my lap weren’t interesting to me. They didn’t fill me with any desire or passion to be in the film industry. The majority of stuff that comes into your mailbox or from your agent, it’s just not that interesting.
BGHF: So I take it that you had your share of struggles as a powerful, intelligent woman in the industry.
Irene: I did a lot of the films just because I had to work at some point. I had to keep myself going. There aren’t that many roles that I played in films that I was really excited to do. As is usually the case, most of the stuff I have loved is the stuff that I’ve done in theater. Those were the roles that really gave you a challenge and really gave you something to work for.
BGHF: Do you have a favorite stage role of the many you have done?
Irene: I played Mayo Methot, one of Humphrey Bogart’s wives. She was the one with whom he had the most passionate relationship. She could drink him under the table. She came from vaudeville. She was a singer, a dancer – very gifted. But when she came to Hollywood with him, she couldn’t get work.
BGHF: (Laughs) Well, obviously that did not go over too well!
Irene: She was a real ballsy, gutsy woman. She was notorious for doing things like stabbing him in the back when she was jealous about him playing opposite other actresses. The show was called Bogart. (Laughs) That role was the role in the show that every actress couldn’t wait for me to get sick or break my leg. Everybody wanted to play that part! Every night we got standing ovations.
BGHF: It sounds like something I would have loved to have seen!
Irene: Actually, we were touring with that and we planned on taking it to the Kennedy Center. But, as happens in many cases, the producers stole the money and we had to close it down.
BGHF: It must have been so frustrating for her to be so talented and watch her partner go on to achieve his artistic dreams. Its like that common tale of the 50’s housewife on a slow boil because she could do so much more than society allowed her to do.
Irene: She and Bogart kept a carpenter on the property because they broke so many windows and put so many holes in the walls from gunshots! They fought constantly.
BGHF: You brought that rich theater background to a cult film project that focused on another tortured relationship/failing marriage. You did such amazing work opposite Timothy Bottoms in In the Shadow of the Kilimanjaro.
Irene: That was a really hard project to work on.
BGHF: Was it because of the location?
Irene: It was shot in Kenya. That was awesome. I had lived there before with my dad and I absolutely love it! It’s a really magical place. That’s why I wanted to go back. But I got malaria while I was working on that film. I happened to be in one of the cabins with the water that drained from the kitchen north of me and, of course, the mosquitoes were going crazy. I got really, really sick on the shoot. So, there were a multitude of things that happened on that shoot that made it very hard for me.
BGHF: Well, that shows your talent and professionalism. You create a fully realized character – very rich and deep. You can understand her journey – her not understanding her husband and wanting a different kind of life. Your character, Lee, also survives a very vicious baboon attack. Was that frightening to film?
Irene: (Laughs) Yeah.
BGHF: (Laughing) I guess I didn’t even have to ask that question!!
Irene: Baboons are the one primate or monkey that you cannot train. They are simply un-trainable. Working with them was extremely scary. It’s also one of the reasons why we went through three crews on that film. Tim (Bottoms) had a baboon that he kept with him all the time and it became very jealous of anyone who got too close to him. They’re scary – just very scary animals to work with.
BGHF: You took the work that you could and did amazing stuff with it. Now, as we mentioned at the beginning, you’re creating your own projects. Can you talk a bit about your film Dawnland?
Irene: Dawnland was originally meant to be three half hour to forty five minute shorts that eventually would become one feature. I finished the first of the series. But since then I have kind of lost the thread on that. I am really proud of what I’ve done with it. But I am still trying to finish a second short that I started awhile ago. It has an American Indian theme in it, as well, but it’s about an opera singer. She’s a very talented woman who is rethinking the priorities in her life.
BGHF: Is that a theme for you – women searching for meaning?
Irene: No. That’s the only thing I’ve done in that aspect. It just turned out that way. It started out as another story that someone else wrote. But I had to re-imagine another story based on footage that I had. So, I am still trying to finish that.
BGHF: Are there certain things that inspire you – other filmmakers, certain events? Or is it ever changing because you never know what may strike you?
Irene: It’s ever changing – as I think we all are. As we grow, different things become interesting to us. There are films that I hated 10 years ago that I look at now and think are wonderful. I wonder how I couldn’t have liked it, initially. And vice versa! I really think as we grow, our tastes grow. Now, I have several things that I would really love to do. I would love to do a film based on a novel called Ahab’s Wife. It’s the other side of Moby Dick.
BGHF: That sounds fascinating.
Irene: It’s the woman and what she’s going through. He’s out on his adventures but she has had quite a life, herself.
BGHF: It kind correlates back to Bogart in a way.
Irene: Yeah – It’s about what her story is and what her experiences are.
BGHF: I love that.
Irene: Yeah! There are several things that I really am very excited about getting off the ground.
BGHF: Well, I am sure they will all be wonderful – just like you!
Irene: Aw – thank you! You are such a sweetie.
BGHF: Well, back at you! And – thank you for taking the time to chat. You are a true artist, my friend!
Irene: Thank you!
Be sure to keep up with all of Irene Miracle’s incredible artistic journeys at http://www.dawnland-movie.com.
Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, is always singing the praises of the well traveled woman at http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!