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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deeper Dish with Catherine Mary Stewart

Any cult film enthusiast should be familiar with actress Catherine Mary Stewart, who starred as "Bibi" in the 1980 sci-fi musical, The Apple, about a young couple in the music industry set in a futuristic 1994. The film may not be as well known as Xanadu and Can't Stop the Music, but it definitely ranks right up there as one of the most camp-tastic musicals in cinematic history.

Since The Apple, Catherine has appeared in many other films, including The Last Starfighter (1984), Night of the Comet (1984), Mischief (1985) and Weekend at Bernie's (1989). She was also the original Kayla Brady on the daytime soap opera, Days of our Lives, from 1982 to 1984 - and in the 1986 TV miniseries, Sins, she played Joan Collins' character in her younger days. However, I fondly remember her the most from the 1985 miniseries, Hollywood Wives, in which she starred as "Angel", the young wife of a hunky Andrew Stevens. Today Ms. Stewart continues to act (last year she appeared in the family drama, A Christmas Snow, and the Hallmark Channel movie, Class) - and I am so happy to have her here on the Dish to discuss her interesting career and answer a few pop culture questions.

Let’s begin with The Apple. How did you get cast in the role of "Bibi"?
I was living in London, studying dance, and I happened to go along to a dance audition with a couple of friends for The Apple. I was pulled out of the audition and asked if I could act. Of course I said “yes”, so they had me read for the role of “Bibi” and the rest is history.

What is your fondest - or least fondest - memory of working on the film?
It was an amazing experience all around for someone who had never acted professionally. Here I was thrust into this role and shooting in Berlin, Germany, with a bunch of total strangers! Thankfully I was young and naïve and wasn’t preoccupied with small details like “what the heck am I doing...?” I just went with the flow. Probably the most difficult scene was shooting the “Speed” number. The heels were so high on those boots I wore, they practically killed me! By the time we finished shooting the scene my feet were numb. Some of my toes remained numb for about 10 years!

Were you surprised by the critics’ negative reaction to The Apple upon its original release?
Once again naïveté saves the day. I had no preconceived idea of what necessarily constituted whether it was a good film or a bad film. I just went with the flow and everyone involved with it seemed very enthusiastic. When it was panned, I guess it was a bit of a rude awakening, but I was just starting out so it didn’t have a huge affect on my career. What most industry people cared about at that point was that I had “starred in a film” and that seemed to carry some weight.

Did you enjoy your two years on Days of our Lives?
Shooting DOOL had to be the hardest job I’ve ever had. Boy, do you learn discipline on soap operas! I remember my first day on the set as nurse Kayla Brady, and I had to do a scene where I was reporting the condition of some character in the hospital or some such thing, and a bunch of characters were lined up and I had to go down the line naming them all. I had not followed DOOL since I was a teenager and I wasn’t familiar with any of them. I could not get their names right. It was humiliating!

Who was your favorite co-star on the show?

I loved Wayne Northrop, who played my brother Roman at the time. He was a sweetie. He and his family lived near me in L.A. and our kids even had one or two play dates. I thought of him as a big brother. If he read this, he would probably be surprised. I even introduced him to a boyfriend once to get his opinion. I haven’t seen or spoken to him for a long time.

Which Hollywood Wife was the most fun to work with – Candice Bergen, Joanna Cassidy, Mary Crosby, Angie Dickinson, Stefanie Powers or Suzanne Somers?
One of the things I remember most vividly was Candice Bergen and Joanna Cassidy’s laughs. They would get together and joke around and just crack each other up. They both have very distinctive laughs. It was hilarious!

I was a bit of an outsider on that show. The cast was made up of mostly very famous, very established actors and I was like the young, new ingénue. Angie Dickinson took me under her wing. I think she saw that I was shy and bumbling around and she took it upon herself to make me feel comfortable. I will never forget her generosity. It meant the world to me.

What was it like playing a young Joan Collins in Sins? And as the executive producer, did Joan have to approve your casting?
I suppose Joan approved me. She wasn’t at the auditions. In those days we weren’t “put on tape” as we are for everything nowadays, so she couldn’t have actually seen my audition, but she must have OK’d me on some level.

I actually loved shooting that movie. It was shot in France, so that alone was amazing. I found the role extremely challenging and interesting. I thought the transition from me to where the character is suddenly Joan was kinda funny, maybe a little jarring, because I don’t think I look very much like her - but I loved my role.

Now let’s discuss a few of your other film projects over the years. What’s the first thing that pops into your mind about:

Night of the Comet?
Cool character to play. Action, zombies, collaboration, long hours of shooting.

Fun period piece. The 50’s were a sweet, simple time. Pastels.

Weekend at Bernie’s?
We shot first in New York. I was totally intimidated and felt like a fish out of water. Then we shot in North Carolina where I sat around for the most part. I was bored and when I was on the set I was totally hyper because I was just so happy to be around people. I'm certain I was annoying! It was fun doing comedy.

If you could go back and give your 19-year-old self a wise piece of advice, what would it be?
Take nothing for granted. Network. Learn as much as you can about the entertainment industry including self-promotion and the business side of it. Believe in yourself and be smart.

In high school I was:
Skinny, goofy, awkward, dancing, acting in plays, somewhat of an outsider.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Hockey Night in Canada! (I had two older brothers), The Wonderful World of Disney, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Ed Sullivan, Sonny and Cher, Batman, Lost in Space and Star Trek.

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Well, right now: Modern Family, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Oprah, Downton Abbey on PBS (and PBS in general), World of Jenks, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Alicia Keys' Songs in a Minor, Aretha Franklin's Aretha’s Gold, Boz Skaggs' Silk Degrees, Dave Matthews' Crash, Des’ree's I Ain’t Movin’, the Once soundtrack, Imogen Heap, Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits, Joe Cocker's Organic, The Nylons' One Size Fits All, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Greatest Hits, The Very Best of Roberta Flack, Greatest Hits of 1720 and Andrea Bocelli's “Romanza”. This is the bare minimum!

Three of my favorite movies are:
There are too many over the years. I just watched The Sound of Music again and LOVED it! I just saw The Last Station - fantastic! And, well, I guess I have to say Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

If I was asked to choose the Sexiest Man Alive, it would be:
Obviously the hubby but before him, I LOVED Paul Newman, but sadly he’s not alive anymore. Hmmm, alive, see now I’m really looking old (as if all the stuff above didn’t age me already). The guy on the Old Spice aftershave commercial cracks me up totally - and definitely caters to the female sensibility in a hilarious way which is sexy.

If I could have anyone in the world – living or dead – be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following people:
Paul Newman, Pierre Trudeau and my kids.

What’s next for Catherine Mary Stewart?
Writing and directing a musical on stage and a horror movie - and that’s all I can say at this point.

Thank you, Catherine, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Catherine Mary Stewart, check out her website, You can also follow her on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


becca said...

what a great interview thank you for sharing it

Marc said...

Thank you for reading it, Becca! I'm glad you liked the interview. :)