Horror icon Caroline Williams, best known for her character Stretch in the 1986 classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” has been a staple in the horror culture for over 30 years. Acting in cult classics including “Leprechaun 3,” “Leatherface,” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 2” — her dedication to her characters has made Williams the go-to actress for the genre.
Inspirer was fortunate enough to catch Williams before she headed to this year’s Comic Con International in San Diego to promote the newest installment of the “Sharknado” franchise, “Sharknado 4.” Williams told us about being a part of the Texas movie scene, her iconic “Texas Chainsaw” audition, and the excitement of getting back into acting.
You’re from Texas, how did you get involved with acting?
I kind of just fell into it. I was working for a production company and it became an attraction. I was spending a lot of time on sets and watched so many fantastic actors — I knew I wanted to give it a go. I just jumped in with both feet and felt excited to be apart of something just being born in Texas.
When I came of age in Texas, it was the ’70s, it was a rip roaring time. Houston itself was growing and starting to create a film business that relied mostly on runaway projects from Los Angeles. But it was the ’80s when my career started. I landed my first film with a well known French director, Louis Malle. He’s known for “Pretty Baby,” “Atlantic City,” and the movie I did with him, “Alamo Bay.” Having only about six months of acting lessons under my belt, it was a very big deal for me. And of course, a little intimidating. It was a great start because it gave me a standard by which I could judge everything else. You know, it’s something I measure and weigh and think about all the time.
How did you land the part of Stretch in “Texas Chainsaw 2?”
Once again, it was opportunity and meeting the people in it. When it came to “Texas Chainsaw 2,” I knew they were auditioning a lot of actresses out of Los Angeles and New York, but the fact that they even had a Texas casting was interesting. Tobe Hooper was also a Texan, so felt like there was an advantage. It just fell into my lap in that sense. My audition story is well known. I came running down the hallway screaming, burst into the audition room slamming the door shut. I pulled the chairs out from under them, piling them in front of the door. There was only one line for the audition, “They live on fear! They live on fear!” So I knew if I wanted the part, I had to act out the physical.
It must have been exciting working on that film.
I expected it to be fast paced, and it was. It was one of my favorite things about it. The sets were built and it was this wonderful underground world. It was like having my own personal playground. Add to that, acting alongside Dennis Hopper, who is a well educated, cultured, and incredible man. That was definitely an opportunity not to be missed. I learned so much about the technical aspect of film acting. Lessons that I still use today that were really instrumental in shaping my career. I haven’t had that kind of time since, really. The closest I probably came was “Leprechaun 3.” Which also another physically demanding shoot. Both great experiences. I was having the time of my life.
You will attend San Diego’s Comic Con this year to promote “Sharknado 4.” That sounds like a fun weekend!
Yes, I’m very excited about it. There are always a lot of activities in conjunction with that release. There’s always a large panel and fan activities, so we will be there for that. It’s always a very large release for Syfy since it’s become such a giant franchise.
When will Syfy premiere the movie?
Our red carpet premier will be held at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas on July 31. We will be live tweeting from the carpet. It’s always very anticipated by the fans and is really something great for Syfy, hauling in thousands and thousands of viewers. It’s such an exciting thing.
It really has become a cult movie hit.
It has. A lot of people ask me if this is the final movie, I have no idea. I don’t know if April will live. I’ve heard she does and I’ve heard she doesn’t. I’m just really excited about it.
You’ve become very busy since returning to acting.
Being the mother of two teenage sons has kept me very busy for a long time. I tell you, the effort to relaunch myself back in my career has become a focus for me now that my boys are older. I’ve been able to switch up my team and get back out there. I have another film debuting the end of August at Fright Fest UK called “Blood Feast.” It’s a remake of the 1963 classic and is very anticipated. I’m really looking forward to that release as well. Then in October we will be going to the Citrus Film Fest in Spain, so I’m just having a great time.
Do you have any advice for young people struggling to follow their passions?
I call them “the two P’s.” And I got this from George Romero, you have to be patient and you have to persist. It’s really true. When you are pursuing any type of career you have to be both of these things. Because once you put yourself out there, circumstance becomes part of your life. You can’t always control that. Take opportunities as they come.
Make sure you catch Caroline in “Sharknado 4” airing July 31 8/7ct on Syfy. Follow her live tweets from the red carpet @willicaroline and follow her on Instagram @willicaroline.