By Tim Nasson – People always ask me who my favorite celebrity interview is. Over the years, I have interviewed everyone who is or has been an A-lister at least once, many five or six times, including Oscar winners, and highest paid at the time I am interviewing them. After having talked with Lin Shaye for nearly an hour one recent afternoon, I can say, without hesitation, that she is not only one of the nicest people I have interviewed, but also one of the most fascinating.
Let’s start at the beginning of her movie career, which for Shaye was 1998’s There’s Something About Mary. Yes, she had a couple of cameos before then, in movies like the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, Kingpin and Dumb and Dumber. But There’s Something About Mary is the film that catapulted her to fame, playing the wrinkly, sunburned, dog loving Magda, at the age of 55.
“I had done Dumb and Dumber for Peter and Bobby (Farrelly) and had so much fun with it. Even though it was a small role, I gave it my all. I never expected to get the role of Magda in Mary, four years later. But Peter and Bobby called. I didn’t expect her to be that well received either,” says Shaye. The rest is history. For over 20 years, Shaye has appeared in numerous films, but none more successful at the worldwide box office, (and a far cry from the comedic element of the Farrelly movies she appear in), than all four Insidious films she has starred in.
In the movie business, most actresses have either made it or failed miserably by the time their in their early 20s. Shaye is an anomaly, someone who got a big break with a little role, and ran with it.
If you are wondering if Shaye began acting in her 50s, you’d be wrong. The 74 year old ‘little’ sister of New Line Cinema founder Bob Shaye, grew up with acting in her blood. She attended the University of Michigan, where she was an Art History major, although she acted in as many University productions as possible, including “Bye Bye Birdie” and “On The Town.”
After U of M she attended Columbia University School of the Arts, and acquired a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting. She stayed in New York upon graduation and worked in numerous off- and off-off- Broadway productions, as well as Lincoln Center and Broadway. She studied with some of the finest acting teachers including, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, and is a lifetime member of the Actor’s Studio.
“I never thought I would become known as a Scream Queen,” says Shaye, with complete sincerity. The first Insidious arrived in theaters in 2010. “It had only an $800,000 budget. No one, not even the producers, expected the film to be the hit that it was.” The first Insidious took in nearly $100 million at the worldwide box office, earning more than 100 times its budget.
Insidious, and all of its sequels, was produced by Jason Blum, who is now in charge of his own banner at Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, and is responsible for low-budget box office hits such as The Purge movies, the Ouija movies and the 2018 Best Picture Oscar nominee, Get Out.
Insidious 4, released January 2018, has taken in over $165 million, worldwide, and it is still playing in many countries.
Shaye doesn’t stop. “Working, making movies, especially, keeps me feeling young,” she says. Her latest movie, Los Angeles Overnight, is inspired by the L.A. Modern Noir genre and populated with distinct and dynamic characters. Arielle Brachfeld (Consumption) stars as Priscilla, a struggling actress who inherits a bevy of colorful villains after desperation drives her and her gullible boyfriend, a lovelorn mechanic (Azim Rizk, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), to steal big from the Los Angeles underworld. No amount of preparation could ever prepare this actress for a blood-soaked role filled with seedy criminals and “hot loot.” Entirely shot in Los Angeles, Shaye features prominently in the film.
“I had a lot of fun with the entire cast and director,” she beams. “I had so much fun that I made dinner for all of them last week. They all came over to my house for dinner.” Which leads me to ask her if she is a good cook. “I love to cook,” she says. “But my brother (Bob, the founder of New Line Cinema) is a great chef. He is always cooking with and creating recipes with Wolfgang Puck,” she laughs. “He is the real chef in the family.”