15 Questions in 15 Minutes with stage and screen star Adrienne Barbeau

From her Broadway debut in Fiddler on the Roof and her award-winning performance as Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease, to her legendary roles on the hit TV sit-com Maude (as Bea Arthur’s daughter Carol), on the long-running soap opera General Hospital (as Suzanne Stanwyck), and on HBO’s Emmy-winning series Carnivale (starring as Ruthie, the Snake Dancer), to her appearances in such popular films as The Fog, Escape from New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Back to School, Cannonball Run, and the Oscar-winning ARGO, the fame of Tony- and Golden Globe-nominated star Adrienne Barbeau knows no fifteen-minute limit.

Adrienne Barbeau in Carnivale. Photo courtesy of HBO.

With over 450 screen roles and more than 25 theatrical productions in the US and Canada to her credit (including the Prince’s grandmother Berthe in the 2015 National Tour of Pippin), Barbeau has continued to expand her career, becoming a best-selling author (with her memoir There Are Worse Things I Could Do, the comedic thriller Vampyres of Hollywood, and its sequels Love Bites and Make Me Dead) and off-camera voice actor (as Catwoman in Batman: The Animated Series, Ms. Simone in Scooby-Do on Zombie Island, Scooter’s Mom in the 3-D animated film Fly Me To The Moon, and in the video games God of War, Halo 4, and Fallout 76, among others).

This month, Barbeau joins a cast of veteran actors from the Broadway community and beyond as the guest star on Episode 11 of The World to Come podcast by Erik Ransom (book and lyrics), Andy Peterson (music), and Rachel Klein (direction) – a fantasy audio adventure series set in New York in a semi-dystopian future, where society is divided along pop-cultural lines. Her character, the no-nonsense badass Queen Gehenna of the Fansci Folk, is heard in a flashback to the fateful Fiveboro’s Genre Wars, strategizing and making deals with strange bedfellows in an attempt to dominate the city.

Adrienne was kind enough to make time in her ever-busy schedule to answer some fun questions about the upcoming podcast and her multi-hyphenate career, and to give her fans some insight into her personal thoughts and tastes.

Adrienne Barbeau. Photo by Pamela Springsteen.
  1. If you were Queen, which realm would you most like to rule?

Adrienne:  If it’s our world you’re asking about, I’d like to rule New Zealand. The nicest people in the world, with a true sense of making the world a better place. If it’s the world of The World to Come, I think they’d have to make a new realm for me – for people who only watch international mystery series.

  1. Is there one special performer you admire that you would dub Knight or Dame?

Jeff Bridges is at the very least a Knight, more likely a Duke or a King.

  1. How do you envision the world of the future?

I try not to think about the future of the world; especially not with two 24-year-old sons and a 35-year-old son – I’m just hoping their generations can reverse the damage that’s been done to mankind and the earth we share.

Beatrice Arthur and Adrienne Barbeau in Maude, 1975. Photo courtesy of CBS Photo Archive.
  1. If you could time-travel to any period in history, which would it be?

Maybe the ‘70s. I had a really good time in the ‘70s. Shallow as that answer may be.

  1. In real life, are you more like Queen Gehenna, Rizzo, Carol, or Catwoman?

Well, probably Queen Gehenna these days.

Adrienne Barbeau. Photo by Justin Wilczynski.
  1. City, country, beach, or mountains? Where do you feel most at home?

This is a hard one; have to answer in reverse – I love the beach, but I’d rather live in the mountains first, a European city second, or a farm in the country down the road from a city.

  1. When doing a podcast, with no cameras watching, are you one of the “fancy folk” or are you in PJs and no make-up?

Not in PJs, but definitely not dressed up. Jeans and no make-up for sure.

  1. What do you enjoy most about voice acting?

Not having to put on make-up!

Adrienne Barbeau in Escape from New York. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.
  1. As a performer, and as a viewer, do you prefer comedy, drama, “scream queen” thriller, or fantasy?

As a viewer, I spend my nights watching Scandinavian, British, Australian, European, and New Zealand mystery series on MHzChoice and Acorn. As a performer, I prefer anything with a well-written, interesting character to play (but comedy is probably last on the list).

  1. Is there one line that stands out as the most memorable you’ve ever delivered?

“Get out of my way, Henry, or I swear to God you’ll be wearing your balls for earrings.” Originally said by Billie (Wilma ‘oh, just call me Billie, everyone does’ Northrup in Creepshow, but then somehow the producers of General Hospital got it past the censors when I said it as Suzanne Stanwyck.

  1. Is there one song that’s your all-time favorite and you never tire of singing?

Oh boy, there’s no way I can narrow it down to just one song. I’m usually singing from the time I get in the shower in the morning right through taking my bath at night. Everything from the first albums I bought in the ‘50s (Tommy Sands, Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone) to the rock & roll songs of the ‘60s (The Drifters, The Platters, Johnnie and Jo) to the California sounds of the ‘70s (Loggins and Messina, Dan Fogelberg, Joni Mitchell) right on up to the hip-hop artists my younger son is producing today – with Ed Sherin, Stevie Nicks, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendez, Alex Clare, oh so many more along the way. But I’m probably the only person I know who never got into Elvis or The Beatles.

  1. What’s been your beverage of choice, comfort food, or leisure activity to help get you through the past year of the pandemic?

I live on grapefruit juice. Don’t like water. Drink usually a quart of real grapefruit juice a day. Leisure activity? I read. Even sitting in the dentist’s chair with the drill in my mouth, I read.

  1. What’s your first creative memory?

Playing the Black Stallion (I read every one of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series) on the playground in grammar school. I was the Black Stallion and all my friends were ponies.

Photo by David Alexander.
  1. If you weren’t in show biz, what are some of the “worse things” you could do?

I’m a terrific proofreader. My eye just catches typos and missing words that other people miss. But I’d probably have studied psychology.

  1. What has fame meant to you?

It’s funny, I never think in terms of fame. Sometimes when I’m calling the cable company, I hope the scheduler will recognize my name so I won’t have to wait a week to get my WiFi fixed, but mostly what I revel in is the fact that I’ve been able to earn a living doing something I love from the time I was eighteen years old; and I’m still doing it and still loving it just as much.

Many thanks, Adrienne, for taking the time to answer our quick questions about your illustrious career. I look forward to hearing you as the Queen of the podcast!

Episode 11 of The World to Come airs on Monday, March 29, and will remain available thereafter on all podcast platforms.


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