Actress Marion Ross talked to Monsters and Critics’ Ian Cullen about her role in the new indie movie A Reason.
Ross is perhaps best know for her work on ABC’s Happy Days TV show but has also had numerous eclectic roles in movies and and TV over the years from voiceovers for SpongeBob SquarePants to a guest appearance in Grey’s Anatomy.
In A Reason Ross plays Aunt Irene, who has gathered her family together in order to read out her will.
What was the most challenging part of playing Aunt Irene in “A Reason”?
The hardest part about playing this character was remaining unlikeable because I am naturally likeable. In a way you begin to want to humanize the character because everyone has a backstory. There is a reason Aunt Irene acts the way she does, so it makes you wonder what she went through to become this very cold, heartless person that is pissed off.
Were you drawn to the character because she was more of a villain?
Yes, I was. It was fun to be someone you don’t adore. She was no Mrs. C from Happy Days. I was also drawn to her because it was a very good script. You can’t quite figure out who to root for in this film.
Out of the younger cast and crew who did you connect with the most?
Mostly the producer Caroline Risberg because I’m older and didn’t want to play with the kids so much. She would take me to set everyday so we really connected.
What was your favorite scene in A Reason?
The scene that intrigued me the most was this very dramatic dinner table scene we did. We were shooting around this table with eight people, which was a lot. Before in the old days we would shoot with one camera then reset, reset, reset for each person. It would take a very very long time. On this film, the cameraman had this curving track. He would get the master shot, the two shot, maybe a three shot and end up with the close up all in one take. I thought this was fantastic.
You were on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I know the show was made long after he was gone, but did you ever get to meet Alfred Hitchcock?
No I didn’t. We shot the episode up in Toronto. It was very interesting because at one point I had green makeup all over my face, like a monster. I come out of this the grave and pretend like I was being buried. At the end of the day I was too tired to take off my makeup, so the driver took me to my hotel and everyone was giving me the craziest looks because my face was completely green. It was definitely an interesting night.
What was one of your most memorable experiences with Happy Days?
What was most memorable and what happened almost every day was we would just play all the time. Jerry Paris, the director, was the biggest child of everyone on set. We became very close, so there was a lot of playfulness going on, it was wonder we ever got the scripts made. I remember this one time Henry Winkler grabbed a bottle of whipped cream and began spraying me. It was fun but then he ruined my clothes so we had to stop and have me all fixed up again.
Another great memory was our Happy Days softball team with the cast and crew. Everyone wanted to be on it and you couldn’t get a writers job on Happy Days if you couldn’t hit. We played for the media in all the major ballparks in the United States. When the show was finally over we all got on a plane and flew to Okinawa and played softball with U.S. Marines. It was great. Garry Marshall was first base, Ron Howard was right field and I was rover. I could hit pretty well. It kept the cast together long after the show was over.