Missy Crider is an actress with remarkable depth and talent and one who had already made her mark in Hollywood before she was eighteen years of age. She has had a distinguished career to date, creating many memorable roles in television and film and the ultimate accolade so far must have been in 1999 when Missy received a call from Steven Spielberg. He said he had recently seen her work on ABC's "Strange World" and was so captivated by her performance that he wanted to write a part specifically for her to play a lead role in his new NBC one-hour drama "The Others"
To Millennium fans she is most recognisable as Janette Viti, the tormented soul who breaks free from prison with lover Sonny in order to protect her unborn child. As you can see from this interview, Missy is wonderful and very warm individual and we are indebted to her for taking time from her busy schedule to speak to us.
BACKTOFRANKBLACK: May I take this opportunity to say thank you for agreeing to speak to us and what a pleasure it is to talk to you.
MISSY CRIDER: No problem Mark, it's a pleasure for me too.
BTFB: "In Arcadia Ego" is fairly bold in that it proposes the idea that divinity works miracles through those individuals not readily considered as adherents to a Christian lifestyle. When you received the script did you perceive it as as bold and challenging as I did?
MC: I tend to attract bold things, people, subjects. This script was absolutely bold. The role I played was a challenging role for an actor and that's why I really appreciated it. You know, I consider myself a Christian, though I find that I do not typically perceive Christ’s teachings as most do. Peoples’ fear seems to attempt to cut apart and judge “who” they believe is “worthy” or “fits” their definitions, or the like. I liked this piece because the writers seemed to propose that “Christ” does not limit “divinity” to what peoples’ definition of “a good Christian” may or may not be.
A gay woman has an immaculate conception? Yes, bold is a good word for this. I think that Gandhi summed it up neatly when he said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” No one knows the deep truths that exist in the heart of another. That about says it for me.
BTFB: A charge often levied at Millennium is that it was too dark and somewhat impenetrable for many viewers, how do you stand on this view?
MC: That depends upon the individual. "Many viewers" are why a great many intelligent or brave shows are cancelled. I prefer a brave, loyal, yet tight following, myself. Is not the job of art sometimes supposed to be that it invites us to think, to feel outside of our comfort zones, to ponder our own inner truths and define them for ourselves?"
BTFB: I recently read a review of In Arcadia Ego which stated that "...In Arcadia Ego tackles subjects that are still, somehow, sensitive and pits the cowardice of homophobia against the warmth of requited love..." From an actor's perspective did you perceive the narrative as bleak or could you sense the light that so many fans perceive that other seem to struggle with?
MC: This is a great question, and you know what? I find it an artistic liability to my job if I “judge” a character that I am looking to portray. I do not "think" about what you speak of that much. I find the arc of my character, the arc of the story, the relationships that I must uphold (or not) within it and then I tend to use my "heart" more than my "intellect" when I work. "I" may have many opinions about the story or the subject matter but try to never allow my own opinions or leanings to color or inform what the writer is intending to tell. The fun of it for me is to go, “okay, this is this character’s truth.” Then I do whatever research necessary to be able to understand what may make her tick.
People do not hire me to play “me”. "My" opinions and the people I play have nothing to do with each other. It's quite fun, actually... To chuck everything that I “think” and then to dive in to the mind and world of another. Quite simply, my job here was to read the world of one woman and to understand the world in which she existed in this particular story, and then to find it in me to play her.
BTFB: The relationship between your own character, Janette, and that of Sonny, played by Mary-Pat Green, is so thoroughly believable and rewarding to observe and enjoy. As actors are you afforded much time to develop on-screen relationships or do you simply have to dig deep and hope the chemistry is there at the time of filming?
MC: Thank you for the “believability” compliment. Usually it's the latter. My experience has been that it’s 5am, I have curlers in my hair and a burrito in my mouth under some tent that a crew member set up just minutes before and bam, “Hey Missy, this is Mary-Pat. She is playing your lover today.” We shake hands and then go have a baby together...in a train car...full of straw. I usually have to project onto a fellow-actor that I utterly trust him/her even though we have just met to be able to do brave work with him/her.
Mary-Pat was so supportive to me during that birthing scene, she may never know how much I appreciated that. It is huge to feel that energy, that someone has your back when you have a lot of heavy material to attack that day. She had great ideas, I remember. Mary-Pat is a fine actress and I am honored that we were able to work together in this piece.
BTFB: The closing scenes of the episode are particularly traumatic to watch but yourself, Mary-Pat Green and Lance Henriksen gave such confident and assured performances despite the content. Juliet Landau also portrayed a traumatic birth scene in the third season of Millennium and commented on the need for trust between those on set during filming scenes such as these, Kristen Cloke echoed this sentiment regarding a traumatic scene of her own. What are your feelings with regards to such things?
MC: I think I spoke too soon in my answer above regarding trust, eh? Yes, yes, and yes. I use visualization, as I picture that everyone around me who is working hard in the crew, the camera team and my fellow-actors are “all there in an energy of support for each other.” I literally close my eyes and picture that at the beginning of my work days. It usually works!
BTFB: You have worked in some incredible productions during your career and with some indisputable talents but the one we are most interested in is Lance Henriksen. We are constantly awed by thy esteem and regard his co-stars hold for him as both an actor and a man. How do you recall your time filming with him?
MC: Lance and I worked on the film “Powder” together years before we worked on that episode of “Millennium”. I find him to be a decent, kind, smart, warm, awesome human being. He has such a rugged tenderness (which adds up to “sexy”, if you ask this gal...wink. Ha!) that is felt by his co-stars and audiences, I know. He is very dedicated to story and also creates a relaxed tone on set for others. I adore Lance.
BTFB: I believe the role you portrayed in 'The Others' was specifically created for you by Stephen Spielberg. What is the experience like to have such a luminary describe your work as captivating and how do you recall your experience in that show?
MC: Wow. “The Others” was such a gift in my life. I could write about it for days. The experience of Mr. Spielberg offering me the role of “Satori” in his show was simply one of the rare highlights of my life! I was beyond honored. I loved working with Julianne Nicholson, Bill Cobbs, Gabriel Macht, John Billingsley, and Kevin O’Connor. Our cast had a funny, unique chemistry that just felt like family to me. Those were fun days.
I think if that show came out at this time, it would have a much more supported chance at staying on air for longer than it did. That show was a class act. I will never forget how much fun I had with that subject matter. I miss that cast sometimes. Dearly.
BTFB: Shortly before Millennium you starred in "Stand Ins" which is a fantastic independent movie and one I have seen many times. Did you and your fellow actors enjoy the opportunity to recreate such iconic screen looks as Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow?
MC: Oh my goodness, it was a blast. I love the “melody” in the delivery of voice from that time period, such as 'you put two and two togethahhhh, you could come up with somethin', stringbean!' and colorful proclamations such as that. I adore the dress, the unmistakable style, the funny exaggerations, the drama. It was all so very delicious. I had fun playing “coy” and “flirtatious” at once.
I wish we women were still so bold, so brazen, so colorful and to wear hats and gloves and wink and such. I mean in dress, speech delivery, that sort of thing. It was a colorful time.
BTFB: What can fans of yours expect from the future and the continuing career of Melissa Crider?
MC: I am attached to a few independent films at this time. Right now, I am going to college after 17 years of doing the day in/day out grind that is the life of an actor in Hollywood. I am majoring in journalism, minor in psychology. Also, I have a biopic that I am working on with a friend but not on any sort of 'hollywood clock.'
BTFB: And now the bit that everyone dreads....
MC: Thank you so much! Fun stuff.
Please leave any comments and thoughts you would like Missy to see in the comments section here!
- Official Demo Reel: http://www.freshups.de/mc
- Resume & Bio: http://missycrider.nowcast