Café: How did you go from modeling to acting?
Veronica Carlson: I had a photograph of me coming out of the waves in a white bikini on the front page of a tabloid newspaper. Jimmy Carreras (a Hammer executive) saw that photograph and said he wanted me in his next Hammer movie. So, I went for an audition and I ended up with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.
Café: Had you seen any Hammer films before that movie?
VC: I was a great fan of Hammer. When I went to college--which I did at 16--and before I went to college, I loved Hammer movies. My friends in college loved them, too. There was one occasion when we knew there was a new Hammer film coming out and two or three of us just decided to skip class that day and go see it. We couldn't wait for the evening show, because we also had evening classes. We decided the better class to skip was the afternoon one, so we did. In those days, there were two films and, prior to the second one coming up, we looked around the theater and half the class was there--and unfortunately, so was the professor. He stood up and said: "I shall expect all of you back in class later when you've watched the film. But don't forget, that I've already passed my exams. You've still got yours to go." He let us off with a rather stern warning. But that's how popular Hammer films were and how much we enjoyed them.
|On the rooftops in Dracula Has Risen|
from the Grave.
Café: Were there any particular challenges for the actors?
VC: The only setting I was really nervous about was when I was being carried up to the castle on that mountain. It was in the studio. Christopher's (Lee) stunt double, Eddie Powell, carried me and my head was hanging over the precipice. I was very well aware of this and I was trying not to stiffen up in Eddie's arms to make it difficult. That one did make me nervous. Another thing that made me nervous was careening through the woods at the top of that carriage trying not to fall off. I gripped the bar on the coach tightly with my hands. None of it was perilous, of course. They didn't put us in any danger.
Café: You co-starred with Hammer's two biggest stars: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. What was it like working with them?
|The scene where Christopher Lee|
provided the "eye line."
Café: What about Peter Cushing? I know you're a big fan of his.
|Veronica with Peter Cushing.|
Café: One of the best sequences in any Hammer film is in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, when the water pipe bursts in the garden and exposes a corpse. How did you prepare for this scene?
|Drenched in water for perhaps|
the second time.
Café: You starred in films directed by Hammer's two best-known directors: Terence Fisher and Freddie Francis. How would you compare the two of them?
|Veronica and Peter Cushing in a|
publicity still for Fisher's film.
Café: How would you describe the working atmosphere on a Hammer movie set?
VC: Happy, very happy. It was a very convivial, lighthearted atmosphere, though very serious when we were working. The crew was so obliging. It was just a happy family. There was no dissent. There were no problems. There was no grumbling.
Café: Do you think Horror of Frankenstein would have fared better if it had been marketed as the dark comedy it was?
|A publicity still with Ralph Bates|
and Kate O'Mara.
Café: Many of your American fans are unfamiliar with your 1972 TV series Spyder's Web. What can you tell us about it?
VC: I don't know really. Patricia Cutts, who played the lead, had some weight issues and the directors would get cross with her. It became an unhappy situation in so many ways. I was not particularly happy on that one. What I did like was rehearsing for two weeks and then we'd do the shoot on Saturday. That was fun. I worked with some wonderful actors and actresses in that series, so that was educational and I learned a lot. I think Patricia died not long after that. I don't know why. She did a play in Coventry once and because I lived in Coventry at the time, I went to see her. She came back to our home and we entertained her. She was a very sad lady. She'd had a huge tragedy happen in her life, which I won't discuss. It took her will to live away eventually. That's how it seemed to me.
Café: Is it true that you were almost cast in a James Bond film?
VC: Yes, but I was then under contract to Hammer for the final film I agreed to do. I was not unhappy about that. I walked into Saltzman and Broccoli (the Bond producers) to be interviewed and they said: "Oh, we've got our blonde girl." But that all fell through because I wasn't going to walk away from my happy family, not at all. I don't remember which Bond film it was. I was very torn at the time and I didn't want to think about it. It was whichever Bond film was being made when the Horror of Frankenstein was being made. I don't dwell on things I can't change.
Café: How did you become interested in painting?
|This portrait was auctioned for the|
Peter Cushing Memorial Window.
Café: Do you still stay in touch with other Hammer performers and, if so, whom?
|A photo from Veronica's Facebook page.|
|A resin model kit of Veronica will be|
unveiled at Resintopia.
VC: The Hammer day at the London Film Convention on November 8th, which is supposed to be a very, very big to-do. I'm doing the Resintopia Plastic Model Kit and Statue Expo on September 12-14 in Fairfield, New Jersey. Then next month, I will be at Cinema Wasteland Movie & Memorabilia Expo on October 3-5 in Strongsville, Ohio (near Cleveland) and at Monster Bash on October 10-12 in Pittsburgh.
To learn more about Veronica Carlson, you can follow her Twitter @VCarlsonOffic.
(Editor: The James Bond film in question was probably Diamonds Are Forever. It was released in 1971 and Horror of Frankenstein came out in 1970.)