Dennis Villelmi: Welcome to The Bees Are Dead Miss Beldam, or may we call you Lia? Staunch fans of the macabre that we are here, “The Shining” is one of those films that we often reference in our discussions, and so you can imagine how excited we are to have you- the mysterious and equally infamous Mrs. Massey from Room 237- as our guest for the moment.
Lia Beldam: You are most welcome and of course you must call me Lia. Let me make a statement here straight away: Where did you learn the surname of the ghastly woman in the bathtub?
DV: Oh her name is given in Chapter 38 of the original novel, and we’re reintroduced to her by name in Stephen King’s sequel, ‘Doctor Sleep’…
Now, this May will make 38 years since the film first hit the theaters; tell us if you will how you came to be involved with the movie?
LB: I was working as a photographic model in London. I worked in commercials, fashion and beauty. I was asked to go for an interview for this film for the BALLROOM SCENE. In my portfolio, at the back there was a section of nude beauty adverts, this changed their minds and they offered me the part of the woman in the bath!
DV: Had you already been acquainted with the original Stephen King novel of the same title?
LB: No, I had not read any Stephen Kind books, as they were too scary. When I started working for the film I kept saying to myself, I have no idea of the story I am in! later on that year I went skiing and read the book in a high up mountain hotel in deepest snow in Switzerland, very fitting!
DV: What kind of work were you doing prior to being cast in “The Shining?”
LB: I started off as a cat walk model and then changed to photographic modelling with lots of nude beauty advertising.
DV: So tell us about the scene itself: what was the production like? Any anecdotes regarding the ominous tub scene that you could share with us?
LB: Nothing special, just lots of lighting changes, waiting around in a fluffy bathrobe chaperoned by a lovely lady and of course, as you know, Stanley does many, many takes. The make up for the old lady, who by the way was charming, not an actress but a friend of the Kubricks, took 4 hours!
DV: Undoubtedly, there arose the question in the minds of many, how good a kisser was Jack Nicholson? lol
LB: Let me start at the end of the kiss rather, for my liking the camera exchanged my profile too fast with the profile of the ghost! I would have just let Jacks eyes see the back of the ghost in his arms in the mirror.
As for the kiss itself, which luckily took many, many takes…………………
DV: What was it like working with the legendary Stanley Kubrick?
LB: Stanley was a most charming man! He was courteous , he was gentle, polite, considerate in every way. He even listened and accepted a suggestion of mine, namely that I should run my hands over Jacks breast before the kiss. Stanley was very human and a man who knew his great talent, there was no need for him ever to have any directors tempers. A true gentleman.
DV: Were you present for the film’s initial screening?
LB: NO! and my royalties stopped after a few months, and I in my ignorance (and my agent’s) did nothing about it!
DV: Recently, a certain TV horror hostess, who’s also been a guest and friend of B.A.D Press, and I were talking about “The Shining,” specifically about your scene, and she said that years had elapsed before she was able to watch it again, such was the profound terror she experienced. As you were doing the Room 237 scene, had you any notion that it would scare legions of viewers so much?
LB: No, I had no idea about that and I am still surprised at how successful the film has been and that people still contact me about it. Of course for me it is not scary at all.
DV: As is known, Stephen King himself doesn’t rank Kubrick’s adaptation (mainly due to the autobiographical character of the novel) among the best interpretations of his stories, despite it having become a horror classic. In retrospect, how do you personally feel about it?
LB: It is so long ago that I read this book that I cannot judge. For me, give me the film anytime over the book.
DV: Have you seen the 1997 TV miniseries, “Stephen King’s The Shining,” directed by Mick Garris? If so, what was your reaction to it, especially with regard to Mr. Garris’ wife’s portrayal of Mrs. Massey?
LB: Just now, I quickly went on youtube to have a look at this. I only gave it a few minutes though. So my fleeting impression is, why copy something so masterful?? What is the point? It seems a bit arrogant to me, but here I say again, I gave it barely a few minutes.
DV: Today, how often are you recognized from the film? Do you attend any of the horror conventions?
LB: I have been asked to go to several conventions in America but have never bothered. It just seemed like a lot of hard work, travelling and jetlag for a few days, with very little reward.
DV: In the years since “The Shining’s” release, what have you been up to, Lia?
LB: I carried on modelling and had a son 8 years after the Shining, then lost my husband when my son was just 7 years old, stayed alone with him, muddling on and finally married an old friend of the family and now I live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and sheep and cows . I have started making ceramic pots but decided to go back to modelling for old people!
DV: In keeping with the apocalyptic theme of B.A.D., I have to ask, in a SHTF situation, would you choose a haunted hotel like the Overlook to ride out the end of the world?
LB: Absolutely NOT!
DV: Lia, thank you so much for being our VIP here at The Bees Are Dead. Perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to chat again sometime.
LB: Well, thank you for inviting me to give this interview, what could be nicer than people wanting to know about you after all these years?