Sarah Douglas – Displacement
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What made you intrigued to be a part of the film Displacement?
A) I was approached by the director Ken [Mader] I’m not sure how many years ago – three of four years now. I sat down with him over coffee and he was very much enthusiastic and it was his baby. There was something rather wonderful about meeting a guy who is putting himself on the line for this. He absolutely believed. He was so passionate. That hooked me in initially. I have to say I am always excited to do anything in the sci-fi fantasy genre because it keeps all my wonderful fans and followers very happy since it is very much my medium. Having said that, I never have a clue what I’m doing because I’m not a big sci-fi girl. [laughs] I’m like, “Oh no! Not more time travel or quantum physicals, but it does seem to be the direction my career has gone in. I accept it graciously. I’m not absolutely on board with science fiction as much. Dear Courtney Hope (a wonderful actress) who plays our lead would spend her life explaining to me. She’s really got a handle on this quantum physics stuff and time travel. But it escapes me. I just don’t really understand it. I guess you have to see the movie.
Q) How was Dr. Miles originally broken down for you as a character and how did you connect with her?
A) Well, I guess the character of Dr. Miles – there is a mystery. A lot of the stuff I have done (certainly in the last fifteen or twenty years) you assume that I’m going to be bad because I usually end up being bad in it. So, I was rather intrigued to find initially you are very suspicious about her. There is certainly a mystery about her, which I liked. She is certainly not to be messed with, but what appealed to me was the fact that she has a heart and there is a sensitive. There is a whole sense of Lee’s character having lost her mother (Susan Blakley). So, the whole issue of losing your mother and memory loss and everything at the moment are very much the light I am in at this moment, which is why I am in England. I’m dealing with lots of those issues. I certainly was attracted to the idea that one could perhaps turn back time and that the young character of Cassie was desperate to see her mom again. There is a lot of that in it that appealed to me. I don’t think it is any secret that our director sadly lost his mom. This was a time for all of us at a certain age to address those issues. I’m usually stomping around being an evil wicked queen with some sort of hat on. So, to portray someone with a sensitivity was appealing. I was happy to be on board and even happier to not be doing something evil to someone…Well, not too much. Also, the other thing is I’m getting older. I am moving into a different period of my life and of my career. I’ve already been working professionally for over forty years. It’s very difficult in Hollywood (and everywhere else in the world) because you are forever confronted with images of yourself as a much younger person. It’s lovely to look at it, but it’s not really who you are. This was really, for me, I was venturing into an area where I was playing a much older character and not the glamorous character. In fact, my great nephew wondered what had happened to me. He was very concerned. He’s eleven years old and said, “What happened?! Why do you look like that?” I said, “This is the way it is nowadays.” It is difficult. It’s like a transition period. So, this was part of a sort of decision for me. It was also relinquishing the past a little bit and letting go. This is it now. We’re into sixty and we’re into a different time. It was a nice, comfy sort of safe role for me to play. The fact that I wasn’t running around and being a young thing anymore I was sort of vaguely okay with. I didn’t have any scenes with Susan Blakely, but she’s an old friend of mine. I was able to connect her with Ken. That’s how these things work, especially on independent projects. So, it was nice to be able to tell her about the project and get her into the fold. I told her about it and Ken about it. They met and the rest is history! It’s good to be able to do that.
Q) It sounds like you had a chance to mentor Courtney and that you all got along.
A) Can I tell you something? I learned a great deal for working with her. I found working with her an absolute joy. Her enthusiasm and approach to everything was extraordinary. I know she had already done quite a bit and I really sense that she is going to go places. She’s already going and I am watching her with delight. I can’t say that I really mentored her because she absolutely knew just what she was doing and how she wanted to do it. She was a very generous lady and we worked well together. I really enjoyed working with her. I’m excited for her. As I said, it’s a new thing for me. It’s a new thing for all of us who are getting a little bit older to see that the young ones come up and see their enthusiasm. So, I was delighted to work with her. In fact, the whole cast was great. I had a lot of fun. As we know from the outtakes I had a bit too much fun. You’ve got to have a laugh! You’ve got to have some fun because what’s the bloody point otherwise! It was great. It took us a little while to get this whole thing shot and put together, but it happened. And it’s exciting that it happened. I’m really proud for Ken and the cast and everyone that they got it out there.
Q) The movie does surround the idea of second chances. Do you feel everything is meant to be or even believe in second in chances?
A) I certainly believe in second chances. I’m very aware of missed opportunities and I am blatantly aware of fate. The one thing I tell younger actors is to grab every moment and really take advantage of it. It’s nice to see younger actors, especially taking advantages and grabbing the opportunities. I arrived in Hollywood in 1982 and I was already thirty years old when I came to LA. I look back now and boy oh boy would I have done things a little bit differently. I missed a lot of opportunities because I didn’t really grab them. We think that we have all the time in the world and we haven’t. The truth is it rushes by. So, this film does resonate with me because stuff happens. My God it happens! And you have to really take advantage and take notice. You have to be really observant and not sit back. I certainly sat back in the very beginning because it was all happening around me. It was all a whirlwind when I arrived in LA. I came out and I was on “Falcon Crest” for a couple of years. I had never worked liked that because I had worked in England and suddenly you are on a nighttime soap and you are working two or three days every seven days and on my days off I wasn’t really filling my time. I was sitting by a pool loving being in Hollywood. I wish I had taken full advantage and done other things at the time. There are lots of things that we wish. I certainly don’t regret anything. I would just have done things slightly different. I’m always saying to people to grab those opportunities. I’m relatively new to social media. I’ve done Facebook since the beginning, but how different my career and my life had been if there were social media. I watch you all work it all the time. Everybody is working it and selling themselves. We’re all sort of commodities now and it was different when I started. Firstly, any attention you got was from the press and to get that press you had to be noticed. Fortunately, I was lucky to get enormous opportunities and to travel around the world for “Superman.” But I was selling “Superman.” I didn’t sell me. I didn’t understand about selling me. And also you didn’t sell you. You didn’t sell yourself as a commodity. Now it seems like everybody is a commodity. Whether you are on Instagram eating an ice cream and promoting that, everything is an opportunity and everybody seems to be selling themselves all the time. I’m not overly comfortable with that, but it’s a different world. It’s a how you get out there and get known. The idea that you go into one of the biggest director in the world and he checks how many followers you have I find absolutely horrendous, but I completely accept that if there are two of you and if you’ve gotten down to the two of you out of thousands you are both probably equally good. And a particular director I know in person very, very well said, “Of course I’m going to take the girl with the million followers if the other girl has a thousand because there is your already built in audience.” It’s a different world. I can’t say I would have done things much differently because I can’t say there is much differently I could do except missing out on opportunities. I wanted to stay home rather than go out. So, grab every moment! This movie says to grab every moment and live every moment! It’s a good little movie and as I said it has lots in there. It’s a mind bend of reality, what’s going on and what is real and what is fantasy. It’s kind of like living in Hollywood because I never figured out what was real and what was fantasy.
Q) Obviously, you have this incredible background and were a part of the iconic Superman film series. How do you feel about the current rise of female led superhero series?
A) I think it is absolutely fantastic. Back in the day, there wasn’t anybody…My character Ursa was sort of the first one out there and I completely, totally adore and am so grateful to have had that opportunity. But right now I’m reeling. I love “Supergirl!” I’m waiting on them. I don’t know why the buggers don’t invite me to do a cameo. I just want to see how it is all done. It’s a different world and so much fun. I’m excited for girls and women everywhere that they have these wonderful people to look up to. There is a lot going on within the wonderful world of superpowers and they are coming at you from every direction. I find it very exciting. I never ever got on to “Smallville.” God did I try to get on to “Smallville!” I had started to think I had done something wrong. I was beaten on about that from the very first episode. I was saying, “Hello! I’m over here! Hello!” They were saying hello back, but nothing more happened. I hope it isn’t the same with “Supergirl.” Something popped up where they offered me something last year and I wasn’t able to get there in time to do it. I think they called me on a Tuesday and I was in London, but I needed to start on a Thursday morning. But I’m hopeful! It would be lovely to think that I could do just one of these shows. As an older thespian, I could be a blob in the background. As someone said to me, “You could be Ursa’s grandmother.” I said, “Really?!” I suppose that’s probably what they’ll offer me. [laughs] I’m holding my head high. It’s forty years. I looked at something and found the call sheet. It was in my scrapbook that had lovingly been put together by my family. There was my call sheet from forty years. It was April 1977 of my first day on set with Marlon Brando. We’re still doing it! People are still writing, talking and wanting to hear about “Superman.” It’s very exciting. I love it! Although, sometimes I look at the superhero outfits and think, “Really?” Hey, that’s okay. You’re all entitled to get dressed up as whoever you like, but do not expect me to get put on my leather boots anymore because they don’t fit. I admire “Supergirl” so much. The “Smallville” thing disappointed mea nd all my lovely loyal fans that I couldn’t get to book it. I never understood why. I know the same goes on with “Supergirl” and the fans did a lovely campaign last year. It worked and they responded, but it just wasn’t the right time. I just think it would be wonderful and I would be so honored to be asked to be in something like that with all this new generation of fans and people watching who maybe don’t know me from “Superman.” Maybe they know Ursa, but they don’t know me as Sarah Douglas. It would be nice to introduce myself to them again. I think female superheroes are marvelous. I think it’s great. Long may it continue and I’m delighted that I’m able to do it. I’m delighted that people like you are out there.
Q) What are the other recent projects that you have been working on?
A) I just finished doing something for Netflix. I came back from Romania and I am moving into a new era. I played a rather stern character, but an older stern character. I’m letting go of the glamour bit. It’s tough as you get older, but I’m ready for it.