Returning to 112 Ocean Avenue I am sure was a dream for Diane Franklin but one that most never thought would come true. Interesting enough for those of you that are not aware, Diane played the eldest daughter in Amityville II: The Possession and now she plays the mother character (Louise DeFeo) in this new film, The Amityville Murders.
I was recently granted the opportunity speak to Diane about her role as Louise Defeo, which she does a remarkable job I must add, bringing her own taste to the character on how she believed Louise lived her life right before she met her demise on November 13th, 1974. This role is not only the most important role for Diane herself but her fans will also realize how important and instrumental Diane is to Amityville. I still cannot express how privileged I am to have had the opportunity to speak with her.
The Amityville Murders is now in theaters and available on VOD Streaming platforms.
Diane Franklin Interview
Ryan T. Cusick: Hi Diane.
Diane Franklin: Hi Ryan, how are you?
RTC: I’m good, how are you doing today?
DF: I am doing great, it has been a busy day.
RTC: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with me. This is really a treat.
DF: Aww, thank you. Do you know any of the stuff I have done?
RTC: Umm.. yes. But Amityville II is the top of the list.
DF: Well you know who else loves it? Quinton Tarantino. He is a big fan of that film. This is a very cool story, I have a cool story to tell you. Quinton Tarantino has a theatre called the Beverly… ummm…ummm…oh gosh, the Beverly, oh how could my mind escape me? Well he has a theatre and
RTC: Wow, yes that is amazing! Who made the decision to bring Burt Young back?
DF: Here is the great thing. We are starting to cast so I was probably the second person, they cast John Robinson who did an amazing job on the film, first. They were casting down the line and when they came to the grandparents it was a little later. Originally I didn’t say anything but the production company Skyline and Daniel came to me and said “what about Burt?” I said, “that is wonderful, I would love that!” I also suggested to get Rutanya [Alda] also who would have love to have done it but there was a complicated group of things and unfortunately couldn’t do it. I think that they couldn’t get her and she couldn’t do it, they couldn’t bring her. But we did get Burt and then we got Lainie [Kazan]. But oh my goodness, let me just tell you something. Have you seen the film?
RTC: Yes I did, I was very fortunate I got to see it at ScreamFest.
DF: Oh, nice. So that moment with Burt and I, it is so real, so heartfelt. And I am just so glad that I got it on screen because there is such a love for each other in the film like remembering the old times and I am just really grateful that was a really nice thing for them to want Burt to come in.
RTC: And then to have that birthday scene all over again and having the roles reversed was just amazing.
DF: [Excitingly] Yesss! Right? That was crazy having the birthday scene again. I am so glad that you said this, I am not sure if the audience knows this but for me to play the daughter Patricia Montelli which is essentially Dawn Defeo just the name was changed I guess for legal reasons, whatever. It really was the same story and for me to experience that from a daughter perspective and then a mother’s perspective was
RTC: What a wonderful opportunity, amazing.
DF: I don’t really think that any other actress has done that, play the mother and then the daughter in the same story. I don’t think that’s ever happened.
RTC: This part was just made for you. I could tell watching you that this is the best work I have seen you in, I mean…I know it meant a lot to you.
DF: Yes, and thank you so much! I really think that it is worth people seeing. First off just being so happy to do it. A lot of times when an actor gets hired it is like, “okay now I am playing the mom” and your sort of filling in a hole and maybe adults don’t get some good juicy roles but I was very into it, I think the audience
RTC: Hopefully it makes people go back and revisit that movie or see it for the first time.
DF: Yeah. I want to say what is very interesting for me is that I teach kids and I was thinking, let’s say kids are older, teenagers they can watch the Amityville movie, they can watch them both. They can watch the one that just came out because it is not as graphic and I am happy about that because they can see my work and that is real nice. You can act as an older actress and to me that was one of the greatest things as well, I started so young, I started acting at ten years old. One of my dreams was that I love this career because you can act until you’re eighty, you an act your whole life. This is one of the thoughts I had, “oh this is great to be a role model for women to act in good juicy roles as you get older.”
RTC: What a great example of this, The Amityville Murders, you have come in for a complete circle.
DF: You know I will say another thing too. What is interesting is that I decided that I wanted to do horror and it is because I said to myself, “where are the good roles for women? Where are the juicy big parts?” Horror, that’s where those dramatic roles are. I went to horror to be able to do drama and it just fell into my lap, I just opened my mind to it and there it was, very interesting.
RTC: Yeah, and they go hand-in-hand. Did you find any challenges playing Louise DeFeo?
DF: Umm, yes. Well first of all it is sooo interesting that you say, “the role was fit for me” because when I got the script in the description it said “a big Italian mama” and I am like “oh my gosh I am not that person”, I mean that is not me physically, I am not tall, I am not big, how am I going to play this? When I went to the audition I had to say to myself, don’t…I mean in my head I was like I am not what they are looking for. Like in the back of my mind I thought, this is my one chance to be this character so I have to let that go and I’m just going to be it in the room and because of that I gave the best audition of my life. And it was. They clapped, everyone in that room – the casting director, the producers, the director, Daniel the director, he stood up and hugged me for a minute even crying saying, “you are my Louise, you are my Louise.” Oh, and I was crying – it was intense. So, I think what is exciting is when you’re an actress you can have those magic moments, it is just a question of how much you give in the room, you gotta give in the room. And you have to be right for the part, again here I am and I did not think I was right for the part and that was even more surprising. [Laughs]
RTC: I mean the way they did you up, especially with the hair, it looks a lot like her – if you look at the portrait.
DF: [Excitingly] Yeah, that was another thing too I looked at it and I thought, “do I look like this woman?” There’s that great portrait of Louise Defeo and I really tried to get into the emotion where she was caring about her kids, I mean she was a well todo woman from Long Island. She had nice clothes, good nice jewelry, she was one of those people that I think being respectable, was very important to her. I at least played as if she loved her kids because I think to a certain extent…I mean she tried to keep that family together. I think in portraying her role I tried to embody her not with just looks but with emotion, where she was at in her head. I also did hear something quite interesting someone once said to me, a fan actually that Louise is actually related to Lady GaGa, which I thought was interesting.
DF: Distantly, there is some sort of connection which I thought was amazing. I found this out later but I was like that is even more interesting that this incident that happened in Long Island, in Amityville, has sooo much effect on the world in ways we don’t know.
RTC: And what a small world it is. Wow, very interesting.
DF: This story…that’s another thing. These people, you go to see movies that is one thing for entertainment and then there are movies that are like this – so rich and so deep in story, in acting, in the people who are in it and there is just so much of a nice background about this and everything comes from a place of love. The director loved the script and he worked so hard on it, it was the first film he directed and has so much respect for the entire family. He just took it to heart, Daniel Farrands.
RTC: And he knows so much about it. When I talked to him yesterday you’re the Wikipedia of Amityville.
DF: Yeah, he did the documentaries. Out of all the Amityville he’s the one that would know more than anything. I was just so excited to be a part of it – in full. Before I did this Amityville. I found out that originally Jennifer Jason Leigh did an Amityville and I knew someone that did sound on that and they said, “oh, I just did an Amityville with Jennifer Jason Leigh.” And that was years ago and I went, [sadly] ohhhhh, why didn’t they call me?”
DF: [Sadly] “oh they should have called I’m around the same age.” [Laughs] I remember thinking, “oh, oh well it is not going to happen.” It is so funny, years later that I play Louise.”
RTC: If Dan had another project lined up later on would you be interested in being a part of it?
DF: Oh my goodness, yes. I also love how he directs. I get so connected. He is, like, he is..I am trying to find the right words. He’s got a vision, he is very specific, and he is clear about his directing. His idea and vision I trust and I love how accurate…he wants everything to be just right and i love that in a director and we worked really well together. If he needs something I can bring it, you know…it was really really great. I would love to.
RTC: While during filming were there any spooky moments that you experienced or anything funny that happened on set?
DF: Yesss. Yesss, horrible, a really creepy thing happened. I am sitting at lunch under a tarp and as I am eating all of a sudden a handful of these pods come from out of the sky, which I don’t even know how they got in because we are covered, it is Craft Services you’re covered, and they fall into my lap. Out of these pods come these bright green beetles and they are crawling over me and they and it was disgusting and I am sitting there in my costume going, “what is going on here?” By the way this has never happened and a whole bunch of them. And these beetles come out of the pod and slide off like slow motion. I can’t even begin…like the size of walnuts. This is creepy and just one of the things. It was the most creepy thing to me because of the bugs and the whole Amityville thing.
RTC: Yeah with the flies.
DF: Yeah and the flies, they were giant beetles and it was shocking and I scared everyone, it was just me, it fell right into my lap and I looked up there was nothing, you know, just a tarp for us. I don’t know how it go there it gave me the creeps, the bugs, the whole thing – And that was only one thing but there were other things. So there ya go. [laughs]
RTC: Thank you so much for that! And again congratulations it was great speaking with you.
DF: Thank you and my pleasure as well.
Check Out ‘The Amityville Murders’ Q&A From The ScreamFest Film Festival & The Trailer Below!