Monday, 6 July 2015

It's a Cinderella story.... An interview with Cindy Morgan

50 cents left?! How did I have only 50 cents left? Surely that
wouldn't buy me another game?... I scanned the arcade, clenching my two measly quarters in my palm... There were cool driving games but they were at least a couple of dollars, there were shooting games, but again too much for me... Then I saw a sign, it said 'Retro Gaming' in blue neon and had an arrow pointing to the corner of the room, so I followed it, no harm, I thought... The sign took me to a strange and darkened little nook of the arcade, full of PacMans and Space Invaders... I scanned the room and after briefly considering a golf game called 'Caddyshack', I saw it... The game that I'd remembered hearing about... The game that I thought was just a legend, and it was only a quarter to play... The game... This awesome, mythical game, was Tron... 

I quickly slipped a quarter into the slot and pressed the one player mode, the game started and, wo! it was as cool as I had heard, ok the graphics were a little dated and the buttons a little clunky, but as I zipped and twisted my way round the neon maze I felt totally exhilarated, but then suddenly Wham! I hit the edge and my game was over... Blast! Ah well I had one more coin... I popped it in and started to play, but this time, as the game got faster and faster I got better and better... And oh my goodness, I was beating it! I was actually beating it!!! The top score was way below mine, but I was still going, left right, up, down... faster and faster... This was incredible! After a while I had the sudden realisation that a crowd had formed around me, cheering me on... I liked that... And as the game got faster the crowd began to cheer louder and louder and a voice started to scream at me to bare left... A familiar voice... A very familiar voice... A voice that would come from a person who would know this game well... My mind wandered and then Crash! I was out of the game and my crowd of supporters dissipated back into the main room to cheer on the next winner...  But one person was left, the one with the voice and no wonder I knew the voice and no wonder she knew the game, because the woman standing there was Cindy Morgan... Yori from Tron... 

Cindy Morgan (born Cynthia Ann Cichorski; September 29, 1954) is an American actress best known for her appearances as Lora/Yori in Tron and Lacey Underall in Caddyshack.

We grabbed a coke from the machine by the change machine and got chatting...

So, Cindy, how did you start acting?

"I started out in broadcasting, working in many areas of radio and television. I was based in cities in the Midwest during and after college. I wrote and read news and commercials, and in some cases produced my own work. I hosted a local talk show and did the weather at 6 and 10."

And was it your first career choice? - I knew that as well as beauty, she an academic and extremely intelligent - did you ever consider leaving it behind and returning to academia
"Acting was a career I fell into by default. While I was a DJ in Chicago doing morning drive, I was making $135 per week and felt that I was grossly underpaid. I registered with the Chicago talent agencies, but no one would hire me for on-camera work because I was the voice on the radio. So I moved to LA, and scored the movie Caddyshack within 8 months."

So, did you ever consider leaving it behind and returning to academia
"Always considering leaving it all behind!"

She said with a cheeky grin and a wink.

Now I'd always considered changing my name and I know that Cindy actually had, she was 
born Cynthia Ann Cichorski, I wondered... Why Cindy Morgan? 
"While in college, I had two jobs at two radio stations in DeKalb, IL… reading the news at a student station, and writing the news at the commercial station as a paid news stringer. I was told that I could keep both jobs as long as I had a different name at the two stations. After graduation, I sent out resumes as Cindy Cichorski. Not a bite. Then I sent out resumes as Cindy Morgan. Cindy Morgan got the job."

I  remembered the golf game in the retro section of the arcade, Caddyshack... From the
iconic 1980 Harold Ramis comedy and the film in which Cindy got her big break and a big favourite of mine... 
"Caddyshack was my first movie. I was hired for a day to do narration on a "Love American Style" project called "Up Your Ladder". It was later re-cut into something weird.
I DID get an amazing break with Caddyshack. Couldn’t believe I was cast as Lacey Underall after 12 years in Catholic School, 4 of those years in a Catholic girls high school in an advanced curriculum program. (All I did was study, but I didn’t let that get in the way.)"

So, how did you get the part? 
"I auditioned. I remember reading the script for the first time, and thought, "They’ll never cast me in this role. I can do anything I want with it." That sense of freedom won me the role."

And what was the filming like? Did you get nervous? - You know, being your first film, I asked her...
"I would have been nervous if I had let myself. I didn’t. When I found out that I had this job, I stopped watching any of the Chevy Chase’s and Bill Murray's work. I wanted to react to them just as they were. Good thing I did.
Filming was nuts, like Animal House on a golf course. Five years in broadcasting and an excellent comedy improvisation coach prepared me for what was to come."


Now my mate reacons Rodney Dangerfield is a total genius…  I couldn't leave this place -
and Cindy - without asking what he was like in person and were the quips constant, or all scripted? 
"Not quips, full-on comedy standup routines. Sure, Rodney was a genius. Perhaps a mad genius, but who cares? He took over scenes and rolled through them like a comic juggernaut, much to the chagrin of Ted Knight. Ted had a script, and did not intend to play straight man to Rodney."

My mate will LOVE that! I thought.

There is an iconic scene in Caddyshack which no man, young or old can forget, it's a scene where Cindy seductively sashes along the side of the pool, kicks of her heels, climbs the           ladder and
dives into the water... And then there's all the guys in the pool with their jaws literally hanging open... Mine wasn't that different when I saw it in the cinema! But I had to wonder... Could she really dive like that?! 
"Hell no, I can’t dive! I just had to look like I could dive, and then take the chance of a lifetime by waking the board and making it look like I knew what I was doing."

So, have you seen the Family Guy parody of that scene? I asked
"Yes! It’s awesome!"

Loved that scene!

And I remembered a scene where her character was described as Madonna with meatballs? Ha!
"One of the Los Angeles papers reviewed Caddyshack and called me (as Lacey) "an oversexed Olivia Newton John". I took that as a major compliment."

Ha, that's fantastic!

And Chevy, I had to ask about Chevy 
"Chevy was one of the most talented actors I’ve known, and a big challenge. I think I’ve done some of my best work with him." But would his "seduction techniques have really worked you? "On me? Do you think I’d really answer that question? ;)"

Oh! And Bill Murray, what was he like? Did he stay in character when not filming?
"Billy" - I loved how she called him Billy! "was (and is) awesome. Does he stay in character? Difficult to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins. Bill and his characters are often one and the same."

With all those incredible comedians around (Including the late great Harold Ramis) it must have been a riot on set?! 
"No time for a riot. Plenty of time for partying."

The film was actually directed by Harold Ramis, how did he direct you? 
"Harold was sweet and soft-spoken, with a great sense of humor. He used to whisper naughty little suggestions for Lacey into my ear."

Oh to be She didn't tell me what, but I had a pretty good imagination!

What was the set like? Was it a real resort??
"The entire golf course was the set, even inside the hotel where we were staying, so we never had to leave the set to socialize. We were on the golf course almost day and night for six weeks, occasionally going out to a restaurant for dinner. All of us."

Did you get to meet the Gopher? Do you know what happened to it? 
"Uh… the only gopher on the set was a hand puppet used briefly in one scene.  - That's the one! - The entire gopher sequence was shot after the fact. Probably because the original story about the caddies was lost, and the brilliant vignettes with four of the funniest men on the planet."

How many times did you get hit on? 
"Every day."

Come on, I thought to myself, that was an obvious one!! 

Suddenly my cell phone went off... Darn, it was my mom, wondering where I was I bet... I quickly answered it and told her I'd be back soon and who I was talking to... She screamed so loud that I had to pull the phone away from my ear... It was if she was trying to deafen me! She asked me to pass the phone to Cindy...

But Mom... I whined

"Pass it over!!" she shouted "I just want to ask one thing...

I passed it over explaining that it was my mom, Cindy switched it to speaker so we could both hear. 
She spoke softy and politely and in her best telephone voice and asked "Cindy, now... Woman to woman... Did you ever wear a bra in that movie?" 

Mom!!! I shouted and started appologising, but Cindy seemed unfazed

"Woman to woman," she answered "I didn’t need one. ;) It was 1979, and not wearing a bra was a fashion and political statement."

This lead on to a 10 minute discussion between the two of them about bras and women stuff... I just didn't need to hear my mom talk about her...her... her woman's bits.... So I grabbed the phone off Cindy, told mom I'd be home soon and changed the subject.

Tron... I had to talk about Tron! So, I wondered... How did you get that part?
"I was dating a guy from my comedy improvisation class, and he took me to lunch, where I met the director of a cartoon he was about to star in. A couple of years later, I was called to Disney to audition with Jeff Bridges bypassing the entire audio process. The cartoon with my ex-boyfriend had become the first CGI film, TRON, and the director had fallen in love with me at lunch. I only put it all together many years later while talking to my ex, who’s still adorable. Thank You, Larry Anderson!"

Now today we are so used to effects laden movies, but back in 82 it must have all seemed strange. Could you even imagine what the film would look as you were filming it?
"Not a clue. As with Caddyshack, I put the script aside because it usually had nothing to do with what was in front of me. I would go in every morning, get into makeup and costume, and "go along" with whatever Steven Lisberger said.
I went along with everything until the morning I walked onto the soundstage, and Steven Lisberger said: "OK, you’re on the Solar Sailer crossing the Game Sea. That black riser is the ship. Go fly it" That’s when I had to ask "What the heck are you talking about? There’s no Solar Sailer. No Game Sea. Nothing". Steven pulled out the beautiful Syd Mead graphics to give us a picture of what we were seeing."

And how did it feel when you finally saw yourself in the ‘Tron world’? 
"Stunned. Mesmerized. Nothing I imagined could compare with Disney’s
beautiful CGI interpretation of TRON."

Beep Beep... It was my cell again, this time a text... Ask her about Jeff Bridges! Ask if it was hard acting with others virtually without a set? 
"I loved working with Jeff Bridges. A consummate professional and all around good guy. As for finding reality, it was in the eyes of the other amazing actors on the set: David Warner, Barnard Hughes, Bruce Boxleitner."

I'm not all texting that, I thought... I'd call her later...

OOOh I wondered. had she seen Tron Legacy?
"Nope. I think it’s someone's interpretation of the original."

You’ve done a lot of TV and film, but what do you consider your career highlight? 
"Things keep getting better. Check with me in a year. ;)"

Beep beep... Oh god what now? The text read, Your father asks to ask her what her favourite celebrity story is? 
"I was invited to a small dinner party at Kirk Douglas’ house and was introduced to Cary Grant. I did NOT say, as Lacey did, "Hey Cary Grant, you want to get high?" I mumbled something incoherent like "You sound just like Cary Grant." And I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the evening."

Ha! Brilliant!!

I found I was mesmerised by her big blue eye and... hold the phone... Were they contacts?!
"Without contact lenses or glasses, I’ve been told that I’m legally blind. This means that everything’s fairly blurry without correction. I wore glasses in TRON, but they were only props with regular lenses, and my contacts were underneath. Otherwise I could have walked off the set if I took them off."

My phone started ringing again... What now? I thought... She better not just want to know what Cindy said... I excused my self and asked my mom sternly 'What now?? I'm not asking her any more questions! Please mom, you're embarrassing me... I'm 37 for gods sake!"Calm down, she said... I'm only calling to say your father's outside in the car, waiting for you"

God, how utterly embarrassing... OK, one more question... Last one, so it had to be a goody!

Erm... Oh I know! you have copies of the film posters you appear on?  
"People keep stealing my TRON poster for some reason. I have a Caddyshack poster that someone made for me. It’s pretty cool!"

We said our goodbyes and she headed back towards the retro gaming section of the arcade, that was amazing I thought and reached down for my backpack, I noticed something twinkling on the floor, right where Cindy was standing. and leant down to pick it up, it was an earring... Cindy must have dropped it while we were talking, I looked over and saw her disappearing back into the corner and raced after her, but as I got near the section I saw a bright light just kinda' flash, weird... And then, just as I turned the corner and  in a flash of light she had disappeared...  I raced over to the Tron machine just in time to see Cindy, in full and spectacular digital neon, turn, wave and smile at me, before getting into her little digital car, slamming the door and speeding off into the distance......  My god, what I would have given for another quarter...

For More information on Cindy Morgan visit her Website, her IMDB or her Wikipedia... Or just Google her!