Easterbrook has become a familiar face to American audiences, with about a dozen feature films and over 300 television episodes to her credit. She first became famous as Rhonda Lee, the Marilyn-Monroe-like neighbor of Laverne & Shirley. But the role for which she is most widely known is that of Sergeant, Lieutenant and then Captain, Debbie Callahan, the beautiful yet no-nonsense blonde bombshell in the popular Police Academy movie series.  Easterbrook has appeared in Murder, She Wrote, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Baywatch, Matlock, Hunter and The Dukes of Hazzard. She appeared as Devlin Kowalski from Ryan's Hope. More recently, she's been doing voice work including Superman and Batman: The Animated Series. Her vocal talents led to her being chosen to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XVII and have landed her starring roles in musicals on Broadway and throughout the country; she recorded a song for the soundtrack of Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.
    I am so honoured to say that I have had the absolute privilege to speak with the very talented Leslie Easterbrook. I want to thank Leslie again for being so patient, and taking time out of her own overloaded schedule to give me some great answers.

    1. How did you begin working at the movies industry?

    L.E.: I was working in the Broadway production of "On the Twentieth Century" when a casting director I had met previously, named Joy Todd, stopped me as I was leaving the theatre after the show.  She asked if I would be interesting in being an 'extra, with a 'silent bit', in a movie the next day.  I had always been curious about film work, so I said (and I quote) "Sure.  What time, where and what should I wear?"  She gave me the particulars, and I arrived in Queens the next morning -- early, and wildly excited!  I was given a nurses uniform, a name tag that read "Cookie," and was told to change clothes and grab a chair near the extra's snack table.  There were two snack tables:  One for 'Extras' and another for 'Principles.'   After checking out the two tables, I made the determination to become a Principle the next time I worked on a movie!!
    But seriously, nothing could dampen my excitement that day!!  I was going to be in "Just Tell Me What You Want" with Alli McGraw, Alan King, Dina Merrill and Myrna Loy, to name just a few of the big name actors in the movie. 
    I sat there all day, waiting, chatting and snacking.  By the time I had to leave to do my show that evening, I had not yet been called to work on the set.  There are no words to describe my disappointment!  But, when I told the AD I had to leave, he simply gave me my call time for the next day.
    2 DAYS?  I was going to be paid for 2 Days?  I got to come back?  Life doesn't get much better...
    I arrived early the next morning and sure enough "Cookie" worked.  The great Sidney Lumet was my director, and he even gave "Cookie" a line of dialogue to say!!  He was delightful, and that simple line of dialogue got the biggest laugh in the movie!!  He was brilliant!!  It had nothing to do with me knowing what I was doing, believe me.  And thus began my love affair with making movies...

    2. Which experience in your lifetime dedicated to art you've never forgot?

    L.E.: There are many, as you can imagine, but the day I was asked to sing our National Anthem at Superbowl XVII was probably the best day of my life in art.  
    I began my career as an opera singer, but was quickly ushered into the theatre when they paid a living wage.  Singing was my specialty, and The Star Spangled Banner is a very difficult song to sing.  The challenge awed me, and the task frightened me, but I was honored beyond measure.  The game is probably the most watched television event in the USA, and I got to participate!  
    My limousine driver got lost on the way to the Rose Bowl, and I was so late I almost missed my cue, and the game -- but after literally running across the field in high healed boots and skidding up to the microphone, I belted out the anthem with gusto, and will never ever forget the thrill of being asked to share my art that wonderful day in 1983!

    3. "Private Resort"  played by Rob Morrow and Johnny Depp is one my guilty pleasure movies.  Which work of your career you consider the best?

    L.E.:This is a tough question for me.  I am highly critical of my work, and often regret that I don't 't get another  'do over.'   I can probably say the same for all actors. The only way I can judge my work is from my own reaction to it when I watch it -- when the film is completed and I can view it in context.  Remember, an actor is only as good as the material he/she has to work with.  

    When I first watched "The Devil's Rejects," there were times when I forgot I was watching me.  I was lost inside the character of Mother Firefly.  I am only talking about the interrogation scene and my death scene.  The writing was superb!  Rob Zombie gave me great material to work with, and the only way to play it was full on crazy!  I went for it, and will never regret it.  Rob gave me the opportunity, and the freedom, to do the  best work of my career!

    4 (and 5). Tell me some curiosities about Police Academy. We love Police Academy in Brazil, specially  the first five. There's a list of movies did you like most ?

    L.E.: Ha Ha!  Yes, Police Academy 6 and 7 are not quite the same as the others!  Just a quick word about #7.  We shot it in Moscow during the coup in 90"s.  It was nearly impossible to finish, but we weathered the experience and, for me, it was the most profound experience of my life.  We could never count on being able to shoot at previously secured locations, there was very little food available for us or the Russian people, we were stopped and threatened by police every night after filming, and, therefore, we were unable to make the movie as written. However, getting to know and work with so many Russian professionals both warmed my heart and broke my heart on daily basis.  Wonderful, artistic, warmly friendly, and highly educated people -- crazy heartless government!!

    Making the first Police Academy movie was truly the best creative experience of my life.  The script made me laugh out loud, the characters were hilarious, the anti-bullying theme was ground breaking, and I dearly loved being Debbie Callahan.  The cast was perfect -- lovely funny people and highly gifted actors.  Our director, Hugh Wilson, was always right about everything, yet gave us lots of freedom to create.  We all called the making of the movie Comedy Camp!  We became very very close during that shoot and have remained good friends for all these years.  We have lost some very dear friends and cast members; Bubba Smith (Hightower), David Graf (Tackleberry), Debralee Scott (Mrs. Fackler), and very recently, George Gaynes (Commandant Lassard), at 98 years old, and Christopher Lee (Commandant Rakov in Mission to Moscow) at 93.  We mourn them all daily.

    Our director, Hugh Wilson, would call us all in to work every morning, and if we weren't in the first set up, he would tell us to go work out our scenes.  So, we would divide up and work on our scenes for the day -- we would talk them over, and actually block them.   Then when he was ready to shoot our scenes he would call us over and ask us to show him what we had come up with.  9 times out of 10 he would say "Perfect. Now move the camera over here and let's shoot it!"  He trusted us to block our own scenes -- of course he would tweak them, but we all felt like we were such an important part of the whole!

    Donavan Scott (Leslie Barbara) brought an old clunky video camera -- but it was state of the art back in 1983.  He would find a spot to shoot the scenes he wasn't in just off the set of each scene -- to make his own home movie.  So, we had our own 'dailies' to watch each evening at Andrew Rubin's (George Martin) digs.  Most of us were staying in the Holiday Inn in downtown Toronto, but Andrew had, gasp, an apartment.  Donavan was never really in the best location to shoot the scenes...for the light.  But, it was so fun to watch everything.  GW Bailey would usually cook us up some gumbo and Brant Von Hoffman and Scott Thomson would bring the beer.  We were one big happy family, and I think it shows in the movie.  The first movie was and is my all time favorite!

    I was not in the second one.  I had a previous commitment.  ACK!!  I was in the worst movie ever made, and have come to loath it for many reasons, but I got to work with a 19 year old Johnny Depp -- and he was such a sweet kid it made up for the rotten quality of the script.  Even then, I realized he would be a big movie star...he just had/has that wonderful something...such a good and gifted person, in every way.

    But, I was in Police Academy 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, thank goodness -- the PA group is a gang I always want to be a part of.

    The first one was the most exciting to shoot and had the best script, but they were all good to work on.  Shooting the sequels was never quite quite the same, but each one had it's moments.

    # 3 -- the cast took a trip to Niagara Falls.  We took a sight seeing boat trip under the falls and almost capsized the boat!    
    They had to send a rescue craft out to save us!

    # 4 -- cast came to a party at my apartment by the lake.  Together Bubba Smith, Steve Guttenberg, and Michael Winslow climbed (and bounced) on my water bed and split it open. My apartment was on the 5th floor.  Big mess...and many expensive apologies! 

    #5 -- we had a sequence which was filmed at the Palm Beach Airport.  At the end of the day, after wrapping, I changed my clothes and went downstairs to grab the cast bus back to the hotel.  No bus!!  No transportation of any kind at the exit door...  (Era before cell phones!!)  I  walked about 3 blocks before that van pulled up.  As I walked up the stairs everyone was screaming with laughter.  Not funny, and not nice...:)

    #6 -- we shot the film in Hollywood, and found out that the really crazy things only happen when you shoot on Location!

    #7 --  the experience of working and playing in Moscow was both extraordinary and heartbreaking.  We witnessed history in the making, and formed friendships that will last forever. The memory of the day Yeltsin's home was torched will stay with me always.  It was very scary.  Rioters actually pulled George Gaynes and Christopher Lee out of their site seeing car on a bridge near the fire and tried to throw them in the river.  They survived the attack, but just in the nick of time.

    6.  Do you have projects to 2016/17?

    L.E.: I do, however you will have to really look around to find them.  I have been lucky to work on a number of independent films.  With the advent of high quality video cameras, shooting has become less expensive.  There are lots of good low budget films being shot here now.  I've been working in 'smaller' films for young and talented filmmakers looking to get a foothold in the industry.  They will never be big releases.  However, the film "Greater" may be the exception.  I think it will be coming out big later this year.  It's based on the true story of a football player, Brandon Burlsworth, who became a football legend while also being a victim of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I play his mother.  It's a beautifully shot and heartwarming bio/pic staring Neal McDonough, and is also blessed with a performance by my old Police Academy buddy, Scott Thomson (Copeland.)

    Can you view the website IMDb.com?  Almost all of my recent films are listed there.  It's a good reference tool for films that have been shot, are shooting or will shoot in the future.  You can look up the artist you are interested in and/or individual film titles.  If you don't have access to IMDb, let me know at:  lesbrook@gmail.com, and I will send you a complete list of my newer titles.  Some were shot in 2013, 14 and 15, but they will be easy to find when you know where to look for them.

    M.V.: Sure

    7. If you could let us a lesson of this life dedicated to cinema, what would be?

    L.E.: I'm not sure this is a 'life lesson,' but there is a motto I've used in my film work that comes from the world of improv comedy. It always seems to pay off somehow.  Or perhaps I've just been lucky?    

    At any rate, when you are performing in improv, the rule is to "just say yes!"  If you say "no" in an improv exercise, the exercise is over.  It has no where to go.  So, as an actor in film, I use the same philosophy -- I just say YES.  You never know how the director, camera operator, make up artist, sound technician or even the other actors are feeling, so by being game and saying yes, you don't slow down the process.  If that means being uncomfortable for a while in a tight set, or working through lunch, or being forced to do a scene you don't really know because it was originally scheduled for next week, by just saying YES, you help keep things moving forward, and often receive the supreme blessing of being spontaneous --  and off balance!!  A little improv can erase any tell tail signs of over rehearsing...it's often not the routine, and well rehearsed, moments that create movie art. More often than not it's the changes, surprises and mistakes that do! 

    M.V.: Thank you so much Leslie...
    L.E.: Thank you Marcus for this oportunity. You have asked very interesting and intriguing questions. Thank you so much for your interest in my career! I have been reading quite a bit about life in Brazil right now.  I am worried for everyone's safety.  We are currently going through an election process that is evoking a lot of hostility in the US.  What is the world coming to? I wish you health, happiness and, most of all, safety.  Please feel free to communicate with me if you wish.


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