Hidden Remote Interview: The Bill Murray Experience actress PJ Soles

Courtesy: PJ Soles Facebook page
Courtesy: PJ Soles Facebook page /

PJ Soles met with Hidden Remote to discuss her interview with writer and star Sadie Katz from the new documentary The Bill Murray Experience.

PJ Soles was born in Germany, but moved all around the world growing up. Soles moved to Los Angeles in 1975. She was casted by Brian De Palma in Carrie (1976) as Norma Watson. In 1978, Soles was cast as Lynda van der Klok in John Carpenter’s Halloween. 

After a few more movie hits such as Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) and Private Benjamin (1980). Her most iconic role could be the girlfriend (Stella Hansen) to Bill Murray’s character in the movie Stripes (1981).

Hidden Remote: I was reading your biography and what really stood out to me was that you basically have lived all over the world. I was curious what was that like for you and do you draw from those experiences when you act?

PJ Soles: Yes, I’m so grateful for my childhood. My dad was from Holland, my mother from New Jersey and I was born in Germany. I lived in Morocco, Casablanca I lived in Maracaibo, Venezuela and I went to high school in Brussels, Belgium. I guess the thing that it did for me in terms of my acting career is it really made me interested in playing American iconic, American teenage roles, what is what I’ve known for. Carrie and Halloween and certainly Rock ‘n’ Roll High School so I think that I wouldn’t have approached those with the gusto that I did if I hadn’t been in such admiration for everything American.

Hidden Remote: Since you touched on Carrie and Halloween those two could be considered the two best horror movies of all time. And then you starred in the Rob Zombie film The Devil’s Rejects. If you could talk about that a little bit about what you enjoyed as far as doing those films.

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Soles: Carrie obviously stands out that was my first film I had actually moved from Manhattan to L.A. I was in town for two weeks and you know I got the casting call for Brian De Palma and George Lucas. They were looking at every teenager in town and so Brian said, “Hey I’ve put you on my list.” And so that was really great to make that film.

Brian De Palma wasn’t a big name at the time and everybody else in that movie it was pretty much their first film. I think Sissy [Spacek] had done another film and John Travolta was on the set. So yeah working on that film was quite an introduction as my first film to film. Halloween, [with] John Carpenter, that was his first film or second film [and it was] really awesome to have had that experience.

Rob Zombie of course you’ve seen those films, you know to get to do a cameo that caught the casting call for that was notable 70’s actors. He likes paying homage to the actors that he loved and cherished and that was just really fun. Although at lunch he came and dropped a whole bunch of photos and posters and DVDs on my lunch table to tell me to sign for his personal collection.

Hidden Remote: So with The Bill Murray Experience. What were your initial thoughts when Sadie Katz approached you about her project?

Soles: Well, Jim Towns asked if I would do a couple of little one-liners for a little bit he was doing and is very friendly and very nice. He has directed her in a couple of his horror movies and he told me that she’s doing this project and wanted an hour of my time to sit down and interview me about what it was like working with Bill Murray. So at the time that I met her and did the interview, I had really no idea what the movie was about.

When I did see the movie at the Palm Springs Film Festival I just thought it was delightful. I thought she was crazy and zany. Then you know, it kind of then translates into wow, this is an actress you know basically doing low-budget horror movies, but wanting to accomplish something.

She’s fairly young, and she’s got this project together and it actually made it. She actually is getting to film festivals and now it’s getting a release. So pretty exciting. I know it’s on iTunes. Not in the theaters but that’s hard to do for a low-budget. I have a lot of admiration for her. And when I saw the film, I thought it was really fun, and just you know happy, to have played a little part in it. I thought the film was delightful.

Hidden Remote: You know she (Sadie Katz) is obsessed with him (Bill Murray), but you also know that is she is grounded too. This makes a really interesting dichotomy to see her grow with it. 

Soles: She’s older than millennials but it seems like that with this generation of kids they really know how to talk on film. They know how to take selfies, they know how to make films, short little films, with their friends. For her to be filming herself and talking wasn’t that big of a stretch. But to actually take off her makeup and just let you see her cry and let you see her vulnerability that part was pretty impressive.

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I was thinking wow, this made it into the film. She’s not afraid of showing who she really is. A lot of people are going to peg her as a crazy actress type. You know the typical emotional, and very sensitive. She’s letting it be seen and that’s part of the movie I really like. I mean it’s under the banner of looking for Bill Murray and her obsession. But at the same time, it probably has to do with other things in her life as well. This is this her and it is very raw.

Hidden Remote: In the documentary, you talk a little bit about social media and fan interaction. What are your thoughts about social media? Do you find it engaging, intrusive, or both? 

Soles: Well, it took me a while to get on Facebook. I was banned because [my kids were not] interested [for mom to be on it] when they were in college. But now that they have kids and now I am on it and that’s it. It’s worked out well in terms of letting my fans know where I’m going to be at certain conventions and for signings and also I like posting pictures of my grandkids and people like posting pictures of me at conventions.

But the part that I don’t like and, probably everybody agrees, is now that it’s gotten political and the political and the health issue side of it really upsets me. I don’t think people should be having political discussions/ [post things that] anger one another. I really don’t like when people post I just don’t feel well today I think I’m going to go to the E.R. and they don’t say what’s wrong with them.

You have to look at the comments in there. Oh god is there anything I can do. It’s just so weird to me just pick up the phone and call your best friend and tell them or your mother and tell them you don’t feel well. I don’t want to see any of that. Its sort of the nine-one-one wall and I don’t like that.

But I have something like over 5000 friends because of obviously the conventions in the movies and things and that’s fine. I know a lot of them I’ve met them more than once. Everybody is lovely and they’re from all over the country even all over the world. Australia, England, India, and a lot of places.

Courtesy: PJ Soles Facebook page
Courtesy: PJ Soles Facebook page /

Hidden Remote: In your segment when you’re talking about Bill Murray in the kitchen scene. How was the moment or experience for you? Just because it was ad-libbed. I mean, if someone was coming after me with a spatula and an ice cream scoop, I might be a little concerned. 

Soles: Well that whole scene was great because, first of all, it was three o’clock in the morning. It was raining outside. The original scene as written in the script was supposed to be out on the hill looking at fireworks and we go in for our first kiss. That was the whole point of the you know I get kissed by Bill and Sean [Young)] gets kissed by Harold [Ramis]. That was the two MP’s get closer to their guys that night. That was the point of it.

So waiting, waiting for the rain. Three o’clock in the morning everyone’s getting tired. Bill walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge and takes out the carrot. I just said what are you going to do with that? Since Ivan [Reitman] knows Bill, he was like wait a minute, just get the camera in here. This is good. Just wait. He knew Bill is probably on to something. So it went from the carrot and I mean Bill was just so brilliant with, “You know what’s your problem baby? You’re armed you’re heavily armed.”

I mean to put me up on the stove, the spatula is one thing. I responded appropriately, what else can I do but laugh. I’m supposed to be attracted to him but not me. But not letting him know and laughing and saying stop it, because it is annoying, but it’s still funny. Then the rolling pin, and then with that final “yes.” It just worked so magically.

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It really took like 20 minutes and then we obviously went in for some close-ups. Had to just recreate a little bit of what we had done, you know, but he did turn the heat up in a final scene. It was a real stove, and it was a griddle, and he just turns the knob on me, so when I jump off my butt was really hurt. Oh yeah, you could imagine a lot of surprises there as well.

Then we went upstairs and he’s the one that came up with the idea [for the trunk]. [He] opens the trunk. I looked at him and go, “No,” and he goes, “Yes.” He gets in it and then Ivan says come on do what Bill wants. I get on top of him, which was totally weird, but everybody loves that moment. It’s amazing.

You know, I don’t think he visualizes what it looks like, but he feels and he knows that it’s funny. He knows that other people will think it’s funny. That’s the brilliance of Bill Murray. Because really getting him in a trunk she is going to lay on and we’re going to get out. But no, he gets up and he says, “That was interesting.” It’s hilarious. He’s amazing.

Hidden Remote: I keep thinking of that mother. Having nine kids, and then having just that itself. I know of Brian Doyle as far as movies go, and he isn’t a comedian. and I guess his other brother Joel. I guess with eight other siblings that he needed to distinguish himself.

Soles: Well yeah, but if he hadn’t run into the SCTV and whatever it was that improv that he and Harold and I guess Danny Akroyd. Then, of course, Saturday Night Live  all came together for him and I don’t know what he would have done in life. But definitely a unique guy, and it’s good to have him around. He keeps us laughing and Stripes plays in L.A.. Like at least once a week. I mean you could just catch a scene and every scene is perfect and hilarious and even the ones without Bill Murray. John Larroquette, John Candy, Warren Oates and the cast is just phenomenal and just a great film.

Hidden Remote: You can’t downplay your role either. The chemistry with Bill was perfect. With chemistry, you can’t have one without the other.

Soles:: We had a very good connection. That was really true, and that’s important. I heard stories about Bill and of course, I knew him from Saturday Night Live.  I was kind of very competitive with him. I wasn’t going to let him get me. Some actors when you work with them, they want to steal the scene and it’s obviously a scene stealer. I’ve got to maintain the status quo. I want to be on even footing with this guy and so that was very important to me. So after we had shot that kitchen scene I thought okay that was good. I was very happy with it.

Hidden Remote: I just found what you did as admirable because Bill Murray is Bill Murray and to play off of him but also stand your ground, he had to respect that I think. It’s pretty cool to make someone like Bill Murray respect someone who may not be a star yet-

Soles: Especially a girl and in the 80’s. I was happy with that. But also going through this whole process and doing the movie it made me wonder like oh gosh will I ever see him again. It will be fun. So I’m hoping I’m hoping to run into him at some point too. So hopefully Sadie will be with me and you know I can catch her as she faints.

Hidden Remote: Here you go, how about if they made a Stripes 2

Soles: There won’t be a Stripes 2, but I did read somewhere that gosh, this is really weird that Ivan Reitman is going to direct a possible six-part TV series of Stripes. I thought well how is that going to be? Certainly, Bill Murray is not going to be in it. Harold Ramis has passed away. I mean what on earth is he thinking? But call me Ivan. I can be I could be a general now.

The new Halloween is being made right now with Jamie Lee Curtis. My god, I don’t know. Halloween will be forty years next year.

Next: Interview with Sadie Katz from The Bill Murray Experience

Hidden Remote: It doesn’t feel that way either. I mean you put it like a number on it at 40 or whatever-

Soles: You just can’t recreate that magic. The first show is the best. Look, Carrie of the TV version, along with Chloe Moretz, she was great. But still, you just can’t recreate it. It’s the casting, it’s the director, it’s the look of it’s times, it’s everything. It’s just you just cannot recreate it.

Hidden Remote: Nobody wants to see the remakes of certain things, especially us. We have lived through it and I don’t want to see something new change how I remember it, how I want to remember it. I have one more question for you. Can you tell us where we can locate you on social media or whatever projects you may be working on.

Soles: Well, I’m on Facebook and I you know obviously I have a friend the person so you know it’s hard. But you know I think everybody can see my page so they can always see I always post where I’m going to be at what convention or whatever. In terms of things coming up, I am working on my book. Like everybody wants me to but it’s slow going. So people seem to find me and I have a stack of fan mail sitting on my desk. I always do it every two weeks I do my fan mail. Everybody should go see The Bill Murray Experience. Delightful talking to you. Have a wonderful holiday season.