A Painful Role: Traci Lords on Excision

Traci Lords answers talks about her latest film and her electronica album.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani


Traci Lords has had one of the most exciting and dramatic career arcs in Hollywood history. From a scandalous early career, she moved with ease into acting with John Waters’ Cry-Baby, and the lead role in the remake of Roger Corman’s Not of This Earth. She is also a bestselling author, and well-regarded techno artist; her single “Control” was featured heavily in the 1995 film Mortal Kombat. More than just a headline-grabbing scream queen, Traci Lords is a formidable actress.

CraveOnline was allowed to write down eight questions for Ms. Lords regarding her role as the oppressive mother Phyllis to the clearly disturbed teenage Pauline (played by Annalynne McCord) in the recently-released horror film Excision.

CraveOnline: Do you feel Excision is a horror film, or more of a tragedy?

Traci Lords: It's both. The core of the film is about loss. I play a mother who tries everything to "fix" my very troubled teenage daughter. The tragedy is that the harder I push, the further away I drive her.

For the first half of Excision, your character, Phyllis, is depicted as somewhat mean and monstrous. How do you make a character like that relatable and sympathetic?

I don't see Phyllis as monstrous. She is a desperate mother who realizes that her family is falling apart and tries desperately to stop it.

Pauline is kind of a terrifying character with a dark inner life that Phyllis didn't notice. Did you ever want to argue with Phyllis or give her advice?

I disagree. I think Phyllis was aware that Pauline needed serious help. But it was her ego that kept her from getting help sooner. I think Phyllis really believed she could fix it herself. It was a painful role to play. 

Is Pauline a sympathetic character?

I think the director, Ricky Bates Jr., did an amazing job making all the characters in Excision relatable, whether you like them or not. I think most people have struggled with not fitting in, feeling like a visitor in their own lives and in Phyllis's case, wanting their children to be well, happy, and well-behaved!

Did you get to interact much with John Waters on set?

John is a dear friend. I see him often. It was a treat to make another film with him. I hope to do it more often!

You had more screentime in Excision than in many of your other films. Was this a challenge, or did you look forward to it?

Actually I've done many leading roles and the schedule wasn't an issue! I hope that the David Finchers, Alan Balls ….of the world notice my work!  I'd kill to work with them!

What led you to record "1000 Fires?" (There's a cassette of it in my apartment.)

Thank you! Underground techno moved me. Literally! I'm proud to be the first woman making electronica in America. That was circa ’94 or ‘95. There was no Madonna, no “Ray Of Light!”  My latest,  M2F2 is available now on iTunes!

What was the first record you bought with your own money?