Traci Lords

Traci Lords talks about her new film, working with Kevin Smith and future projects

It's almost ironic that Traci Lords would be in a film like Zack and Miri Make a Porno. After starting her career in the adult entertainment industry at the age of 15, and appearing in countless porn films herself, a comedy about two lifelong friends who make a porno to make ends meet founds its way to Lords after leaving the adult film business years ago. The film will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3 and I recently had the chance to speak with Lords over the phone about her role in Kevin Smith's latest comedy. Here's what she had to say.

So, first of all, how did Kevin Smith's script first come to you and how did you come on board?

Traci Lords: Kevin (Smith) expressed interest in me taking a look at his script. I guess it was right before November, late November of last year. I just had my baby and I thought, 'Wow.' I had always wanted to work with Kevin Smith. I think he's amazing. The timing of it was kind of intense because I had a one-month-old and I was really excited at the prospect of working with Kevin Smith and then they told me the title of it. I was completely just like, 'Oh gosh. What is this gonna be?' But both my agent and manager both said to me, 'Look, you at least have to go and sit with him and read his script and give it a chance.' I was really ready to just say no, just because of the whole prospect and the subject matter was something I just didn't want to deal with, especially at this point in my life. Then I read his script and I literally laughed out loud and I couldn't resist the prospect of working with Kevin Smith, who I think is an amazing filmmaker and a brilliant writer. I just thought it was a hoot.

Oh yeah. I remember reading about the title and I was wondering how much controversy it would garner, just when it was announced and there was definitely a lot of controversy around this.

Traci Lords: I know. To me, the funny thing about it is the title is the dirtiest thing about the movie, really (Laughs).

Yeah. They had to appeal to get it down to the R rating too.

Traci Lords: I know, I know. What's really funny about it is, well, I don't know what you thought when you saw it, but I think it's a far cry from an erotic movie. It's not a movie that turns you on. It's a movie that just makes you laugh. It's raunchy and there are things about it that are sexy, but it's not an erotic film in any way shape or form. But I think when just some people saw the title, that's what they thought. People were intimidated or threatened by the title, which is kind of hilarious.

So what was the actual shooting process like? He doesn't shoot with really long schedules, so how was the whole process like when you actually got on the set?

Traci Lords: I'm not sure exactly how long they were shooting for, but we were there for several months. I want to say like two and a half months. I could be off a little, but we were in Pittsburgh in the winter, this time last year. My son was three months old then and we were freezing our tails off. I do remember this quite well. It was a year of freezing locales for me. I don't know what that was about. First I went to Pittsburgh and then we went to Louisiana, which actually was scorching hot and then we were freezing again in Kansas. My husband said, 'Listen to me. Know more freezing winter for now.' The last film I did was Au Pair, Kansas, and he said, 'Why couldn't it have been Au Pair, Hawaii or Au Pair anywhere but Kansas, freezing in the winter?' I don't know what it was about last year and freezing cold.

I'm from Minnesota originally, so I'm used to it.

Traci Lords: I'm from Ohio, but I think I forgot. I've been in California since I was like 12 years old. I'll tell you, Pittsburgh was bitterly cold. I don't remember that and I grew up right around there. I don't remember it being that cold, but it was a really tough time in my life, because my baby was so little and my husband took off work to go and do this. This is one of our deals that we would always do. We're a team that way, so just to have a baby that small, you're not sleeping when they're at three months old, so I was literally sleepwalking through that film, I felt like. I would be up all night with the baby and, my husband was really great, but it's still the mom. It's always the mom. Then I go to work and I'd always sort of be zoned out, but I'd always be in these little tight dresses and high heels pushing a baby carriage around in the snow. It was kind of hilarious, but my hair looked great and I had high heels on again so that was great, after maternity (Laughs).

So you said you were apprehensive when you saw the title so were you at all worried that, when this came out, people would see Traci Lords in a movie called Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Were you worried about that stigma at all?

Traci Lords: No. I figured they would all say what they were going to say and some would roll their eyes. The thing is, the people that are going to dismiss you, they're going to dismiss you regardless. It doesn't matter what you do, if you win an Oscar or whatever, they will always say, 'Oh, well she used to...' I think I'm at the point in my life and my career where now, I can laugh about certain things and certain things, while I don't necessarily think they're funny, I don't take them so seriously anymore. I think that, with age, with a family, a lot of the chip on my shoulder is just gone. Porn was part of my past. It was what I did in high school. I mean, I know that's kind of bizarre, but that's the truth. I was 15, I was a sophomore in high school and that's what happened to me. That was my past. It was sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now when I look at it, I just go, 'Wow. I had a really wild life.' It's not a choice I would've ever made as an adult, but, you know, then, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Do you have a favorite scene that you shot when you were on the set or maybe just a favorite moment off camera hanging out with everyone else?

Traci Lords: You know, I have to say my sex scene with Ricky Mabe was pretty funny, because I was the top (Laughs). That was something that happened on the set, that morning, Kevin came to me and said - it wasn't written that way - they came to me and said Kevin wants to see you and I thought, 'Oh my God. I'm going to get fired. What did I do?' Then he came in and said, he always called me Lords, he said, 'Lords, I've got this wild idea.' I thought, 'Oh God,' and he told me and I just started to laugh. I said, 'Well, you know, I've actually never done that before, so that could be interesting.' I said, 'Is Ricky OK with that?' and he said 'Yeah' and I just started to laugh. If you're gonna be in a scene like that, I'm kind of glad that I'm not the one being screwed (Laughs). It was OK. Ricky actually was a really good sport about it. Obviously, it was incredibly tame and there was nothing going on, but it was just silly. The most awkward thing about it is Seth (Rogen) and Elizabeth (Banks) and Craig (Robinson) and Jason (Mewes) were all sitting directly behind us. I mean, I don't have a stitch of clothing off. I'm completely dressed, but there's something very provocative about just the fact that I'm behind this man whose bent over. It was really hard not to laugh and plus, we went to the premiere and my whole family was there and Ricky Mabe's mother was there who's just a sweet little lady. She came up to me and sort of patted me on the hand and said, 'Ricky said that it was dirty scene, but I thought it was just fine. You're a really nice girl, Traci' (Laughs). Well, if it's OK with Ricky Mabe's mom, then I guess it's OK.

Is there anything you can tell us about I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, the Tucker Max adaptation?

Traci Lords: Well, I can tell you that I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is a hoot. I just did my looping, my ADR work, yesterday for it. It's really really funny. I was a huge fan of Tucker Max's blog that came out years ago and I was really into it when he wrote the book, so when the script was floating around, I was really hoping I would land something on that and I was really thrilled to play Connie in this. It's just a really fun little role I have in the movie and I think people are really going to like it. It's dark in places and it definitely takes you on a bit of a ride. It's got some raunch to it, but, come on, how could I possibly pick something better for my IMDB to go from Zack and Miri Make a Porno to I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, right? How perfect is that! (Laughs)

That's a nice segue, for sure.

Traci Lords: It just is! It couldn't have been more beautiful.

Is there anything you can tell about Au Pair, Kansas as well?

Traci Lords: We finished Au Pair, Kansas two days before Christmas. We came back from Kansas and the holidays were really short. Honestly, I don't know what it's going to end up like. After doing Kevin's movie, which was a fairly, medium-sized budget, and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, to go do a little tiny indie and that's what Au Pair, Kansas was. It was a completely different world, but the reason that I did it was because, once again, the role was completely opposite from everything else. I just played such a down-home ranch woman with like two kids and I feel loss and longing because my husband had died. It was a more heavy, dramatic piece for me and it was just a chance to show some chops that I haven't gotten to show too much of. It was sort of irresistible just as an actor to go and do. It's either that or go and do a play and, quite frankly, I was too lazy to go and perform every night. I have a 15-month-old now and he just keeps me really busy. It's funny but I never really realized how much work it is to have a baby but then I thought, 'Wow. How do these women do it?' Can you have it all? I don't think you can. I think you can have bits and pieces of it, if you're really lucky, and you can have your home life and you can have your career. Maybe some people can, but I just haven't been able to do it. There's not enough energy. There's not enough time in each day. The beautiful thing about that is he's made me really hunt down the projects that I want and it's made it really easy for me to just say no to the ones I just don't care about because my time and the way that I look at life and all that is completely different. Maybe that sounds a little cliché, and I never believed it until I went down this path, but I'm having my seven-year wedding anniversary next month, if you can believe that. That's shocking to me. It seems like just yesterday, and to have this little baby and this amazing man and all this stuff is all cool. I'm very grateful.

Is there anything that you're eyeing up or developing or have you been eyeing up moving into filmmaking at all?

Traci Lords: You know what I'm doing, I wrote and directed a short for Fox Searchlight a couple of years back, right after I had my autobiography. I think I'm, at the moment, I'm writing another screenplay and I'm going to direct my own. That's my goal this year. I wrote and directed my short, that was one thing. It's time for me to do a full-length piece. I think I want to wear that hat a little bit more. I know that just the experience of writing and directing my small film, it just gave me such a perspective as an artist. It really was an incredible tool, just as an actor, to sort of understand the entire process of it all. I think I can maybe roll with that now. I've been doing this a long time. God, I think I got my SAG dues form the other day, what have they done for me lately, but I couldn't believe when I looked at it and it said you're 24 years vested in the union. I was like 'Jesus. It's been that long. Wow.' It's shocking. I mean, I was a paper girl once, then I was a porn star and then I was just an actress for the rest of my life. I've been a musician and I've been a public speaker along the way, but, basically, this is all I've ever done. Now I have this really wild role: I'm a mom. Well, my husband says I'm a MILF, but whatever (Laughs).

That's awesome. Finally, for those who might not have seen it in theaters - I loved it, by the way - but it didn't gross a whole lot, so what would you like to say to those who might not have caught it, to give it a shot when it comes out on DVD?

Traci Lords: Well, what's so funny about it is it was actually Kevin's highest-grossing film ever. It was Seth's lowest-grossing film ever, but it was Kevin Smith's highest-grossing film ever. It did really well and he's got a lot to be proud of there. It's true, it did not get the top spot because of, what was it, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, so we were competing against that. We didn't do as well as Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Laughs)...

I still don't get that one either...

bold|Traci Lords: ... but we did all right. We did pretty well and I think Kevin has a lot to be proud of. As far as catching it on DVD, I mean, come on. Who's not going to want to get it on DVD? It's a great popcorn movie. It's a good Friday night movie, it's funny and I'm glad about the timing of the release, right before the election and everything. We needed something to laugh about. Things have been so heavy for so long in this country and, I don't know, just to get something kind of raunchy about that subject matter was just a little too tempting, I thought.

Excellent. That's about all I have for you, Traci. Thank you so much for your time tonight.

Traci Lords: Oh, you're welcome. Happy writing. Take care.

You can catch all the hilarious moments (and there are many) of Traci Lords and the rest of the cast of Zack and Miri Make a Porno when the film hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3.