In the early 1990′s, a wave of young filmmakers were just beginning to make their mark on the movie scene. Directors such as, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and a young man by the name of, Kevin Smith. Kevin sold his entire comic book collection to fund his Independent film, Clerks (1994).
The film is about two guys working at a convenience store and hating their lives, hoping of someday something better to come along. Filmed in the same store Kevin Smith worked at, he had to film at the store at night after hours. The film went on to win the highest award at the Sundance Film Festival and clearly put Smith on the map to stardom. With his success of the film, he was able to buy his comic book collection back. One of the stars of that film, Marilyn Ghiglotti, played, ‘Veronica Loughran’, the girlfriend in the film to character ‘Dante Hicks’ (played by Brian O’Halloran).
Marilyn was born on August 10, 1961 in New York City, New York, but was raised in Sayreville, New Jersey. She also lived in Long Island and Cambria Heights in Queens as well. She graduated from Sayreville Memorial High School in 1979. After graduation, Marilyn got married and had her first daughter. She then got her beautician license as a professional makeup artist and hairdresser. She also studied acting at the Actors Training Institute. Marilyn got her first big break in 1994 for the film, CLERKS. She was hired by director Kevin Smith because she was able to cry doing a monologue.
Playing the girlfriend, ‘Veronica Loughran’ to Brian O’Halloran’s ‘Dante Hicks’ was a dream come true for Marilyn since this was her first major role in a film. Marilyn later auditioned for Kevin Smith’s next film, MALLRATS. She landed other roles in films such as, A PACKING SUBURBIA, NEIGHBORS(short film), and STARSHIP:RISING just to name a few. She has done many Short Films including DIG! in 2007 which she was nominated for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS at the SoCal Independent Film Fest. Marilyn did some communtiy theater in New Jersey before moving to Los Angeles in 1998 where she did more community theater, more films, and has become a very talented and respected hairstylist and makeup artist in the Hollywood community.
Marilyn attended Tri Communtiy in West Covina from 2010-2012 studying photography. With new films on the horizon, fans will be excited to see her return to the CLERKS franchise in 2016 with CLERKS 3 and her returning role as ‘Veronica Loughran’. Marilyn has been a respected actress and figure in the film industry and we look forward to her future projects. And now, here is my exclusive interview with Marilyn Ghiglotti.
Q. You lived in many places throughout New York and New Jersey growing up. With Broadway and Acting Studios across the bridge – did you know at a young age you wanted to get into acting?
A. Well, I knew I was drawn to the creative side of me, but not sure I knew exactly what. I would sometimes sit at the kitchen table and draw certain things I saw. Like those cartoon figures that were in the back of magazines that would say “can you draw this”. Those ads for the drawing schools. I wanted and begged to be able to take dance lessons and because it’s not something that was being sought out for me I would do what I could on my own. And I loved watching movies, especially the musicals on tv. My parents grew up in Puerto Rico where none of those things were something to ever be considered and we were a middle class family, back when there was middle class, and was something I guess considered frivolous. It wasn’t till I had divorced that I decided to do many of the things I wanted to do growing up, because I finally had the chance to spread my wings, and I was looking for an outlet for myself. I took those dancing classes, which lead me to look further and found my way to do some petite modeling which lead me to acting classes and eventually to where I really found my passion in acting, after my first appearance on the stage where people would actually listen to what I had to say. I grew up a middle child, need I say more. lol.
Q. After graduation, you received your beautician license for hairdresser and make-up. Do you find that more or less stressful job than acting or do you find it more of a challenge?
A. Actually after graduation I was working the corporate 9-5 job and didn’t enjoy it at all. During that time I got married and then had my daughter. After having my daughter, I decided not to go back to work and decided to go to cosmetology school. When I was in high school it was a course that was offered and I had thought of doing it, again creative, but one of the requirements was biology in where one needs to do dissections. Not something I was thrilled to learn or do. So I decided against. Now I was a C average student in school, but while at school for cosmetology, I excelled. My creative brain was being fulfilled. So I didn’t find it challenging at all. And it’s something that I enjoy doing other than the acting.
Q. What lesson did you take with you most from studying acting at the Actor’s Training Institute?
A. So much. The great thing about having found John Eyd and the Actor’s Training Institute was New York training in the middle of New Jersey. John had brought was is taught at the Actors Studio to New Jersey and I don’t think I could have had a better start in training. I don’t think I would be where I am if I had not started with the training I got there. I had training in Method, Adler, Stanislovski and was able to take from it what worked for me. Because no one method is good for everyone. We also had training in voice dialects, cold reading, and voice work.
Q. Your first role was the girlfriend to ‘Dante Hicks’ in the Independent film, CLERKS. What was it like playing ‘Veronica’ and how did you prepare for that role?
A. Well my first film role anyway. For me in a lot of ways I was Veronica. I am the type of person that does things for friends and especially boyfriends. I encourage people and can find the positive for others better than I can for myself. I just played the role of Veronica as if I was actually her and what I would do if it were me. Which is how I envision most of the roles I play. But also take whatever personality traits I find written within the character and apply it to myself.
Q. The director of CLERKS, Kevin Smith, said he hired you because you could cry immediately during a long monologue. What did you think of or do to be able to cry on cue like that?
A. Well, the monologue I used was something that rang very true for me, which is why I picked it. So it may seem that I could cry on cue, but it’s because I was feeling the emotions of that person telling her story. Although, I will admit that night, it was not the best I had done. I’ve done it much better other times!
Q. Personally, I am a huge supporter for Independent films and I support the “struggling artist”. While filming CLERKS, what makes a film like that with such a low-budget different than a film on a bigger scale? Do you prefer smaller films?
A. Well the only time I’ve worked on a film on a bigger scale has been when I’ve been working background. The biggest difference that I can see is how much control the filmmaker actually has on the film. The lower the budget, the more control the writer/director has. The bigger the budget, the more the studios have control and say over the project. Then there’s also the bigger the budget, the bigger the crew and craft services. lol. Whether I prefer smaller or bigger budget, hard to say really. I’ve worked on bigger budgets than Clerks where there were more crew, but it wasn’t a studio headed film. And I’m talking where I played either a lead or supporting role. I’ve also worked on some that had a pretty tight budget where everyone chipped in where ever they could, but the final product didn’t seem to be as low as it was because people just knew what they were doing and had the expertise to put the knowledge in. And no one had any swelled heads or egos, which was really nice. And things also would get done quicker. Working on studio films with the huge budget, there was a lot of waiting around while those in charge made sure it was what the one person who mattered liked how it was.
Q. With such a funny cinema due as ‘Jay & Silent Bob’, what was some of your funniest fondest memories while on set?
A. From the few days that I can remember while being on set, we all were so focused on making sure that lines were said and to give the delivery that we all wanted as there wasn’t much room for many takes due to the fact that Kevin only had so much film to use, it was hard to be anything but super focused. So if a mistake was made, I know for me it wasn’t “oh, haha”, it was more “shit, I messed up”. But there was the time the local drunk came to the door and wanted to purchase cigarettes, there was our unlimited supply of craft services with our pick of what we wanted. Yoohoo was my favorite. And the really nice warm bagels that were delivered, but not to our store. lol
Q. You’ve done a number of Short films during your career. What attracts you most to that style of film?
A. Mostly what attracted me to the short films was getting to actually work, but it was also the story and that it had a different element of what people knew of my acting. I wanted to show range and challenge myself, and if it was only to do it in a short film and that’s where the chance came then I took it.
Q. You auditioned for Kevin Smith’s MALLRATS and CHASING AMY, what happened that caused you not to be in the final film?
A. Well actually I only auditioned for Mallrats. I’m not sure how that came about that those of us that had the lead roles in Clerks were brought in to audition for Mallrats, which happen to be my first real studio audition and I was really nervous. I actually don’t remember which role I was given to audition for, but I do remember when going into the room, there were many people in there. Obviously the casting director holding the audition and Kevin and Scott M. Don’t remember who else, but I would venture to think maybe the studio that was producing it. When I was in the room experiencing my first real audition in the sense that this is the big leagues now, the casting director asked me what role I’m auditioning for and all I can remember is her reaction and change in expression of why am I auditioning for that role and she turned to Kevin and Scott with a look of confusion on her face. Now I’m thinking, what is going on. Is that not the right role? Do I really have a chance? What am I even doing in here? I wasn’t seasoned enough in this to even know what to do with any of that or to even feel secure with any of it. I don’t even remember whether it was a decent audition or not and probably not. But that’s all I ever heard of that and obviously didn’t make it into Mallrats.
For Chasing Amy, Kevin actually had me come to his offices in Red Bank and gave me the script for Chasing Amy, which I still have, and told me the role he essentially was offering me. That role was playing the girlfriend of Joey Loren Adams which was eventually played by Jason Lee’s wife at that time. Again, I just don’t feel that I had the experience to deal with what was being offered to me. Mostly, it was something I wasn’t comfortable in doing. I want to make it clear though that I am not homophobic in any way, I’ve got many friends and family that are gay and lesbian. But it was the insecurities in myself in many aspects of my life that made it uncomfortable for me. I wasn’t secure in my abilities, and to be able to challenge myself and so I turned it down. Which then seemed that it started a chain reaction unbeknown to me of why I was never in any other View Askew film, which I found out years later while living in LA and made sure that I wrote a letter to Kevin to make sure that I meant no disrespect towards him when turning down that role. It was very appreciated, but at that time I didn’t have the confidence in my abilities and in my acting to be able to challenge myself the way that I do now.
Q. You were nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the SoCal Independent Film Fest in 2008 for the film DIG! Tell us about your experience in that film?
A. That film was written and directed by a friend of mine that wrote a story that she felt strongly about. I was drawn to the heart of the story and how kids shouldn’t be made to feel different, just because they beat to their own drum. I was very surprised by the nomination and who else I was nominated up against, which were some well known names like Rachel Dratch of SNL, Lourdes Pantin and Ali Larter of Heroes, who was the winner. So in my mind, I won.
Q. What is something about Kevin Smith that you enjoy most working with him?
A. I love that Kevin has a rehearsal process that most directors of film don’t have. I’m not sure why Kevin has that, because it’s almost the same process that is for theater. Most films I’ve worked on, some with have a table read, some don’t and at least you get a feel for everyone and their characters. But most of the time, you just have to make sure you know your lines, you get on set and do the lines a few times for blocking and that’s considered your rehearsal. I think more directors should take the rehearsal approach, it would certainly make for at least the actors part going a bit more smoothly on set other than blocking, lights, camera angles and such.
Q. You filmed CLERKS in 21 nights. What other harsh conditions did you experience during filming?
A. Well it shot for 21 nights, but I was maybe there for 3 or 4 days of those 21. Don’t really remember any harsh conditions that I can think of .
Q. You are also a photographer. What style of photography (scenic, portrait, etc.) do you prefer most?
A. I am, although I don’t get to do as much as I would like. But I’ve had an interest in photography for a long time and after finally finding a place to get some decent affordable training I went and for me it was a way of finding an additional income source that can sustain me and that I could enjoy other than working in an office while I pound the pavement as they say. I also have been working as a freelance hair and makeup artist. Back in Jersey I worked in a salon when I started my venture into acting. When I moved out to LA back in 98, other than the odd jobs or office jobs, I also do hair and makeup for weddings and have worked on some films, music videos and infomercials and I just thought that adding photography and developing a way of doing headshots that I’ve always looked for when going for headshots would be a nice way to still be creative and help others out. I’ve gotten to have some great photo shoots with people and then while I’m out and enjoying I love to do landscape photography as well and shoot what catches my interest.
Q. It is rumored that you will be returning as ‘Veronica’ in CLERKS 3. When did Kevin Smith contact you about your return and when does filming begin?
A. Well, funny story here. When Kevin started writing Clerks, he posted it onto Social media and the buzz started to happen. People started to ask me if I was involved in any way and I had no way of knowing. As I explain, Kevin and I have a working relationship, not a friendship relationship. I don’t have his contact information or have his number on my phone to just call up and say “hey, Kev, what’s up”. In all that time anything that was happening about Clerks, I set up a google alert for Clerks and my name and if anything would be on the internet about anything involving those words, I would get a google alert. So I knew what was happening or essentially what was being filtered out to the media and would forward the information to my team of reps so that we all were aware and at least were not ignorant to what was happening. I would get a constant stream of fans on social media asking me, but unfortunately I had nothing to offer as I didn’t know. One day a fan did mention that while Kevin and Jason were doing a tour of Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, they would have a Q & A after the screening and was asked about Clerks III and who would be appearing. He sent me the podcast audio in which I was listening to and told that Kevin had mentioned that I or my character if I was interested, would be back in III. At that point my team of reps decided that maybe I should be the one to reach out to Kevin and find out and confirm. Well, my only way of having some sort of information was to go to the professional IMDB where there is contact information. But I didn’t want to contact Kevin’s reps. That wouldn’t have been appropriate in this situation. But the numbers and email address listed for View Askew were essentially no good. The email bounced back, the phone number was disconnected. I couldn’t message on twitter as I followed him, but he doesn’t follow me. So my only alternative was to contact via Facebook message. I thought, well that quite a shot in the dark. He must get millions of messages there. Mine will just get lost amongst it all. But it was my only option. And a month later, I got my confirmation from Kevin that indeed I would be reprising my role. More to the point, “A few fun scenes!” is how he put it. So I’m extremely excited to be a part of the family again, so to speak. I’m interested as both a fan of Kevin’s work and of Clerks as well as the actress playing the role of Veronica as to what has happened with the character after all these years and where the journey is for all of them in the third film.
Q. Doing a trilogy is not an easy task. With such a huge fanbase, how do you handle the pressure to keep the fans happy with the final installment of CLERKS?
A. Honestly, first I have to think of how to handle my own pressure of being true to who Veronica is after all these years and also that I am able to give what I and Kevin would like for the character as well. In doing so, if I am honest with my acting and in that role, I think the rest will take care of itself and will make the fans happy.
Q. What is your greatest moment so far with the success of CLERKS and your career?
A. There’s no way to pick a greatest moment since the success of Clerks as it’s all so intertwined. And if it weren’t for Clerks, I wouldn’t have any other opportunities at all and people wouldn’t know who I am. Yes, it’s still been an uphill struggle to get to the point that I want for myself in this career. And I still haven’t reached that point. I’m certainly not living my life as a working actress, but I’ve gotten more than most people who dare to live the dream. But I have much more success to conquer and that’s to not have to have the survival job any longer and worry about how I’m going to pay my bills at the end of the month. I’m not going to paint any illusions and pretend that I have something that I don’t. Every month is a struggle. Like it is for any actor that is trying to make it in this business. I just happen to have one success that has made me known, now I have to do everything that I can do make it count and I strive everyday to be able to continue to do so.
Q. Final Question, What’s next for Marilyn Ghigliotti?
A. Waiting for the word of when I’m needed for Clerks III. I’ve been narrating audio books and hope to have some audio books from the public domain area to offer soon as well. I would like to hopefully produce my own projects that I either direct/produce and maybe act in. But I will be mindful of not jeopardizing the project and doing all three at the same time. I think that would be pushing it and making sure that the project suffer so that it comes out better than expected. I’ve got a couple in my mind that have to be put on paper, one being a short and the other a feature film that really needs to be fleshed out, but the concept is there. And making appearances to conventions where I can meet the fans, whom without them, I wouldn’t have what I do. So to them, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart as they are truly appreciated. As if my family, especially my daughter, cause other than the love I have for this business, it was the love that I have for her and her for me, that has kept me motivated. Thank you Tony for this interview.
And Thank YOU Marilyn for your time and patience to do this interview. It was certainly a job and honor speaking with you. All of us look forward to your return to the big screen. I wish Marilyn well in all her future projects. For news of Marilyn’s latest films and projects, visit her Facebook fan page.