Tulsa-raised actress Heather Langenkamp can’t wait for you to see her next project, but you’ll have to be patient as it won’t premiere until the Halloween season.
“The Midnight Club,” a 10-episode horror series, will debut October 7 on Netflix.
A spooky project is underway for Langenkamp, best known for playing heroine Nancy Thompson in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise.
Langenkamp said it’s become something of a tradition for Netflix to release a new project from horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan during the Halloween season. Flanagan is the co-creator and showrunner of “The Midnight Club,” based on a 1994 novel of the same name and other works by author Christopher Pike.
The premise: At a hospice for terminally ill young adults, eight patients gather every night at midnight to tell each other stories – and make a pact that the next to die will give the group a sign from beyond.
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Langenkamp plays Dr. Georgina Stanton on the show. It’s his meatiest role in decades.
“I’ve done small parts here or small independent films for friends or people who I thought had a good idea, but this is the first really big production I’ve been on since the 90s, really” , said Langenkamp.
Langenkamp spoke at length about “The Midnight Club” and why the series hit close to home during a phone interview ahead of the premiere.
Langenkamp was born in Tulsa and attended Council Oak Elementary School (formerly Lee Elementary) and Holland Hall before attending high school in Washington, DC. Her father, Dobie, worked in the Jimmy Carter administration.
After high school, Langenkamp returned to Tulsa and got a summer job as a copyist at the Tulsa Tribune newspaper. She saw a report on a film production requiring extras and made her film debut as an extra in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders.” The scene she was in did not appear in the theatrical release, but she can be seen, briefly, walking past Ponyboy actor C. Thomas Howell in a school scene added to “The Outsiders: The Complete New”.
Coppola shot back-to-back films in Tulsa, and Langenkamp earned her SAG card as an extra in “Rumble Fish.” She went off to college (Stanford) and the relationships established on the Tulsa set proved beneficial as she pursued an acting career.
Fighting Freddy Krueger in the 1984 horror classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street” put Langenkamp on the map. Although she is always associated with scary stuff, she starred in several episodes of the sitcom “Growing Pains” and was part of the cast of a spin-off series, “Just the Ten of Us”, which aired from 1988 to 1990. .
Langenkamp’s husband is also in the film industry. She is married to Oscar-winning makeup artist David LeRoy Anderson. They own and operate AFX Studio, a special effects studio, in Van Nuys, CA. “The Midnight Club” brought her back in front of the camera.
“Anchoring the show as the enigmatic doctor who runs this young adult hospice, I’m honored to welcome Heather Langenkamp,” Flanagan tweeted in February 2021. “For horror fans like me, Heather is royalty, and I’m so excited to work with her.”
“Any horror, he loves it,” Langenkamp said. “But he professed his love of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ to me, so I had to be there and listen to him for half an hour, like how much he loved ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and I’m like ‘ OK I understand.'”
Was it his fanboy moment?
“He’s definitely a fanboy in the most charming, delightful, sweetest sense,” Langenkamp said. “I’ve met a lot of fanboys in my career, and what I love is seeing a fanboy succeed because that’s what everyone dreams of is to like a certain thing when they were as a child and liking a certain type of film, and then finding a career in that.
Langenkamp said she didn’t know much about Flanagan when asked about “The Midnight Club.”
“I just knew he made these very, very successful shows on Netflix,” she said. “I had seen ‘Hill House’ and I had seen a bit of ‘Bly Manor’ but anyway, once I got the part I literally (sat and watched) everything. By the time I got to Canada, where we shot the show, I think I had seen everything he had done and he has a very strong style and I could kind of visualize what he was going to do with the spectacle.
Perhaps Flanagan’s tweet about Langenkamp can be called joyous.
“He probably never knew I was happier than him,” she said.
When the call came for Langenkamp to audition, she thought it might be for an episode or a cameo appearance. She said a lot of horror directors think it’s fun to have the girl from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in a cameo. She usually refuses because she doesn’t like this kind of concerts.
“I said, ‘Well, go ahead and send the dialogue and let me watch it,'” she said of ‘The Midnight Club’ opportunity. “And when I got it, it was a big part. I mean, the first scene he wanted me to do on tape was like a three-page monologue. I looked at my husband and said, “Fuck, that’s the main character of the show.”
Langenkamp anchors the cast alongside eight “pretty amazing” young actors whose characters battle cancer.
“And then there’s me, the doctor, who kind of accompanies them until the end of their life and she has a hospice where her philosophy is that when you know you’re dying and you know that you have terminal cancer and you only have six months or a year to live, why live in a hospital? why live hanging on to machines? why live going to the doctor every day when you could live without another way, which is having more agency with the choices you make and the people you see and the kind of life you lead.
The hospice children sneak out of their rooms and tell scary stories to pass the time. They get to know each other better and explore their feelings about death and regrets, according to Langenkamp.
“The stories are all scary and they all have some sort of mystical or scary element to them, and what’s fun about the show is that when kids start telling scary stories, they come to life and we’re the people. who act in their stories, basically,” she said.
“When I took the role, I just thought I was going to play the doctor and the owner of the hospice, but what I ended up finding out is that I play all these different characters. My range of different people I play is very broad in that area, and it’s an actor’s dream to be able to play different characters.
“It’s like a repertoire theater and every week or every episode my person appears as a different character in one of these scary stories. It’s an anthology like that. Every week is its own story. I think ‘there are one or two stories that are worth two episodes because they are very complicated stories, but, in general, each episode was a new character that I had to create. As an actor, you just don’t have to not many opportunities to have this kind of role, except maybe once in your life.So, in this way, I feel like I have struck gold.
Here’s why the show is hitting close to home: Langenkamp and her husband lost their son, Atticus Anderson, to brain cancer in January 2018. He was 26.
“And so I see things in these kids that I saw in my son when he was battling cancer,” she said, indicating that she offered suggestions for the show based on her experiences. with Attica. “I think our collaboration on this issue was amazing because I really wanted it to be authentic coming from a mother who lost a child to cancer.”
Langenkamp said Atticus was diagnosed with glioblastoma when he was 20. There have been six years of ups and downs, including some “highlights” when cancer was not a problem.
After Atticus died, his loved ones had to reset their lives. What are we going to do? How do we put the pieces back together? How can we go on with our lives with any kind of joy or sense of purpose?
“Our son, he was an engineer; he had gone to Stanford and he was a role model for all of us – he always said ‘just do cool (stuff’). That’s what we’re all here to do. Just do stuff. And so when he died, my husband and I just thought, you know what? We just have to take this as our daily mantra.
Langenkamp asked himself this question: what would I like to do in the next phase of my life?
“I really wanted to get back into acting and really look for roles that would make sense to me,” she said. “And, lo and behold, Mike Flanagan called me for this job.”
It was fate. Langenkamp said it brought him joy to be part of “The Midnight Club” and to work with children who all reminded him of Atticus in one way or another.
“It was just such a dream come true,” she said, adding that the show could provide lessons for those who have to care for sick people.
“Being a good caregiver is one of the greatest privileges you can have as a human being,” she said. “I think the character I play really, really believes that caring for the sick is a huge privilege. That’s how we feel for all of our caregivers who have cared for us during COVID.
Langenkamp, who hopes Tulsans will experience “The Midnight Club,” said she can’t wait to see it. She hasn’t seen an episode yet.
“And I’m, of course, incredibly nervous about it,” she said. “But I know I tried my best. I literally put everything I have into playing this role.
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