As part of our celebration of Women in Horror Month, we interview the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Magnolfi of “Suspiria” fame.
Barbara Magnolfi was born in France, and grew up in Italy. She began her film career with an uncredited role in the obscure film, How, When and with Whom, before starring in her break-out role of Olga in the beloved classic horror film Suspiria (1977). Barbara has continued acting in various projects and still does today. I was fortunate enough to interview her, and we talked about her career, women in the genre, and of course, horror movies.
INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA MAGNOLFI
1. I read that you started ballet at a very young age. Do you feel that this was part of why you were cast in Suspiria?
I did started ballet at 4 years old. Though it wasn’t my decision, it was love at first class, particularly the live piano played accompanying the dancers with beautiful tunes. I truly don’t know if it had something to do with me being casted in Suspiria. However, Olga, my character, was indeed supposed to be an experienced dancer at the last year already graduating from academy.
2. What intrigued you about Suspiria and made you want to be a part of it?
When I got called in to meet Dario Argento, I had absolutely no idea about the project at all. I didn’t go with a preconceived idea about it. In his office, he handed me a thick script and asked me to look at Olga. The casting process was like no other I had ever experienced, and I liked Dario right away. I wasn’t sure I got the role when I left; I only noticed his excitement. When I received news that I would play Olga, I was behind thrilled. This was a huge production, and I was going to work with Hollywood legend Joan Bennet, Italian legend Alida Valli, and Jessica Harper. It was simply amazing!
3. What are your thoughts on the remake?
I attended the Suspiria by Luca Guadagnino premiere in Hollywood last October 24, 2018. I believe it was more a tribute to Argento and the three mothers than a remake. It really had a different story line and was set in a different historical time. I think the cinematography was amazing, and the performances — in particular Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson — were fantastic.
4. What has been your favorite role in your career?
That is not a question I can easily answer. Every role I played had something special. Each one was my baby, something I created and poured myself into. Each of them are individually my favorite. I had a lot of fun creating Olga in Suspiria though! In general, my favorite roles are roles that challenge me and expand my range as an actor.
5. What are some of the challenges women face in the genre?
I believe Women have been facing challenges in this industry and others actually. Only 30% of films were done by women I believe last year. I think Horror is actually a genre where women have more of a way to thrive and to play roles other than just the victim. Women get to play interesting roles, as witches and villains, and bring more of themselves to their roles.
6. What does having a Women in Horror Month mean to you?
It just means celebrating women being un-oppressed and having a voice in male dominated industry.
7. What are you currently working on?
I currently just finished two projects. One is Mother’s Day Directed by Michelle Nessk for Horrors of the PNW Volume 6 . The other I just wrapped is a starring role in Five Deaths in Blood Red directed by Ama Lea, which is a tribute to Italian Horror and Dario Argento.
I also have 2 projects in the works for different genres (not Horror), and I’m writing my autobiography. The last two projects I also executive produced and associate produced. I plan to go more behind the camera and soon would like to direct myself.
8. If you could choose any filmmaker to work with, living or dead, who would you choose?
I would love to work with Dario Argento again, as well as Quentin Tarantino. There are many more I would love to work with.
9. What’s your favorite scary movie?
The original Dracula.