The talented actress scarcely avoided the villainous Freddy Krueger in 1984, the psychotic and pig-nosed killer Caleb in 2010, and she continues to remain safe from the untreatable COVID-19 in 2020. Green-eyed, cat lover, amazing aunt to her nieces and nephew, and Los Angeles resident Amanda Wyss maintains strong endeavors with her acting career today.
Throughout the years, Wyss has starred in various productions, running the gamut from horror to drama to comedy to westerns. “I think ultimately I just love a great script and a well-written character that challenges me”. Wyss commented”. And that can be in any genre. The horror community has been incredibly kind to me. But, I have to say, the best roles I have had been mostly in dramas”.
Born on Nov. 24, 1960, and originally from Manhattan Beach, California, her passion for acting began when she studied theatre at El Camino College, then attended the Lee Strasberg Institute for two years. Wyss had the pleasure of attending school with such actors and directors as Larry Moss, Gene Bua, and Stuart Rogers.
Wyss’ notable horror work includes her portrayal of the energetic but gullible Tina Gray in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, the 1984 genre classic that also starred Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, and Johnny Depp. Wyss is perhaps most remembered for her final scene in the film – which remains one of the bloodiest deaths in horror history.
“I learned how to survive a rotating room, LOL”. She explained. “That whole sequence really came out well. We rehearsed a lot for that scene. It was precisely choreographed and we shot it in bits and pieces. We had to get it right the first time because once the blood was introduced there was no going back”.
Once Wyss got into the groove, she did not feel trepidatious and was able to bypass any injuries. “I don’t think my well-being was of paramount concern. But, that said, it was shot in precise movements. There were no cowboy moves or people improvising. So, I think that is what kept everyone safe”.
Although A Nightmare on Elm Street is now (unbelievably) 36 years old, Wyss recalled the close connections with her co-stars and was delighted to be part of an ideal horror/slasher film. “I made lifelong friends. My scenes from the movie have been on the Oscars many times, which is sort of cool. And a photo of Wes Craven and me hung in the Directors Guild in L.A. for many years”.
Prior to and after A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wyss was offered roles in more comedic fare as the level-headed Lisa in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and Better Off Dead (1985) as Beth Truss, sharing the screen alongside John Cusack and Curtis Armstrong. Different television work and enrollment in drama school prepped the dedicated actress for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in particular.
She also smoothly transitioned from horror to comedy when filming Better Off Dead. “I shot them one right after the other, with only one month in-between”. She recounted. “Some characters are much harder to shake than others. I was able to let Tina go quickly. Working on Better Off Dead was a lot of fun. We laughed constantly. There were so many talented comedic actors that I got to play with. I learned a lot”.
After she finished Better Off Dead, Wyss filmed Silverado (1985), a western/drama movie starring Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, and Danny Glover. Wyss analyzed how Silverado was one of her favorite experiences when working in a movie.”It was magical”. She exclaimed. “New Mexico in the winter was gorgeous. The script was beautiful. The cast and crew were amazing. We had a lot of fun together!”
The entertaining ’80s decade ended, but Wyss continued to fulfill her dreams. Needless to say, she re-entered the horror industry in the new millennium – and still escaped the villains – in movies like The Graves (2010) and The ID (2016).
“I had a blast working on The Graves. I mean Tony Todd as The Preacher, come on! And I adore Bill Moseley, too”. She stated. “The role of Meredith in The ID is one of my favorite roles to date. I loved the challenge of bringing her to life. I also have a thriller called Hunter’s Moon that just came out on most platforms. It was fun to play the mom in this indie”.
One of Wyss’ more recent projects was 2019’s Badland, another western film that reconnected her with Big Legend (2018) writer/director Justin Lee. “He called and asked if I wanted the role of Alice. I leaped at the chance. It is such a wonderful character. Very rich and complex. I love westerns and it was fun to get back in the saddle, so to speak”.
The actress discussed how she’s keeping herself preoccupied amidst the COVID-19 pandemic a real-world nightmare she considers more terrifying than anything that haunted her on the silver screen.
“No offense to Freddy Krueger, but COVID-19 is much scarier. There are so many unknowns that make it stressful”. She said. “I’m staying at home. If I go out, I wear a mask and gloves if needed. I’m reading a lot. Cooking, exercising, taking MasterClasses, more cooking, LOL. Zooming with family and friends. We have had a few game nights on Zoom, which were fun”.
Speaking of, reading is a major extracurricular activity in Wyss’ eventful life. That explains why she would take the following three items when stranded on a deserted island: a book, reading glasses, and sunscreen.
Wyss also does a lot of yoga, meditation, cooks, travels, and hangs out with family and friends. She’s also appeared at numerous conventions – Dragon Con, Days of the Dead, Mad Monster Party, among others. Unfortunately, 2020 does not look very promising for meeting and conversing with new and current fans.
“I am extremely grateful that I get to do what I do. I don’t know if there will be any conventions this year”. she sadly added.”.Not sure how it can be done safely”. As unpredictable as the 2020s are shaping up to be, however, it seems apparent that an actress as ambitious and versatile as Wyss still has many more roles ahead of her.
Indeed, she’s currently doing her first audiobook recording and is also set to voice a character in an animated series. The adventurous actress currently has two movie roles lined up, although the projects may be pushed back to 2021.
And, of course, there’s always the allure of the small screen. While horror fans may know her best for being preyed upon by a certain fedora-sporting ghoul, Wyss has also had appearances on television programs like Highlander, Charmed, Dexter, and C.S.I., among many, many others. “Hopefully, the TV will get going soon” Wyss concluded.
By: Kristen M. Gilotti
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