Yesterday afternoon I heard about Karen Black passing away from ampullary cancer, and I immediately recalled the wonderful time I had hanging out with her in 2010 at the Dallas International Film Festival. Oddly enough it wasn’t the first time we had met, as my first encounter with Karen was a year or so before at Texas Frightmare Weekend, where I was the host of a special Q&A for INVADERS FROM MARS with director Tobe Hooper, Karen and her son Hunter Carson. As excited as I was to moderate that panel, I admittedly wasn’t on my game for it as much as I wanted to be. I didn’t have the benefit of chatting with the talent before we started, and while I enjoyed that film I just had a hard time coming up with (what I thought were) insightful questions for it. As I recall, it was a Q&A I wish I had done a better job with. Not long after I got another chance to interview Karen, only this time by herself when she attended DIFF in 2010. We first spoke on the red carpet, and I immediately felt like there was a connection there – at one point, when talking about Dennis Hopper directing her in EASY RIDER, she got a little choked up as Dennis was (at the time) very ill and expected to not live much longer. It was a very honest moment from a woman I later found to be incredibly open and wonderfully eccentric. Karen and I got to do a more formal one-on-one interview, in which we talked about a lot of her work, and (when the cameras weren’t rolling) even discussed cooking and everyday things. We swapped recipes, and she genuinely wanted to know about me before talking about herself. There was a sincerity with Karen I’ve not seen with any other celebrity I’ve met, and it always stayed with me. As is often the case in this industry, I didn’t keep in touch with her the way I wanted to, though she certainly asked me to do so. I kept thinking we’d cross paths again at some event, or bump into each other while I was in L.A. for something. Karen passed away this week, and it’s a definite loss to the world of entertainment. To honor her I’d like to re-present the two on camera interviews we did at DIFF 2010, our first chat on the red carpet, and our one-on-one interview in the DIFF lounge. I also want to thank Devin Pike, as that year we were switching off on various interviews, and he knew I wanted to talk with Karen – Devin not only let me chat with her on the carpet, but also let me have the sit down interview, for which I’ll always be grateful. My thanks also to Rachel Parker for shooting this. If you’ve never seen FIVE EASY PIECES, give it a look, and explore many of Karen’s other works. She was an inspiration, and she will be missed.
1939 – 2013