It’s a busy start to 2013 for actress Marlene Forte. Along with returning to her role as Carmen Ramos for the new season of “Dallas,” which premieres on TNT Jan. 28, Forte can also be seen in the new movie spoof “A Haunted House,” which hits theaters Jan. 11. In the comedy, Forte plays Rosa, a parody on the Hispanic maid seen in “Paranormal Activity 2” a couple years ago. Like that maid, Rosa warns the family she works for that there is an evil spirit in the house.
Before we talk about “A Haunted House,” I wanted to get your reaction to Mr. Larry Hagman’s passing (J.R. Ewing on “Dallas”) in November.
First of all, Larry Hagman to me is Major Nelson (his character on the 60’s TV show “I Dream of Jeannie”). He’s TV royalty. Last season I got to work with him a lot. He had so much love for life. It’s going to be very sad when I go back on set. I’m definitely going to feel his absence. It’s so sad that he’s gone, but when you talk about Larry all you can do is smile.
Now, you’re in “A Haunted House,” which is a spoof of horror films like “The Exorcist” and “Paranormal Activity.” Are you a fan of the horror genre?
I like a good scary movie. I don’t like slasher movies – like where someone’s head gets hacked off. I love [Alfred] Hitchcock movies and “The Sixth Sense” and the original “Halloween.” I think [writer/actor] Marlon [Wayans] has done a great job spoofing horror movies in the past with the “Scary Movie” [franchise]. This is a no-holds-bar type of movie. It’s as political incorrect and raunchy as it can be.
Since they’re both maids, how is Rosa different from Carmen on “Dallas?”
Carmen is very proper and moral and is the only one on “Dallas” that doesn’t lie. Rosa is like Carmen’s possessed, crackhead sister that Carmen doesn’t talk about. She’s the total opposite of Carmen. Yes, it’s another maid character but I was laughing out loud when I read the script. At my age, you don’t get the opportunity to be silly, so you have to take it when it comes along.
If your house was haunted, would you get out quickly or wait around to see what might happened?
I’m not really afraid of dead people. It’s the ones that are alive that frighten me.
After more than two decades, the series “Dallas” is returning to TV with many of the original actors who made the show a hit during the 80s reprising their roles. New to the Ewing family drama is actress Marlene Forte, who plays Carmen Ramos, the family’s longtime housekeeper and mother to Elena (Jordana Brewseter), who is at the center of a love triangle between the two rival Ewing brothers (Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe).
The two-hour “Dallas” premiere airs June 13 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
Did you watch the original series?
Well, I’m Latina, so we grew up watching soap operas. But this was the American soap opera everyone would watch. You really got invested in this family. It was such a big part of TV back then.
What did you think about bringing the show back after all these years?
I think they’re bringing it back in a really smart way. If you’re not going to remake it and do something completely different, this is the smartest thing to do. Remakes are tricky. I think [writer] Cynthia [Cidre] came up with a really good idea. You don’t have to remake it. The show is within our lifetime, so why don’t we just visit this family again? You remember this family. Now they have children who are just as @#$! up as they were. It’s like your revisiting old friends. It’s like, “Oh my God, J.R. [Ewing] is still alive and he’s still the same son-of-a-bitch he was years ago.”
What does it feel like to be one of the new characters on the show?
Well, there was a maid in the original, but it was a character that would just come in and say, “Someone’s at the door.” In this one, my character has been living with the family for a while. She’s a big part of the family. She has a lot to say. She’s probably the most opinionated person on the show.
Does being an integral part of the show justify what some people might say is a stereotypical role for a Latina actress?
Yes, and I was one of those people. My manager sent me the script and he told me about the part and it sat on my desk for about two months. I was like, “That’s the best character you got?” I didn’t want to play the maid in “Dallas.” My manager begged me to read it and when I did I saw that it was very well-written and very funny. I told myself, “If I’m going to play a maid I’m not going to play a quiet maid.”