Best known for replacing the late Farrah Fawcett on the hit 70s show “Charlie’s Angels,” actress Cheryl Ladd has continued to stay busy in the Hollywood industry for over 40 years. In the new holiday film “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups,” Ladd, 61, stars as Mrs. Clause who, along with a litter of puppies, goes on an adventure to save Christmas. “Santa Paws 2” was recently released on DVD Nov. 20.
When you started in this industry, did you have this romantic idea about what being an actress in Hollywood was all about?
Yes, coming from South Dakota I didn’t have any idea about the film industry. I had stars in my eyes and really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But you learn very quickly. You learn on your feet. Everyone was flailing about trying to get any work they could.
What was the first job you got?
It was for the voice of this cartoon character (“Josie and the Pussycats” in 1970). My ability to sing, dance and act – to get work in three different avenues – really served me well. There hasn’t been a big call for singing and dancing, but now people are really turning to that kind of television with “Smashed” and “Glee.” I think we’re in a new phase. People seem to be more interested now in scripted TV shows with singing and dancing and music than they are with reality shows. I think that format is very entertaining.
Reality TV wasn’t something that existed back in the 70s. Is that something you can watch today?
Oh, I love “The Amazing Race.” I’ve followed it since the very beginning. It’s always been intriguing to see these people put themselves in different circumstances.
What’s important to you as an actress today?
Well, I’m not the spring chicken I once was. Finding projects where I can play my age and be myself is very important to me. I love this particular film, “Santa Paws 2,” because I get to play a character that is reinvented a bit. I play a modern Mrs. Clause. She takes over and helps solve the issues. I think a lot of people will really relate to this Mrs. Santa Clause. I had a lot of fun playing her.
Is it also important to you to find roles that are family friendly?
I think so because being a grandmother you really have a different view of life.
What do you tell your grandkids when they grow up and want to know more about grandma’s career in the 70s?
I’ll tell them I was a young woman with lots of energy. I’ll tell them I had a wonderful opportunity come my way and that [“Charlie’s Angels”] was a big deal in its time.
Who do you look up to in the industry, if anyone?
Don’t take this the wrong way because I’m not comparing myself to her or anything, but Judi Dench. She was just in the new [James] Bond movie (“Skyfall”) and she did that other wonderful film this year…um…
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?”
Yes! I mean, she can play such a variety of characters because of her life experience and her body of work and the fact that she’s such a brilliant actress. I really admire her. I never miss a Judy Dench anything. I always know she is going to be remarkable.
What were your initial feelings when your daughter Jordan told you she wanted to get in the business?
Well, I think my mother was worried about me, so I was worried about Jordan. I think the business can be very tough, particularly tough on women. If she had said she wanted to be a clothing designer or a scientist I would’ve probably jumped up and down and said, “Woohoo! That’s great!” There are a lot of ups and downs and insecurities because you’re at the mercy of so many other people and their decision making.
Farrah Fawcett said in past interviews the success of “Charlie’s Angels” was in part because of the sexual nature of the show. Do you feel the same way?
I don’t think it hurt. I think we were powerful women who were like three grown-up Girl Scouts. You look back to how tame the show was compared to what’s on television now and it’s kind of comical. We have to go back and remember that “Charlie’s Angels” was a family show.
The modern “Charlie’s Angels” movies made a lot of money at the box office, but the TV show remake last year only lasted a few episodes before it was cancelled. Why don’t you think bringing it back to TV worked?
I didn’t see a lot of the shows, but I think it’s very difficult to reinvent something that’s already been done. It’s interesting that they keep trying though. I guess they’re running out of new ideas.
Did you liked any of the new incarnations?
I really liked the first movie very much. I got to work with Drew [Barrymore]. She’s always been a favorite of mine. The first one had that tongue-in-cheek homage to the old show, but with a fresh take.