Heather Dorff

Scream Queen, gamer, and most impressively; distaster relief volunteer

Although she didn’t set out to become known as a Scream Queen, actress Heather Dorff has made quite a name for herself in indie horror films. Since 2011, she’s won five Best Actress and two Best Female Performance awards for horror films she’s starred in and has earned accolades from many of her peers in the industry. One such peer, Jessica Cameron, worked alongside Heather in Jessica’s Truth or Dare, and in Alex Mathieson and Damon Rickard’s short, The Tour (a still from which is at left). Her performance in the latter earned her one of her Best Actress awards in her hometown, at the 2014 Chicago Horror Film Festival.

Heather is well-traveled, having visited several major US and European cities. One city she visited, although it wasn’t for vacation, was New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Heather spent nine months doing disaster relief work. She now calls LA home but says a move to Europe may be in her future. Also an avid gamer, Heather reveals the way to her heart is through a game of World of Warcraft or perhaps Dead or Alive 2. Read on to find out more in my recent interview with Heather.

Heather Dorff
RedRum Collaboration, 2012
CHRIS CHARLES: Your bio shows that you’ve lived in quite a few cities here and in Europe. You’re still young, so I’ll take a guess: Was it because of your father’s job that you traveled around so much?
HEATHER DORFF: Well to clarify first: I haven’t lived in Europe, unfortunately, I’ve only traveled to a number of countries there including France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK. If I ever have an opportunity, though, moving to Europe is what I’ll do next. Probably Spain because I just loved it there so much. In regards to why I have lived in so many places; part of it had to do with my father’s career switch. But that only happened once and it was when I moved from my home town of Chicago to Rome, Georgia. After that, I bounced around on my own accord because, well, I’m just very free-spirited and enjoy change. I really value all the experiences I’ve had through travel and moving. I’ve seen a lot of the US and the world and it really has changed me for the better, I think, as a person. There is just so much out there to do and experience in the world that you simply can’t get from sitting in one place your whole life. It makes it harder to make and keep life long friends, that’s for sure, but it’s so rewarding in so many other ways. I highly recommend it to everyone. Mix it up! Take a chance. It’s always worth it.
CHRIS: Is there anything about your hometown of Chicago that you particularly miss and just can’t get in LA?
HEATHER: The skyline, food, and convenience of everything being so close by. LA is great, but it’s huge and very spread out. It also doesn’t boast having over 2000, and some of the best restaurants in the world, in it’s general downtown proximity alone. Chicago’s architecture is just so darn beautiful, as well. It’s unique and a one-of-a-kind experience to behold. Nothing is more awe-inspiring than seeing the Chicago skyline from afar during the day or standing on the Sears Tower looking over the skyline at night. I just love Chicago. What I don’t miss is the weather. That’s for sure! No thank you freezing temps and four feet of snow on any given day. I did my time with you. Time for some mountain views and ocean waves for awhile.
Heather Dorff
From the 2014 Chicago Horror Film Festival
CHRIS: Anything you really miss about any of the European cities you’ve visited?
HEATHER: Spain’s culture really took my breath away. The strength of their family and friend values greatly surpasses anything I’ve ever experienced before. The country is going through a lot. They are struggling, and yet the people seem so happy. Every day and night they get together with those they love and celebrate life. It’s amazing to see and be part of. They also express emotion as they are feeling it in the moment without apologies or embarrassment. If they are sad, you’ll see them cry without reserve. Mad, you’ll see them express that anger right out in the open. It’s so refreshing. They have a strong “no bullshit” policy, basically. It’s nice to see people not hiding behind the protective veil we all try so hard, in other parts of the world anyway, to keep in place constantly.
CHRIS: So, let’s move on to your acting. I read your breakout role was in the 2011 horror Afraid of Sunrise. Did you set out from the start to become a Scream Queen or did it just sort of happen?
HEATHER: It just sort of happened. I set out to become an actress and didn’t really have any guidelines or specifics on how I meant for that to happen other than not getting naked on camera simply for pay. I’ve always loved sci-fi/fantasy and especially vampire lore. I grew up watching Buffy and reading Anne Rice novels religiously. Seems almost poetic that my first real role was playing a vampire. I love it.
CHRIS: I’ve heard you say Jamie Lee Curtis is your favorite horror actress. What exactly is it about her that you admire above all?
Heather Dorff & Jessica Cameron
With Jessica Cameron during the filming of The Tour
HEATHER: Her strength. Something about her commands your undivided attention. She walks into a scene and takes it over without even trying. It’s impressive, really. She’s also a fantastic actress. It’s very easy to cross the line into cheesy, campy, or just plan over-acting when you’re working with horror material …and she’s never done it.
CHRIS: I thought you and Jessica Cameron seemed to have particularly good chemistry together in the short film The Tour. Would you say you two were playing characters unlike yourselves in that one or were you more or less just being yourselves?
HEATHER: I can’t speak for Jessica, but I’d definitely say I was playing a character way out of the realm of the comfort zone I exist in, in my daily life. I’m a bit shy, and without a ton of liquid courage, I’d never so brazenly or openly flirt with a guy I just met like that. When I first meet people, especially people I find attractive, even if they don’t see it, I am always crazy nervous. I never know what to say and half the time feel like I’m sending off the wrong vibes. My character Cassie in The Tour is the type of girl who knows exactly what she wants and goes right after it without any reservation or questions asked. She’s unapologetic and a bit of a wild girl. I definitely do not relate with that in any way. I’m very logical, think through everything and never make a move unless I feel the calculated risk of embarrassing the crap out of myself is a low one. So, yea.
CHRIS: Did Jessica coin your “DrunkDorff” moniker?
Heather Dorff
The Hebrew script tattoo on Heather’s back, she got in honor of her mother. It loosely translates to; “Life is to live, not to die. Life isn’t having, it’s wanting. Life isn’t taking, it’s giving. Life isn’t dying, it’s living.”
HEATHER: She did. The ass. Jess preys on my weakness of needing “liquid courage” for social gatherings quite spectacularly. I give her that.
CHRIS: You were also in Jessica’s Truth or Dare, which has some pretty intense emotional and physical scenes, as well as a lot of blood. Do you have any “battle scars” from that one?
HEATHER: Well, I can tell you what it feels like to have your arm hairs be ripped out over and over again for hours due to so much blood and the extreme heat drying it between scenes that you find yourself constantly peeling yourself off the floor. I know what it feels like to have a break-away-glass bottle not break and in fact just straight hit you in the head. Or having to pee outside in the yard, in your underwear, in front of neighboring houses, in the desert, because there is too much fake blood on you to risk walking through the rental house and possibly staining it. I know the sting of having fake, sugary blood invade your eyes for scenes on end. I also know that I wouldn’t have it any other way! In horror, you go blood or go home.
CHRIS: How many takes of the “bottle break” scene were there?
HEATHER: Three I think? The first one didn’t go so well, as you’ve probably seen in the video. The next one broke well but I moved my head in anticipation so it didn’t read well. By the last one, I was definitely full-on crying, had to close my eyes so I wouldn’t anticipate it, and WHAM! Worked like a charm. Poor Ryan Kiser, though. I made him ridiculously nervous about the whole thing since I’ve had around seven concussions in my life …ice skating and rollerblading competitively can be a real bitch, and didn’t want to add to the list. Neither did he!
Heather Dorff
At the 2014 Devil’s Ball in Chicago, where Heather was one of the hostesses
CHRIS: Who would you say is the best screamer between yourself, Jessica, and Devanny Pinn?
HEATHER: Definitely one of them over me. I have a more “manly” or hoarse type of scream that just doesn’t pitch as well as the eardrum shattering ones those two give off.
CHRIS: Speaking of whom, what was it like to work with Devanny on that one?
HEATHER: It was great! Devanny is a real sweetheart and just so gorgeous in person. You can’t help but openly stare at her. Even without makeup she just has natural perfect dark good looks. Makes a girl self conscious as hell.
CHRIS: I see you’re “rumored” to be playing a character in the not-yet-released Ed Gein: DDS. In fact, the whole cast is listed as “rumored” to be appearing in it, including original Night of the Living Dead alum Judith O’Dea. I didn’t know IMDb listed cast members as “rumored.” So, can you end the “rumors” now and confirm who will appearing in that one and when it may be released?
HEATHER: I have no clue why I’m still listed as “rumored” after all this time but yes, I did have a part in that film. Cory Udler is amazing to work with and just an amazing person to know period. Plus, I got to work with my favorite Chicago actor Tom Lodewyck. At this point in time, Tom and I had been featured in a lot of films together, such as Afraid of Sunrise, Spades, and Drifted, but had never had any actual scenes together or been on set at the same time. It was not only great working with him but great to get to know him and Cory. They are awesome guys. And yes, Judith is featured in the film, as well.
CHRIS: You’re traveled to Houston a few weeks ago. Were you working on a film project there?
HEATHER: No, I wasn’t doing any project. Just a vacau!
CHRIS: I understand you spent several months as a volunteer, doing post Hurricane Katrina disaster relief work?
Heather Dorff & Lauren Tevelow
With Lauren Tevelow at this year’s Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury, Michigan
HEATHER: I did. I worked for Outback Steakhouse at the time and they called for volunteers to help serve food to first soldiers and to those who were stranded and eventually to the returning customer masses of New Orleans and it’s suburbs. It was supposed to be there for two weeks only but I ended up staying for nine months until the city, and specifically the restaurant, got back on it’s feet and returned to steady normalcy. I lived in one of three FEMA trailers on site, behind the restaurant, crammed with bunk beds and up to 12 volunteers per trailer and no running water/working showers. We usually showered at the local hospital. The banks all had FEMA trailers behind them with armed guards. It was crazy. Literally madness. One of the scariest and best experiences I’ve ever had.
CHRIS: Is it also true you went skydiving to overcome a fear of flying and heights?
HEATHER: That is true as well …and there is video to prove it! I was, and still am, deathly scared of heights and especially planes. At that point in time, I was 20 and had never even been on a plane before. I figured the best way to get over my fear of heights and planes was to jump out of a plane at over 40,000 feet in the air. It was great! Such an amazing experience …but unfortunately didn’t solve the problem. I realize now that although I am scared of heights, what really scares me is the idea of falling and dying. There is no real way to get over that kind of fear entirely since it’s a bit irrational to begin with. I’ll probably skydive again at some point in my life just to remind myself that life is not about fearing death. It’s about just simply living and enjoying the journey while your on it.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests only those close to you would know about?
Heather Dorff
During the filming of the 2014 horror short Inhumane
HEATHER: Well, I don’t think it’s much of a secret, but I’m a gamer. Like a real gamer. I met my current boyfriend of six years via World of Warcraft. I love League of Legends and recently got into playing Chrono Trigger on my phone because why not? I had my first personal computer and gaming console (Atari) when I was four and have been hooked on both ever since. I love sci-fi and fantasy the most. My dream film role would be to play Alicia in the book-to-film adaption of Justin Cronin’s The Passage if that ever comes to fruition. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is what made me want to become an actress. I wanted to inspire little girls and give them the courage to stand up and be a hero the way Joss Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar did for me as a kid.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll say it’s a pleasure to include you to my list of interviewees, Heather. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
HEATHER: Shout out to every single person in my life that make me better by just simply knowing them. You are filmmakers and not, artists and not, perfect and not so perfect, beyond friends but family. You know who you are. We’ve laughed together, cried together, made art together, and/or just sat around watching movies, making jokes, or talking about the world, universe, and life in general. Love you all.
CHRIS: Oh, just one more question: What’s your idea of a perfect date?

HEATHER: We’d start off with a little go cart racing where I beat you out of sheer skill and not ’cause you let me. Head over to an awesome dinner at a great restaurant. Doesn’t matter if it’s a whole in the wall gem or Michelin rated. End the night with a little one on one Dead or Alive 2 fighter game action where, again, I beat you out of sheer skill and not ’cause you let me. Maybe a little kiss if you gave me a run for my money ….or beat me because you had some unfair advantage, in the aforementioned go cart racing or DOA2 battle and that’s it! Until next time!


Heather gracing two versions of the poster for What They Say

 Promo shot for Justin R. Romine’s 2011 horror, Afraid of Sunrise, which
many pundits consider Heather’s breakout role as a Scream Queen.

Also an experienced model, Heather has an impressive portfolio.
This one’s from a 2012 shoot with SNS Photography.

Jessica Cameron sporting her official DrunkDorff™ t-shirt as Heather’s look conveys her seal of approval. As of this writing, the shirts are not yet available for sale to the general public, but due to great demand, negotiations are in the works to have them mass-produced, as well as a possible line of official DrunkDorff™ merchandise to include coffee cups, bumper stickers, and sofa pillows. For more details, including pricing information and custom orders, contact Jessica Cameron through her official website.

Heather’s latest acting reel

See more of Heather at:

About the author

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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.

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