Actress Shelley Duvall was so obsessed with fairy tales that she was known to travel across the world with suitcases full of antique books. In the early ’80s, she convinced Showtime, then a fledgling network, to let her produce a series called Faerie Tale Theatre. Each episode was a different tale starring superstars such as Mick Jagger, Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges and Gena Rowlands, and directed by the likes of Tim Burton or Francis Ford Coppola.
Packed with adult humor, and embracing the scarier aspects of fairy tales, the series was like the anti-Disney. Now, about twenty-five years after they originally aired, all twenty-six episodes are available in a DVD box set. Babble talked to Bridget Terry, who produced the series with Duvall, about the show’s misbehaving actors, insane costumes, and wild cast parties. – Marisa Meltzer
How did you get involved with the project?
I was the marketing director for Robert Altman. Shelly was part of his stock company — she had done four movies with him. We became great friends over in Malta, where she was playing Olive Oyl in Popeye. There really wasn’t much to do there. The last part of the movie was shot on the Mediterranean, and there were all these storms, so we’d go out to shoot, the water would pick up, and we’d have to go back in. We were fighting boredom, so we’d decide to just have a party. Shelley is in another world sometimes, and you’d be at her apartment in Malta, sitting around talking, drinking a little wine, and she’d show you these stories. She had schlepped all these fabulous antique books with her to Malta.
That makes sense, because I’ve always thought the series seemed like something that began as a drunken idea.
It was fun to sit around and bullshit about it, but Shelley was really serious. She’d put the creative elements together in between takes of Olive Oyl, asking the hair designers if they could make a wig three blocks long for Rapunzel. We decided we’d be good producers together. I think Robin Williams was really surprised when he got the call: “Remember when we talked about you playing the Frog Prince in Malta? Well, we got the money and we’re doing it!”
“Cinderella” with Jennifer Beals and Matthew Broderick