Bad Girls Don't Die! The Karen Fields Interview

Interview by Jeff Hayes

Two Decades Before Lindsay Lohan and her pals became "Mean Girls," Karen "JUDY" Fields and Kathy "Meg" Kahmi gave that title meaning at SLEEPAWAY CAMP. Not only did Judy viciously ridicule, snub, and try to steal other girl's boyfriends, but if you had "no hair down below," she had no problem telling you that infront of everyone.

"Judy" ended out facing her punishment in the form of a hot curling iron during a scene that makes most women cringe in psychological terror without showing a drop of blood. And the woman who played "Judy" became a piece of cult cinema history. Karen had been the most evading SLEEPAWAY CAMP mystery over the past few years, having been the missing piece to the SLEEPAWAY puzzle. With SLEEPAWAY fans worldwide wondering "What ever happened To Judy," it was time for this "bad girl" to come out of hiding and answer the questions that only "Judy" really knows the answers to...

Welcome Karen! You're certainly the most speculated about member of the cast left to join us on the website. It's great to finally know that Judy Lives! First off all thanks for your interest and thanks to all the people who read your website. I am so amazed that "Sleepaway Camp" lives on and has such a loyal and dedicated fan club!

The first and foremost question from the fans: What have you been doing all these years since making SLEEPAWAY CAMP? Well, after filming the movie I went back to Syracuse University where I was a freshman in the drama department... After Syracuse, I lived in Manhattan for a while as all young actresses must do. I did a few off-broadway plays then started getting into doing voiceovers. That led me to California for a season where I did a play and worked on the Simpsons. Then I met my husband who lived in Chicago and I moved there. I have been married for 14 years and am lucky to have 2 awesome daughters. Erica is in 6th grade and Isabelle is in second grade. Both keep me very busy; Erica is a second degree black-belt and a national champion in Tae kwon do. She has also had a small role in a movie and has been in a broadway show. Isabelle loves animals, we have a german shepherd and we are getting another one soon, and she is the artist in our family.

I have been very involved in different community service organizations throughout the years and of course in my kids schools as well. We moved back to the New York area about 4 years ago. I loved Chicago but I am a true New Yorker. I love to go to the theater and to see movies and one of my favorite places to run is Central Park. I am a long distance runner and have completed 2 New York city marathons and am planning on training for another one. Wow, so "Judy" was actually a voice on THE SIMPSONS? What character did you lend your voice to? I was some of the kids voices on the first season. I did the voices for some of Bart's friends. Did you do any other movies or did you get mainly into Voice-Over work? I really didn't do any other movies. I took a class on voice over work and thought it was fun. Then I moved to Chicago and that's what they had there- Voice-over work. I also did some off-broadway. Fans will never forget your super bitched-up performance as Judy. How does it feel to have played one of the best "Bad girl" characters to evolve out of an 80's horror movie? What was it like for you to play such a character?

I am amazed and delighted that people consider "Judy" to be one of the best "bad girls". While it is hard to remember every thing I thought of as I created the character of Judy, I do know that as a young, aspiring actress I was influenced by all of the Stanislovsky and Uta Hagen books. I created a history for Judy as I would do with any character and I decided what her point of view towards the world and towards herself was. I thought about her inner essence and her inner weaknesses and how she tried to cover those weakness up. Judy definitely has a swaggery kind of walk and a different way of using her body than I do. Although she seems to be self assured, I think she was also very self conscious and overcompensated for her negative self image with her body language and her obnoxious ways. As I said, it is hard to remember every detail of how I created Judy, but I do remember that it was a very enjoyable experience... being nasty can be lots of fun!!!!

What kind of reaction did your family and friends have to "Judy" after they saw SLEEPAWAY for the first time? Believe it or not, I have only seen the movie 1 time and that was when it was in the theater. My family has also only seen the movie that 1 time. I think we were all excited to see it on the big screen but it was uncomfortable for me to watch myself. Although I do have a copy on dvd, it is still sealed and unwatched. I really am going to have to watch it again soon. Have you ever been recognized as being "Judy" from SLEEPAWAY? No, I really haven't. To be honest, I haven't even met many people who saw the movie. But my babysitter who is 18 knew of it and saw it. I Wish you could have been at the SLEEPAWAY CAMP REUNION in 2001 to witness for yourself just how much of a dedicated following the movie has. Would you be up for being part of a future SLEEPAWAY CAMP event? Definitely! Just let me know and I'll be there.

Jane Krakowski was originally cast to play "Judy" but decided against it at the last minute because she felt the death scene was "too much." What did you think about it? I actually did not read the script until I got to the set. I don't remember being put off by Judy's death scene. I was just interested in doing a good job and I was happy to be acting. So you auditioned for the movie, but for no specific role? What was your audition like? I auditioned for Robert at NYU. I actually did an improv. I was asked to talk like I was talking to a character I didn't like. I think it was from "the bunk" scene actually. A month or so went by and I didn't hear anything back. Then a little over a month later I was called in to play the part of Judy. So I never even read script.

What was it like for you working with Robert? I thought Robert was real easy going. Felissa said that she thought the curling iron scene was even more graphic. Do you recall it having to be toned down? I don't really remember that. I remember a lot of the scene was done with shadows and nothing ever got physical or anything. You did such a great job at playing a nasty vixen in Sleepaway Camp that some people might assume "She's gotta be like that in real life." Please elaborate for the fans the differences between YOU and "Judy." I think most people would probably think of me as shy and quiet unlike Judy who says what she wants to. I would never do that as freely as she does, even though I'd like to. Do you think she got what she deserved? No, I definitely do not think Judy deserved to die. Her family should seek revenge! Sleepaway Camp is such a speculative movie and the truth of the matter is that although we thought she was probably dead, we never knew for sure. What do you think? Do you think Judy is still out there with a "hot curling iron" to grinde? I think that would be great, either her family should take revenge or she should.

What was it like for you when you first saw all the recent pictures and interviews on the website with all these people who you worked with over 2 decades ago? I was blown away. I could not believe it. Everybody looks great. Felissa looks beautiful and sexy. It totally surprises me that there is such a dedicated following. It's Fascinating really. What are some other memories that stand out about your experience on SLEEPAWAY CAMP? Hmm, well I remember the kissing scene with Tom (who played "Mike")...Robert never said CUT...The scene went on forever... Robert said this was longest kiss ever and we were like "But you never said Cut." Tom was so nervous to do it. I sat on his lap on the car ride to the scene and it made him much more comfortable. I also remember shooting the scenes with Mike Kellin without him actually being there, he was filled in later. Who did you hang around with mostly on set? Felissa, Kathy, and Susie - She was really sweet. Everyone was nice and easy going.

Karen (who looks like she has hardly aged) with some of her SLEEPAWAY CAMP memorabilia that had been stored away in her basement for many years. She dug it out to take some pictures for us.

Were you aware that 2 sequels were made in the late 80' of the characters in part 2 ("Ally") was definitely built off of the "Judy" mold. No, actually i didn't even know any sequels had been made until I saw your website. Since SLEEPAWAY CAMP is such a speculative story... What if Judy never did die? What if that curling iron just destroyed the possibility of her ever having kids (among other things) and after years of anguish, she flipped into "Psycho mode" and decided to hunt down the people she felt were responsible? Would you be up for a Return to Sleepaway Camp? I would definitely be up for that. That's very creative. I'd love to do it. Sounds like fun!

Who's ready for a rematch?

...And there ya have it campers! Judy Lives and she's ready for a camp comeback... wants to send a special "thank you" to Karen Fields for revisiting camp with us and giving us a look at "Judy" 22 years later!