Tracy Pfau (Mrs. Bouchie, Beyond the Prairie) Exclusive Interview!
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Hi Tracy! Thanks for letting PrairieFans.com interview you about your role as Mrs. Bouchie on Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
1. First, I would like to compliment you on your performance as Mrs. Bouchie, also known as Mrs. Brewster in the "Little House" books. Your work was very well done and true to Mrs. Brewster of the "Little House" books. Did you happen to read "The Long Winter" to get a feel of the character? Had you previously read the books or seen the 70's TV show before this role?
As a little girl, I had read all the books and loved them and I watched "Little House On The Prairie" every week. My little sister Amy was a HUGE fan too, so whenever it repeated, I watched with her. When I got the audition for the role, it was such a fast process (I got the audition one afternoon, and had to audition for it the next day) that I didn't re-read The Long Winter before it. The producer and director--Dori Weiss and Marcus Cole were looking to save money on the movie, so I "pretended" to be a SLC "local hire" and flew in to SLC, Utah on my own dollar and got a callback about two days later for it. In the meantime, I had flown back to LA and when I got the callback, I then had to fly back to Utah. I waited for about two weeks and finally got the call that I got the part. It made all my efforts seem totally worthwhile. I was ecstatic to get the part. After I booked the part, you bet I went out and bought the book and re-read it!
2. What was it like to play Mrs. Bouchie in Beyond The Prairie? Any regrets?
It was awesome. I got to the set they had constructed at a horse ranch in Provo, Utah at 11:30am and they fitted me in my costume at around 1:30 and put me in makeup. Lindsay Crouse was also getting her makeup then and it was so fun to see how she and I were being made to look so "marmish." Then I waited until about 11:30pm to finally shoot the scene. It's pretty typical to wait a while to shoot your scenes, but that was a long time. HOWEVER, I was so happy to be on the set with Richard Thomas and Lindsay Crouse and Meredith Monroe and Walton Goggins, the time flew by. When we finally shot our scenes, I wasn't tired at all. I was elated to be in the little home they'd built especially for our scenes. It was an amazing environment---took me right back to all the books I'd read as a kid. Meredith Monroe was a darling, darling young actress, very kind and friendly, with absolutely no 'airs' about her. As well Walton Goggins was a gem. The actor who played my husband was also great--he's a local drama teacher at one of the high schools in SLC, UTAH. The little kid who played my son "Little Mikey" was the producer Dori Weiss' real son. The entire shooting time took about 35 minutes and they re-shot the butcher knife scene a couple of different ways because they were concerned with how scary I came off. Obviously, now you know they cut it out of the movie, probably because it's a family movie and they didn't want mom's and dad's to be turned off enough to not let their kids watch it. That's my only regret--having that cut out. But I totally understand and trust whatever the producers and director's perspective was on that cut.
3. How was the audition for Mrs. Bouchie? Was it very competitive?
The audition was VERY competitive for the role of Mrs. Bouchie because I was competing with over 25 Salt Lake City actresses and 25 Los Angeles based actresses. I made sure that my audition was pristine and I made myself look very plain and very ugly for the role. I even went so far as to where a gingham skirt I had with a dirty looking off white old fashioned looking corsetty blouse for the audition (normally I would NOT do this because it makes you look kind of cheesy.....but I took a risk because I had a gut feeling that it would help me.
4. Did you enjoy working with the cast and crew on Beyond the Prairie? Anybody in particular you enjoyed working with?
I loved working with everyone. When you're on set for that day or week you are working, everyone from the cast to the crew become kind of like your family for that little slice of time. It has something to do with the fact that everyone is so excited to be working on such a great project, that you strike a bond with them given the shared enthusiasm and you very quickly feel close to everybody as a result --you work with everyone and then end up really missing them, when it's finally time to say goodbye. I really felt a sort of auntie relationship with Meredith Monroe because she so captured the role of Laura Ingalls and was so childlike in my scenes and I felt for her (of course I didn't communicate that in my scenes!)---Walton Goggins was sweet as pie and a very good actor and the actor who played my husband was also excellent and very fun to work with--a good guy. Dori Weiss was wonderful and has since written a kind letter of recommendation for me to send to casting directors to garner acting work---she was so kind to do that for me.
5. What, if any, affect did playing Mrs. Bouchie have on your career? Are you still associated with or recognized from being in the Beyond The Prairie?
Shortly after I completed working on the movie, I got a lot of auditions for upcoming episodics and features, because work begets work. As far as the role influencing my life in some way---it affected me in ways I can't express. Just knowing that I got to play that part gave me so much confidence as an actress and also knowing that I got to do that part and go down in history being the actress who portrayed that role has been so fulfilling. As far as being recognized in that role---I believe casting directors know that I have done that role and when roles like that come up, I suppose I'm more seriously considered for that type role.
6. What was it like to wear clothes from the pioneer era? Was it comfortable? Meredith told me she loved it and thought they were comfortable.
LOVED IT. I was born in the wrong era.....Any other era than the 70's would have been just fine with me. The 19th century, 1910's, 1920's, 1930's, 40's....the seventies I think was the worst era in American history. I loved wearing prairie clothes and on that note, I loved being plain, down to the earth.....my grandparents were both corn farmers and i grew up visiting them every summer and I always felt akin with them. Salt of the earth people. That's what America was founded on.
7. You had mentioned to me previously that you had a scene cut from the film about a butcher knife. Could you share a little with me about that scene and why it was cut?
Page 64 of Those Happy Golden Years tell the story of the butcher knife and Mrs. Brewster/Mrs. Bouchie. They changed the scene a bit with the movie in that Mrs. Bouchie wields the butcher knife at the dinner table, while she is talking about Laura staying with them. So the scene went something like this: we're having supper and I get mad and take the knife and stab it into the table as I'm carrying on about how I don't like Laura Ingalls...The producer and director did several takes and seemed a bit concerned about how mean Mrs. Bouchie looked with the knife, but then we finished the scene and everyone seemed very pleased with the final result and it was actually kind of a funny scene because Mrs. Bouchie over reacts to EVERYTHING and this scene kind of fortified that fact... Again, I think they must have thought it would be too scary for a family film.
8. If you could choose another character in the "Little House" series who would you choose and why?
It's all about type and age range with regard to what character I would choose and the only other character I can think that would "fit" me would be Laura's mother role, but then those larger roles would almost always go the industry name actresses
9. What was the atmosphere like on the set with other cast and crew?
The atmosphere on the set was happy, friendly, professional, fun...everyone was so thrilled to be together as a team working on this great project.
10. Finally, how are things going for you these days? Any new roles fans can look for you in?
Right after I booked "Beyond The Prairie" I booked "SLC PUNK!" feature-which was so much fun. I worked with Matthew Lillard and Michael Goorjian in that. I also worked on "Bedazzled" ops Brendan Fraser, but got cut out of that and I did a supporting role in a movie called "Who Gets The House" opposite Elisha Cuthbert....I played a "Dr. Laura" type character--which was all voiceover. I did an episode on Dragnet opposite Eva Longoria and Ed O'Neill and "Oliver Beene" opposite Louis Lombardi....I also have been doing a lot of voiceover acting work for several websites like TotalBeauty.com, the Smithsonian Institute, Miler Beer, General Nutrition Centers. I recently had an audition for Clint Eastwood's upcoming movie "The Changeling" and "The Watchmen" feature and I keep auditioning--working hard to get work as an actress.
Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Do you have anything you would like to say to all the "Little House" fans around the world?
Please make your voices heard that you would like to see more movies like this one--so that they'll make more of them. Producers and big production companies like CBS, Warner Brothers, Fox, Newline.... want to know what you want to see them. If you can email them or send them a letter ---do it because they will listen to you. It's important to be proactive because otherwise they won't make these wonderful movies. You can make a difference! I really appreciate all the fans of Beyond The Prairie: The True Story Of Laura Ingalls Wilder"---I had no idea that there were so many of them!
Webmasters Note: Interview was done on October 7, 2007.