Beauty, grace, class and an effervescent personality, is it any wonder why Cheryl Ladd remains one of Hollywood’s favorites. Cheryl has come a long way from her days as one of Charlie’s Angels. Her life is a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication to one’s craft. Whether it is exploring the world’s of television, movies, Broadway and writing, for Cheryl Ladd, the best is yet to come. A shining example of her continued growth and success as an actor is her standout performance in the powerful new film, ‘The Perfect Wave.’
Based on true events, ‘The Perfect Wave’ is an inspiring story about surfing and second chances, which follows avid surfer, and future ordained minister, Ian McCormack, on his travels to find the perfect wave. Scott Eastwood, son of screen legend Clint Eastwood, delivers a breakthrough performance as Ian McCormack. The film focuses on this rebellious young surfer who impulsively decides to leave home and travel the world’s most exotic surf spots. But living in the moment can have its thrills – including a romance with beautiful kindred soul Annabel (Rachel Hendrix of ‘October Baby’) – as well as its sacrifices. And following a horrific accident and near-death experience on the Island of Mauritius, Ian receives a glimpse into eternity that will change his life forever. Patrick Lyster (“Black Sails”) and Cheryl Ladd (“Charlie’s Angels”) co-star in this inspirational true story about the power of faith, the love of family, and one man’s search for The Perfect Wave.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Cheryl Ladd to discuss her career, standout performance in ‘The Perfect Wave,’ the lessons to learned from her life and the film, as well as what the future may hold for her.
Going back to your early years, how did you get involved with the entertainment industry and what made you pursue acting as a career?
This is going to sound really strange but I knew it was where I was headed from the time I was probably around 3, 4 or 5 years old. I loved music. I loved dance. I pursued both of those things and it was where my joy button was as a child. Any movies, plays or dancing, I lived in it! That is who I wanted to be from the time I was very small!
Who influenced you as an artist, either other actors, artists or people who served as mentors or inspiration?
My father played the guitar, so I loved music. We had music in our home and I think that had a big impact on me. It was a bonding thing, father and daughter. I was really drawn to my dad through the music. He loves playing the guitar, so I could see his joy in it and, as a child, that was so appealing to me. Then I took dancing lessons and I loved my dancing teacher and loved to dance. As I grew up, there were various artists who inspired me. Connie Francis was an artist who I loved. I loved the way she sang and I could imitate her really, really well when I was young. In film, I supposed “Doctor Zhivago” is one of the first movies that made me think, “I would love to be an actress!” I loved Katherine Hepburn! I really loved all the old movies and anything musical! I found myself drawn to music and it was just what I wanted to do. I started singing with a band in high school. I traveled with a band after I graduated high school, which led me to California, which is where I stayed. It was really music that brought me to California.
You have become such a fixture in pop culture. Did you ever have some type of “Ah Ha!” moment where you felt like you really made it?
It was a big “Ah Ha!” moment when “Charlie’s Angels” was on the air. We were the number one television show when I came on. The “Ah Ha” was, “Oh No! I am going to have to go through the kitchen of this restaurant to get in here!” [laughs] That was sort of a weird “Ah Ha!” [laughs] It was really strange actually! No one teaches you how to be famous, so it is obviously a double edged sword. Part of it is fabulous and wonderful because it is such an affirmation of your success but at the same time it is like, “OK, last week before I did the show, no one cared what I ate, what I wore or washed my face with!” [laughs] Suddenly, all of that stuff becomes interesting to people! It is an odd thing! Fame is an odd thing! [laughs]
What kept you inspired through the years and moving forward in your career?
I think it is the joy of my craft. I think, in the end, the fame, success, failures, good ones and bad ones, just my innate love of my craft has kept me inspired. Being able to go off and make a movie and have everybody on that movie set focused on making that movie the best they can make it, forging really close relationships and having the experience of it is an inspiring thing. As an actor, especially in film, you have so little control over the end product because everybody has a hand in it from wardrobe to makeup to editing to music but you join the circus together and it is all for one and one for all! It is a really fun experience. When I did Broadway, it was a different experience in the sense you begin the play and get to be your character the whole time. Nobody is yelling “Cut!” at you! It is really nice because you get to be your character for two-and-a-half hours. It is a whole other experience! That is why I like to do stage because, as an actor, you have some control. It is all fun! I love my craft and I still love doing it! I hope I get to do it until I am an old lady!
Your latest project is a film titled “The Perfect Wave.” How did you get involved with this project?
It came through prayer actually! When I was in California, I would walk every morning. My walk time every morning is when I talk to God, pray and sing praises. I walk with my dog, look at the beauty and get myself centered for the day. I had gotten several scripts that were just really dark and not really what I wanted to do. It is not that I don’t like edgy material or don’t want to play someone who isn’t a perfect person but this material was beyond. I was praying and I said, “God, I would love to do something that uplifts you. I would like to do a movie that you would have me do.” He has given me this amazing career and I am very grateful for all my blessings. I thank God a lot for all of my blessings and I really wanted to do something that he would have me do. A month later, this script arrived and I knew it was the one he wanted me to do!
“The Perfect Wave” is based on the experiences of Ian McCormack. Were you aware of his story beforehand?
I found out about him through the script. I realized it was a true story and then I did more research about it. Meeting Ian was mind-boggling and life-changing. He sat with me, just the two of us, and told me his story from beginning to end and it was life-changing. I was so pleased to be part of this project!
You bring a little piece of yourself to every project. What did you bring to this character that wasn’t in the original script?
I really could relate to this mother, the power of prayer and her desperate sense of trying to save her son. She had such a close and personal relationship with The Lord that the fact he didn’t have that relationship was really hard for her. She prayed and prayed for him and eventually prayed for his life. They were so closely connected that even though they were a thousand miles away, she knew something was wrong. That is a pretty powerful connection between mother and child. There was something about that which appealed to me and that I could relate to. My mom was very, very ill a couple of years ago. I was in a hotel and on my knees praying. I could really relate to looking to the power of God to help and save someone you care about so much. I felt I understood what the movie was and certainly what this woman was going through.
The cast on this project was terrific and I think added quite a bit to the material. What was it like working with these people? It seemed as if you were really a family in many ways!
We were all very close! I loved working with Patrick [Lyster]. We got into our groove together right away as the parents. He is an old pro and a wonderful actor. People have been telling me that the parents we play are really believable, they like the relationship, how they tease each other and how they get impatient with each other but they really love each other and it is very apparent. Both of the sons did a great job as well, Scott Eastwood and Nikolai Mynhardt. We really felt like a family! We were all really close and hung out a lot together!
You take a little something away from any project. What did you take away from being part of this film?
I am closer to God!
As you indicated, you can pull a lot from your life when it comes to this character. Is there a particular way you prepare when you take on a new role?
You always bring who you are and your truth. Whatever your truth for that character is, you find a way to embrace that truth. Each character has their own truth, you just have to find what that is.
That leads me to my next question. When looking back on your career, what do you feel is your biggest evolution, both personally and in your craft?
Strangely, if you look at my work in “Charlie’s Angels” and then my work in “Las Vegas” there is still a little Kris Munroe in the “Las Vegas” character and some maturity of the “Las Vegas” character in Kris Munroe. She had some common sense, old Kris! [laughs] Each of those characteristics is in me, they were just shaded in different ways in each character.
What is the biggest lesson we could learn from the life and times of Cheryl Ladd?
For me, my craft is what appeals to me. I love the doing of it. Success or failure is going to be what it is going to be but it is about embracing everyday of life. We have our struggles because they are our lessons and if everything went perfectly well, what would we learn? If everything was handed to us on a silver platter, what would we appreciate? I think being in your life and being grateful for every moment of it, the light and the dark, is a lesson I have learned over the course of my life and continue to learn on a daily basis!
You have been fortunate to have a lot of diversity when it comes to the roles you played. Is there something you are still interested in tackling?
I love comedy and I would like to embrace more of my comedic side in the future. I hope I have an opportunity to do that! We’ll see!
That would be terrific! You definitely see a bit of your comic sense come through in “The Perfect Wave.”
Thank you! That is great!
I know you have explored the world of writing in the past, as well. Is that something we may see more of in the future? An autobiography perhaps?
It is has been on my radar! As a matter of fact, just recently there have been some discussions about that! So, possibly!
What is the best piece of advice you can pass on to young actors looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Oh, golly! The only advice I would give them is to love and respect the craft!
What other projects are you involved with that we can help shine a light on?
My husband, Brian Russell, is out promoting his new book, “Scribe.” It is an amazing novel and I would love everyone to read this remarkable book! In the book, it is not that he and I are the characters in the book, but he has used a lot of our experiences, shall I say! Not all of them because they are fictitious characters! The main character is a Hollywood director married to a famous actress and they go off to Scotland. My husband was born in Scotland, so you write what you know! [laughs] We aren’t really the characters but there are definitely some things from our lives that are used in the book for sure! You can find out more about the book at www.scribewriter.com.
We will definitely have to give it a read! What can you tell us about the charity work you are involved in?
Since “Charlie’s Angels” in 1978, I have been working with an organization called Childhelp. It is the biggest non-profit organization fighting child abuse in our country. Sarah O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson are the founders. I have worked with these wonderful ladies and they actually do have wings, you just can’t see them! [laughs] They are true angels and I have been working with them, like I said, since 1978. You can learn all about the work they are doing at www.childhelp.org.
Thank you so much for your time today, Cheryl. It has been a pleasure!
Thank you so much, Jason!
Check out the trailer for ‘The Perfect Wave’ below and mark your calendar for it’s September 14th release on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD!