Tuesday Knight is the rare breed of artist whose work spans the worlds of music, television, film, and beyond! Best known to horror fans for playing the role of Kristen Parker in the 1988 film ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.’ Replacing actress Patricia Arquette, who originally played the character in the previous installment, she fearlessly took on the high-profile starring role. While those are big shoes to fill for any young actress, Tuesday brought her A-game! What she brought to the now-iconic role was a spin all her own. Her intensity instantly captivated audiences and garnered her a die-hard fan following. Her performance in the film remains as fresh and spellbinding today as it was when it first hit the silver screen decades ago. She also penned and performed the theme song for the film — “Nightmare.” This would further entwine her work in the worlds of film and music — a delightful pairing that continues to this day!
Her latest film, ‘The Bloody Man,’ further showcases her talents as both an actress and a musician. This supernatural horror flick is best described as a nostalgic blend of some most impact horror films from the 80s with a modern edge. Think ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ meets ‘The Monster Squad,’ with a splash of ‘Stranger Things’ thrown in for an extra punch! Penned by Daniel and Casi Benedict and produced by Red Serial Films, the film tells of a young boy who, after the death of his mother, becomes obsessed with a comic book she gave him that ultimately summons the ancient monster found in its pages. Best of all, the film features a heaping helping of Tuesday’s original music, which lends even more authenticity to its unmistakable 80s vibe!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tuesday Knight to get an inside look at her career. Along the way, she shines a light on her early years as an actress/musician, her evolution as an artist, and the inspirations that keep her creative fires burning bright.
You’re the type of artist I love to speak with as your work bridges the gaps between music and acting. Your journey began when you were born into a music family. Tell us a little about your passion for music and how it initially took hold?
My dad, Baker Knight, was a really famous composer. So, I grew up in a very musical house. I was first introduced to music and fell in love with it. I thought music was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was wholly focused on it up until the point where I had my audition for ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Master.’ When I did that, acting just sort of took over. I really like doing both, but acting is the most important creative outlet for me. I do it 100% when I do music, but it’s a different feeling. When I began working with Renny Harlin on the film, he said that he needed music for it. I felt really good about it and thought, “I’m going to write a song that fits this!” So, I immediately went to my writing partner’s house, which had a studio. We wrote and recorded the song in about three hours! I call it my love song to Freddy because that is what it is! So, it was Renny who opened the door for me when writing music for films. As an artist, getting to be creative in both of those worlds and it’s very fulfilling!
What went into finding your creative voice as a young musician?
I just sort of let myself go and started to write. Music was so important to me early on in life. I was in a band when I was 16 years old. I didn’t go to school and focused solely on music. I was with CBS Records, did some stuff for Warner Brothers, and got my record deal. The first album I did was produced by Paul Warren, a really famous guitar player. He’s played with everyone from Tina Turner to Tina Turner to Rod Stewart to Richard Marx! He produced it. That was in 1984, and I was really so behind this one. The songs were awesome, and there were hits on that album. There just were; it was 80s and cool! As soon as I got to the record company after they saw me and decided that they wanted that, they decided to change me. They said, “You should be this…” or “You should be that…” To which I was like, “No!” [laughs] I left that situation and went to a subsidiary of CBS, and they put me with a producer who I did not get along with. He was very hard and not friendly, but one of the other producers was great, and I wrote with him. His name is Frank Wildhorn, and he is a prominent composer for Broadway.
Working with him made the experience tolerable! [laughs] I am really proud of that album because it had some good cuts. For example, my duet with The Commodores was amazing, but as a whole, I wasn’t feeling it. That led me to Steve Levine! He produced all of the Culture Club hits, The Beach Boys, Paula Abdul, and beyond. He was who I wanted, so the record company said, “Okay! We’ll get him.” I did some stuff with him, which was awesome. While I was there, Steven Tyler was there. He came into the room where I was singing and said, “Was that you?!” Then he took me into the big studio where Aerosmith was recording. The rest of the band members were looking at him like, “What are you doing?” [laughs] So, I did a little singing with him, and it was an incredible experience. I stayed in that world for a little while, even after “Nightmare.” I combined those worlds at that point, but the acting was my true love!
When do you feel you came into your own as an actor?
The role in “A Nightmare On Elm Street” really helped me a lot because Renny was such a good director. The cast was also incredible, and we meshed well together. At the end of that movie, that’s where I started to find my footing. I think that was solidified when I got the movie called “Mistress,” that I did with Robert DeNiro. I did that in 1992. I also did a series with Drew Barrymore in 1993. I think that’s when I came into my own as an actor.
It’s not easy to make it in the music and entertainment industries. What lessons did you learn early on that resonate to this day?
I have to say that the music business really sucks! [laughs] I mean that in terms of record deals and stuff like that. It used to be a lot easier, and there was more variety when it came to the artists. I think the music business has suffered because of that. In terms of acting, I remain diligent and feel very strongly about it. If I had to give someone advice if someone is going to do it, do it all the way. When rejection comes, you’ve gotta get over it. You have to let go of everything you read for or audition for. I feel that the parts meant to be for you will come to you. I genuinely believe that. So, I would say either run really fast or commit yourself to your chosen path.
One of your latest projects is a new film from director Daniel Benedict titled “The Bloody Man.” How did this one arrive on your radar, and what spoke to you about the role?
When Daniel gave me the script, they originally had another actress in mind. I told him I liked the part and wanted to do it. They said, “Of course, we’d love to have you.” I really wanted to play this role as authentically as I could. She’s a mother and a housewife, so I gained some weight for the role. I tried to make it a little more maternal than parts I’ve done in the past. The script was written really well, and the acting is very good.
What can you tell us about your process for bringing a new character to life?
I try to find a lot of subtext in it. I try to become the role and make it my own instead of just saying, “Okay, what is this character going to do?” Instead, I say, “What am I going to do?” or “What would Tuesday do in this situation?” I feel when you approach it like that, even if it’s an audition, they are looking for someone who brings themselves to it because that is what will be original and different. I also teach acting, and it’s neat to be on the other side of it. It’s amazing what you can do. Personally, I don’t even look at it until I am very close to shooting. I try to learn the scenes each night before the shoot because I want the performance to be fresh. I don’t want it to become stale because I have been living with it for two weeks if you know what I mean.
What else gets you excited about the way this project unfolded?
I absolutely love the 80s theme of this film. It’s so much fun, and I’m a huge fan of the 80s, probably because I lived through them and was doing that type of music back then. Nostalgia for the 80s is so hot right now with shows like “Stranger Things” and what have you. I think people want to get back to the 80s because there is a certain comfort to it. I’m always hearing from different people who make movies and they say, “We want to use some of your music because it’s 80s.” I always think that is so incredible. Not only does it take you back, but, as an artist, it’s really pleasing! As we moved forward, he wanted me to do three songs for the film. I wrote the title song, “The Bloody Man,” and two others.
I think that is one of the most remarkable aspects of this film; how it brings your two creative sides to the forefront. Tell us a little about creating the songs for “The Bloody Man.”
My other writing partner and I started with the theme. He came up with that really cool music, and then we started singing these lyrics to it. It just continued to build until it got really creepy! It came together very quickly. I think we knocked it out in one evening, which was really lovely. I sent the song to Daniel, and he really loved it. From there, I went to do another one called “Slip Away.” I really tapped into my 80s roots to bring them to life. Then, he used one of my older songs called “Don’t Talk Back.” So, I have three songs in the movie, which is great!
What do you look for in the material you take on these days?
That’s a good question. I’ll give you an example. I recently did a film called “Amityville Moon.” I did that one because I really wanted to play a nun! That is a role not a lot of directors might cast me in. I feel like they will always pick someone very plain with dark hair, even though I could do the job. However, this director knew my acting and said, “I want you to do it!” So, I did! That was really great! It was so different for me, and I feel it unlocked many things for me. When you get parts like that, like a nun or a lawyer, it’s very hard to memorize the material and truly learn it. You’re not a lawyer, so you really have to dig in and understand what you are saying. It takes so much work to do that and to become that person. I like to challenge myself with the material and roles I am taking on!
You’ve been a part of some incredible projects, and you’ve come a long way throughout your career. How do you feel you’ve most evolved as an artist?
I’ve definitely grown to be a real actress. I’m very confident about myself in that way. I think the evolution I’ve experienced comes from the fact that I have done so many things, and they have moved me ahead. I take what I do very seriously, and, as I said, I’m very diligent. It all comes down to hard work. I have grown by miles and miles from “A Nightmare On Elm Street” to the acting I am doing now. However, when I look back on my work in “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” I still think I did a pretty good job for my first film.
Your performance speaks for itself, especially in how it continues to impact generations of fans long after its initial release. What is it about this role that resonates with so many people?
Horror fans are the most devoted type of fans you will ever encounter. As you know, I took this part over from Patricia Arquette. I love her, and I think she is absolutely amazing, but in the movie, I found her to be very weak. She was a victim. When I got the role, I dug in. I looked at her work, studied her, and got her look down, but when it came to the acting, I just went with my feeling. I did it my way. I played Kristen with a little bit more of an edge, which I think people really liked. In an article, Wes Craven said that he liked how I played Kristen because I played her as a survivor instead of a victim. I was blown away and couldn’t believe he said that! He’s the one who called me in to do “New Nightmare.” That was so weird because he didn’t pick anyone else from “Part 4,” ya know? It was such a pleasure to work with him. It was a fantastic experience!
What a fantastic compliment! Knowing what I do about your work and life story, there is no doubt you are a survivor. It’s very inspiring!
Wow! Thank you. I try! [laughs]
One thing I have always enjoyed about the “Nightmare On Elm Street” franchise is something that goes beyond the films themselves. Seeing so many of you interconnected and continuing to nurture the relationships for decades is interesting. I’m sure I’m simplifying things, but it seems like a family.
Yeah, it is very much like a family, and families are often complex. In the beginning, I think that some of the cast, Rodney Eastman especially and a little bit Kenny Sagoes, wanted Patricia Arquette. I had heard that Rodney and her had had a little love thing going on. So, I don’t think they wanted me there. It was difficult initially, but we grew into it, and it became much better. We seemed like friends. Then we all did a documentary about the film [‘Never Sleep Again’]. I was really sick at the time. I had breast cancer, but I did it anyway. I looked really different; I was swollen and had dark hair. I didn’t want to do it at the time, but I didn’t have much choice because that’s when they were shooting it.
When I watched the film for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I heard. The cast members were completely not nice to me! They said that Renny was “all about Tuesday” or “Tuesday was the queen bee.” Stuff like that. Everyone thought I was having an affair with Renny, which was crazy because I was actually dating Andras [Jones]. It was really hurtful, and now I won’t watch it because it’s just too painful. So, I ended up talking about this on a show, which is really good, right? In front of everyone! [laughs] Everyone was really insulted that I said that like it didn’t happen. They were saying it was the way it was edited; they edited it wrong or edited it, so it sounded nasty. I can believe part of that because I know the guy who did it likes to do that. Keep in mind that these are people that I have to do shows with. So, as we’ve continued to grow up and move forward, everyone has sort of apologized to me. They were saying that we were young and it was a weird time. Now, we are okay. I think everybody is pretty realistic now, and I have a bigger trust for them, one that I didn’t have when this first started. It was difficult for me, but I do think we now act more like a family. Most importantly, I think everybody likes each other! [laughs]
As you said, few family dynamics are easy. So, it’s great to hear that things are on the mend. But, honestly, fandom of your work and the franchise aside, I think it’s inspiring that you stood up for yourself. You’ve always been very candid, and you can’t fake that authenticity. That’s what we love about you!
No, no, you can’t. I’m pretty honest and very blunt. I wouldn’t say anything to hurt someone’s feelings. As you know, if you ask a question and someone is honest, you never know the answer you will get. So you’ve got to be prepared. I pride myself on being generous and thoughtful of people’s feelings. I care a lot, so I try to be the best person I can be. That’s all I can really say!
What is on tap for you both long and short term?
One of the biggest things I have going on in the short term centers around my music. I’m hoping to get together with this music company that assists with placing your music in different films. In the past, I’ve been doing that by myself. It’s been more of a word-of-mouth thing up until this point through people I work with or others who’ve heard about me. I’m trying to work with them, and I think it will work out! I also did a film called ‘The Rideshare Killer’ that I’m really proud of and should be out soon. In the meantime, I’m up for a couple of things. So, I’m just waiting to find out about those. There is also a movie called ‘Howl’ with Edward Furlong, and they want to use some of my music and play a role in it. I’m excited to see where that leads!
Long term, I’d like to do something for TV. As an actress, you’re constantly struggling. It’s a feast or famine kind of thing! [laughs] It’s difficult because, like everyone, you must pay the bills! It can be challenging. So, I’d love to land something on television where it’s a regular or recurring role where I can develop the character over time. When I did ‘2000 Malibu Road,’ it was six shows, and we were supposed to do 56 more, but Aaron Spelling and CBS could not agree on what they wanted to do with it. We were all extremely bummed about that. It would have been great because it gives you the space and time to create something unique even with just six episodes as we had on that series. When you’re playing this character every day, it allows you to dig in and go so much deeper. That’s what’s on the schedule now, but I’m always on the lookout for interesting new projects!
I love to hear it! There is no doubt that you’re a hard worker. Where does your creative drive come from?
It’s definitely in my DNA! I think a lot of it stems from my dad. He has an incredible body of work, and so many people have recorded his songs; everyone from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra to Paul McCartney to Tom Petty. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been in the world of entertainment. Even when I was eight years old, I would come out into the living room and try to perform for all these people. Little did I know that I was performing in from of people like Ricky Nelson or Frank Sinatra! [laughs] My dad would shuffle me off and say, “Go, go, go! Back to your room!” [laughs]
You were fearless from the start!
Yeah! It was really fun! [laughs] So, I definitely think it’s in my DNA. I just couldn’t do anything else!
Once you do it and do it well, there is no reason to hit the brakes!
No! You’ve got to keep going!
What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?
I always find inspiration in reality and what I’m feeling at the time. It always comes from my heart, so to speak. I don’t write songs with a formula. I usually write the best songs when I’m really down, and something has kind of broken my heart. That’s when I’ve come up with some of my favorites regarding my recent songs. I’ve always found it difficult to just sit down and say, “Okay, today I’m going to write a song.” It just feels empty, but when something hits me emotionally, it pours out! I might even write it all out in fifteen minutes. That’s the way I have found that produces the most authenticity and is what I really connect with in the music I love. That’s the way it’s always been with me and something I will continue to do as I move forward in my career.
Tuesday, I have to say that my biggest takeaway from our time today is your excitement about what you do and what the future might hold. It’s that attitude that resonates with everyone. So, kudos to you! You’re killing it!
Thank you, I appreciate that!
Wild Eye Releasing will release ‘The Bloody Man’ digitally on July 12th, 2002. Check out the trailer for the film below. Follow the continuing adventures of Tuesday Knight via her official website, www.tuesdayknigthofficial.com, and on Instagram! Be sure to check out her musical catalogue on iTunes!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.