D23 caught up with actress Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, Hocus Pocus, King of the Hill), who played Dr. Femus in Magic Kingdom’s ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995-2003) at Walt Disney World.
How were you asked to be a part of the attraction?
Kathy Najimy: I was really surprised to hear from Jeffrey Katzenberg—although I’d done a couple movies with him. He called and said, “Do you want to be a ride?” I’ve been asked to do a lot of bizarre things but to be a ride at Disney World is the oddest one to date.
What do you remember about filming?
KN: The first time we met, they had to take a plaster cast of our face. I had never had any kind of neurosis or anything like that. They put the plaster around your entire face with just straws coming out of your nose. It was my very first little panic attack. They took off the whole thing. I had a Diet Coke, walked around came back and they did it again.
The make up process must have taken quite a while?
KN: It was about a four-hour application to make our heads and faces green. It was so much fun. At the time we were trying to figure out what was happening—they showed us sketches of the monster. But it sounded like a ride we’d never seen before. The ground was shaking and you feel the breath of the monster on your neck. So that was so cool.
Did you have fun while shooting?
KN: We had done two days of filming. It was the second day and we were done. Kevin Pollak (Spinlok) had taken the green make up all off—it took about an hour to get it off. Then the director walked in and said, “I’ve got some bad news… We need to reshoot.” And Kevin literally lost it. He was freaking out. The director and I turned to Kevin and said, “April Fools!” That was one of my best ones ever.
Do you remember what your reaction was seeing it for the first time?
KN: I went and saw it with my now-husband and I loved it. It was almost a little too scary for me. I though it was so innovative. I had never experienced anything like it before, and I had been to Disneyland a thousand times. I thought the combination of the live action, the movie, the breaking of the tube the monster was in, and the stomping around and the breath on your neck was genius. The only thing I’m bummed about is that my daughter never got to see it. But I still have a picture of me and my dog sitting on the director’s chair with the big green watermelon head.
For more interviews with the stars who added their talents and voices to many of Walt Disney World’s most beloved attractions, check out D23′s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith with Illeana Douglas, Honey I Shrunk the Audience and Journey into Imagination with Figment with Eric Idle and Star Tours with Paul Reubens.
Look for an exclusive interview with another Walt Disney World attraction star tomorrow. Hint: His television playhouse had a robot and so did the attraction where his voice was used.
By D23′s Jeffrey Epstein