Chatting with Heather Matarazzo

By Marc Malkin Jun 08, 2007 8:37 PMTags
Hostel II: Heather Matarazzo, Roger Bart, Bijou PhillipsJamie McCarthy /

Heather Matarazzo first shot to fame when she was just 11 years old in Welcome to the Dollhouse playing Dawn Wiener, a social misfit ridiculed by her classmate tormentors as "Wiener Dog."

Since then, we've seen her in other indie faves like Saved but also in more mainstream family-friendly popcorn flicks like the Princess Diaries movies. In the just-released Hostel: Part II, she plays one of three young coeds who are brutally tortured in eastern Europe.

I recently spoke with Matarazzo from her apartment in New York City about why she doesn't remember filming her Hostel torture scene, her musical theater dreams and her life as an out lesbian.

The 24-year-old Long Island native had just come in from walking her dog, a yellow Labrador and pit bull mix named Henry Miller. 

Did you take Henry Miller to the dog run?
He actually is not allowed in the dog run. He just isn't friendly with other dogs, but he is like the sweetest guy in the whole entire universe.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about your character in Hostel?
She's manic-depressive or bipolar. But we never really understand what is wrong with her except we see that she takes a lot of pills and she can't drink. You know, I've played rape victims galore. But I've never played a character that was mentally unstable. 

One of the movie's posters features you naked, bound and hanging upside down.
By the time we got to that torture scene, I was completely naked except for a triangle patch covering my hoo-ha. I was dragged out by my ankles, hung 15 feet up in the air with chains on my wrists and a gag in my mouth. It was an out-of-body experience. I really honestly cannot remember a single thing that happened.

What does your family think?
I showed my mom three clips from the move, and she was horrified. She doesn't want to see her daughter naked and hanging upside down by her ankles. She'll watch the Princess Diaries. That's fine, but something like this, not so much. 

Now you want to do musical theater?
Fanny Brice! I would be brilliant. I'm 100 percent Irish by birth, grew up Italian, and yet I constantly get cast as playing Jewish. Everyone and their mother says, "There's something Jewie about you." Eli Roth was the last person to say that to me and I was like, "What is it?" He said, "It's your lips."

What's it like being out as a lesbian in Hollywood?
Oh my God, I can breathe! Honestly, there was a time after I came out that I really did not think I would be working again. 

Obviously, that didn't happen. Now, you're volunteering at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for gay youths in New York City. What's that like?
I'm doing theater games with the kids, and nothing brings me more joy. I've been given so much, and if I can just give back a tenth of what I've been given, then it's all worth it. 

Do you have a girlfriend?
I will say that my personal business is my personal business. And I will leave it at that. 


Do you ever watch Welcome to the Dollhouse?
I recently saw it on TV and I watched a little bit of it. But it's just not me. For the longest time, it was a double-edged sword. In one sense, that film got me to where I am now. I was considered—thank god!—an actor first and a looker second. But then it was so hard and somewhat painful, because I was trying so hard to be what and who I'm not. I wanted so bad to have blond hair, blue eyes, big boobs and the really small waist. It took me a really long time for me to get out of that victimization of "Oh, woe is me."

But you made it through.
Now, I'm like, How lucky am I that I have longevity? If I was just considered a looker and wasn't considered an actor, where would I be in 10 or 20 years from now?