January 14, 2022 - 9:55 am
You would recognize that voice anywhere, but it’s that staccato Noo Yawk laugh that cuts through the molecules and serves as her introduction.
“In high school, a teacher said, ‘You will never work with that voice. You’ll have to learn how to speak like a normal person,’” said Fran Drescher. “My Mom, who sounds just like me said, ‘Honey, you don’t have a funny voice. What are they tawking about, Fran?’
“I always managed to get a boyfriend, so it must have not been that bad!” Drescher said, zooming in on a cold winter day from her home in Malibu.
She still has that joie de vivre that defined Fran Fine on her ’90s sitcom “The Nanny.” And she’s still making good use of those pipes.
The 64-year-old stars this weekend in “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania,” which explores the relationship between Dracula (Brian Hull) and his human son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg). Drescher plays the monster’s opinionated wife, Eunice. The voice cast also includes Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key and Jim Gaffigan.
Drescher, still that “flashy girl from Flushing,” is also a well-known cancer warrior celebrating 21-years of being cancer-free and endlessly helping others with her organization, Cancer Schmancer. She’s also a busy actress and producer who is developing roles through her Uh-Oh Productions.
“I knew I would never have Meryl Streep’s career,” she says. “I was determined to have Fran Drescher’s career — and that’s what happened.”
Was it fun to go really big on the final installment of “Hotel Transylvania?”
Fran Drescher: You never heard, “It’s too much. Bring it down a notch, Fran!” That’s my kind of project.
What is the secret to good comedy in animation?
What I love about this one is it’s really well-written and funny. Parents really enjoy it as much as kids. Certain jokes go over the kids’ heads, but the parents get it, which I love. Also, I’ve always thought the physical comedy aspect is so important. We did a lot of physical comedy on “The Nanny.” When you do animation, it’s imperative that you get the physical comedy right, and you can do so much of it in a make-believe world. You can contort the characters in ways that even the best stunt person couldn’t move their bodies without serious damage!
What will you miss the most from your animated horror days?
I’ll really miss the character. I love the way they drew her and her look. She’s a mother figure to these monsters, but at the same time, she can get wound up and scream it up. Bottom line is that she really cares about her family.
There’s a great story of how you became The Nanny, which changed everything for you. You were on an international flight with Jeff Sagansky, who was the president of CBS back in the day.
Life gives you changes — and you need to realize them. I ran into the bathroom and did my makeup. The movie started on the plane. It was “The Prince of Tides” with Barbra Streisand. He said, “Oh, I want to watch this. It’s my favorite.” I knew this guy was ripe for me. I told him about this sitcom I wanted to do about a nanny, and he agreed to a meeting, and later the show. The rest is history.
What is one of the best parts of stardom?
Celebrity gives you the platform to go to the mat for any group that is being marginalized.
You’ve helped so many survivors talking about your rape. Why was that important to you?
I know the depth of fear and post-traumatic stress. I was raped at gunpoint in my house, and that lasted an hour. It took me at least a year to not feel like a cracked mirror of reflection. Now, I want to tell my story to help people. I want to say that bad things happen to good people. No one is going to leave this planet unscathed. At the same time, everybody should be allowed to live their life in peace. During those times when the bad things happen, you kick and scream. Then you have to play the hand that was dealt you.
For two years and eight doctors, you were misdiagnosed and then later your world shattered when you were diagnosed with uterine cancer. How did you cope?
I joke that I was in stirrups more time than Roy Rogers, but finally I was diagnosed with cancer. Make no mistake. It was devastating, and I hit rock bottom. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I asked, “Why me?” At some point, however, I reached a crossroads where I had to choose to turn pain into purpose. That’s what healing is about. You turn pain into purpose and makes sense out of the senseless.
You wrote a New York Times best-seller about your cancer journey. You call this the beginning of a life movement.
One of my goals is to transform patients into medical consumers. Take control of your body. Don’t ignore the early signs, and find it in its whisper stage. That’s when cancer is most curable. Ask for more diagnostic testing. Don’t slip through the cracks at early stages. It’s also about changing your lifestyle in ways that matter.
Has your life motto changed over the years?
No one has a crystal ball. I had to decide to choose life instead of becoming bitter. You plan a new play. We plan our play and play our plan. There are times you just have to play a new play.
You’ve always been a maverick. What is the secret?
I think the most attractive thing you can be is yourself. Do not give into peer pressure. Do not feel like you have to be like anyone else or twist yourself into a pretzel to make other people happy. You can’t be what others expect you to be. The more you practice self-confidence and loving exactly who you are and what makes your heart sing, the better. I’ve found this with some added kindness is what bring value to your life — and value to the ones whose lives you touch.
What is your idea of an ideal Sunday?
Walking the beach on a cloudy day, dinner with friends, fresh flowers in a vase on my table. It’s not complicated. It’s all about balance.