Interview: Slavitza Jovan
It’s quite a journey from being a little girl in Yugoslavia to model in Europe and actress in the US, but that’s Slavitza Jovan’s life in a nutshell. After moving to the US, Slavitza (pronounced, if I’ve got this right, slah-vits-ya) found herself cast in what remains to this day the largest grossing comedy of all time.
Sure, she was cast as an evil god and the film’s maker thought her accent was funny, but her role of Gozer is now part of movie history as one of the most memorable of movie villains.
As it turns out, she’s fairly shy and reserved (something she admits herself) and nothing like the menace she’d played on screen. Proton Charging was recently able to ask her some questions about her time on the set of Ghostbusters.
PC: So, tell us a little bit about yourself.
SJ: Let’s keep it a mystery. And perhaps someday, if I manage to be an old woman with a development of my spiritual strength, it would be nice to talk about myself in a book.
PC: You were working as a model when you did Ghostbusters. How did you get the role of Gozer? What does it take to get cast as an evil god?
SJ: Starting from Europe to Los Angeles, I did both modeling and acting from a fairly young age. I got the role simply by going to an interview with my modeling agent. I have hard time relating to being an evil god, as it is not a part of my nature. But as they cast me to play Gozer, it must have been based on my outside looks, with my angular face, slim, tall, and such – but this look could be also used to play a Saint like Joan of Arc or someone similar to that.
PC: How long did the shooting of your part take?
SJ: There was approximately 3 weeks worth of shooting.
PC: Originally the part of Gozer was written with Paul Rubens (Pee Wee Herman) in mind, which would have been odd. Obviously Gozer underwent some changes. How did Ivan Reitman and them [Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd] describe the character to you?
SJ: I used a lot of my own imagination. The rest was just listening to stage directions.
PC: What did you make of the Character Gozer? What was your personal take on how to play such a powerful creature?
SJ: I took it as pure fantasy. On a human level, we all have weaknesses and strengths. But the power comes from our Creator. If I can comprehend it, with my human limitations.
PC: I’ve read that the set was pretty impressive, but very hot. Since you did all of your shooting there, what can you tell us about shooting on that set?
SJ: The set was impressive. I was told that it was one of the most incredible sets built up to that time. The set was hot simply due to the fact that there were so many lights. My costume was also very tight to my body [and uncomfortable].
PC: I’ve also read that the guys were rather mischievous on set, cracking jokes and so on. What were your impressions of them? They apparently teased Sigourney Weaver a lot. Did you get any teasing?
SJ: I was very shy, as I’ve always been. Perhaps less so now. So, I wasn’t too open to anyone in particular. But occasionally, when I was around, they would tease me as they passed by. They would say [things like] “What a dangerous woman”.
PC: Your part was either jumping around in a wire set-up or pretending to shoot electricity from your hands. With all that special effects stuff, was it a tough part to play?
SJ: I would have to stretch my imagination into some other dimension. I would had to do some of the stunts myself, being high up on the stairs. I also couldn’t see anything through the red contact lenses. I had to be lifted up in the air, so of course I was a bit uncomfortable and scared.
PC: Yeah, the contacts. You had some wild make-up happening, with the hair and the bronze skin tone, and the sinister eyes. How was it?
SJ: Very uncomfortable. I could only wear the contact lenses for 20 minutes at a time. The doctor was there to give a rest to my eyes. I had to take 45 minute breaks. The hair and make-up took a long time to do. It was very uncomfortable and sticky.
PC: A better question might be, with all that make-up were you able to keep some anonymity, some personal privacy or do you get recognized by people on the street in spite of it?
SJ: As long as I had my hair short, I would get recognized by people on the street and the paparazzi.
PC: What was the best part about working on Ghostbusters?
SJ: It was nice to be spoiled and work on a high budget film where everything is organized.
PC: So what was the worst part?
SJ: Having to get up so early in the morning, usually by 4am, and have the crew put the makeup on while I was half-asleep. Long hours.
PC: Were you surprised at the movie’s popularity back when it first came out?
SJ: I was a bit surprised that it was as popular as it was.
PC: I just have to ask; do you believe in ghosts?
SJ: More likely, I believe in demons.
PC: Where can Ghostbusters fans watch for you in the future?
SJ: I have an upcoming film entitled House on Haunted Hill, a remake of the original version, which should be out in theaters soon. I was also recently in an independent feature called Stir which you can rent at most Blockbuster video stores.