LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Heather Donahue is best known for 1999 horror film “The Blair Witch Project” that showed her hyperventilating and weeping in the forest as she and her friends were terrorized by unseen evil.
The low-budget horror movie became a blockbuster hit, but did little to help Donahue’s fledgling career as an actress.
The 37-year-old is back in the media spotlight with another weird tale from the hinterlands. This time she is out talking about a memoir she wrote called “Growgirl” that tells of a year she spent growing medical marijuana in Northern California. The book was published on Thursday.
Donahue said she hopes it is the start of a new career as a writer. She has turned her back on being a struggling actress. Her biggest roles, aside from “Blair Witch,” were on television in the miniseries “Taken” and an appearance in the comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
California voters decriminalized medical pot in 1996, but growers operate in a legal limbo. Federal officials maintain the drug is illegal under U.S. law, and they have cracked down on some growers and dispensaries in the state.
Donahue talked to Reuters about her experiences.
Q: So was “Blair Witch” good for your, or bad?
A: “I’m very proud of my role in ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ I feel like I did my job.
“Certainly some will argue about whether that was a good job or a bad job. I did win the Razzie that year (for worst actress), so I have that under my belt.”
Q: Why did you get into growing medical marijuana?
A: “I went to a meditation retreat after burning all of my acting-related stuff in the desert, and I met this guy there who lived in this town that I had been to several years prior. He sat down next to me, invited me to a hot spring, invited me to his house in this town. And I said, ‘What do you do for work?’ Because that was really the hold-up for me moving there. I had no idea what people did for work. And he grew pot and I said, ‘Well, let’s check it out.’”
Q: Are you concerned that what you’ve written could be used by police to go after people you knew when growing pot?
A: “Everybody in the book is disguised. I think it would be quite hard to figure out who the people around me were. And I had at some point to make a decision. Do I want to participate in the conversation about this issue?
“Because I think prohibition does way more damage than the cannabis plant does, and I think it’s time that we look at that sensibly and with a little bit of humor. And I felt like I had a moral decision that I had to make. And yeah, I have to live with that and yes that gives me some sleepless nights.”
Q: Since you’ve worked on this book have there been people who you knew back then who have come back and criticized you?
A: “I read at the Humboldt Hempfest last month and read a section about pot wives, which is essentially like a Betty Crocker or like a Beverly Hills trophy wife with more body hair. And there were a couple of pot wives in attendance and one of them decided to heckle me.”
Q: Were you a pot wife?
A: “Sometimes I wished I was a pot wife. A pot wife is sort of like a 1950s housewife. She takes care of her man, and his baby from a previous relationship, and she cooks the meals. She tends the food garden but usually not the money (marijuana) garden.”
Q: Did you ever have any feelings of guilt given that what you were doing violated federal law, at the very least?
A: “No I actually feel like what I was doing was putting something really positive out into the world. I think the problem is with the policy, not with the plant. So there was never a moral quandary for me in those terms.”
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte