How Valley Girl's Deborah Foreman saved my life
Going through a breakup is never easy. They're not built to be easy. About 99 percent of the time -- at least for one of the participants -- they are the cosmic equivalent of being hit by a speeding bus right in the heart 100 times an hour for weeks on end.
I should know because it happened to me nine days ago -- or approximately 21,600 hit-and-runs to my heart ago -- when a year-long relationship came to an abrupt and unexpected end. My sincere thanks to the countless e-mails and messages we've gotten here at Stuck in the '80s offering sympathy and similar stories of angst.
But I had some additional help that I want to share with everyone in the '80s nation who is dealing with heartbreak or sad memories. Last Tuesday, I e-mailed Deborah Foreman, the truly dazzling actress from '80s flicks like Valley Girl, My Chauffeur, Real Genius and April Fool's Day. I wrote briefly of my sad tale and asked if she'd talk about her legendary breakup scene from Valley Girl for our podcast. It's a request I'd wanted to make for years, but last week it just felt like it was time to ask.
In all fairness, I send interview requests all the time to '80s icons, but usually I only hear back if a band or actor has a project or show to promote. But an hour later, my phone rang and I heard the most wonderful words: "Hi Steve, this is Debby Foreman."
We had the most incredible conversation, going from the topic of my breakup to her role in Valley Girl to her current passion, teaching yoga and pilates in Southern California. She was happy to let me record our interview, and you can click here to listen to the full conversation. (It's part of a larger podcast we did about breaking up in the '80s. Click here to listen to the podcast).
Here are some edited highlights from our conversation.
Steve: I can't believe I'm talking to you!
Debby: "Because you wrote me! And also because I shared the e-mail with mom. While I was reading it to my mom, she was giggling through the whole thing, and I thought, okay, there's something to this."
Was it pity?
"It must have been!"
So tell me there's a bright side to this breakup I'm going through.
"I think that the beautiful thing about that is that you reached out, you stuck your neck out doing something you probably would have never done otherwise. And I think that's probably going to continue to happen in the next six months. So don't be surprised if you start doing things that you wouldn't naturally do. That's the blessing that's going to come out of this. I know it's hard to see that right now, because it's really fresh."
So time really heals all wounds?
"You're going to go through all the emotions to get to that place of finally going 'Okay, I actually do have fond memories and fond feelings for this person and I wish them well.' I doubt that's what you're feeling right now!"
I'm still very fond of her. Okay, gotta change the subject to Valley Girl. What was your first impression of co-star Nicolas Cage?
"I loved his eyes. I thought he had great energy. I thought he was scary to me. Emotionally, I was feeling stuff inside. He was triggering stuff in me that I had never experienced in my life. I didn't even have a boyfriend prior to that movie."
So was there a real off-screen romance between you two?
"I'll only speak for myself. I had strong feelings for Nic. When the film ended, we had a conversation. I actually went up to San Francisco with him for a weekend. When we came back, an ultimatum was made -- let's just put it that way. And I decided not to go with the ultimatum, and we were never together after that."
Is that why the breakup scene in Valley Girl between you and Nic seems so realistic?
"I think deep down, I didn't want to be breaking up with him! And I didn't even want to go there, to pre-destine myself. I was really resisting the whole experience. It was uncomfortable beyond means. That was the longest we spent on any scene. It was a struggle. Even when I watch it now, I go 'Wow, that's so uncomfortable.' "
I guess I really relate to that scene now, having gone through something so similarly unexpected just days ago.
"There's a big difference between what happened to you and what happens in a movie. From my heart, I'm deeply sorry that this happened to you. But on the other hand, congratulations! You're going to do some things that you've never done in your life! I know you can't wrap your brain around it ... but in the end, something huge is going to happen to you."
You seem so sure of that.
"You are surrounded by people you dig ... and you get to do this on a daily basis. You get to do fun stuff on a daily basis! That is so cool! And you get paid for it! How many people can say that? I can probably say that now. I could probably say that in the '80s. But not in between! It took me a long time to find my environment!"
Okay, you officially cheered me up.
"Good! Good! And continue to pay it forward. And you know what? You never know what the future holds, so stay open."
[Deborah Foreman teaches yoga and pilates now in Studio City, Calif., at the Grace Anatomy Studio and from her home studio. You can actually check her schedule and book an appointment with her online -- something I hope to be doing before this summer is over.]