When actress Heidi von Palleske, the striking copper-haired beauty of David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers,” was in the third grade, she remembers being asked to draw a picture of herself as an adult.
“I drew an actress,” she admits a little red-faced. “But that’s only because I didn’t know how to draw a veterinarian.”
Reared on a farm in rural Ontario, the 28-year-old Von Palleske said her family always assumed that the A student would study the sciences. Instead, she floored them by applying to the theater school at Toronto’s George Brown University--which emphasized music and dance.
“I just figured that if I got in, I’d come out singing like Julie Andrews.”
While waiting for the singing roles, she worked as a dialogue coach, did classical stage parts and was “the driven professional woman” on television. She also worked as an aerobics instructor between jobs and was twiced named Toronto instructor of the year.
In “Dead Ringers,” she’s Dr. Cary Wieler, lady-killer twin Elliot Mantle’s (Jeremy Irons) girlfriend.
“I was definitely a dark horse for the role,” she says. “I had the least impressive resume of any actress being seen, and frankly, to me the others looked more like doctors. I can only guess that my edge was that David (Cronenberg) liked my sense of humor.”
However, audiences aren’t stopping her for medical advice; they’re talking about the intimacy of the scene in which she simultaneously dances with the Mantle brothers, both played by Irons, as the Five Satins’ version of “In the Still of the Night” plays on the sound track.
“Now, that was a challenge,” says Von Palleske. “I filmed the scene with Jeremy as Elliot, then Jeremy as Beverly and all over again with Elliot-Jeremy and an actor who body-doubled as Beverly.
“It took three days and you can guess how I feel about the Five Satins.”