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INT: Rosario Dawson

04.04.2007by: JimmyO

If you told me that there was a movie starring Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Jordan Ladd and a bunch of other Hollywood hotties and then say it’s a genre flick directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino… I’d say hell yeah. And that is exactly what I’m saying. HELL YEAH! First off, Rosario Dawson is stunning. I defy you to watch CLERKS 2 and not go crazy with she gave a dancing lesson and not fall down flat on your knees and thank God you are a man then I’d say one thing… LIAR! This is the girl that came up through the ranks from KIDS and dressed for success in SIN CITY . And get this… the girl can act. And act damn well too. In fact, she is one of the most exciting actresses around as of late and she gets to play chase in Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF, the other part of GRINDHOUSE.

I couldn’t believe her energy when she joined the GRINDHOUSE gang at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills . Everyone in the room seemed to dig her excitement. One the other duders even made the brave statement that she was kind of a geek. Now this was meant as a compliment in the highest regard. Check it out. She’s a comic book girl, loves to talk about cars, movies and feels like someone you just wanna hang with and possibly play a few video games. It just so happens that she is also stunningly beautiful. Rosario is the kind of girl that is made for all the fanboys and comic book geeks. She is also shockingly interesting and has a way of bringing you into the conversation. What can I say? It’s Rosario Dawson man…!

Rosario Dawson

Did Quentin write this for you?

Oh, I wish! No, he wrote this for [co-star] Zoe [Bell]. He very much wrote this for Zoe. He met Zoe on ‘Kill Bill’. She was Uma [Thurman’s] stuntwoman on that. You know he describes it; he wrote that script and gave it to Uma on her 30th birthday. He wrote this for her. And then through his experience in meeting Zoe and having her work on it; he’s always said that he had two actresses for this movie – Uma is ‘The Bride’ as she walks and talks and the look of her, and Zoe Bell was the bad-ass side of her. So there are two actresses in that. It was very necessary. They collaborated strongly.

And then four years later when him and Robert sat down and said, let’s do this double feature, he was like, I’m going to make this my homage to great car chases and great grindhouse, gearhead kind of thing and I’m going to have stuntmen. I mean so much of it is about stunts. Stuntman Mike and you have Zoe Bell and you have Tracie Thoms playing a stuntwoman, who is based a friend of his who is also named Kim. He really worked really hard. [He said] my car chase movie is going to have Zoe Bell strapped to the hood of a car. She’s going to play Zoe Bell, New Zealand stuntwoman. I want people to know when they’re watching that this woman who is doing that great dialogue actually does step out of the car and go down the hood of that with nothing. She really can do it. She is so bad-ass.

It is so fantastic.

And it was really weird for me because I’d only known her as an actress up until that point. We shot all through Austin and we had a six week hiatus. We had auditioned and gotten the role. We were suppose to shoot it over the summer but it didn’t happen until the fall, and we didn’t really start doing the stunts until wintertime. So I’ve known her for months and been rehearsing with her and doing dialogue, so I only know her as an actress. So literally when she was like, “check this out” at me, and she steps on the car, I was like [gasp!]. It was really weird. It was just like the idea of it because there were a lot of close calls.

We were going 70 miles per hour. They are very controlled situations but anything could happen. It was an insurance nightmare to make the movie with your lead actor doing her own stunts. So the idea of how hurt she really could get – as easy as she makes it look. They had to do this one thing where they have to show her being launched and she steps on this jib, that as soon as you stepped on it, it shoots you off. She made it look so easy and so graceful, and I was like, “I want to do it!” and she goes, “No, really Rosario I’ve seen people crush their genitalia with it. And you have to keep you leg really strong. I am going to be in so much pain tomorrow. As much I make this look easy, it’s because I’ve been doing this for years. Believe me, for you this is very dangerous.”

Is she lucky too, like the cat you see in the movie?

She is Zoe the Cat. That’s a very interesting thing, when I started shooting the movie, I realize the character and why it was kind of difficult to play Abernathy, it’s because a lot of it was based on Quentin’s personality. And that character, that story that I tell around the table actually happed to Quentin and Zoe four years ago when they were in China. They were all drunk and they were having a great time and she was like, “Stand up, let’s take a picture of you!”, and he almost fell in a ditch, freaked out about it, and true Quentin style said, “What are you trying to do, kill me?”. He was just really freaked out. And then two seconds later, she falls in the ditch.

And not only did she fall in the ditch, a ditch he said, when she landed she had to get pulled out because her fingers didn’t reach the top, that’s how deep it was. She landed on her feet. She fell, and in her head, literally when she stepped off she goes, “There is that ditch Quentin was talking about.” And falls on her feet and stood up and was like, “Hey!” and Quentin was like, “I would have died. If I fell in there, they would have had to helicopter me out of there. Seriously, how do you do that?” There were shots you could see it was really cool. When she was on this launch thing and he had told her he wanted her to land on her back, and she just flew off and she was like this far off the ground, like maybe 12 inches and she flipped in mid-air and landed on her back. It just defies gravity. This woman really is Zoe the Cat. She is phenomenal!

Before you did this car movie, how were you in cars? Do you like cars? Do you hate speed cars?

No, I like speed. I’m used to being driven in cars being from New York. Probably the car I’ve been most in has been a taxi.

Do you have a license?

I do have a license. I just moved out here so it’s very interesting. It’s a very interesting thing; you know I drive a [Toyota] Prius. So I’m talking to Daryl Hannah about it. I’m like, “This car is really dope! Do you think we could put an electrical motor in it?” And she’s like, “Yeah right, Rosario. Go like 5 miles per hour in the thing, it’s so heavy.” You know, I’m so into it and I go, “But Daryl, I’m an environmentalist. This so doesn’t work in a gear head movie.” But I just got into a car accident a couple days ago. It’s not that bad, I just got a little scratch in my forehead. [She reveals the scratch on her head]

Was it there fault, I hope?

No, it was... I was sitting in the backseat and it was very interesting because I was in the same exact position that I had spent weeks in this car, and we were doing really crazy dumb things, like 360’s and types of stuff, going up and around cliff sides, going super, super fast, and I never ever felt in danger. I mean there were a couple of times when my heart went into my throat because that’s just the nature of it, and it is pretty scary, especially when you are not the one driving and there is no control, and you’re like, I’m so glad they weren’t cheap about getting the best to do this, because these are the best stunt drivers in the world. But it is not nearly the same as the emotional response of getting hit and not having any control, and being like, “Wow! It really was very close.” I mean we really tempted fate.

Where was that?

On Fairfax and San Vicente.

So some other car rammed into you?

Yes, my driver missed a turn and so he decided to try to make it on San Vicente and he cut across, and he wasn’t on the right lane so the car on the right lane clipped us on the back. I couldn’t open my door. Luckily the window didn’t shatter, it just dropped. We were hit in the back but it stopped the car from working. We had to be towed. He turned it on and it wouldn’t go past idle. It killed the car.

You must be working on a movie then? Are you working on something right now?

I am. I just produced my first feature which got into the Tribeca Film Festival. I’m very excited about that.

What kind of movie?

It’s an exploration of sexual violence - and revenge.

What’s it called?

It’s called “Descent”. I also have a comic book, I showed it last year, and I’m producing the feature at Dimension with Bob Weinstein, it’s called “OCT” – The Occult Crimes Taskforce. The main protagonist is a female named Sofia Ortiz who looks like me, and the basic premise is that she polices magical crimes in New York City.

So “Harry Potter” for the Manhattan…

Yeah, kind of a little “Constantine”-ish, a little “BPRD”, maybe “Men in Black” a little bit, but it’s not any of those things just because of the tone of it.

Is it in comic book now?

Yeah, we have re-issues out right now. We’re releasing our fourth in the trade soon.

Are there any plans to make it into motion picture?

Oh yeah. I’ve doing the comic book now for the entire part of last year and we’ve always made it to be multi-platform material.

Are you going to shoot it in the East Village?

Oh, I don’t know. It depends on the Weinsteins. They got the cash. But I shot my film “Descent” in New York. So that was very exciting. I’m very glad to have it at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Is that a union-waiver film?

Yeah, because we shot it for under a million [dollars].

What was it like to the producer’s hat?

It was pretty phenomenal, I have to say. It can be a very thankless job. It was very difficult to do, with also being a lead in it. There were times that it was kind of difficult. We started shooting it the day after the “Rent” premiere. So all during rehearsal I was doing the “Rent” press junket, so after doing the “Rent” press junket all day, I’d go home and we’d do like make-up tests and the hair tests and rehearsals. So it was really hard because you didn’t have a lot of time. We didn’t have the luxury of stuff.

We had to change DPs [Director of Photography] in the middle of shooting. During the strike that was happening that winter, we took 3 hours to get Williamsburg during that strike. We didn’t have any extras. We would throw everyone of the crew in it. Anything and everything could go wrong on your first film, low budget independent, did. And it was great because we hit the ground running. I think it will be a very controversial film.

Does it exploit sexual violence against women?

No, it doesn’t exploit it but it really doesn’t shy away from it. It’s not one of those rape films where we start going in to the court drama or all that other stuff. This is a woman who doesn’t say anything. This is a woman who collapses into herself and her identity.

Is it like the French film?

“Irreversible”?

Yeah.

[Spoiler for IRRERSIBLE] No, because you don’t see the descent of those characters as much. And the person who ends up getting revenge is the boyfriend on the wrong person. This is a woman reclaiming her own sexual identity and her own strength and wanting that revenge for herself and having that closed-mindedness and focus to do it herself and then seeing what that actually does, and exploring what revenge actually does to people. It might feel like the right thing but when it is actually happening in the moment, are you any better than your rapist, when the role is reversed. Like we’re in a state of war right now, at what point does someone turn the other cheek? Do you ever?

Can I ask if this is why you are single now because of this incredible schedule? Do you have no time for a personal life?

Dammit. You have NO time for a personal life! [Laughing] Well, it’s lucky because I’m working with my friends, you know. Talia Lugacy, who I did the film with, she co-wrote it and she directed it, I produced her thesis film at NYU, a twenty minute short on 35 mm. I did all of her sight and sound films, I’ve known her for twelve years. So this was our first feature we had done together.

We also did… ‘Glamour’ magazine had wanted me to direct a short, “The Little Black Dress” and I ended up having her direct it because I really wanted to establish us as a bona fide team and get Trybe Films, our company out there so… we’ve been working together for a very, very long time. So that makes it a lot easier when you have someone that you just resonate with. And we practice it out to see how well we work together and it makes it great, because I’m excited to go see my friends and have a great time with her and spend some quality time. But also it’s gonna be work.

When you were working with Tracie and Zoe, did you find yourself an outsider because, between stuntwomen, do they have their own kind of dialogue and communication?

One of the best compliments ever was every time I was in there, they were like… ‘we love having you in here.’ You know, I really watched a lot of things, I’m really attentive to a lot of stuff and I knew my position was a very easy one, so I’d make sure… you know, a lot of times, Tracy can’t do anything and she can’t say anything as to mess up the take. So when we’re going around curves or whatever I’d give a lot of direction to help out. Sometimes I’d scream Zoe, move your foot here or there because she can’t see where she’s driving, you know, it’s a really dangerous thing.

And I think we all got along really well. I met Tracy briefly when we were doing “Sin City” but I got really tight with Jeff on “Sin City” because I was that weird freak who wanted to keep doing the shot over and over again. And be tearing out Alexis Bledel. neck with my teeth. I loved the stunts so much, I was so bummed that the only stunt I had to do was getting whacked and hit with the chair across the… I wanted to be Miho so bad. And this… can we strap me to the hood of the car? I’m a great hood ornament, I swear. I was so excited about doing any of the stunts and I wasn’t able to, but they were really cool with me, letting me be in the care most of the time.

So I spent most of the time in that car and it was really amazing. I have a tremendous respect for what these guys do, and especially since, they really were not cutting any corners. Quentin was like, ‘if we can’t do it ourselves, then it’s not gonna be in the movie’. We were not CGI or “special effecting” anything. We also didn’t have the time; we finished shooting a month and a half ago. It’s unbelievable, we literally wrapped picture in mid-January.

“Sin City 2”… are you doing it?

Dame to kill for; we’re shooting it this summer. Hell yeah.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.comAITH

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