Interview: Erika Christensen, Jesse Bradford and Shiri Appleby

Well, another movie coming out, another arm-twisting trip to a swanky hotel for a press junket. This time, it was the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey. And for you non-Angelenos in cyberspace…Ritz + Marina Del Rey = pleasuredom…if that’s even a word. The movie…SWIMFAN. My goal…to stuff my face full of tasty items from the free deluxe buffet and, oh yeah, talk with the cast and crew, of course. So, after several trips to the gourmet trough, and a few slices of cheesecake to boot, my belly and I sat down…ready for business.

The movie’s an obvious attempt at a gen-Xer FATAL ATTRACTION and, to me, it does it well. A blend of gore-less thrills (a welcome change from the typical teen slashers we see now), and barely post-pubescent sexcapades. A good mix. And when you throw a swimming pool into the picture (as well as “that girl from traffic”…Erika Christensen), things can get a little…how would you say…slippery? Anyway, out with my lame word games and on with the interviews…


First in line for me was Jesse Bradford. He plays Olympic-quality swimmer and high school stud Ben Cronin in the movie. Lately he’s been in CLOCKSTOPPERS and BRING IT ON, but for the most part is one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming actors. When he walked in, my first reaction was “Aren’t stud swimmers usually tall?” He was most certainly not. 5-foot 7, at best. It’s amazing what they can do with special effects these days. Anyway, he talked a little about the filming process, and how he trained for the part (eventually, he was able to swim 70 laps at a time….pretty damn good). He also, talked about his recent graduation from Columbia University, and his plans to focus less on acting and more on his music (he plays guitar, according to his co-stars, really well), and his plans to drive across the country with his buddy. Here’s some of our exchanges….

How did you get into acting?

My first role was when I was four, in a movie called FALLING IN LOVE, with De Niro and Meryl Streep. I played De Niro’s son, in like three scenes. My parent’s originally thought we should start up a college fund, so I made good on that. And now I’m going to go off and have fun.

When you auditioned for SWIMFAN did you have to do Speedo tests?

No. There was some talk that went into it. We talked about shaving and tans. Those obviously were discussed. It was best to just bring them out into the open, I think. But I ended up shaving my chest because I thought it would contribute to the look, and maybe make me look a little younger. So we did that. But I was tempted to lay out in my Speedo, for my own personal vanity, but then I thought fuck that, Ben would not do that in a million years. And so I had the milky white thighs for the shooting.

Are you in every swim shot?

Well, we had a double, but what ended up happening was we had the double there the first day we shot in the pool. He was a far superior swimmer to me. But the consensus after the first day of dailies was that, to the camera, my shit looked just as good as his. So they said, we’d rather use you. I’m not sure that there’s any time in the film that it’s not me, not counting a couple of the stunt things, but the actual swimming. I put a lot of time into practicing the form, and they told me that me swimming really looked good enough. And that was a vindication for me because I really practiced a lot.

Michael Douglas is a producer on this. Did you feel like you were his character in FATAL ATTRACTION? Did you watch that movie beforehand?

I ended up not watching it. I ended up getting a copy of the movie during the rehearsals, but I didn’t watch it. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t watch this. Maybe I should just remember the vague things about the film, and just leave it alone so I’m not making these conscious connections, and just let it exist as its own thing. I didn’t want to muddy things.

You have two very attractive co-stars in this. What was the set like?

I live in New York, but Erika and Shiri do not. So they were kind of displaced to New York. So we would all go out and go to dinner altogether. Or we’d go out to clubs and dance and drink and stuff. We went out and had a good time. And I think they’re both talented and bring a lot to the movie.

Why does Ben cheat in the movie?

There’s a lot you don’t see in the movie, stuff that was cut out. The way I see it, you know how a couple things can happen in your life that kind of change things and scare you and make you feel like you have this last chance situation? That’s kind of how I see it with Ben. He’s really happy with his girlfriend, and then she says let’s go to school in the same city together. And he thinks, what??!! Good idea but not exactly what he was planning on. So she’s ready to give up things just to go to school with him, and I think that puts him at a crossroads….What do I want out of life? I think that really sets himself up for a weird position. Then something like this happens, and a new girl comes to school and is interested in him, and he doesn’t really want to cheat but he gets scared. And instead of asking himself a couple questions, he kind of gets suckered into something he doesn’t really want to do.


Next in the room was Erika Christensen, who plays Madison…the seductress extraordinaire…in the movie. If you see the film, the first thing you’ll say to yourself is “That’s the junkie daughter from TRAFFIC.” Very true. But in this film, she gets even more hard-core, of that’s possible. She’s a cross between Sharon Stone in BASIC INSTINCT, and Glenn Close in FATAL ATTRACTION. She really does it well, with an interesting high-school innocence to boot. While she was with me, she talked about her rising stardom since TRAFFIC. She says, interestingly, that since the film she’s gotten a lot of offers to play a stripper. She didn’t seem too pleased, but did say that it’s not something she would ever rule out. She also said she did research before SWIMFAN by reading web sites on stalking and stalkers. She said I’d be surprised how many of those sites actually exist. (I, of course, said I wasn’t surprised…as I continued to hound her for her address) Yada yada. Here’s more from the TRAFFIC girl……

So, have these last couple years been the most exciting in your life?

Yes, they have been. The last two or so.

Did you have any idea how big TRAFFIC would be?

I didn’t. I knew it was going to be big, from the beginning. But I didn’t think maybe it’ll win Best Picture. It’s amazing the reaches it has made out into the world. Being in Washington, DC, the DEA said that it was their “theme movie.” Wow, great. Then I’m in the Caribbean, on a little island off somewhere, and some guys says “Were you in TRAFFIC?” I said, “You speak English?”

You get recognized in public now?

Yeah. The funny thing is, for that role they made me down, you know. But it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m still recognized. If I just roll out of bed and go out, I look more like that character. I have to be made up to NOT be noticed.

Of all the options you had after TRAFFIC, why SWIMFAN?

First of all, playing somebody that’s that far off to the extreme, is also on an actress’ wish list. You want to explore that because it’s a lot of fun. And then, there’s sex and violence and it’s a beautifully shot movie, so that’s a draw. And we’re discouraging teenage boys to cheat on their girlfriends.

You play the cello in the movie. Do you really know how to play?

Yeah. I took lessons. And I really took to it. I come from a musical family. But now, today, I may be able to play that song probably pretty off-key, but for the most part I am not a cellist.

What’s sexy to you?

Hmm, being comfortable in your own skin. I get comfortable by wearing things I think flatter me. I feel there are things about me I’d like to change. But there are also things I can’t change, so the bottom line is…be happy….I also like a guy or co star who looks you in the eye. That’s important.

You could’ve gone down the road of the teeny bop movies, but you didn’t. Why?

I don’t know, it seems like it was a mutual thing. They didn’t take to me and I was more drawn to other things. As an audience member I love those movies. I am a teen. I love going to those movies, but I also really like a movie to have something to say. I don’t want to say socially relevant, but just something I can put myself behind.

What movies do speak to you, then? What are your favorites?

The first one that pops into my head is LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. It’s such an inspiration. I think that since film is such a powerful medium, you need to take that opportunity and use it. And that movie’s a great inspiration. And a movie like SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. I like seeing the happy ending.

Next up is a movie called THE BANGER SISTERS. Tell us about that movie.

It’s a comedy, which makes it different from what I’ve done. And I can tell you that Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon, it was just wonderful for me to be able to watch them work and discover their senses of humor. They both have great senses of humor. They’re such pros. They really just know when to stay focused and when to have fun.


Last in was Shiri Appleby, who plays Ben’s girlfriend Amy in the film. To avoid too much detail into her young acting career, it’s best if I just refer to her as Liz Parker from the show ROSWELL, since that’s how the world knows her. In this movie, she plays a helpless cutie pie, who suffers the wrath of Madison. She spends a lot of time crying, which she also does on ROSWELL but, according to her, that’s not the only talent she has. She’s cute. She looks like a younger version of Catherine Zeta- Jones, to be honest. And as far as some interesting tid bits, she said she’s taking some classes at UCLA to expand her acting abilities. What’s more, she said she learned to scuba dive for the film because, as you’ll know once you’ve seen the flick, she does spend some time underwater. Here’s more from Catherine, er, Shiri….

Why are brunettes always persecuted in films?

I don’t know. They just think they’re sweeter, nicer girls. But we do have a dangerous side people don’t know about.

Would you ever play a character like Madison?

I would love to play a character like that. It’d be a nice contrast to the roles I usually play, which are definitely more sweet, innocent girls.

If a girl came on to your boyfriend in real life, what would you do?

In high school, I was actually in a similar situation as Amy was. I did get cheated on. And so that’s how I reacted when shooting the film. When you’re feeling emotions of being in love for the first time, and then feeling betrayal, you just sort of don’t know what to think. So when the director and I were sitting around, I told him about that experience and said I slapped my boyfriend, so he said do the same here. So we did, unfortunately for Jesse.

Do they have slap experts on the set?

Yes. Well, they teach you so your hand is not actually coming full force. They want him to be able to move with the slap.

After ROSWELL, are you going to avoid sci fi roles now?

The sci fi fans are very fantastic and supportive. So I’m not opposed to it. If a great script came along I would definitely be interested….And I would love to go back to television at some point in my life, at the right time. I think it’s really a great medium.

What’s it like promoting this movie?

It’s really fun because I haven’t seen Erika and Jesse in a long time. When we made the movie we became really close friends. So it’s nice to see them and hang out again. And I’m really proud of the film. It’s my first big movie that’s coming out, so hopefully it’ll help me make the transition to film. So this is something I really looked forward to.

That’s about it. A short and sweet visit with the cast of SWIMFAN.

Thanks and props to the folks at FOX. They were fantastic, as usual.

To criticize me, email [email protected]. To remind me how cool I am, email me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



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