INT: Kim Basinger
Academy Award winner Kim Basinger returns to the big screen this Friday with New Lines latest high-octane thriller, CELLULAR. Basinger stars as a high school teacher/soccer mom whose comfortable suburban life is shattered when she is kidnapped by a gang of unknown assailants and tossed into an attic. Frightened and alone, she frantically pieces together a broken rotary phone and dials a random phone number in a desperate attempt to save herself and her family. She manages to reach Ryan, a self-absorbed slacker with problems of his own, and the adventure begins.
I got a chance to talk with Kim last week at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Wearing a stylish black pantsuit, the demure blonde looked as beautiful as ever. Here is what she had to say about her latest project, CELLULAR.
What got you interested in playing this character?
I loved the isolation she had, I loved that. It was more like a play for me and thats a challenge Ive never done. Its one of my biggest fears, to do a play, and maybe one day I will because I love to face my fears, but I thought that was great. And when I heard who the cast was; I love William Macy, and Jason I adore, I didnt know Chris but Chris is wonderful. I just felt the cast was extremely interesting as well and Id never been isolated, to have to do that. I love these challenges, to be on the phone and do most of your performance on the phone.
The director David Ellis mentioned that you were always his first choice. How many times did you meet with him before you signed on?
I was interested in it, and after I spoke to him, I met him once, that was it. We went to lunch and that was it. Really basically, I needed to say hello to him, I needed to see what his personality was like. I instantly just adored him, what a wonderfully nice man.
Youre pretty emotional throughout this film. Is it easy for you, or is there a process you have to develop over the years to get you into that mode?
It takes years to learn how to act, I think. It takes years, if youre not fooling yourself, and I think its like what Anthony Hopkins once said, when someone asked him about an emotional scene he had to do, and he said, Its my job. Well I can now look at someone and know the tools that Ive developed over the years, and the things and the buttons, and where to go to press that button and I thank God its such a gift, and one day you wake up and you go, I can access that, I can get that, I know where to go to get that. It is your pay-off for longevity, for being tenacious.
How challenging was it to act opposite Chris Evans without ever actually seeing his face?
It was just one of those things that led me to want to do the film because I wouldnt see him. Chris I never knew at all and my very first day of filming, the very first day, they said, We really hate to have to do this to you the day before, but youre going to come to your very first day of filming, youre going to come to the pier and youre going to get out of the van and you will have been through the whole experience, you would have been kidnapped. So the first day I got out of the van and came around and saw Chris Evans, that was my very first scene of that movie.
Ellis mentioned that you got very physical in this movie.
Blake Edwards taught me something. He loves slapstick. I got to be crazy in his films, just crazy. I got to fall down, get up, and he loves all that, and I knew that I could do that very early on. He was sort of my teacher. You use the same kind of thing in this kind of film. Yeah, in the fight scenes, this is what I did with David (Ellis): I told David to please, please tell Jason (Statham) I do not want to know, we had never met, and Jason is such a great guy, hes lovely, lovely man, and such an intense actor at times but we never met each other. We would come in the room in the morning, just to see where the chalk, you know, you throw her over here and you end up over here Kim.
Now go away and come back and well do the scene. Jason and I would come in in the morning and he would have his hands in his pocket and hed just kind of look down and wed kind of look at each other and say Hmm hmm, because we didnt know what was about to happen. And I told (Ellis) to please tell Jason I want to be surprised. I want to be surprised, only because it would make it more real. This is just a movie, thank God, but kidnapping is a very real thing and I just try to make it as real as possible, and when acting as real as I think someone would, Im just an actress in a movie, but you know, in doing that I wanted to get as close to the truth as I could, and asking David to ask Jason if he would just surprise me because, one of the most wonderful opportunities for me, and Ive never had this before, was I knew I could bring you guys upstairs with me.
I was thrown in the attic; I wanted you guys to be thrown in the attic as an audience, and also because I dont know why Im in there and you dont know why Im in there. You dont know what theyre going to do to me, and I dont either. So I wanted everybody to get the feel, the audience to get the same identical feeling that Im feeling, and thats why I didnt want to know.
How do you manage to look so youthful, so beautiful all the time?
Thank you. I need that today.
How do you do it? I mean, you look incredible.
Gosh, thank you. I dont know. I could sit here and give you my diet, exercise routine, but
Could you? I really need to get in shape.
Well, do you want to lose a few pounds or do you want muscle? If you want to lose weight, women and men, you have to fight it with weight, you really do. And you have to do cardio or whatever your favourite is. Mines running, the elliptical, I actually love that machine. Everybody, you know what the elliptical is? Ok, but you know what the key to the elliptical is, everybody loves the elliptical because they think they can get on it for an hour and watch tv and read, whatever. Thats not the key to the elliptical. Its how fast you go because, youre not really running.
As you get older, are you less concerned about being a sex symbol?
No, I dont have a thing about sexiness at any age, whatever. I think the Europeans taught me more about that than anything in the world. They have a great appreciation of sex, and sex symbols, you know their women and men down through the movies. They taught me not to be ashamed of it, and when I first came to this town, and they threw me in that kind of its a very difficult place to be put. Its twice as hard to prove yourself as an actress. It takes a long time to be taken really seriously, especially in America.
I mean beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whats beautiful to him may not be beautiful to her or whatever, but whenever you are put into a category like that, of course its different, and it makes for other problems within you. If you start getting complexes that you wont look the role, you cant play the chancellor of a University or a head of this, you cant do this, and when thats put in your head long enough you, thank God I never really believed that but it was a hurdle for you.
Has your criteria for choosing a script changed dramatically? Have you been offered more diverse roles?
You know what I think? I think you get more opportunities in different ways. I think as Ive got older, Ive got more interesting opportunities, just so much more.
Was there any point where you thought, Ok, this is it for me. I dont want to be an actress anymore?
I think weve all gone through that. Ive gone through that every month since I started, every month thats gone by.
Would you encourage your daughter to follow in your footsteps, to become an actor?
My daughter has wanted to be one thing only since she was probably two years old, maybe two and a half. She wants to be a veterinarian. Thats all she wants.
You must be thrilled.
I am thrilled to death. Shes got her school picked out. I think shes had enough of this business, really. I love it because shell be nine in October and if youre not into, you know, Chad Michael Murray or Hillary Duff, youre left in the dark. My daughter, shes going pretty soon, going for her brown belt, then theyll go for their red and their black.
How old is she?
Shell be nine.
How do you discipline your kid, knowing shes a brown belt?
You know, the funny thing about my daughter. Shes such a sweet girl that she has, she is, they go through this thing where theyre sparring. She has a tough time with that. She doesnt want to hit anybody. She doesnt want to be hit, but they dont want to hit either. So thats a tough part of karate to get through, really.
Have you ever gotten any strange calls on your cell phone?
I was called on my car phone one day and a guy just talked and talked and went on and on and on and I tried to stop him but he went on and on. It was not, I had not seen this movie yet, and Ive seen the trailer, remember when Chris goes, Chloe? Chloe is that you? That part. I kept saying, Hello, hello, hello, and I learned this whole story about this guy, his company and what he was going to do in the morning. I think it was probably the strangest cell phone call Ive ever received.
So he just went on talking about this and I knew his whole story. I said Hi, Im not who you think I am. And he said, Oh. Oh God, and I said, Well, you have a nice day, and he said, Oh yeah and you have a nice day.
And when he got off the phone, he never knew hed been talking to Kim Basinger.
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