INT: Poitier/Winstead

You gotta hand it to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, they both have very good taste in the women they cast… Salma Hayek anyone (JoBlo’s true love). And with GRINDHOUSE, they give us a bountiful bouquet of beauties. Two of which are the lovely and talented Sydney Tamiia Poitier and Mary Elizabeth Winstead who appear in Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF. Ms. Winstead of course, is no stranger to genre including appearances in BLACK CHRISTMAS (an unnecessary remake… sorry Mary) and FINAL DESTINATION 3. As for Sydney , she also had a taste of horror in Snoop Dogg’s HOOD OF HORROR. Both have a wide range of other projects but it is a pleasure to have them both adding a little class to a Tarantino film. And we are certainly going to be hearing much more about Mary Elizabeth when LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD comes exploding into theatre’s this coming July.

When these two lovely ladies (who are both very tall) came to chat GRINDHOUSE at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills , I was truly entertained. Both are very sweet, and have a great deal of enthusiasm for their latest project. It’s always clear when an actor really believes in a film they are promoting. They both talked about working with Quentin and also the kind of film that this represents.

And in case you were unaware, Sydney spoke of her father Sidney Poitier, one of the great actors of our time and how he fought to NOT do the so-called “blaxploitation” movies. She talked of him seeing the movie with her and was curious to see his reaction to the film… I would like to hear that conversation. But in my humble opinion, she has nothing to worry about. Her work is terrific and she was able to make Jungle Julia a full, fleshed out character that should make her father proud… and she looked uber hot too. As for Mary Elizabeth, she gives quite a show and is adorable in her cheerleading outfit. Read on for more about GRINDHOUSE.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Sydney Tamiia Poitier

Good morning…

Poitier & Winstead: Good Morning.

Now Sydney, you don’t have your middle name in billing… It just says Sydney Poitier.

SP: I should. I don’t know why but…

Somebody said to me that they thought it was going to be your father in the movie.

SP: Yeah.

And I said, ‘well, no.’

SP: He had a sex change. [Laughing]

What was it like working with Quentin on this? Is he the strangest or most fun director…?

MW: The most fun by far. I mean, everyday on the set, it didn’t feel like work. It was like being at some amazing party that never ends. From the morning, everybody’s laughing, having fun. In between set-ups and going back and forth from your trailer we’re all dancing and listening to music on the set. You know, I don’t think I saw my trailer once in this entire production. And then, as soon as we wrapped for the day, everyone was like, ‘what’ll we do now?’, ‘where do we go?’ [Laughing] It was just amazing and I don’t think there’s any other experience to come close to it.

Mary, you worked with Zoe [Bell] who this is kind of her first big role. How did you make her feel comfortable getting into the…?

MW: I think we just sort of… we got to know her really well before we even started shooting, which was great. She has the most amazing personality and she’s perfect to be an on-screen persona because she is just so great to be around and to watch. So we were all really confidant in her, I think, and we didn’t try to give her pointers or tell her how to act or anything like that, which I think she appreciated. We just kind of let her in to be a part of the group and made her feel at home, which was the most important thing.

We’re you both fans of “grindhouse” movies or has that come from making the film?

MW: I didn’t know what the term “grindhouse” was before I got the film. Once I learned what the term was and I had the film I knew I had seen some of them. I wouldn’t say I was a fan per say, I sort of was vaguely aware of the genre. I have become a fan because of it; I have a different view of it. Certainly, Quentin makes you see it through his eyes and you start to see it in a whole other light and he’s shown us some stuff, and now when I’m cruising my NetFlix or the video store, I stop on those ones that I’m like, ‘oh, “Switchblade Sisters”, that sounds good. [Laughing]

I spent a lot of time in Austin before shooting this movie and my favorite place in the world is the Alamo Drafthouse which shows a lot of really cool movies and exploitation films, and they have these free midnight showing and was always my favorite thing to do, rather than going out on a Friday night, I would wanna go to the Alamo Drafthouse. So I knew a bit through that. I was really excited because it’s like an energy unlike anything else when you go to those movie theatres. It’s packed and everybody’s having the best time and laughing and yelling at the screen and so I was really excited to be a part of something like this.

What did you dig the most out of all the movies?

MW: I love them all. I saw some crazy horror films, I saw blaxpoitation, which were really fun and I think it’s something we are missing in cinema today. Now we’ve got these assembly line films that are all kind of the same and we know the formula they’re going to follow. And with those it could be dialogue through the whole thing and all of a sudden something completely ridiculous happens.

Sydney, your dad never had to do any of those, did he? Did you talk to him about it?

SP: No, you know, it’s interesting because when he was coming up, he was one of the very few black actors working and it was at a time when the country was really racially charged, and the black man was portrayed in a certain way. So my dad had this opportunity to… you know, he always talks about social responsibility, he always thought that he had a social responsibility to portray black men in a completely different light.

So he didn’t have to do “Blacula” and things like that?

SP: He wouldn’t, is more what I should say. For him it was a really conscious choice because he had been given this sort of opportunity to show a much more multi-faceted African-American man, and play roles that weren’t even necessarily written for African-American men, so for him, that was his path. So he chose not to do that kind of stuff.

And by the time the “blaxploitation” came out in the Seventies, he was already an Oscar winning, established actor.

SP: Yeah, exactly.

Is he gonna see this with you?

SP: Yeah. [Excitedly] He’s gonna be there on Monday night [at the premiere].

What do you think he is going to think?

SP: I think he’s gonna like it. I mean, he’s a Quentin fan. He’s not really a fan of violence per say, but loves “Pulp Fiction” which is really violent. If it’s done in a certain way, if it has sort of like an artistic feel to it, which Quentin’s movies always do, and if it kind of is organic with the characters in the story, he’s into it. So he’s really excited that I’m doing this film and he’ll be there. I’m curious to see what he thinks. I’m more worried about what he’s gonna think about Robert’s [Rodriguez] than Quentin’s. [Laughing]

Have you ever talked about doing a project together?

SP: Yeah, we’ve talked about it. We actually did one thing together about ten years ago, a Showtime film and we had the best time working together. He’s on to other things. They don’t make parts that are interesting to him anymore.

I wanted to ask… “Jungle Julia” [Sydney’s character in “Grindhouse”]… is she a bitch? Do you see her as a tough chick who is kind of mean?

SP: I wouldn’t say she’s mean… Bitch? Yes. But in my opinion, in a good way; what she is… she’s unapologetic about who she is. She’s very hedonistic, she’s slightly narcissistic. She wants what she wants, she likes to say what she feels and she doesn’t really worry about what other people are gonna think. She lives her life very unapologetically and for that I really admire her and I think a lot of people will probably hate her for that. But you kind of have to love her for that, because it’s kind of something that a lot of people don’t give themselves permission to do. People always sort of… you know, you’ve got to be polite or you do this or that… Jungle Julia has none of that. You know, life is to be lived, it’s to have fun, it’s to enjoy and she does fully.

Anything like you?

No. Not really. I mean, I have it in me obviously; I couldn’t play her if I didn’t and I think we all have everything in us for the most part. But to give myself permission to be more like that, to sort of allow myself to be free and to be bitchy. To be more about whatever it was that I wanted… playing that character was a huge joy to me. It was fun.

Mary, regarding your “cheerleader”, did you base your “actress” character on somebody in particular?

MW: I didn’t base it on anyone specific; I think she’s kind of a combination of a lot of people I’ve known in my life. But she was so fun. And what’s interesting is that apparently, a lot of the people that auditioned, played her as like a really annoying, bitchy, stupid actress and I kind of saw her as someone that is loveable and naïve and so I think it was kind of funny that people took her that way on the page. I tried to bring a few more endearing qualities to her.

Do the two of you have anything else coming out after this?

MW: Yeah, I have “Live Free or Die Hard” which comes out this July Fourth.

And Bruce [Willis] is in this too [“Grindhouse”].

MW: I know. I didn’t know he was in this until I started working on that and he was like [Whispering], ‘I’m in that too.”… which is kind of funny.

Who do you play in that?

MW: I play his daughter.

Do you get to be rescued?

MW: Ah, kind of, but not really because I’m a McClane so I get to throw some punches. I get to kick a little butt.

Is Bonnie [Bedelia] back as your mom?

MW: She’s not. No, I kind of take over that role as the family member whose kind of taking care of herself, but also needs a little help from John McClane. And then I have… “Bobby” comes out on DVD and “Black Christmas” in a couple weeks so… [this week]


SP: Um. I’ll be in “Live Free of Die Hard” [Laughing]… No, I don’t have anything coming out. As of now I’m just auditioning and looking for that next…

Being picky about the scripts?

SP: Um, pretty picky. Now it’s hard, because I’m really spoiled.

What about the name? Growing up being called Sydney?

SP: I always was fine with it, most of the time, growing up. I think when I officially got into the business and went away to college to study acting at NYU, I had a little weirdness. Like I remember this one drama student came up to me at orientation, because we had an orientation with all the new drama students, thousands of us in this room and they were calling out everybody’s name and they were dividing us into different acting studios. And they called out Sydney Poitier, and the whole room just erupted into laughter, it was like a joke and I had to put my hand up.

I was humiliated and embarrassed and this one girl came up to me after and was like, ‘don’t tell anybody that’s your name because people will use you’. So I had a moment of weirdness and I called my dad and I said maybe I should just go by my first and middle name because I don’t know, people are freaking me out here. And he was like, ‘when I first started out in the business, they wanted me to change my name because they didn’t think it matched with a strong, black man.’ Sidney Poitier… it’s kind of like this lyrical, dorky name, I don’t know. And he said, ‘and I told them, this is my father’s name and this is the name I’m gonna do right by. I’m not changing it.’ And I thought, screw it, I don’t care what people think. I’m keeping my name, and I love my name.

Do you think that the order of “Grindhouse” is correct? Does it worry you that some people might make it through the Rodriguez film and not make it to Tarantino’s?

SP: It worries me a little, but not really. So far, everybody that’s seen it…

MW: Great reactions. It’s good to hear.

SP: Yeah.

MW: Because it is… you don’t know what to expect. How people are going to be able to take sitting through two movies, if the people are going to be up for that. But so far everybody is really excited.

Well the rhythm’s so different?

SP: Exactly.

MW: I’m glad that there are the trailers in between to give [audiences] a break, giving you the time to forget about the first film… a little bit.

Did they ever talk about switching them?

MW: I always heard that it was gonna be [this way]…

SP: Yeah… and I’m sure there is some kind of ‘grindhouse’ reason behind it.

Did you have a relation with Kurt Russell from “Sky High”?

MW: Yeah, a little bit. I was really excited to work with him again because I knew he was the most fun actor in the world to be around. And he’s such a “guy’s guy”, not pretentious in any way. Just really down to earth and cool and funny. I was just so happy he was gonna be in this.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



Latest Entertainment News Headlines