Friday, June 17, 2011

Interview: Kim Cattrall's Freeing Role of Monica Velour

Kim Cattrall at and event for ICBINB
Kim Cattrall has never been one to mince words and is not afraid to speak her mind. She is the epitome of the self-reliant, beautiful and successful modern woman. She is also a kind-hearted and intelligent soul, and after speaking with her for even 20 minutes, you come away feeling a little more enlightened, wishing Kim were one of your close girlfriends. Ah, well ... we'll always have this interview.

When I caught up with Kim recently, she told me all about her new ad campaign for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, which you know is going to be smart and sassy if Kim is involved. She also spoke about her new movie, "Meet Monica Velour," which is sure to amaze and surprise even the most die-hard Kim Cattrall fans.

Celebrity Extra: How did your relationship with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter come about, and what made you decide to become involved with the campaign? 

Kim Cattrall: They approached me with a specific idea for the campaign, which I thought was terrific. A woman who says, “Now you can have it all.” I like that slogan. I think that’s really a great place to start. And they brought on Pam Thomas to direct the spots, who I worked with on "Sex and the City." And, you know, I am a woman who doesn’t want to compromise on taste in any shape or form. I thought these were playful and fun and smart, and we shot them like that. Pam and I know each other so well that she just really allowed me to play and make it my own and improvise, which I love to do and which was part of "Sex and the City" a lot.

CE: Which were some of your favorite of the commercials to film?

KC: Well, I loved the French toast one where I slap him. That really makes me happy, because he didn’t know it was coming and poor, poor guy, he didn’t speak a lot of English. I think he was sort of, “Oh my gosh, she’s upset!”

I love to work with actors and just be right there in the moment, and they don’t know what is going to happen. It’s a very exciting place to be. So, that was one of my favorites doing that. We shot them in Argentina, which is very exotic and fun. It was about four days and it was really hot — really, really hot. But I love the spots. I think that Pam and the agency did a really good job of the message, and also just the playfulness and the lightness of it which is good.

CE: You don't strike me as a woman who would vouch for a product if she didn't like it herself, so I assume you use ICBINB?

KC: Yes, that's true, and I do use it. It’s a really good product, not just dietary-wise but health-wise. It has 0 grams of trans fat, which is fantastic, and I like the flavor of it. I like the spray and cook with it. There are a lot of uses. It is in my arsenal of things that are dietary but also really healthy for me. I really like the product. It’s easy for me.

CE: You had to gain some weight for your role in "Meet Monica Velour"; did ICBINB help you shed some of those pounds when the filming was over?

KC: Actually, yes. It helped me lose the weight after I finished the movie, because of the caloric intake I do, as I said before, I like the taste of real butter.

But putting the weight on was just a fantastic moment in my life having been on diets since like 1976. It was really nice to take six weeks off and eat whatever I wanted. What was shocking to me is how quickly I put the weight on. It was like my body so wanted to go there. I kept saying: “This is my job. I have to do this. I really have to eat. I have to eat the cheeseballs, I really do.”

And then when we finished filming, I’d been offered this Roman Polanski film where I was supposed to be svelte. I thought, “Okay, here we go — back on the horse.” And I really was just saddle sore, thinking: “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get out of bed. I’ve got to exercise.” But now I’m back in the groove again, and it’s not so bad.

CE: Speaking of "The Ghost Writer," I love that you have the choices to be in a smaller indie film, a big-budget "Sex and the City" blockbuster, theater and commercials. How do you choose which will be your next project when there are so many to choose from?

KC: For me, it starts with the script. I think the common ground between "Monica Velour" and "The Ghost Writer," and even something for PBS like "Any Human Heart," is the script. It also depends on who’s directing it, because that is his or her vision, and you’ve got to be on board with what that vision is.

Sometimes there’s no real rehearsal. You kind of work alone, and then you come on the set to film. In all of these cases it was very collaborative, especially "Monica Velour," because we had a first-time director. What I love about first-time directors is they sometimes don’t know that they can’t do something. They just do it anyway. That’s kind of exciting, because there really are no written laws of how to make a movie. Yes, there is a narrative and everything else, but what the camera sees and how you tell that story is uniquely yours, and that’s what Keith had in spades — Keith Bearden, our director. And also to work with someone like Jim Broadbent on "Any Human Heart" was a huge thrill, or Roman Polanski or Ewan McGregor (on "The Ghost Writer), who is a terrific guy. So, I’ve had really good experience based on just saying no to things that are pale imitations of roads that I have traveled many times.

CE: You've been getting rave reviews for your gritty and moving portrayal of an aging porn star in "Meet Monica Velour," and it is such a departure from the roles fans are used to seeing you in. What attracted you to the role?

KC: It was uncompromising, multidimensional, and not a hooker with a heart of gold, which I was just so sick of. You know, Hollywood's version of a porn star. No, this was a woman who’s in a trailer park in Indiana fighting for the custody of her daughter. It’s real. She’s just a work horse. She’s just like a mule, a sex mule. And where do these women go when they are done and they’re not so pretty anymore and not so perky?

The same thing happens in Hollywood, it’s just a bigger version, a dramatized version of what happens to women in general. And not just show business, but many businesses. There’s like an out-of-date stamp after a while. I remember doing a film in my mid-30s, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," and a man called Vilmos Zsigmond, who’s a very famous cinematographer and was our DP, and he was complaining about having to light myself and Melanie Griffith because we were in our 30s. And you know, you just have to look at that and say: “That’s ridiculous. What a misogynistic thing to say!” Light a woman. It’s your laziness that’s not getting this done. He never said that to me on the set. I read it in a book called "The Devil’s Candy" that was written after the making of the film.

But anyway, I digress. What I’m saying basically is it’s a tough business, and this woman (Monica Velour) is in the gutter, and I wanted to get inside of that, because I always play such a strong, powerful woman. What about a woman who doesn’t have any of those choices? Doesn’t have any of those opportunities? Where does she go? How does she survive? And I’ve never been given a role like that. I never fought for a role like that. And I’ve never wanted a role like that because it’s scary. I was 51 at the time we shot it, and they’re making you look overweight and aged, and you’ve got all of that to contend with. I never looked at the dailies. I just kept being bolstered along by — I saw this film called "Notes on a Scandal" with Judi Dench and she was nude in her 70s in a bathtub. And I just thought, “You know what, if Judi Dench can do that, I can get over myself.” Which I did, and when I see the film now, it doesn’t scare me as much. The first time it was jaw-dropping, but it’s the truth. It was also freeing at the same time. I want to get rid of that image of the babydoll perfect Barbie. It’s not interesting to me.

CE: This seems like the kind of role that you'd approach similarly to how you might approach a stage role ...

KC: Yes, definitely. I approached this like a theatre actor, which was I rehearsed sometimes with Keith sometimes without. I got other actors together just to run the scenes. There was heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy dialogue, and I knew if I slipped up for a minute with the voice — because I lowered my voice for the role and hunched over — if I knew for a moment that Kim got in there, it would break the illusions of Monica, and that was not going to happen. I was so passionate about that not happening.

CE: You were recently honored by GLAAD with the Golden Gate Award for your work in increasing the understanding and visibility of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. This must be quite and honor for you, and you must be so excited!

KC: Oh, I’m thrilled. I’m so thrilled. Gay men and women have been supportive of my career from the very beginning, and for them to give me this award is truly a wonderful moment. I am such a fan of what GLAAD does, and they need even more support. To have my name linked with them makes me feel very proud.

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