Features

Interview: Kim Basinger for "Cellular"

By Paul Fischer Wednesday September 8th 2004 03:19PM
 Kim Basinger for "Cellular"

Kim Basinger is quite the radiant vision. At 51, the Oscar winner has aged beautifully, her tanned skin having shown no sign of aging. All smiles, with her Georgian accent in toe, the stunning Ms Basinger is happy to dish out exercise and dietary advice prior to talking about her intense role in the thriller, Cellular.

"Well, if you want to lose a few pounds but you want muscle, you have to fight it with weight, you really do, and you have to do cardio or whatever your favourite is. Mine's running with the elliptical. Everybody loves the elliptical, because they think they can get on it for an hour and watch TV and read, but that's not the key to the elliptical: It's how fast you go because, you're not really running." Basinger, who is obsessed with exercise, says that she goes "really, really fast and I sweat. Usually an hour on, an hour or a little longer on the elliptical. I also lift weights as well as the stability ball."

Looking fit, the actress says that no matter how much exercise and fitness regime she undertakes, when working n a film such as Cellular, nothing can prepare her for the eventualities of injury. "Knowing you're going to do this type of film, there is no way in the world that you're not going to get injured if you're not in shape. I had cuts, I had bruises, and I had everything all over me. You can't be slammed against a mirror, slammed down on a table, or thrown in a room, unless you're somewhat capable of handling that entire balancing act." In the fast-paced thriller Cellular, Basinger plays Jessica Martin, mysteriously and viciously kidnapped. A random call to a stranger's cell phone results in a furious race against time to save her and her family from imminent execution. While Basinger spends much of the movie alone, she does eventually get physical with her kidnappers, and Basinger certainly wanted those scenes to be as realistic as possible. "Blake Edwards, who loves slapstick, taught me something. I got to be crazy in his films, as I got to fall down, get up, and I knew that I could do that by early on. He was sort of my teacher and you use the same kind of thing in this kind of film. So, in the fight scenes, I told our director, to tell Jason [Statham] I did not want to know what he had planned. Jason and I would come in, kind of look at each other and say hmm, because we didn't know what was about to happen. And I told him to please tell Jason I want to be surprised, because it would make it more real."

For Basinger, the key element in this film, she says, is to make her character and situation identifiable to an audience. "God forbid I've never been in one of these situations before and I think that you know we're at a time in our existence on this planet where we have heard the word, especially as a Mom, kidnapping and that has become such a big word. 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. I was thrown in the attic, and I wanted you to be thrown in there as an audience." Basinger, who can still afford to be selective, says that she was drawn to Cellular because she "loved the isolation that character had. It was more like a play for me and that's a challenge I've never done. It's 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."

While Basinger gets down and dirty here, there is no sign of the sexy, glamorous film star on screen that we are used to. Basinger says that she has her own philosophy on being a sex symbol and sexiness in general. "I don't have a thing about sexiness at any age. I think the Europeans taught me more about that than anything in the world. They have a great appreciation of sex, and sex symbols, and they taught me not to be ashamed of it. When I first came to this town, and they threw me in that kind of image, it's a very difficult place to be put and it's 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 and what's beautiful to him may not be beautiful to her, or whatever. But whenever you are put into a category like that, of course it's different, and it makes for other problems within you. If you start getting complexes that you won't look the role, you can't play the chancellor of a University or a head of this, you can't do this, and when that's put in your head long enough you, it becomes a hurdle for you." Basinger has learned to overcome such hurdles, now that she is a member of that elite Oscar club, but says that as she becomes older, how she chooses a role clearly changes. "I think you get more opportunities in different ways. I think as I've got older, I've got more interesting opportunities. I wish so much that America would have more of a European take to aging." The actress even admits that there are times when she is ready to put acting and Hollywood behind her. "I think I've gone through that every month, since I started, and every month that's gone by." Basinger is more content being a single mother, doting as she does on her nine-year old, a brown belt at karate. "You know, the funny thing about my daughter, is she's such a sweet girl that she has to go through this thing where she's sparring and she has a tough time with that. She doesn't want to hit anybody. She doesn't want to BE hit, but they don't want to hit either, which is a tough part of karate to get through." But Basinger's daughter has more on her mind than getting physical or following her mother's footsteps on the screen. "My daughter has wanted to be one thing only since she was probably two years old, and that's a veterinarian." Given her mother's passion for animal rights, the actress is delighted. "I am thrilled to death and she's got her school picked out. I think she's had enough of this business, really. I love it because she'll be nine in October and if you're not into Chad Michael Murray or Hillary Duff, you're left in the dark." Basinger is still very much into her animal activism. "It's consuming and is never over unfortunately, with the pain and the things that happen." While Basinger appears confident as we speak, she finally reveals that is in fact relatively shy and insecure. While she may have gracefully accepted her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for LA Confidential, when it comes to speaking at her daughter's school, fear sets in, but at least she has her child to help her face those fears. "She really pushes me out of that shyness, and once when I had to speak at her school, I wore the jeans, got up there and made the speech. I was quite proud of myself when I walked out."

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