Regina King is a busy actress, from playing a controlling wife and sister with marital woes in the ensemble comedy/drama This Christmas, to producer and co-star of the planned remake of the 80s classic The Big Chill. King discussed both of these projects at length with Paul Fischer.
Question: Can you just start off by telling me what the attraction of this particular character was for you?
King: Well, I mean, the characters that I play usually are very strong women, and not submissive in the least and this character was the total opposite of that. Just as an actress, I I like challenges and I don’t want every role to be the same. I don’t want to always be the strong woman. You got to show that you actually can act. [LAUGHTER]
Question: Is this a character that you could identify with in some way?
King: I guess I can identify with the idea of someone being in a situation and before you know it you look up and you’ve been in it for years. So you’re like, “How did I get there?” And Lisa, the character I play, in her instance, was her marriage, while some people it’s the job. But I think that’s a thing that a lot of people feel.
Question: What were the physical challenges in doing this movie because you do have some great physical scenes in this film?
King: You know what? Actually, there weren’t. I mean, I work out often, and I have been for years, so if I was going to say a big challenge in this movie, what pops in my mind is the scene outside, in the rain, with the car, because it was so cold that night. And even though I had on a wet suit underneath my clothes, I’ve never been that cold in my entire life. It was one of those colds where you feel it in your bones. I never understood that term until that day.
Question: What about the challenges for you as a female actor in this industry, trying to find roles that continually challenge you and get your juices flowing?
King: You know what? Unfortunately, there aren’t as many projects out there as I’d like, that I can actually feel like, “Ooh, I want to do this, I want to do that.” But I try to do projects that I want to see and not make it be just about the paycheck.
Question: In order to do that, you’re like most a lot of actors now, forming your own production company, so does that give you a sense of renewed excitement?
King: Oh, definitely. I mean, the whole producing world is part of this industry, but it’s an entirely different beast. And it’s not easy either. There are people who have production companies and have had production companies, and they’re still struggling to get movies done and have had successful movies. I had a really great conversation with Drew Barrymore’s partner, and she said it’s still difficult for them at Flower Pictures and they’ve had successful films.
Question: Yet you’re about to embark on a fairly risky project, with the remake of Big Chill.
Question: Why did you decide that was the right project for you to do as one of your first movies out of the gate?
King: Well, one, Quentin Culpeper has given me the opportunity to spread my producer wings so that, probably first and foremost, is the reason why. And it’s a movie that I think where the subject matter and the things that the characters are dealing with in that movie are have no color lines. That cast happened to be an all-white cast and This Christmas happens to be an all-black cast. But everything that happens in This Christmas are things that, black, white, purple, whatever, can relate to.
And that’s the same with Big Chill. There are a couple generations who have never even heard of the movie, so I felt like, yes, there will be that generation of people who are gonna be expecting The Big Chill. But then there are far more people who have never seen The Big Chill, so we kind of have the opportunity to not feel like we have to stay so committed to the original.
Question: Well, how close do you think you’ll remain to the original?
King: Actually, we will remain pretty close, as far as still keeping it these eight friends that went to college together and dealing with those 30-something issues. But they’ll just be more relevant to today.
Question: And when do you hope to get into production?
King: Well, let’s hope that a strike doesn’t happen. And, you know, even if it does, hopefully it’ll be short. So we’re looking at fall ’08.
Question: How heavily involved are you in the writing process?
King: Very involved. We’ve been meeting with writers, and we think we’ve narrowed it down to a couple writers that we feel really strongly about, that could deliver a great project. So our plan is to have the script written by the end of the year.
Question: Do you have any aspirations to direct?
King: I do and I eventually want to do that. But such a huge commitment and just right now as a Mom, I would have to give up way too much from my family life to direct. So I look at that as something that I would be doing in maybe the next five or six years.
Question: So beyond Big Chill, is there anything else on your dance card at this point?
King: Yeah, we actually have a couple other projects that we’re working on. One script is a male version of Cinderella.
Question: So, is it gonna be called Cinderfella?
King: Actually, just Fella.
Question: And instead of sort of the ugly stepsisters, you’re gonna have stepbrothers?
King: Stepbrother, stepfather, and the fella. A great script. Right now, we’re putting together the financing. We have some of the money, and hope that we can get the rest from the studio. We would like to not be totally indie, but that possibility might be the case. So, we’re gonna give it a little more time to see if we’re going totally independent.
Question: Now, will you be in this movie?
King: Actually, as of now, no, I don’t plan to. But it’s a good possibility, especially if we want to go the studio route, I might need to be in order to get them to say yes.