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Collateral - Jada Pinkett-Smith Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Did you read the script cold, because it’s rather like a third act. There’s this wonderful conversation at the beginning of the film between yourself and Jamie Foxx’s cab driver, which I would have thought was enough to make you want to do the movie anyway? Or was it slightly disconcerting for an actress not to have everything explained from the outset?
A.
No, not at all. For me, I thought it was really interesting to have a female character that was, you know, when you first meet Annie she gets in the cab and she’s kind of this hard-arsed woman, who already has this pre-conceived idea of this cab driver. And then she kind of goes through these many colours, these many transformations, within the first 15 minutes, this short period of time, and more transformations than most leading actresses get to have in a leading role. So for me I found that to be really appealing.

Q. But then, of course, you disappear for a long time, I was wondering if you ever thought, where have I gone?
A.
Oh no, Michael made it very clear. The other appealing element was that he said, ‘listen, within the first 15 minutes, you really have to engage the audience in a way that you make this connection that lasts for the end of the movie. They have to care about what happens to you by the end of the movie, so the impression has to be so strong, that it lasts until that moment when we see you again’. And I was like, ‘ok, wow, alright, I’ve got my work cut out for me’.

Q. What’s your idea of a cab ride from hell and have you ever had one?
A.
I guess it’s getting in the cab and telling the cab to take you somewhere, and he ends up locking the door and just kidnapping you. I always think about that… I don’t really recall getting to where I need to go this way, but I’m going to trust that you’re going to get me there pretty fast!

Q. Was there a temptation to maybe ask for more scenes later on, to ensure you did make a bigger impression later on? And, if not, what sort of tricks did you employ to make sure that you did?
A.
Well, I had extensive preparation for the Annie character. Michael pretty much said to research it, so I went to court with a prosecuting attorney - the District State’s Attorney - and she allowed me to pretty much kind of hang out with her for a couple of days and observe her in the court-room, in the office, how she interacted with her colleagues, and the research really creates a great foundation that informs the character of what is needed when you are actually in the scene. So, you know, I was just very prepared in the scene, and then Michael is just a great artist, he crafted that scene, you know.

Q. What was it like being chased by a psychotic Tom Cruise?
A.
I was really upset about that [laughs] considering that most women get to chase after Tom, and here I am starring in a Tom Cruise movie where he chases me and tries to kill me! I didn’t appreciate that at all!

Q. You normally play kind of feisty, kick-arse women. How did it feel to be the damsel in distress?
A.
I really enjoyed having the opportunity and to do it with Michael, because I knew Michael would help me do it well. People tend to think that I’m pretty hard-edged, and I really can be very vulnerable and soft, so I was glad to have that opportunity to do that, but to do it with integrity, and Michael always reminded me that this isn’t a woman that’s in panic or fear, you have to remember she’s a tough lady, but you are in trouble. So it was difficult in just finding that balance, but I was glad to have that opportunity, because I do tend to have that reputation as a hard-arse, and I’m not!

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