Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. I was fascinated about the casting of Mathieu Kassovitz
as the director, as you were already signed to the project when
he came on board, so how did you come to know about him? And were
you very involved with the signing?
A. Having signed on myself, the next thing was to find a director
who would take this genre of film-making, as there's nothing new
about a suspense/horror/thriller, and bring a different edge to
it. And Mathieu was someone who was really hot off the movies
that he'd done recently, and he had sort of a European feel, and
Joel [Silver] he would bring some value to this old American movie,
which I think we'd seen a hundred times before.
Q. Did you know his work?
A. Yes, I did...
Q. And of course he's a super actor, as well as being a director.
Did that appeal to you? Did he have an extra sensibility towards
A. That did. Right away, what I realised is that he had a
short-hand language, and an easy way to talk to actors, because
he is one himself. He'd understand, sometimes, the position that
we're in, trying to understand what the director is trying to
get out of us. He knows speak in a way that we understand it,
which comes from his experiences as an actor.
Q. You've been quoted as saying that you were actually quite
scared by some of the things you were doing while filming, you
actually thought it was quite creepy? Can you elaborate on that...
A. Creepy more than scared, cos at the end of the day, we
all know that it's a movie and this stuff wasn't really happening.
But it was a little creepy to be in those dark, dungeonous places.
It was always very cold and there was just some element in the
air that made us all feel like sometimes we weren't alone. That
sort of added to the spookiness of the film-making.
Q. Did you swot up on your favourite horror films to capture
the look of horror so well, and after a long day of filming, did
you ever feel like you wished you were making a remake of Seven
Brides for Seven Brothers, or something?
A. [Laughs] No, I loved the three months it took to make this
horror movie, because it was a great departure for me. I've never
worked in this genre before, so I really loved every minute of
it. And no I didn't watch other horror movies. I was tempted to
go back and watch The Shining, but I resisted, as I didn't want
to start to copy things I had seen before.
Q. Was it a relief to get away from that character, though?
A. Yeah, it was a relief. I enjoyed it while I was in it.
It was a really cathartic experience for me, at the end of the
day, but I also have grown as an actor, as I have in life, and
I've learned how to go to work, and immerse myself 100% in the
character, and then at the end of the day, take it all off, and
have a bath, get a massage...
Q. You had an experience with the supernatural when you were
working the Dorothy Dandridge film, could you expand on that?
A. Yes, you know the people who believe in ghosts are only
the ones who've had an experience. I think by our nature, we're
very sceptical, and unless we've seen it, we don't believe it.
And yes, I did have a couple of experiences on Dorothy Dandridge
where I knew, and so did the crew and the people around me, that
her spirit, or some spirit, was around us, or around me. Nothing
really outlandish happened, but it was just a feeling. Strange
things would happen, strange occurrences would happen that couldn't
really be explained in any other way.
Q. How do you get yourself into this state of mind for the
film, ie, paranoid and scared?
A. There were all kinds of things that I did, but my challenge
was to try and find levels of the terror, because you can just
be terrified, and I really tried really hard not to play one note
of terror throughout the entire movie. A lot of times, I couldn't
use any words, I couldn't speak, or there wasn't another actor
in the room, or I had to face a special effect that was going
to be put in place when the movie was finished, that I was just
told about and had to react to. So I had to get really creative
with my imagination a lot of the time.
Q. Charlize Theron was recently quoted, upon being asked what
she would do if she won the Oscar, that she should make a note
to herself not to become Halle Berry, ie become a Bond girl. How
would you react to that?
A. I don't think she could become me if she tried.
Q. How would you feel about taking on a stage role in the
West End, like some of your colleagues?
A. At some point in my life, I would love to. I don't know
if that's going to be in my immediate future, but hopefully at
Q. You throw yourself around quite a lot in this movie, did
you do yourself any injuries?
A. I had a broken arm. But it didn't really involved any stunts.
It wasn't a scene that would cause anyone to be alarmed that someone
might get hurt. Robert Downey just twisted my arm the wrong way
and it just broke...
It was an accident, it was just one of those freak things that
happen on a movie.
Q. So you had to stop?
A. Yeah, we stopped filming for eight weeks while I had full-blown
cast, and then after that my full arm cast was reduced to a very
small, very thin cast from my wrist to my elbow, and I finished
a month of shooting with that little cast on.
Q. Talking about the cast [forgive the pun], can you tell
us a little bit about working with Robert Downey and Penelope
A. Penelope was great casting. Very opposite type of role
for her, because she is usually so beautiful and known for it,
that to take the make-up off, and play that character, I thought
she was very believable and I was very happy to see her take a
Q. Did you know her before you made the movie?
A. Only in passing.
Q. The nature of movies is that you get very little rehearsal
time, you just have to turn up and do it. But those scenes are
crucial with her, did you get any chance to do any preparation
or develop any sort of bond?
A. We had no rehearsal. We just sort of hit the ground running.
But we bonded through the work. We didn't have a lot of time to
rehearse, but we did spend a lot of time together on the set.
Q. Did the fact that your mother was a psychiatric nurse bring
any bearing on the way you approached the character?
A. I think so and, initially, there had to be something that
made me respond to the part, because it felt familiar to me when
I read it, because my mother was a psychiatric nurse for 35 years,
which was practically all of my life. So I was very used to hearing
her talk about it, or telling me stories. So it was a world that
I knew, and that was probably the greatest impact on me.
Q. And wasn't your father a hospital attendant as well?
Q. You're the most successful African-American star on the
planet, do you find any pressure?
A. I don't like to say that I feel it as a pressure, but I
do think that it's something that I take very seriously. I do
know that they are watching and that other people of colour look
at me and derive some sense of hope, or it inspires them to achieve
their goals and dreams. That's why, therefore, I take it very
seriously, but I don't get so caught up with it that it becomes
a pressure. I ultimately know that I'm only one human being, that
I'm making one tiny contribution, and nothing really more than
Q. How much did the script evolve during your participation
with the production?
A. The script changed from moment to moment, it was always
a work in progress, day after day, after day. It was a totally
different script from the original version that I read.
Mathieu came on board and had definite ideas, the actors had definite
ideads, both Penelope and Robert had them, as did the producer,
Joel Silver, so it was kind of a collaboration.
Q. That can make for chaos? What were the really significant
A. The whole story didn't change that much. It was still about
a woman who committed a murder that she could not remember. It
was sort of the subtleties of the relationship between my character
and Robert Downey's character. They had a relationship when I
first read the script, that changed dramatically, and he became
more of a red-herring than a love-interest in the movie.
Penelope Cruz, in one of the drafts, never got out of the institution,
she was sort of damned to this horrific life inside it.
Q. Do you ever watch your Oscar speech and think, oh gosh?
A. I watched it twice since that night and mainly the reason
I watched it was that I was so out of my body, on that night,
that I didn't realise what I'd said! So I wanted to go back and
find out what I said.
I found that it was way too long and I wish I could have edited
it, but then I also felt that it was a great moment, not only
in my life, but that it was about more than me, so I thought maybe
it was ok that it went the way it went.
Q. How did you find working with Limp Bizkit in the video
for the single from the film?
A. That was funny. When Joel Silver asked Fred Durst to write
an ending kind of song, he already had a song that he felt would
be really great. So we all heard the song, and loved the song,
and thought it would be a real treat for the video. It was an
odd coupling, which was what made it so exciting for me, because
I love doing things that would make people think, well why would
she do that? I loved that aspect of it...
Q. Is it something that you would do again?
A. Probably if it related to my work as an actress, or a project
that I was working on. This was a significant song in our movie,
but just to do a video, I doubt it.
Q. There's a lot of controversy surrounding the look of your
next film, CatWoman, so I was wondering how you felt about it?
A. I love the look of the film. I think it's very modern,
it's edgy, it's very much reflective of the 21st Century, who
women are today. I think we are constantly evolving.
As far as the negativity, there is always negativity; you can't
please everybody, and I think I have learned to accept that and
get on with it.
But I also remember that there was a lot of negativity around
X-Men on the Internet, with the comic book afficionados. Nothing
we did on that movie made them happy, initially. At the time,
all that was said about it was bad. Yet when we came to release
it, they loved it.
So I think we're all taking it with a little pinch of salt. We
tried to stay true to what our story was and try and make it different
from the ones in the past. If we were to make it the same, there
would be no point in making a new one.
Q. Are you going back to X-Men?
A. I don't know. I haven't been offered it, don't know if
they're doing it.
Q. You were also injured on the set of Catwoman, weren't you?
A. Yeah [laughs]. A light hit me on the head.
Q. Do you feel accident-prone?
A. No, I don't think I'm very accident-prone at all, I think
the media has built it up to be something they can have a little
fun with. I give 100% and I love physical roles. But when you
give 100% for physical roles, you're bound to get some bangs,
that's sort of par for the course.
Q. You produced that film, so what about that area of film-making,
is that something you are keen to get more involved with? Do you
have a production company of your own?
A. I do. And I do think that, especially as a woman, I have
to sort of create my own experiences, to create the movies I am
most confident about wanting to be a part of. Initially, it was
for a vehicle to create projects for myself, but now it's also
a way to create projects for other actors I admire, and who I
might want to work with, or for stories that I particularly want
to tell. So I won't be in front of the camera all my life, as
I'm really opposed to lifting my face up, just so that I can keep
Q. What about directing?
A. I don't know if I'll direct, as I'm really realistic about
where my talents lie and I'm not so sure that directing is a talent
that I naturally have. But producing, getting people together,
putting all the elements together, is something I will probably
do a lot more of.
Q. You are very much a role model for women all over the world,
do you have any role models yourself, who you look up to?
A. Yeah, most of my real role models are people that are really
in my life in a personal, intimate way. I've never really been
one to look to people that I don't really know to model my life
after, it's always the poeple in my life that are real. My fifth
grade teacher, for example.
Q. Where do you keep the Oscar?
A. It's been moved all around the house, depending on my mood.
Some days it's on the kitchen table, some in the bathroom, sometimes
in the living room. I like to move it around and keep it in eyeshot.
Q. What's next?
A. I'm doing a movie for Oprah Winfrey, and then another movie
that I'm co-producing, which is a smaller, character-driven sort