THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION
Illeana Douglas, indie-movie fan
The actress says the experience of making her latest independent effort, the off-again, on-again 'Expired,' was 'lots of fun and food and chaos.'
WORKING ACTRESS: Illeana Douglas has a pair of movies (Expired, Oh Joy) and a returning Internet show (Illeanarama) in the works. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / June 13, 2008)
What do you look for when casting a cowboy?
This is what the script is about: a girl who's gotten down on living in Los Angeles and feels the type of man she's in love with doesn't exist any more. . . . She gets 100 miles outside L.A., hits a tornado, her car is overturned, she's rescued by a traveling group of rodeo cowboys. Like she died and went to heaven. When you leave Los Angeles and New York, men really are different. They treat you differently. They're the man and you're the woman. When you're in L.A., everyone likes to put you in a box. So it's difficult to fall in love. . . . Men are the new chicks. That's not working out so well for gals.
But this puts you in a funny, gender role essentialist camp!
Say that again? You lost me there. Actress! Use small words!
Didn't feminism want us to be equals, apart from our gender roles?
I know in this day and age, when you meet men, they often want to be boys. They dress like boys. And it's very confusing. I can't offer any solution except to make a movie about it.
It might all be Adam Sandler's fault.
Uh, why? He's happily married! He's got two kids! He's very true to himself.
But he's been playing the reckless boy in Hollywood for ages now.
Yeah, I think that's too simplistic. I think it's something more internal than that. I don't know if we can say it's Adam Sandler's fault. I think he's very attractive! He's kind of the role model in a sense for the other guy in ["Oh Joy"], who outwardly doesn't have the greatest characteristics, but inwardly, maybe he does -- is a real gentleman and loves his parents. I dunno! He's from New England.
Hey, this movie, "Expired"? I know you shot it a million years ago. Do you remember it?
I do remember it because it had a kind of interesting path that a lot of independent films have. I had met [director Cecilia Miniucchi] on one film that she was going to do called "Pluck," which was a movie from the point of view of a chicken. She wanted Harvey Keitel, Alan Cumming -- and then it never happened, but we stayed in touch and became friends. And then there was another movie then that didn't happen. So by "Expired," I just thought, "Well, this thing is never gonna happen." Then she called me up and said, "Fred Roos is producing, and there's Jason Patric and Samantha Morton, and I wrote this part for you." It was very Italian! I love Italian cinema. I met Lina Wertmüller on the set. We had a great experience. It was really indie -- lots of fun and food and chaos.
So earlier this year you took on the celebrity industrial complex. You showed up at a premiere having printed signs that said, "TMZ CAUSES CANCER."
You have to be very careful: It does cause cancer. It causes cancer in the sense that it spreads to the New York Times and Vanity Fair and all the news shows that take on this "Gotcha!" mentality, where people are doing stories about John McCain 20 years ago: He may have had an inappropriate relationship, but we don't know. That kind of journalism is a cancer. The reason I did the signs was because I was promoting a movie with Tom Arnold. Whenever Tom and I would go anywhere, we were hounded -- he was hounded, I was in the periphery -- by paparazzi. Chased into the bathroom! That's the part that nobody sees. You feel as if you're in some weird "Logan's Run," some futuristic movie.
Entertainment Weekly asked last year: "Why can't Hollywood figure out what to do with Illeana Douglas?"
Oh, really? Yes? That's complex. I mean, I think the important thing is, I've figured out what to do with myself. Which is be true to myself and just be an artist and try to make art. And that is, in this society, very difficult, because you feel you could be laughed at. . . . I saw "An Unmarried Woman" when I was a kid, with my mom, and it made an indelible impression on me. That's the kind of actress I want to be, the kind of story I want to be in. . . . You don't know till the last beat of the movie -- is she going off with Alan Bates or going to carry her painting through the streets? . . . And you have to be careful because people would say it's corny or doesn't hold up. But I think of that image, Jill Clayburgh carrying that painting through the streets of New York. For me as a woman, that's a very powerful image.