LOS ANGELES — Typically, an actor needs to wait until they've been in Hollywood for decades (Robert Redford) or have a half-dozen $100 million blockbusters under their belt (Tom Cruise) before they can start diversifying. As producer/actress/writer Rosario Dawson prepares to celebrate her 30th birthday, however, she's already proving herself to be a rare multitalented threat.
"I come from an independent background — the first film I ever did was 'Kids,' " she told us recently about the controversial 1995 indie flick that marked her debut. "And I didn't want to be an actor; it wasn't something that I thought about. ... It's a risk, I think, for some people going [into the independent film world], but that's my home. That's where I feel most inspired."
Dawson has forged an impressive career jumping between blockbusters ("Eagle Eye," "Sin City," "Men in Black II") and small personal films ("A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," "Chelsea Walls") that would likely never be made without her. She recently launched her producing career with "Descent," continues to develop her comic-book/movie hybrid "Occult Crimes Taskforce" and promises that she'll soon produce and star in "Parts Per Billion" — with or without a certain high-profile "Twilight" star.
"It would [have been] good to have him in the film, and I thought the relationship between him and Olivia [Thirlby] would be really well-expressed," she said of Robert Pattinson, whose busy schedule caused him to drop out of the flick a few months ago. "But that happens. So, I guess you have to keep looking."
This month, she'll once again lend her star-power to the indie world, appearing in the drama "Explicit Ills" as a poverty-stricken mother who can't afford medicine for her sick child. "From producing myself now, I've realized that it is so difficult to make a movie, let alone a good one," she laughed, discussing the film shot by first-time filmmaker Mark Webber with a $1 million budget. "So, you might as well be going into that process for the right reasons."
"Often when you're doing big-budget kind of stuff, these types of stories can get lost," she said of "Ills," which follows several Philadelphia residents while exploring the sad state of health care in our country. "This movie came along, and it was so challenging, provoking and inspiring. It's hard to not go back and revisit that type of work."
And with that in mind, this young female force is making big plans for her Hollywood future. "We're still developing it," she said of "Billion," which will move on without RPattz. "It's a small independent film that we think could do really well ... we're looking at a couple of other actors for that [Pattinson] part. It's an ensemble film, so we've got Dennis Hopper, Olivia Thirlby and myself."
She hopes to shoot a "Sin City" sequel later this year, and beyond that, "I'm just back in the producing spot — I recently got a book that I just attained the rights to that I'm developing into a film. I'm finally making 'O.C.T.' ... it's a sort of TV show that I've got in the works."
"[On 'Explicit Ills'] I was working with people who I really admired and loved and was challenging myself in this role emotionally, and was telling a story that I think needs to be told," Dawson said of the main reason she shot her latest indie adventure. "I think that's always the best reason to do any type of work."
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