BEVERLY HILLS, California — With her long black hair, love of comics (she's created her own) and penchant for starring in films like "Sin City" and "Clerks II," Rosario Dawson isn't just an actress anymore — she's a full-blown geek goddess.
Dawson's latest is "Death Proof" — Quentin Tarantino's half of "Grindhouse" — a sly ode to sleazy exploitation flicks (see "Tarantino And Rodriguez Eager To Exploit More Exploitation Flicks"). The 27-year-old actress recently sat down with MTV News to discuss why "Grindhouse" isn't bad (even though it celebrates bad films) and her director's love of, well, women's feet.
(Editor's note: These questions were posed to Rosario Dawson in two separate interviews with MTV News.)
MTV: "Grindhouse" directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are often called brilliant in the media, but how does that manifest on set?
Rosario Dawson: They have absorbed a lot from all the things that they are fans of — all the movies, all the TV shows, all the music — and they take it inside themselves and filter it out through all of this talent. I talk to a lot of geeks, but they can't do what [Rodriguez and Tarantino] do because it's not just about making an homage to somebody, but about putting some creativity behind it. They do that, but at the same time they allow you to contribute, and that's where the genius comes in.
They made the full experience of a grind-house movie. You get to have scratchy film, you get to have the missing reel. [In the days of grind-house movies], they would make 10 prints and it would start off on the East Coast and then by the time it got to the West Coast, it was a very different movie. Somebody in Tennessee would be like, "Pam Grier took off her top in this scene. I'm just going to 'snip snip' and take this for my own personal collection!" We have that exact same thing. You are really at the edge of your seat ready to see something, and then it just says, "Missing reel, sorry for the inconvenience." What? Who does that? What other directors could make a movie where they purposely mess up, purposely mess with the audience just for the experience of it?
MTV: You've worked with Robert before, but what about Quentin? How did he surprise you?
Dawson: Quentin's got his little quirks. ... Most directors don't like cell phones on the set, but he doesn't even like people getting calls on the set. He doesn't like people reading magazines or reading books, because you isolate yourself into something that's not part of the movie. Like if you want to read something, read the script. If you want to talk to someone or be hanging out, talk with the people around you, get to know people around you. Create a family there, a team.
I think he can be like that ADD control freak, and when you have someone like that, you usually can't add anything, because they have everything under control, they have everything thought out. He seems to be in control, but at the same time — there's this scene in the movie, it's like a seven-minute scene where the camera never cuts and it's that "Reservoir Dogs" shot where the camera keeps going around and around and around. He did that because all of us had the scene down so much that he scrapped an entire day's worth of footage to do it in one shot. He was like, "Maybe we won't be able to do it but let's try." And the whole crew was in, because the crew now has to learn the lines if we are going to have to do all these kinds of moves in one shot. If one line is off, it doesn't work. If the camera doesn't move right away, it doesn't work and we have to cut and start again. I call it "Reservoir Bitches." It's pretty phenomenal.
MTV: By celebrating grind-house movies, aren't we celebrating bad films?
Dawson: Actually, I think that's the best part about it. I think you have to see some of the humor. I think we get so caught up sometimes doing these performances that are nomination-worthy, and you kind of forget why you're acting. So Quentin has everybody come to his house [and says], "I am going to show you 50 trailers of bad movies you've never seen, and it's going to be great." You are sitting there watching, and sometimes it makes you really depressed because you're an actor too. Technically speaking, we have the same job. You think, "I'm really glad I'm not doing what you're doing right now, because that's kind of depressing." But at the same time, it's really brilliant. We translate something and entertain, catch someone's eye. Those are great stories, and that's what they're about. They are not necessarily the best shots or the best actors, but they are enticing, they are engaging, they are entertaining. At the end of it, there is nothing bad about that.
MTV: In the last few years, Quentin has really pushed the envelope with interesting female characters.
Dawson: He never draws a line. It's not like he says, "I only like big-breasted women, so I'm going to exploit that." [He] loves women in general. I think what's really phenomenal is these women [in the film] are really sexy. It's great to see a movie like this in this genre. The girls would normally be torn to bits at the end and the dude gets to have that really great look and stare. Instead it's all women.
MTV: And women's feet.
Dawson: [She laughs.] Oh yeah, there is a lot of feet. As much as Quentin tried to say he doesn't have a foot fetish, it's like, "Dude, every movie you have has had great feet in it."
MTV: So what's the best way to experience "Grindhouse"? How would you see it?
Dawson: Well, yesterday we did a little bit of that, my brother and I. We went and grabbed slices of pizza. So we are sitting there [at a viewing,] eating pizza and ... drinking soda. And I had Harvey Weinstein on the left of me staring at everybody, laughing at everything, having a great time, popcorn all over himself. My brother sitting there texting people, saying this movie is so great, can't wait for it to come out. Just be a part of that.
Check out everything we've got on "Grindhouse."
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