SUMMER MOVIES: Kim Cattrall hits the motherloadIf you’re best known for your work as oft-naked glamarama Samantha Jones on Sex and the City, gaining 20 pounds to star as a washed-up porn star is enough to garner headlines and media attention. But Kim Cattrall’s reasons for signing on as the titular star in writer/director Keith Beardon’s debut feature, Meet Monica Velour, run more than skin-deep: she wanted to show the broken reality of the woman starring in 18-year-old Tobe’s fantasy, right down to the ways she debases herself in order to get custody of her young daughter. The award-winning actress/author spoke with WE over the phone about intimidating her teen co-star, Dustin Milligan, feminism and Juno as right-wing propaganda.
Monica seemed like total character immersion.
It was. It was a complete immersion for me. That was the only way I could do it. I couldn’t do it, take it off, and go home. I was Monica. I just saw a take that we did behind the scenes, I saw it on the DVD, I’m interviewed as Kim between takes, but it’s not me. It’s Monica. To get out of it — it was just easier to stay right where she was. It felt like in a lot of the scenes that Dusty and I were just playing jazz. It felt effortless, free and surprising... he’ll follow you anywhere, he’s that kind of actor. He’s really open. He just turned 18 when we did it and he’s still fresh. Keith asked me not to be very nice to him so he could remain slightly nervous and hesitant in my presence. We were nervous that he wouldn’t be able to act it, you know, ‘cause that’s a lot to ask. So I withdrew a lot which made him a little edgy, exactly what Tobe needed to be.
So you wanted to keep him slightly intimidated by you the whole time?
On his toes! Because Monica’s like that, you just never know when she’s going to strike. One minute she’s banging on his door, next minute she’s fixin’ him a drink, then she’s crying in his lap, I mean this woman is all over the place. She’s in real, desperate measures. And you just sort of — she’s not predictable and that’s what makes her exciting to play... Within the first 10 minutes of their meeting, she rolls him! Keith said, ‘Is she really going to take it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. He won’t know, he’s drunk. She needs the money. She. Needs. The. Money.’ She has to pay the lawyer to get the kid to go to Oregon. That was really, in my mind, what allowed us to go to all those other levels. I don’t think there’s a human being alive, who’s sane, that doesn’t understand a mother fighting for her child.
That really hooks into the character’s motivations of her and her child surviving.
When [her ex-husband] says, ‘You’re not going to see her until she’s 21,’ that was an improvised line, and I gotta say, my stomach just sunk. Can you imagine not being able to see your child?... And, when Tobe turns up with the daughter, you just want to scream, like ‘No!’ It’s the worst nightmare, because she’s caught. This kid, who’s her john, is kidnapping her child? To be able to do that scene, with the stakes that high with what [Beardon] wrote, to say, ‘Look at me. This is reality. Not your fucking fantasy of what a woman is. This is what a woman is.’ And, she’s that woman, whether she’s a PR executive on Madison Avenue, or in a trailer park in Indiana. There is that — that misogyny really — going on. Whether you’re Sarah Palin or Hilary Clinton, women are being victimized, just because they’re women. And a lot of women just let it happen. I don’t want to be that kind of woman.
Why are people so uncomfortable with women’s sexuality?
‘Cause it’s powerful! So powerful! It’s boundless. Maybe it’s just as simple as we can have more than one orgasm, I don’t know. (Laughs) Maybe for men that’s pretty daunting. They need us, and we have the power, but we don’t take the power. Nature has separated us simply in the form, and this is, well, it’s sperm! We’re all fighting for the best sperm... They’re already terrified and we’re fighting amongst ourselves, so what does that lead to? Loss of power, marginalization. Look, I work within it, I’m not just complaining about it, saying ‘Poor me, I’m a feminist, blah blah blah.’ I try and do something about it, and sometimes it’s just about educating young women about some things, and they may not like me for it, but it’s the way it is. Taking roles like this are exciting to me, because it’s talking about it in a very real way. It’s not demonstrating. It’s saying, ‘Look, this is what it is. What do you think?’ ... In some ways, I’ve waited my whole life to do a speech like that. The fact that a man wrote it, I think it’s fantastic. And then you look at like, oh God, what was that film, about the girl who keeps the baby? Ellen is in it.
Juno, thank you. What does that say about women? She goes to an abortion clinic and I mean, is this a right wing piece of propaganda, that you go to an abortion clinic and they treat you like shit? I mean, c’mon! Really! I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but why’d it have to happen like that? It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.