News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post:By Jenny StewartPlanetOutIn the upcoming film "In Her Line of Fire," the plot revolves around two women who must save the vice president of the United States from being kidnapped by rebels after his plane crashes on a South American island.The two women are played by lesbian icon Mariel Hemingway and openly lesbian actress Jill Bennett, who plays the vice president's no-nonsense press secretary.Bennett recently spoke to PlanetOut about her lesbian scenes with Hemingway, the future of lesbian action films and the experience of being openly gay in Hollywood.In the movie "In Her Line of Fire," you play the love interest of Mariel Hemingway. What was it like working with her?Mariel was fantastic to work with. We established a nice rapport early on that made for a fun filming experience. We had to film one of our kissing scenes pretty early on in the filming, which can be awkward. After the first take, though, we noticed quite a few of the male crew members seemed absolutely entranced, and all we could do was laugh. After that, it seemed like anything we did, no matter how inconsequential, became some sort of sexually charged moment for the crew members. Everything became this unspoken "lesbian" moment in their minds.For example, in one of our scenes we were taken hostage and thrown in the back of a truck. They bound our hands, sat us next to each other and right before we starting filming one of the producers commented that it was "hot." We were amazed. Hot? We were sitting as hostages in the back of an old pickup truck with our hands tied -- and not to each other, I might add. We laughed so hard at the notion that "hot" became our inside joke. Anything and everything became hot when Mariel and I did a scene, whether it was tripping over a branch or running through the jungle. Mariel is loved by lesbians because of "Personal Best." Did you two talk about that?We had a long discussion trying to figure out why men love lesbians so much, and all we could do was laugh. It was that topic that led us into discussions about her past lesbian roles, "Personal Best," and more specifically her status as a lesbian icon. In talking to her, I realized that she probably didn't know the depth of her status, or the deep impact that "Personal Best" had on many women in our community. I think she finally understood after our trip to Dinah Shore. We were at an event promoting the film and she was absolutely barraged with fans clamoring to get a picture, an autograph, or to tell her how much that role meant to them when they were first coming out. I think she was a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring, but humbled and appreciative nonetheless. I just smiled and said, "I told you so."Do you think we're going to start seeing more of these kinds of lesbian action movies?Unfortunately, the female action-hero concept is an unproven money maker in Hollywood. Look at the slew of failed action films starring women that came out last year. It doesn't bode well for the genre. I think it's difficult to pull off - she [the hero] must be tough enough to seem like she could believably beat the bad guys, but soft enough to still be feminine. Obviously, "Bound" was a perfect fit of those rules and was very successful. It's a matter of balance if you're talking mainstream fare. In terms of a strictly lesbian audience, those rules don't apply, but will the lesbian audience show up? That's the real question. I know I love seeing women take control and kick ass, so why not? You also play a lesbian hit woman in the upcoming movie "The Pleasure Drivers." What's that about?"The Pleasure Drivers" lays out three separate interconnected stories involving an adulterous therapist [Angus MacFadyen with Lacey Chabert], a drugged-out kidnapper [Lauren Holly], and my character, a hit woman out for revenge. It was directed by Andrzej Sekula, who was Tarantino's cinematographer on "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs." Andrzej is particularly adept at filming violence, so I'm really excited to see the final result. I've only seen small clips, but I can tell you that my character does some pretty messed-up things in this movie. There is a particularly disturbing scene that lesbians are either going to love or hate. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know how it's going to play, but I felt that it was a scenario that was long overdue in cinema.You are one of only a few openly lesbian actresses in Hollywood. How has being out helped or hindered your career thus far? Is there any part of you that wishes you'd stayed in the closet?It remains to be seen what effect it will have on my career. Until you're a series regular on television or an A-list actor, no one outside of the gay community really cares or pays attention to your love life. I'd like to say that it's helped, but it really hasn't. Outside of this film with here!, I haven't done much work within the gay community. I've played lesbian a lot lately, but I was hired for those projects by straight male directors that had no idea that I was out. There was just something about my audition that led them to believe I could play the role, which makes sense given who I am in real life. Conversely, I don't often get cast in straight romantic leads. It's not uncommon for actors to play roles that are similar to who they really are as human beings.I could never be closeted in any part of my life, and my career was no exception. I really feel sorry for the actors who choose that path. I can't imagine having to hide such an important part of your life. It's not a judgment; it's just not for me. OK, last question. What would be the perfect role for you?I think the greatest challenge an actor can face is portraying a person who really lived, and I have always been obsessed with biographies and the true lives that people lived behind the facade of Hollywood. I read a book a couple years ago based on F.B.I. files about the secret lesbian lives of Dietrich and Garbo, and ever since, I've dreamed about the possibility of that film coming to life. I don't think most people know how notorious those women were in their day. The book chronicled a long list of lesbian affairs and public stunts that would shock most of America, even by today's standards. Although Dietrich was the more audacious of the two -- she makes Colin Farrell look like a choir boy -- I would want to play Garbo. She was the better actor of the two, and had this aura of mystique about her that fascinates me to this day. So, strangely enough, my dream role is to play an actress who was a lesbian in real life. Go figure.
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