Hope Davis ('About Schmidt')
Hope Davis studied ballet as a teenager and even participated in the Joffrey Ballet's summer programs. She began her stage career in earnest in Chicago, where she took over Madonna's role in the Chicago production of 'Speed the Plow', to great acclaim. She still does more stage work than film, but that hasn't stopped the film roles from piling up: 'Flatliners, 'Kiss Of Death,' Mr. Wrong,' 'The Imposters,' 'Arlington Road,' 'Hearts In Atlantis,' and now the Oscar-tipped, 'About Schmidt' with Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates and Dermot Mulroney.
I recently had the pleasure to chat with the delightful Hope Davis at her home in Greenwich Village (NY) and the first thing I wanted to know was why she had taken this particualar part in the first place. "I wanted to work with Alexander Payne mainly because of 'Election.' Iím sure every actor under the sun wanted to work with him after that film. I think I would have made any movie he was making. He showed me the script and I fell in love with it. And then Jack Nicholson came on and whatís not to love. I was dying for the job."
What was 'Big Jack' like to work with? "I was definitely intimidated about the thought of being opposite him. It was so much fun to work with him. Heís amazing. To sit opposite a table from him, heís very giving to his fellow actors. Heís so funny and sweet and wonderful and easy going."
I was speaking to Dermot (Mulroney) the other day and he was telling me about the dinner scene explaining that it was the funniest part for him. I wondered if you felt the same way "Well it is true that in the pork chop scene we couldnít stop laughing. And it was from watching Kathy Bates. Itís about how piggishly people can devour a pork chop and what poor manners the in-laws have that Iím marrying into. And watching Kathy Bates work on this pork chop we were laughing so hard that when it came time for my coverage, I had to ask everyone to leave the room. I couldnít stop laughing. I was shaking and sweating and ruining take after take. That is the scene where Dermot and I did a lot of cracking up."
Any personally memorable scenes undertaken ? "That scene was the first one that we were all together: Kathy Bates, Jack Nicholson and I. We were all sitting at the table and we were finally together in a room. It was pretty fun."
You've had a lot of varying roles in such 'classics' as 'Flatliners,' 'Imposters,' 'Kiss of Death,' and 'Mr. Wrong.' But now you've made the Oscar-tipped 'About Schmidt' so how are you handling all this new Oscar buzz? "Well Iím so excited. I think the film really deserves it. And Jack certainly deserves it. I knew the second
I read the script that this would probably be one of the best films of the year. Itís a beautiful movie and it really has something to say. Iím very, very pleased. Often times you make something that you think is good but it falls by the wayside. It doesnít catch its audience. But because of Jack and because of Alexander and Jim Taylor, the writers had so much attention for their last film, this one just busted out. Iím very excited for the film."
Right, but you did deflect attention away from yourself especially as you are yourself being quoted as Oscar material! "Well, geez, most people say, ďOh whatever, I donít careĒ, but I would love it. It would be very exciting. If that happens it would be great. But it seems like for me things are always are a little bit of a long-shot, but that would be great."
So whatís the next movie for you? "I have two films coming out. One is called 'American Splendor,' which is going to Sundance in a month. And another film called 'The Secret Lives of Dentists.' It's an Allen Rudolph movie thatís also going to Sundance. And I just had a baby a couple months ago so I took about a year off. So those were the two things I finished before the baby happened."
Congratulations! So, was it a boy or a girl? "A Girl and her name is Georgia. She's lovely."
Out of all the roles you've undertaken, do you have any personal favs ? "I made a small movie called 'The Day Trippers' which is one of my favorite movies that Iíve been in and I love. I still think itís a beautiful little film that we made for about five bucks. I have to say, 'About Schmidt' ranks up there though as itís probably the most beautifully constructed film that Iíve ever been in and the most powerful."
What is this connection you have with Mia Sorvino ? "We were neighbors when we were kids. She lived across the street from me. We were childhood playmates. We wrote a play together and we made everyone in the neighborhood blow their Saturday afternoon to come and sit and watch it. It was a very tragic play. We made everyone sit in the backyard and we acted out the whole entire thing. We thought it was pretty good at the time. Canít imagine it would hold up now, but we were only ten or twelve."
Describe yourself in 3 words "In this point in my life after just having had a baby they would be ecstatic, exhausted and nervous."
Nervous of just this Oscar-buzz thing ? "No, just the future and this country right now. Things are looking shaky."
Do you believe in God ? "Yes, I do believe in God."
Are there times when you wonít take roles because of certain beliefs? "Definitely. I wonít name the films, but I have definitely avoided films where I would get hacked to pieces and murdered. Iíve avoided all films of extreme violence."
What's the most interesting thing to know about Hope Davis ? "This is a rare thing for an actress, but I have an absolutely insatiable appetite and I never stop eating. Iíve never been on a diet and Iím probably on the top end of what Hollywood actresses weight. I actually finish everything on my plate when we go out to a restaurant. Even in L.A. And Iím the only one who does that!"
Any secrets to reveal ?! "Well, I didnít announce the baby to the press or anything."
Going back to this wobbly future of ours, if movies were to die a death, what industry would you take up? "Strangely, I would probably train to nurse. I would be a nurse. There are nurses in our family and my whole family is very health oriented and very interested in that. I think thatís something I would do. Healthcare."
If this Oscar thing goes ahead and youíre one of those four pictures on the screen and they call your name, are you just going to go ballistic or are you prepared. Are you the kind of person whoís always prepared for any event? "No, I prepare for the worst usually. Iím sure Iíll be very nervous and excited. But believe me, Iíll show up and be as dressed up as I can be. But no, Iím prepared for the downside always."
But youíd have your 'Thank you' list in your pocket wouldnít you?! "Oh, yeah. Iíd want to be prepared."
What was the last music CD you bought? "A great new Johnny Cash CD. Itís great and everybody should buy it. 'American IV Ė The Man Comes Around.'"
Youíre a big Johnny Cash fan then? "I do love Johnny Cash, yeah."
If you could sit down and talk with anyone in the world, dead or alive for half an hour, who would it be and what would your first question be? "Oh my goodness I think Iíd want to talk with Einstein. I guess Iíd want to know about all his discoveries and all the things he learned in his life and what that made him think about God."
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
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