Annabella Sciorra: Gal Talk
Annabelle Sciorra, the star of Whispers in the Dark, lets down her hair and lets fly on everything from filming sex scenes and meeting strangers on the street, to slugging Rebecca DeMornay and kissing Wesley Snipes.
"The first time I saw you on-screen, in True Love," I tell Annabella Sciorra as we get settled in an outdoor cafe on Columbus Avenue, "I knew you were going to be big. There was something about you that made me feel as if you were my best friend."
"Really?" she says. "Because the very first time I saw myself on-screen, I almost died. I couldn't concentrate at all. I just kept saying, 'My thighs, oh my God, my thighs!' They looked huge."
"Well, that just proves my point. My girlfriends are always shrieking about how enormous their thighs look, too."
Whether she's the lead (True Love, Jungle Fever, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) or the lead's girlfriend or wife (Internal Affairs, Cadillac Man, Reversal of Fortune, The Hard Way), Sciorra sticks in your mind.
"By the way," she asks, "is this going to be a question-and-answer thing?"
"No," I tell her, "they don't let me do those Q & A things. I'm not a good question-asker."
"Good, because I did one of those once, and it ended up sounding silly."
"No, this is going to be more like a D & C ... dialogue-and-conversation. But I do have a few questions to ask, so let me get those out of the way."
"How old are you?"
Total silence. "C'mon," I bluff, "I could figure it out from your resume."
"Okay then, figure it out."
Uh-oh. We've been together all of three minutes and already we're at a stalemate.
"Do other actresses ... ?" she begins.
"To tell you the truth," I say, "I can't remember the last time I interviewed a woman. They only send me to do guys."
"I have no idea. I guess they figure I'll flirt with them and they'll open up to me."
"Is that what happens?"
"Nah," I admit. "What happens is, they're usually pouty or tough-as-nails, and it takes hours until we can finally get comfortable with each other. .. just like in real life with guys. But they do tell their ages. Don't worry, though, because this interview is gonna be different."
"Because we're going to bond instantly, and find that we have tons to talk about, and it's going to go like a dream."
"Okay," Sciorra says with a laugh, "under 30. Is that enough of an answer?"
"For now. So, you've had the wedding from hell in True Love, the nanny from hell in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and now you're about to have the relationship from hell, right?"
"In your new movie Whispers in the Dark..."
"To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure what the movie's about," says its leading lady. "I haven't seen it yet. When we were making it, the title was Sessions. But they had to change it, and I guess they're going to call it Whispers in the Dark, which I don't think is a very good title. Anyway, you know that they can change the whole thing in the editing room."
"I saw about 10 minutes of it in a reel that Paramount is showing," I volunteer.
"Oh really? What do you think it's about?"
"She's a psychiatrist. I mean, you're a psychiatrist, who has a patient who's involved in a sadomasochistic relationship..."
Sciorra perks up. "Yes. At least, she thinks she is. It's mostly in her mind."
"Okay. The relationship may or may not be sadomasochistic, but then the patient winds up dead?"
"Yeah. And they're not sure if it's a suicide or a murder, but then you find out it's murder. In the meantime, my character falls for a man, and I eventually realize that the man I fall in love with is the same man that my patient's been telling me about in her sessions. At least, I think it's him. She's telling me all these hot, sexy stories that are mostly intriguing to my character because of their sense of abandonment. My character not only has a hard time with intimacy, but she doesn't know that sense of abandonment, and longs for it very, very, very much."
"Yeah," I say, "everyone who hasn't had it longs for it. And everyone who had it would rather pass on it the second time..."
"Right," Sciorra agrees. "The opening scene in the movie is my character having a wet dream because I'm thinking about all these stories that the patient has been telling me, and there was a picture I found in a magazine, a photo called 'Longing.' It looks like it was shot underwater. It's a woman, lying on a bed naked, and you see her from the back ... you see her back, and her butt and her legs, and she's reaching out. It's a very sexy photo. I had cut the picture out and I had it in my notebook, and I kept looking at it and looking at it, and when I had to do the wet-dream scene, I suddenly knew that that's what the character was about. That longing. And suddenly I found myself in the same position on the bed."
"What's it like, shooting a 'wet-dream' scene?"
"The cinematographer, Michael Chapman, and I talked a lot about women's fantasies, because he wanted to make sure that what he was shooting was not just a male fantasy. In the love scenes, they wanted to keep cutting to other things that women found really exciting. We would have these in-depth discussions about what I found sexy, what images. So I felt a lot of trust..."
"Personally, I think women have these really involved, weird sexual fantasies that have never been shown on film," I say.
"Yeah," Sciorra says, nodding her head in agreement, "I think so, too. I saw Lovers the other night, with Victoria Abril. It was really good, and very sexy. The sex in it was really sexy. I went by myself, and I like to sit really close to the screen. It was very crowded, there was just one empty seat, between this couple and this single guy. I took that seat, and the movie got so sexy that nobody was making a sound. And I thought, I can't move a muscle right now, because anything I do is gonna show that I'm affected by this. You can't just say, 'Oh wow, fuck, this is great.'
The sex was great, very erotic, at times rough. It was very risky, in that it was real. There was this unbelievable shot, where the camera is at the end of the bed, and you see the guy on the bed, and Victoria is singing this song about women who perfume themselves, and she gets up on the bed, and her legs are on either side of him, so what you see are the backs of her seamed stockings. And then she starts..."
Sciorra is forced out of this reverie by two guys who are walking by on the street. They have passed us, but now they're circling back.
FIRST GUY: "Hi, how you doing?"
FIRST GUY: "Brilliant movies you make. I like them a lot. [Kisses her hand] I'm half-blind and [pointing to his friend] this guy recognized you before I did."
SECOND GUY: "You really were very good."
FIRST GUY: "Anyway, let me let you get back to whatever it is you're doing."
SCIORRA: "Okay. Bye."
FIRST GUY: [Can't quite make himself leave] "I know this is tacky, but can I have your autograph?"
SCIORRA: "Okay." [He hands her a pen and a business card.]
SECOND GUY: "What's your name?"
SCIORRA: "What's my name!?"
FIRST GUY: "Sign it to Herbie."
SECOND GUY: "I forget your name."
SCIORRA: "What movie did you see?"
SECOND GUY: "Anna-bella what?" [Sciorra rolls her eyes at me. To the guy she says, "Sciorra."]
SECOND GUY: "Okay then. Arivaderchi."
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