Kim Basinger: No Regrets
Q: So there were none of the problems you experienced on The Marrying Man?
A: I was scared to death before we started. I knew if we got through this we'd get through the rest of our lives together. Emotionally, we had to go to the end of ourselves as actors. And we were very grown-up, very adult about it. On the day that we had to do a real volatile piece with each other, Alec would peer into my trailer door and say, "I love you, okay?" And I understood. Between "Action" and "Cut" he wasn't Alec, he was my co-star.
Q: You shot the film in Arizona. Were the umbrellas out? Did you get called a temperamental diva protecting herself from the sun?
A: That happened on The Marrying Man. But I'm allergic to the sun. I've been through biopsies and the whole nine yards. For The Getaway I had to wear a thick jelly to protect any part of my skin that was showing.
Q: Were the biopsies cancerous?
A: Beyond. Right after Never Say Never Again I came home with my first husband and he had been a surfer, so he had terrible skin problems, there were skin cancers all over his body. So I went to the clinic with him one day and I met a doctor and he was looking at the top of my lip. He asked me if I felt anything when I put my finger there and I said that when I touched it it felt as if I had a pin in my finger. He looked at it and said I needed a biopsy to check it out. It entailed three nurses to hold me down. They stuck a long needle up under my lip. I promise you, I've had the worst menstrual cramps where my back went out, but this--in my life--I'm talking about just so much pain. I cried out of my mind. Literally. And then they lasered off the part between my two peaks. And when I came back in five months he had to laser the other side off again. And he told me if I ever let myself see the sun again I'd be back in there. So would you carry an umbrella with you? You understand?
Q: Let's get back to what you think about your films and co-stars. What comes to mind when you think of Robert Redford and The Natural?
A: Very giving. A great experience because he was very knowledgeable about Hollywood. I loved the part and Barry Levinson. That was one of the truly brighter moments in my career.
Q: Richard Gere in No Mercy and Final Analysis?
A: I met Richard on No Mercy and we had a good time. It was an excellent script which was just destroyed along the way, and TriStar didn't market it properly. Final Analysis did not end up happy for Richard, who was the executive producer. He had creative differences with the director. In the end there was a lot of animosity between a lot of people and with the studio. I was in my own world for that film. I never saw it.
Q: How many of your films haven't you seen?
A: Most. You want to be great and lately there've been some real disappointments and you wonder where it all went wrong.
Q: Charlton Heston in Mother Lode?
A: Oh, you're just pickin' 'em out of nowhere, huh? I can't remember why I ever did that. Charlton Heston was a nice man. It's like working with Moses. I felt like a tiny girl around him. He wasn't real. It was one of those fantasy times.
Q: Burt Reynolds in The Man Who Loved Women.
A: He was the easiest person to improvise with. He had the quickest wit I'd ever seen, and he was trying to do something serious in that film. Blake Edwards just called me and asked if I'd do it, which was great for me because I had never done a comedy in my life.
Q: Sam Shepard and Fool for Love?
A: You can do all the commercial films in the world and then you can turn around and do a Sam Shepard play and it sort of puts you on another map. I adored [Robert] Altman--a gigantic gentle giant.
Q: Sean Connery and Never Say Never Again?
A: That was a toss-and-tumble mess. I had never seen a Bond film before I did it. The importance for me was in collecting a worldwide audience. But it wasn't a happy actor/director relationship. Sean ended up suing the company and took everybody to the cleaners. He was led astray and was out of his mind sometimes.
Q: Bruce Willis and Blind Date?
A: Blake Edwards asked me to do it. Bruce Willis was fine. It's amazing that that film comes back to me as one of people's favorite as far as rentals.
Q: Jeff Bridges and Nadine?
A: Robert Benton, who I adore, and his wife Sally were like family to me. He wrote Nadine for me, so he knew this character. Jeff's one of the best actors we have around.
Q: Mickey Rourke and 9 1/2 Weeks?
A: That movie was dangerous, but next to Batman it was my favorite, because of the challenge. It was the highest I've ever been as an actress and the lowest. I never stay in character--once the director says "cut," I'm outta there. But this character never left me. Treacherous, because you were on an emotional high or low every day. That's the film where I crossed over and thought of myself as an actress more than a movie star.
Q: Did you see the finished film?
A: Not from top to bottom. The films that I've seen are The Natural, because Robert Redford made me go to the opening because it was a benefit for Sundance, and I learned from that what a horrific experience it was to watch myself. And I went to the premiere of Batman.
Q: What'd you think of that one?
A: When I walked on that set, after Sean Young took a dive off a horse or whatever happened to her, I felt the thunder under my feet the first day, how big the movie was going to be. It wasn't a movie, it was an experience. I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, wondering when I was going to land. Michael and Tim Burton were great; Nicholson was just Nicholson, we got along fine. The most important thing that came from it is my relationship to children now, and who I am to them. They could care less about Kim Basinger--when I walk into a children's hospital or a school, it's all about Vicki Vale.
Q: Any interest in reviving that character in future sequels if they asked you?
A: I haven't heard anything about Batman 3. But if Vicki Vale could continue, absolutely I would do it if I had a chance to reach as many children as the first one did. The second Batman was a much darker thing, so there wasn't much to capture the children.
Q: What interested you in doing the animated film Cool World?
A: That was such a sad experience. Frank Mancuso Jr. showed me what they planned to do with this film and I looked at my agent and said, "I want to do this film." I really loved the idea. It could have been ahead of its time. I thought we were making something special. What I heard happened is, when the studio saw it there was some deception between the director and the producer and somewhere along the way the animation got screwed up. When the studio saw it they didn't understand it and they cut an hour out of it. They lost the story, so it turned into a mess. I've never seen it.
Q: Val Kilmer and The Real McCoy?
A: That's another story, not a real happy one. The story we read and the film it ended up being don't match. What happened was the reediting of the project, because of creative differences between the lead actor and the director and [producer] Marty Bregman.
Q: The L.A. Times wrote that you seemed to be enacting the part under as much duress as your character. Any truth to that?
A: I read that review and said, Boy, you don't even know the half of it. To have unhappiness around you every day, it's very difficult to work. And Val Kilmer, who is a fantastic actor, just wasn't happy.
Q: What's the name of your character in Wayne's World II?
A: Honey Hornee. I never saw Wayne's World so I didn't know what it was about. But Dana Carvey just clean-called me and he was very sweet and sincere. He said, "We're really going to have fun, please do this with me." At first I said no, but he kept calling. It was just a blast. Dana's wonderful. It was a little gift to be given in the middle of the year.
Q: The Wall Street Journal reported a backlash against you among the people of Braselton. What's happening there?
A: That's something I'm going to address publicly on local television for the people of Braselton. It was all a matter of bringing a dream to a table. I didn't buy the town, I just searched for two years to find the money so a corporation could buy this town. A company in Chicago bought it and I only was going to be the supplier of the dream. And by the way, let me correct this, there never was an idea of a "Kim's Wood"--I don't even know what that means. A takeoff on Dollywood I guess. My dream was for artists--record people, movie people--to make a major career center on the East Coast. An auditorium for artists to play their new stuff, and an in-house radio station. There's a hungry crowd down there in Georgia. It wasn't a stupid dream. Unfortunately, at the time the economy was going straight down and dreams became expensive. So today it's in the hands of other people.
Q: Is the dream dead?
A: It's dead. Totally. It's really a horrible story.
Q: Didn't you put your brother Mick in charge of developing the town?
A: Yes, my brother's very involved there. Only I'm not involved with my brother, and haven't seen or talked to him in three years. I plan to address why the communication stopped. I gave him a good two-and-a-half years to come clean and say how we've not spoken, because I did not any longer want my name associated with Braselton and I felt it being misused. So now is the year I'm going to have to make a break from all of it. I really do love the people there. Braselton is a beautiful area and it needs to be preserved and I pray that people do right by it. It's not a nice story, this story about Braselton. That on top of this other stuff that's been going on these last three years, it was just one more thing I probably should not have gotten involved with. But I have no regrets, I learned a lot.
Q: You've obviously been learning quite a bit on your life's journey. What's the best thing about being who you are?
A: That I'm truly loved by someone and by people around me who will help make this ride through this short time we have on this planet much more peaceful for me.
Q: What's the best meal you've ever eaten?
A: I have a woman who does my body makeup, and she loves to cook for me, all vegetarian everything. We'd sit around my trailer during a film and, like, if we were going to go to the electric chair what would we eat as our last meal? I put down everything Southern that my mother made for me: black-eyed peas, turnip greens, cornbread, fried corn off the cob, pumpkin pie and German chocolate cake. [Laughs]
Q: How long have you been a vegetarian?
A: With the exception of tuna sushi, which I've had a problem giving up, I've been a vegetarian for as long as I can remember.
Q: What's the best hotel you've ever stayed at?
A: The Savoy in London.
Q: Where's the best place to go to get away from it all?
Q: The best car you've ever driven?
A: BMW, the old ones, 1986.
Q: What's the best song?
A: "What a Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong.
Q: Best concert you've been to?
A: U2 in Madison Square Garden.
Q: The best movie?
A: Tie for three: Song of the South, Amadeus and Being There.
Q: The best year of your life?
A: This past year.
Q: What's the most romantic experience you've ever had?
A: My wedding to Alec.
Q: The best love scene you've ever played?
A: In The Getaway.
Q: The best love scene you've ever seen?
A: Don't Look Now, Julie Christie.
Q: Who's the best kisser?
A: Oh Lord. You know that.
Q: How does Alec compare as a kisser to others you have kissed?
A: Oh God, that is not a very nice question! [Laughs] I love to kiss Alec. To me, kissing is the most important part of sexuality.
Q: There's talk about Alec getting involved in politics. What's the story?
A: He's involved in local politics in New York out in the Hamptons. He campaigns for certain Democrats. He's very politically-minded and wants to help people in a community. I want him to be happy, but I hope that he would not pick politics for himself.
Q: What do you think of his films?
A: I don't really see his films and he hasn't seen mine either. I know it's weird, but we live through it, I know what he's experiencing.
Q: If an alien spaceship landed on your porch and signaled for you to come, with Alec being in the other room and you had to choose, would you go?
A: Is it for a short ride or forever? [Laughs] I'd know in my heart what was going to happen, so I would go. Alec knows me and would be shocked if I didn't.
Q: He'd have the memory of you.
A: Oh, that's a terrible thing.
Q: Well, you've given us a tabloid headline: KIM WILLING TO LEAVE ALEC FOR ALIEN.
A: Oh God! Oh God! If that would truthfully happen I think I'd have faith that Alec would come later to meet me. That's a fun question.
Q: Your last words in our previous interview were that you had no regrets, "This is not a boring life I live." Still feel that way?
Q: Last words?
A: Let me tell you this, and I mean this with my heart, God knows everything, and in the end, no matter what you go through, this life is a lot longer than you think. Our stop here is short in comparison to where we're headed.
Lawrence Grobel interviewed Bridget Fonda for the November 1993 Movieline.
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