Bridget Fonda: The Best of Bridget

Maybe Quentin Tarantino, in his new film, Jackie Brown, will be the director to exploit the offbeat charm too many other directors have missed in Bridget Fonda. Here Bridget gives a hint of all that as she describes the bimbo she plays in the movie, credits her dad with teaching her to swear and recounts her good old days dancing on tabletops.

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Bridget Fonda is putting her foot down. On the table. The one we'll soon be eating lunch on. Actually, I asked her to. See, we're discussing her new film, Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino's biggest outing since Pulp Fiction, and I've mentioned that Salma Hayek, who costarred with Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn, once told me he was particularly skilled in the art of toe sucking. Since, according to Fonda, there's a scene in Jackie Brown that spotlights her tootsies, I've asked to see them up close. Now, as we're checking them out, Fonda answers my next question before I can ask it: "No, Quentin did not suck my feet."

Toe sucking or no toe sucking, chances are that Tarantino is the kind of guy who'll know exactly what to do with Fonda on-screen. One of his greatest talents is illuminating the oddball charm and edge that others have totally missed in a performer. The Uma Thurman of Pulp Fiction was a revelation, admit it. Fonda has an elusive, quirky and offbeat quality that few directors have been able to truly make use of since her turn in Scandal. She's been underused, if not miscast, in any number of misfires, like Point of No Return and Little Buddha. I'm looking to Quentin to bring out the Best of Bridget. I know he won't stop at her toes.

DENNIS HENSLEY: I saw a photo from Jackie Brown and in it you look like a trashy '90s version of Gidget. Am I close?

BRIDGET FONDA: I play a real conniving, overtanned blonde bimbo surfer girl who wears cutoff shorts and a bikini top the whole time and is kept by Samuel L. Jackson. I try to come between Jackson and Robert De Niro, who plays an ex-con who's just gotten out of prison and is trying to reel Samuel into a deal.

Q: Do you get to use a lot of foul-mouthed Tarantinoesque dialogue?

A: Of course, and I loved it. I've got a terrible mouth.

Q: You don't strike me as much of a potty mouth.

A: Really? I swear something awful.

Q: Swear right now.

A: What would you like?

Q: Oh, I'm not sure. Uh, let me think.

A: Make up your fucking mind!

Q: That'll do.

A: My favorite swear word is shithead. It's a great insult and yet it's so idiotic.

Q: Did you ever get into trouble swearing as a kid?

A: My dad [actor Peter Fonda] was into emphasizing that swear words were no different from any other words. If he accidentally swore in front of us he would run through a string of swear words like "fuck, shit, piss, cock-a-poo-poo-pee-pee, toenail." He'd always just throw toenail in there. I think that was his way of showing us it was all just words.

Q: So how did you get the role in Jackie Brown? Did you have to kick and scream to get an audition?

A: I've known Quentin for a while, and one day I saw him on an airplane and he said, "I really think you're who I want for this part in my next film. I'm basically thinking about you when I'm writing it." I was like, "Oh wow, great!"

Q: Have you thought about what Jackie Brown could do for you if it hits big?

A: I don't want to think about it that way because then it can become almost like a curse.

Q: Come on, you must be anxious about it.

A: Mostly I think about how great it will be to be in a movie that's really satisfying to watch, because your biggest fear when you do a movie is that it's not going to come together.

Q: Is Jackie Brown a lot different from Pulp Fiction?

A: Well, it's based on an Elmore Leonard novel, whereas Pulp Fiction is pure Quentin. So I guess if Quentin and Elmore had a love child, this would be it. But the child would be a fucking delinquent, doomed to juvenile hall.

Q: What's something you know about Quentin that most people wouldn't guess?

A: He notices so much, and it's fun to watch his films because he's so observant. He just doesn't take anything for granted. And he's very generous.

Q: Your character in Jackie Brown is a bit of a pothead. What did you use for marijuana?

A: I don't know what it was, and I was the one who found it. I was at some head shop in Van Nuys looking around, seeing if I could find anything for my character, and I stumbled upon this stuff called Shaman's Blend.

Q: Did you work out a product placement deal with them or just pay cash?

A: It's a cash-only kind of place. Besides, it would have been too hard to negotiate, because they had KISS blasting so loud you could barely hear anyone.

Q: Is Shaman's Blend legal?

A: I guess so.

Q: Did you inhale?

A: Yeah, as much as I possibly could. [Laughs]

Q: Any kick to it?

A: It had somethin'.

Q: Did you ever get the giggles during a take?

A: Yeah, I had a couple of moments like that with De Niro. I would look at him and he would play it so straight I couldn't help but giggle.

Q: Did John Travolta ever come by for a visit?

A: Not when I was there. I met him once years ago when I was about 15 and I literally couldn't speak.

Q: Which other actors have you been starstruck by?

A: Michael Palin.

Q: From the Monty Python movies?

A: Yeah. I've always had a huge crush on him. Years ago I was at a party with my friend Stephen Woolley, who produced Shag and Scandal, and I told him, "Oh my God. Michael Palin. I can't breathe." So Steve snuck away and came back with Michael and it was another one of those moments where--

Q: You couldn't speak?

A: Yup.

Q: Do you follow how well your films do, or do you try to let it go?

A: I try to let it go. If you follow it too closely you're setting yourself up. It's so much better to not think about the repercussions.

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