Carla Gugino on Sex Appeal, Women in Trouble, and Her Sucker Punch Musical Number


Carla Gugino's had great success as an actress -- she's a geek goddess after her Sin City cameo and her turn as Sally Jupiter in Watchmen, and she won raves on Broadway this year for Desire Under the Elms -- but she's thinking of starting a second career as a porn star. Just call her Elektra Luxx, the character she plays in boyfriend Sebastian Gutierrez's new movie Women in Trouble; it's a role that Gugino enjoyed so much that she's hoping to spin Luxx into a series of additional films. A little assertive, the slightest bit daffy, and rocked by news of an impending pregnancy, Luxx is a porn star on the brink -- and that's just where Gugino likes her.

I talked to the 38-year-old actress yesterday about Luxx's appeal, onscreen sex, and her much-anticipated reteaming with Watchmen director Zack Snyder on Sucker Punch, which Gugino was eager to discuss.

So you've actually shot a second Elektra Luxx film since this one?

We have! We actually just finished the second one.

And there's even a third film planned?

Yes, it's part of a trilogy.

Would you have expected all that from this character?

You know, it's funny, because when we were actually shooting it, Sebastian was like, "You know, I really think this story needs to continue." By the time we were done shooting, we knew we had a second one -- like, he actually had it written.

It's interesting the way she's introduced, in a nun's habit with lipstick. It's like she's conflating two extremes: Madonna and whore.

[Laughs] It's true! I had a crucifix and platform heels on and I was like, "Boy, am I in trouble." But it is true, and I kind of love that the character's deconstructed within thirty seconds. You're like, "Is she a nun? Oh God, is she a porn star?" And then her phone rings and the doctor's saying, "Come in, I need to meet you." It's a lot of life in four minutes of screen time.

There's a lot of sex appeal on display, but all the actresses look so comfortable. It's like they knew they had to take their clothes off, but they got to choose their lingerie first.

I know, it's true. I have to say, Emmanuelle Chriqui was like, "There is no one besides Sebastian Gutierrez who could have gotten us all in our underwear -- and we're happy about it!" I think it's really that foreign sensibility. He's South American, and I think it's that thing that certainly Pedro Almodovar does or Francois Ozon, those different European filmmakers. You can have that kind of sexuality -- if you think of Juliette Binoche or Charlotte Rampling or Penelope Cruz -- because in foreign films, sexuality often doesn't have to be separated from the character. It doesn't have to be, "Is she smart or is she sexy?" [Women in Trouble] is definitely about beautiful women in lingerie, but they actually have complex characters.

In other roles, have you felt like the director just wanted you to be sexy, but wasn't adding much else to the equation?

I think personally, sexuality is a pretty huge part of life for all of us. It's part of how we relate to each other. I've never minded if that's part of a character, but if that's the only purpose of the character, I'm like, "Hey, you guys are missing a big opportunity." I think eye candy is important, but I'm always looking for what's underneath there. I've been pretty fortunate that even in the roles that I've played that are pretty sexy characters, I've had something more to play. It's one of the good things that comes along with not being an ingenue anymore, you know? When you enter your "leading lady" years, you're expected to have something underneath, too. [Laughs]

Did you call in a lot of favors to get this cast?

It was really a family affair in that regard. Sebastian had written this one scene -- I think it's the one with Connie [Britton] and I in the elevator -- and he said, "I think I could either make this a short film, or I could put ten of them together, and in ten days, shoot a whole movie." We thought we'd do it with friends in between our regular jobs, and we'd get to do this little movie together. I mean, nobody worked more than four days, and we shot it in twelve, which was pretty crazy. We definitely had a lot of those actors in mind, and all of them are dear friends. Like, Connie Britton and I met on Spin City and she's one of my very best friends. Emmanuelle, I met on Entourage, and Malin Akerman, who's in the second film, I met on Watchmen. Joe Gordon-Levitt and I met when I did a few days on The Lookout, Simon Baker and I did a movie together with Sebastian called Judas's been crazy. Marley [Shelton] and I actually did a movie together that hasn't come out yet called The Mighty Macs, where she plays a nun and I play a basketball coach. We were like, let's mix it up!

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