Kelly Killoren Bensimon on Real Housewives of NYC and Her 'Joan Collins Moment' with Bethenny
Kelly Killoren Bensimon has been a lot of things in her life -- model, magazine editor, author, jewelry designer, self-proclaimed equestrian, and the former wife of famous photographer Gilles Bensimon -- but within the past year, her reputation has exploded thanks to her newest and most sinister role (and landmark fight with Bethenny Frankel) on The Real Housewives of New York City, Bravo's reality show dedicated to the women of Manhattan's upper crust. Just ahead tonight's third season premiere, Bensimon talked with Movieline about fashion industry events, the intentions of Ms. Frankel, and the camera's ability to lie.
Do you get anxious upon beginning to film another season?
Well, first of all, you never really know -- with Bravo, they're never like, "You're shooting 12 episodes in your contract." Everything's really loose. And so you're kind of like, you're only as good as your last filming. That's kind of nerve-wracking because you never how it was coming in, or if someone else is going to be coming in. There's always a level of anxiety from working in general. And to top it off, each housewife has her individual personality, and that can be really nerve-wracking and anxiety-filled. Every day can bring something different, and everyone can have a different agenda.
Have your relationships with the cast changed much since last year?
Just like in any different filming, you form relationships with some of your castmates more than others. Thing is, it's not like we're not forming relationships based on a script; we're just forming them based on feelings and interaction, and if someone's going through something, you maybe empathize with that person or you don't empathize with them. It's an organic process. That's what makes it really exciting. You don't know who is going to be what way every single day. It makes it exciting, but it has layers.
I read that at Bryant Park, a storm of flashbulbs follows you in. You've long been a fixture at fashion events. How has the show changed your experience at fashion events, and are you treated differently because of the show?
I mean, I was a model for a long time and the editor of Elle Accessories, and I've been fortunate enough to wear a lot of amazing designers, and that's always been such an incredible luxury. So it's not like it's something new, it's something I'm always flattered by. There's no manipulation, I'm not devious, I'm not doing anything to try and get my picture taken. I'm not pulling my dress up to show my underwear. I'm just wearing someone's dress. They want things to be shown, and I'm so flattered that I get to be the hanger for them. I don't see it any other way than that, to be honest with you. Wherever I go, I'm flattered to be representing whoever I am.
Your fight with Bethenny was a clear highlight of the second season. Is it strange watching yourself fight on TV? Did you say what you meant at the time?
Well, I think what people don't recognize is that I had a full day of filming that day, two kids that needed to go to the beach, my driver at the time was basically dying of cancer, and I had literally five minutes to shoot with her and a date scene right after. It was just a very, very short window. Let's be honest, I don't know her. I don't spend any time with her. I'd met her once at my house. She had attacked me before, and I wanted to clear the air. And suddenly it was a Joan Collins moment; I felt like I was on Dynasty. I looked at her, and I thought, "Is she kidding me? This is a joke right now." For her, she was like, "Really?" I was like, this is what she wants? Then let's go for it. Let's take it to another level, because we're on camera, and people are focused on her reaction and my reaction.
I don't play on the same playground. If I don't want to call someone names, I don't want to be mean to them. So, therefore, if you're going to act like that, then you're down there, and I'm the parent, so I'll be up there. I realized that that message makes great TV. That's sensationalism, just like in writing. People recognized me as one of the 25 Most Influential People of '09. Like for this article, if I say something's crazy, you're going to say, "Kelly thinks it's crazy!" That makes it more exciting.
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