Actress Margot Kidder discusses her role in Love At First Kill, her life outside the Hollywood system, future projects and more
Actress Margot Kidder shot to worldwide fame as Lois Lane in Superman, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, a franchise that thrived as one of the only on-screen comic book adaptations of the time. The actress has consistently worked in both movies and television throughout the years, and one of her more recent projects, Love at First Kill will be released on DVD for the first time February 15.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Margot Kidder over the phone to discuss this unique thriller, where she stars as Beth, an overbearing, widowed mother who becomes infuriated when her son (Noah Segan) takes notice of the beautiful new neighbor (Lynn Renee) next door.
Here's what she had to say about Love at First Kill and much more.
Can you talk about your initial reaction upon reading the script?
Margot Kidder: My first take on it was, 'This is kind of anti-female,' at least with my character, this hideous old shrew. Then, there were all these wonderfully subtle sides she had. I wouldn't go so far as to say redemption, but she was an interesting character, as opposed to a benign old granny or a wildly-crazy alcoholic granny. There was levels and colorings I knew I could put on it, so I said, 'Of course. That would be fun.' I packed my dog in the car and went to Winnipeg and had a glorious time filming it.
Is it fun to try and strike that balance? The character is slightly unhinged but there are other levels there.
Margot Kidder: She really is (Laughs). Well, it is fun, but one's job as an actor is not to judge and make a good character or a bad character, but to make a believable character. I mean, I'd defy you to show me a human being that doesn't have a good side and a bad side. It depends on how far we decide to let our impulses of our actions take us, as for what we end up being. It's always more interesting than playing someone who is 100% good or bad. It's really quite dull.
We do get a hint of Beth's back story, but I was curious if you developed that any further? Not to show in the movie, but to develop your character more?
Margot Kidder: Well, I certainly developed my character. It was three years ago so I can't quite remember what my notes were, but you have to when you make a character. You have to figure out where she has come from and why and therefore, you can figure out why she's arrived at the place where she's at when the script starts, and give it some layering.
I noticed with the DVD coming out, the title was changed.
Margot Kidder: The title was changed, to the point when I was asked to do PR for it, I didn't have a clue what anyone was talking about. I emailed my agent, saying, 'I have never done a movie called Love at First Kill. I don't know what they're talking about' (Laughs).
It is a catchier title than The Box Collector, I believe.
Can you talk about your experience with filming in Winnipeg?
Margot Kidder: Oh, it was heaven, just wonderful. The Manitoba government has been incredibly intelligent, in terms of their tax rebates, when that wonderful fellow was Premier who is now the Canadian ambassador to the United States. Winnipeg was, in fact, designed by the architects who designed Chicago after the Great Fire. In downtown Winnipeg, there is a great, quirky old city feel and it also has a thriving artistic community. Manitoba seems to be where most of the eccentrics in Canada end up. It has a thriving theater scene, so when we were filming, there was a fringe festival going on. I would go to the set and film and then at night, go to a play or a one-man-show. I had the time of my life.
I really enjoyed Noah's performance as well. Can you talk about working with him and the chemistry you developed on the set?
Margot Kidder: I felt very much like his mother. I mean, I'm 62 now, and he was a kid. I watched him and was reminded of the things you do when you're young, the mistakes you make and the good things you have going for you. He's very good, a wonderful actor.
I also really enjoyed the relationship Beth has with her neighbor Luz, the tarot reader.
Margot Kidder: Yeah. She ended up becoming a very dear friend of mine, and still is, Adriana O'Neil. She was wonderful. She's from Winnipeg and she has started producing too. When you get to Canada, the government puts money into the arts, which is a good idea, unlike here. You have this extraordinary theater scene in Winnipeg with some wonderful theaters doing some really innovative work. When you have that, you encourage young talent to come in and learn the craft and all sorts of things. She's one of the people that grew up in that environment so she is really good. She's really funny and fun to be with. We hit it off right away. I hung out with her pretty much the whole time I was there.
I know the director, John Daly, recently passed away. Can you talk a bit about working with him?
Margot Kidder: Yeah, that was really sad because I just adored him. He had a wonderful British eccentricity that we try to stomp out in America, particularly Hollywood, which is consumed with people acting as if they're normal, which is kind of insane. He was just delicious. I just adored him.
He was mainly known as a producer but he had directed a few films also. Can you talk about his style as a director?
Margot Kidder: His style was very laid-back and funny. He'd kind of amble over and give you a dry, witty remark. He and Noah didn't get on quite as well because Noah has a very American sensibility and didn't get John's sense of humor. Noah would take offense instead of going, 'Oh, the guy's British.' When you watch British movies, they're always putting each other down in this incredibly wonderful, witty and loving way. Noah has no experience with that, so I think it took him quite awhile to figure it out. He thought he was being put down by John, when, in fact, John was being very dry and funny (Laughs). I was slightly amused, watching from half a step back. I mean, Noah is a kid, to me. He's not a kid to himself. I mean, I went to Hollywood at 18 and thought I was very mature. It's like watching a newcomer come on the scene and is still in the process of figuring things out. That happens in any business when you get to a certain age and you've been around long enough. Things are less life and death, if you know what I mean. There are great joys to getting older and one of them is that every decision is not going to end or start your life. It's a different attitude. I love every minute of it.
Is there anything you're looking to sign on for right now?
Margot Kidder: No, I live in a little town in the mountains of Montana. I have two grandchildren, three blocks away and I have three dogs and a women's political group I helped found. I'm active in that and I have my hands full. Every so often, I get a nice part and I go away and do it, and that's fun, but my life, in no way, revolves around my career. I don't have a huge income, but I have enough at this point where I can certainly make due from month to month for the rest of my life. If a part comes along, that's terrific. I love to work, but it's very different from being young and ambitious as I once was.
It must be nice also to have that kind of freedom, to pick what you want.
Margot Kidder: Well, if I'm going to get paid a lot of money, I generally say yes (Laughs). But, it's just very liberating to be older, that's all. You get to be exactly who you are, and you have your home and I've been very blessed, compared to a lot of people in America these days. I have plenty to eat and family and friends and life turns out to be exactly the way I think I was supposed to be living in, in spite of all my mistakes. I feel like a pretty lucky old broad.
There are a few movies that I believe will be released next year, such as For Robbing the Dead, Servitude and Three of a Kind. Is there anything you can say about those projects or the characters you play?
Margot Kidder: I'm not that good with titles, dear. Servitude, I just did that one in Toronto. That was a good one and I had a fabulous time. I love doing independent films with these wonderful young twenty-something filmmakers coming up. They're so full of life and ideas and they're so like we were in the 70s. It's so refreshing to work with young, idealistic enthusiasts. I just adore it. Servitude was a project like that and there was a whole slew of wonderful young people having a grand time making a movie. We didn't have a budget the size of a small country so we weren't panic-stricken with every take. It was a joy. That one was really a joy.
It says you play Mrs. Crank in that one. What can you tell us about her?
Margot Kidder: I did (Laughs). Mrs. Crank had far too much plastic surgery, so I got those ridiculous fish lips stuck in. Then we pulled my face back under the wig, the way the old actresses did back in the 20s and 30s, and gave me a fake face lift. I wore completely inappropriate clothing and I had my lips preceding me by a good six inches, like all those ghastly women. I was just laughing inwardly the whole time I worked.
Finally, what would you like to say to people who are fans of yours or fans of the thriller genre about why they should pick up the DVD for Love at First Kill?
Margot Kidder: Because it's fun and it's actually fairly psychologically complex, this one. Everybody has a mother and, as one acting coach said to me years ago, 'Nobody ever gets over their mother.'
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time, Margot. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Margot Kidder: Okay. Take care.