Tanit Phoenix discusses playing Lilith in the Cinemax anthology series Femme Fatales
Femme Fatales, Cinemax's sexy new late-night anthology series, airs a new episode entitled Haunted tonight, Friday, June 24 at 11 PM ET (CLICK HERE to watch an exclusive clip from the episode). Earlier this week, I was invited to the set of Femme Fatales, where we screened Haunted and spoke with some of the cast and crew.
For those not familiar with the show, Femme Fatales follows in the tradition of late-night anthology programs, with a different cast of characters and a new story every week, all tied into the Femme Fatales theme of powerful women who use their sexual appeal to get the best of men. Guys, the good news is the women are all gorgeous and some of them tend to not wear a lot of/any clothing. Though, the bad news is, these women tend to murder the men who take advantage of them. It's definitely not a show you'd want to cuddle up with your girlfriend to watch, is what I'm really saying... Here's how executive producer David E. Williams described the show at this press event.
"We're trying to create a really entertaining sort of pulp fiction kind of show. We basically have new characters every week. There are a few crossover characters. Sometimes we'll have major characters play cameos in other episodes, and vice versa. Sometimes we'll have characters team up in different episodes."
This new episode, Haunted, is a horror episode, which centers on a psychic who enlists the help of a TV reality series called Fright Finders to investigate the paranormal activities of a supposed haunted house. Here's what David E. Williams had to say about the episode.
"We really wanted to do something that would be as close to making a Hammer Films short that we could possibly make. It's shadowy and gothic and it all takes place in a creepy old house. The premise is we have a lovely demonologist who has contacted a ghost investigation series called Fright Finders. They're going to this spooky old house, to try and determine if it really is haunted."
We'll start off the coverage from this event with the stunning South African beauty Tanit Phoenix who plays Lilith, the sexy host of the show who introduces each episode in eye-popping late-night attire. Take a look at what the actress had to say below in our exclusive interview, where she also talks about the upcoming thriller Safe House which she shot in South Africa.
Your character Lilith is always wearing some outrageous outfits. Do you have any say in the kind of attire you wear for these introductions of the episodes?
Tanit Phoenix: I think they just wanted Lilith to stand out. All the girls are really beautiful in the series, but since she's introducing the show and there's a mystical element about her, they want to make it more film noir. Everything I wear is like that and now I have these long hair extensions. I was trying to decide if I wanted to grow my hair longer, but after these extensions I said, 'No way. Thank you very much.'
I heard there was quite an extensive search for the Lilith character. Can you talk about what first drew you to the character, and were you a fan of these kinds of anthology series' before signing on?
Tanit Phoenix: I shall be honest. I arrived in L.A. and I was here for a week. I'm from South Africa, and this was my very first L.A. audition. I went on it and got a call a few days later saying 'You're the girl we want.' It happened so fast and, I've heard that's not normal to happen so fast. I'm grateful to be a part of the show, and to be working as soon as I came to L.A.
You've had a few movie roles lately as well. How long ago was that initial audition?
Tanit Phoenix: This was October of last year. Then I shot Safe House with Denzel Washington and I came back to shoot some more. I've got to go back and shoot another movie. There are a lot of movies being shot in South Africa right now.
That movie really seems to be a hot property right now.
What else would you like to bring to this Lilith role in the series?
Tanit Phoenix: Lilith has more to do with the story, besides just introducing and opening the show. She plays minor characters in the show sometimes and guides the audience in the direction of who killed who. It's all tongue-in-cheek and very mystical. I think they're writing each episode as they go, and I'd love to be a bigger part of the show. It's about women taking control back.
I remember in some of these anthology shows, the host would do the intro and the outro, and then sometimes they would pop up in the middle of the show too. I was hoping we'd see you pop up more in these episodes.
Tanit Phoenix: Yeah, I think you should tell them that.
This is a late-night show, but if it becomes more successful, do you think this would work in a primetime setting? Or do you think it's a better fit in this After Dark series
What would you like to say to anyone who might be curious about the show, about why they should tune in to Femme Fatales on Friday nights?
Tanit Phoenix: I would say to be a Femme Fatale, you have to be hot, cunning, strong, resourceful and powerful. Some Femme Fatales are born with a natural ability to overcome what's happened to them, and some use sexiness to attract a man into a web of deceit. I think to tune into watch these women empower themselves would be a very good idea. I've told a lot of guys what the show's about, and none of them want to watch it (Laughs). They're like, 'What? Women killing men?' Then they look at me like I'm about to do it. Come on, it's just a show. I'm an actor.
You should mention that all the women on the show are absolutely gorgeous. Lead with that next time. Just say there are some hot women on the show...
Tanit Phoenix:... and they just happen to kill men.
You said before that every horror director kind of has their own horror anthology series mapped out. What were your initial thoughts when you heard about this show starting up?
Darin Scott: This particular show, my initial thought was I love film noir and it sounds great. I wonder if I could get them to do some horror.
Did they have any horror shows planned out before?
Darin Scott: No, but executive producer Steven Kriozere and I like to go outside the genre. We kind of championed doing a horror episode.
Would you like to branch out into different parts of the horror genre as well?
Darin Scott: That would be great. The horror movies that I've done as features, have jumped around into different things, haunted house, horror anthology. I've done different sorts of things and I'd love to do that on the show. We'll have to see how the horror episode is received. It is a film noir show, mainly, but I think film noir and horror cross a lot. I don't think it's out of left field to have that in the show.
The show is shot on just a three-day schedule. Can you talk a bit more about the choices you have to make on that schedule? Do you just have to be much more creative?
Darin Scott: You really do have to be more creative. You really have to know what kind of coverage you need. You have to pre-edit these things in your head. I'm a preparation fiend anyway, so that fits in with my style in the first place. I come in knowing the shots I need and want. I'm not going to get them all, obviously, with a three-day shoot, but I get the key ones and the ones that will create the set.
Is your post-production schedule that tight as well?
Darin Scott: You know, it's tight, but at the same time, it's a little looser. I mean, we don't have to come in and cut it in three days. That would be insane. It's a lot more leisurely than the shoot. The shoot is the more intense part. We generally don't go back for reshoots.
Can you talk about finding these locations? The episodes all primarily take place in just one location. How big of a challenge is that to find one place that can encompass the entire episode?
Darin Scott: A lot of times, what we do, is we go on these general scouts of cool locations, and then find the location and work backwards. We'll go, 'Wait a minute, I have this story idea we can make work here, here, and here. Sometimes the location is actually the genesis of the story. Sometimes, the story will be half-written, and we'll see a location and rework it to what we can shoot at that location. You really have to do that. You can't move around. A move or two moves in the middle of three days? You can't do that.
Can you talk about the house you shot in for this Haunted episode?
Darin Scott: It's a really cool house up in Altadena. I don't know that much more about it, but we saw it on a Sunday and it had great grounds and stairwells. I love stairwells. I knew I was going to do that scene with her coming down the stairs when I saw that stairwell. That's Hammer (Laughs).
Horror and stairwells just seem to go together.
Darin Scott: They do. The only thing the house didn't have was a long dark hallway. We'll find that for the next one though.
What would you like to say to anyone curious about the show about why they should tune in this Friday night on Cinemax?
Darin Scott: It's going to be a hell of a lot of fun, you never know what you're going to see, except you will see some flesh. That's a constant, but in terms of everything else, it could be crime, it could be sci-fi, it could be horror, it could be espionage, it could be an action thing. It could be anything, and how many shows can you say that about? I can tune in and I don't know what kind of story it's going to be, but I know there's going to be hot women in it.