Kerry Washington comments on Chris Rock and the state of independent film
Kerry Washington sizzles in Chris Rock's romantic comedy, I Think I Love My Wife. She follows up her intense performance opposite Forest Whitaker's Oscar winning role in The Last King of Scotland with a lot of humor and sexiness. Washington comments on how playing the temptress "Nikki" was a natural evolution of characters in her career. She refuses to be typecast and makes a concerted effort to do different things. Washington is a stunner on screen and does not disappoint in person. She has this natural elegance and charm that simply captivates. Lookout for her this summer in Tim Story's "Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer".
You've never played a character like this. What interested you in this role?
Kerry Washington: It's an interesting change. After playing the wife in Ray and playing the wife who's cheated on in The Last King of Scotland, there was a danger of being typecast as the cuckold wife. It's just another great opportunity for me to change the way that I'm seen in my work, which is always important to me.
Would Nikki have been remotely attracted to Richard if he wasn't married?
Kerry Washington: Oh, that's such a good question. I'm not sure if I really thought about that. I think she would have because I don't think it was about him being married. I think it was about his money for her. It's security. I don't think it's the fact that he's unavailable. I think it's the fact that she needs to be taken care of. I think Nikki is one of these girls who has always been beautiful. She's always been the prettiest person in the group; and she never was forced to be self-reliant. She was able to get over on her looks and now she's at an age where if that really hasn't happened then she doesn't know what to do because she doesn't know how to take care of herself.
What was it like working with Chris as a director?
Kerry Washington: It was a really nice balance. I think one of the things that attracted me to this character was that Nikki is someone who can very easily become a stereotype or caricature on the screen. That monologue about being the old girl in the club, that was in the script, and I thought that was really poignant for two men to have written this for a woman. Where Chris was really helpful was the specifics on how she dresses. I have a much higher pitched voice than she does so he was constantly asking me to drop my voice lower. These things were actually surprising to me because I didn't to get as much support from Chris as a director. I keep making fun of Spike Lee saying, "Chris directed me much more than you did", which he doesn't like at all.
Is it hard to have platonic relationships with men?
Kerry Washington: Is it hard for me personally? No...I think Nikki is a very complicated person. I don't think she was ever interested in anything platonic. I don't think that's where Nikki coming from at all. Nikki and I are two completely different people.
Did you ever see the French film, "Chloe in the Afternoon", that this is based on?
Kerry Washington: I did.
Did it have any impact?
Kerry Washington: Absolutely. I was actually really impressed that Chris decided to remake this art film from France in the 70's. I was like, "What do you know about Eric Rohmer?" I had seen other Rohmer films before reading his script and then I read his script and saw the original. I was really impressed the way he and Louis C.K were able to update it. It's a neat testament to how these issues are really universal issues. It works as much for an African American family in the United States as it does for a French family in the 70's in Paris.
Was there any part of this film that you considered a favorite?
Kerry Washington: I think Gina (Torres) is so beautiful in the film. I think her acting is flawless and the moment when he comes home from the club and she has that moment sitting on the steps where she says, "I don't know what's wrong but fix it", there is such a "wow" of emotion in that line and it just totally blew me away. I think it's a really important moment to the film because I think you do get caught up in Nikki's fun; and then all of a sudden in that moment you realize what's at stake for him, and it's very poignant. That's my favorite. It's the most beautiful crafted moment of the film.
You mentioned how in Ray and in The Last King of Scotland, you played certain types of women and in this film, you got to play another type of women. Are there certain roles that you are looking for?
Kerry Washington: I'm starting to develop and produce things, both for myself and projects that are not for me as an actor. That's really exciting for me. What's interesting about being an actress is that unlike being a pianist or a violinist, where you have this instrument separate from you that you can sort of master, I am the instrument of my expressions. There's so much I want to do, but the most important thing to me is the ability to keep shifting. I have had so many people in the last month come up to me and say, "I had no idea that it was the same person; that you are the same person from Ray and from The Last King of Scotland. That's the ultimate compliment as an actor.
You were recently at the Independent Spirit Awards....
Kerry Washington: Didn't I look cute?
Was it strange to present the Best Actor award to Ryan Gosling having Forest Whitaker in the same category?
Kerry Washington: I've known Ryan for a long time and he's a friend, and that's why I was so excited when I opened the envelope.
Did you stick around for any of the Oscar parties?
Kerry Washington: I did. I went to the Vanity Fair party.
Did the Wayans Brothers have a party for their Razzie award?
Kerry Washington: I just got a text message from one of the producers of "Little Man" saying congratulations on your Razzie win, and I was like, "Really?", but I think the movie won one, which I'm part of the movie, and I said, "Wow! It's been such a big week for me. It was the best of times and the worst of times."
What other projects are you working on?
Kerry Washington: It's a very fluid world these days. Sometimes it's hard for me to tell the difference between independent filmmaking and studio filmmaking because all the studios have these little independent satellites. It's interesting. I just want to get my projects made in a home that respects them.
Next for you is "Lakeview Terrace" right?
Kerry Washington: No. There's actually a very tiny film that I'm doing in LA before "Lakeview Terrace". It's called "Life is Hot in Crackdown".
What is your character in the film?
Kerry Washington: I don't want to talk about it that much. It's actually really dark and intense.
You also have that low budget movie, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer".
Kerry Washington: Yeah, that little thing. That's an example of fine independent filmmaking.
I Think I Love My Wife is now in theaters everywhere and is rated 'R' for pervasive language and some sexual content.