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:: S H O W T I M E  L I V E  C H A T ::
with Jennifer Beals Jan. 18, 2004


 



Jennifer: I was actually ready to start speaking with you guys at 11:35, but there are so many of you (what a delicious surprise) that the system had trouble accommodating you. The System is now ready and I am anxiously waiting your questions.

Jennifer: Ars2434, when I first read the script, I loved how complicated Bette was, that she was this Type A personality.

Jennifer: With this core vulnerability, that she was trying to balance work and family, which seemed to be a tenuous act.

Jennifer: Then I met Ilene Chaiken, the creator of the show, and she had such wonderful ideas for the character and was such a delightful person herself that I immediately signed on.


Question: What is the most difficult aspect of working on lword?

Jennifer: Boygeorge, probably the most difficult aspect of working on The L-Word, is that normally as Jennifer, I would wear Tina's clothes so to have to be in suits and high heels for most of the day is a little daunting.

Question: Did you have any reservations about playing a lesbian?

Jennifer: Wooly, I had no reservations whatsoever about playing a lesbian. The only reservation that I would ever have for any character were if it were not very well-written, and this part is very well-written.

Jennifer: And what is so incredibly interesting is that I've played vampires, murderers, and morally bankrupt people and no one has ever asked me if I had reservations for playing those characters.

Jennifer: Its funny

Question: Jennifer - did you have a favorite scene from the pilot episode, and if so, which was it and why?

Jennifer: Komisch, I don't know that I have a favorite. I remember laughing pretty hard around the table in The Planet, when we were discussing the donor who insisted it was ze penis, ze pussy, ze baby.

Question: Do you feel pressure b/c this is the first show with predominantly lesbian characters?

Jennifer: Royce_05, I don't feel pressure, I think probably the writers feel more of a responsibility in that way, but I do feel a great amount of pride.

Question: Has this character been one of the most challenging of your career?

Jennifer: Jon01, I feel like the characters I've played have been equally challenging, and challenging in different ways.

Jennifer: I think this role, however, has such an impact in a historical way that its almost...stunning. I don't even know how to express it.

Question: This is a great show! Have you received mostly a positive or negative response from choosing to do the show?

Jennifer: Cms1435, I have received only a positive response in choosing to do the show.

Question: How did you go about creating your character?

Jennifer: Michelle26, its such a complicated process, one that involves mystery and intuition.

Jennifer: There were a few basic technical things that I could learn about such as what it takes to become the director of an art museum in Los Angeles, and for playing a lesbian, in the words of Einstein. "Imagination is more important than knowledge"

Question: If you could play any other character on the show who would it be and why?

Jennifer: Lola, I would love to play a character that had yet to be introduced. Her/his name is Ivan. He's played by Kelly Lynch.

Jennifer: I think it would be interesting to straddle the feminine and the masculine just like the finest rock stars do.

Question: Were you trying not to laugh when you were shooting the scene in the doctors office?

Jennifer: Dita, I don't remember trying not to laugh. I do remember struggling with the evil paper that I had to put over my head.

Question: Jennifer, how has this role contributed to you personally?

Jennifer: Titimae, Bette is an incredibly organized person and on a superficial note, its pointed out to me how disorganized I am.

Jennifer: On a more important note, having never really thought about gay issues before, its pointed out to me the extraordinary inequities there are in the world. I learned that sexual orientation is not even part of the federal hate crime law. That blows my mind.

Jennifer: Having walked in this person's shoes, I see the world different and I feel personally insulted when I hear slights against a gay person.

Question: Jennifer, I didn't know you were an avid photographer...as I am. Can you elaborate on what you enjoy shooting?

Jennifer: Brooklynsoul, I mostly enjoy shooting people I don't know because it introduces me to worlds I know nothing about.

Jennifer: But lately I've been working quite a bit, so I've been shooting on set, and recently I took a trip to Patagonia and I was shooting a lot of landscapes there.

Question: I have been a fan of your director, Rose Troche. What's it like working with her?

Jennifer: Elise, I LOVE working with Rose Troche. She's incredibly honest and funny and passionate.

Question: What was it like working with the legendary Pam Grier? Will we see more of her in future episodes?

Jennifer: Miamichele, it was unbelievable having Pam Grier playing my half-sister. Her character continues throughout the series and our relationship only deepens as time goes on.

Jennifer: She is so wise and funny and she schools me every day. Later on in the show, the character of our father appears, and he's played by Ossie Davis. Imagine that for a family.

Question: What was it like working with such a large female ensemble cast?

Jennifer: Jonatham, what was interesting about this cast and about this crew is that people actually listened to one another. We spent time rehearsing on the weekends and when there were times when I didn't know what to do in a scene (and the poor director didn't know what to say to me), I would turn to my cast members for guidance.

Question: Speaking of "hate crime laws"...are you keeping an eye on the caucus in Iowa?

Jennifer: Chiforce, a bit.

Jennifer: I'm generally very wary of politicians but know that I have to be aware of the process.

Question: Does filming in Toronto affect the LA Show?

Jennifer: Mubirshu, we actually film in Vancouver and it doesn't seem to have affected the 'L.A"-ness of the show because we've been allowed to shoot so many exteriors in L.A. itself.

Jennifer: And actually, what's nice about shooting in Vancouver (as opposed to L.A.) is that there are so many fewer distractions. As a cast, we're quite insulated in Vancouver, and as a result, I think its allowed us to grow closer to one another.

Question: How many episodes have been taped? We need more...

Jennifer: Lorigav1964, you're so kind! Its really nice to hear that! We've shot 13 episodes, I believe, including the pilot, though I'm not completely sure because it seems like some incredible dream.

Question: Did you do the love scene with a closed set?

Jennifer: Mindy33, we did do the love scene with a closed set. Its actually a lot less intimate than it appears because it is so highly choreographed. EVERY SINGLE THING IN THE LOVE SCENE IS CHOREOGRAPHED. At one point, Laurel Holloman said in exasperation, "I feel like Fred Astaire"

Question: As an Ivy League graduate you are WAY more intelligent and educated than the average actor (believe me I know). When are you gonna put that brilliance to use behind the camera?

Jennifer: Andre, thank you for the compliment but I have to say that in my experience, intelligence among actors has nothing to do with their education. I may be well-educated, but sometimes I feel like a moron. Having been married to a director for ten years, I have no desire to direct. However, I would like to produce one day. The stories that I would like to see.

Jennifer: I have to say, some of the most intelligent people I know are self-educated and I don't believe that going to a university is a necessity for everyone. There are many ways to learn and to come at the truth and they are all valuable if they service that person in their journey.

Question: I'm sure you've gotten this question repeatedly, but I'm curious about the comfort level of doing same-sex intimacy scenes...do you find it awkward or does it seem natural, or are you able to detach yourself from the whole thing?

Jennifer: Naughty_boy, in the very beginning, I wasn't sure how I would approach the scene, but then when I thought about it, I realised its a scene like any other and I had to figure out what it was that my character wanted or needed in that moment. And in that moment, Bette needs to reconnect with her partner and bridge a chasm that's been created. Realising that, it made this scene much easier because it became more specific.

Jennifer: Naughty_boy, love scenes are not always about love, sex scenes are not always about sex. Sometimes they're about exploitation or possession, and sometimes they are genuinely about love. Doing a scene with Laurel Holloman was relatively easy because we communicate well together. And frankly, in some ways, doing a love scene with a woman is easier because they understand intuitively and explicitly some of the body issues you may have as a woman. So, when you ask a woman to put her hand in a certain area of your body that you're not so thrilled with so that it'll be covered from the camera, or, when she asks you to put your hand in a certain place to enhance a part of her body that she may be less than thrilled with, the hands don't move. Whereas with a man, they don't always get it because most men don't have the same kind of body issues that women do. And most men couldn't even spell cellulite.

Question: Jennifer, what is Bette's worst trait? How do you identify/understand her?

Jennifer: :Latinamimi, her worst trait is her impatience and her anger, both of which I have in spades so its really not so much of a problem. I just try and control it more than she does.

Question: What have you not been asked that you would like us all to know?

Jennifer: 2luvnbluvd, I would like to be asked how the other cast members influenced me. Every day when I went to work, it seemed like the bar got higher and higher. I work with such talented people who inspire me every day and who push me to try to find what is truthful.

Jennifer: Every single actress on the show has such authentic gifts. I don't even know how to describe it. Its like we're the Fantastic Four and we all have our special super powers and we all use them to help one another.

Question: Jennifer, many productions use consultants to ensure a high degree of realism when telling a story; does the L-Word have a consultant or 2 on board? If so, to what extent do you and the other cast members rely on them?

Jennifer: Ange65french, we don't really have a consultant per se, but we do have Rose Troche and Gwen Turner and certainly the ever-present and delightful Ilene Chaiken who answers all of our questions with unfailing generosity.

Question: What have you been up to since you wrapped up shooting the season of The L-Word? Any projects in the works?

Jennifer: Sallyh, my biggest project was preparing for my 40th birthday in December. I decided to do what makes me happiest, so my husband and I (with two of our friends) went on a horse-packing trip in Patagonia where I spent the nights in a tent and the days on horseback. My 40th birthday was blessedly spent galloping across the pampas with a vaquianos and dancing to the cumbia by the fire at night. Thankfully, I was not thinking about face-cream. I think its really important to celebrate your existence.

Jennifer: Id like to say thank you so much for having taken the time out to share your response to the show. It really means so much to all of us in the cast and in the crew because, though we enjoy our work so much and we do it because it pleases us, we also do it for you. Especially in this instance.




 


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