Interviews - Movies

Jill Bennett – Chameleon

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Q.  What are the current projects that you are working on?

A.  The film I am actually working on right now is called Air Force 2 Down, or another title it might be called is Her Line of Fire.  I am working with Mariel Hemingway and David Keith and we are about to finish up, we’ve got a couple more days of filming in Vancouver.  I would call it I guess an action film, it’s about the Vice President’s plane going down on a South Pacific island.  The only survivors are me, I play a reporter in the film, and the secret service agent played by Mariel Hemingway and then the Vice President played by David Keith.  We have to get away from the anti-American guerillas on the island.  So, it’s pretty much the women saving his life.

Q.  What information can you tell us about your character besides her role as a reporter?

A.  Well, as far as my character is concerned this is her first big shot at a real story.  So, she’s sort of thrown into this bizarre circumstance, she’s onboard Air Force 2 and she’s embedded with the Vice President.  She’s supposed to be reporting on his political activities but instead the plane gets shot down and she’s thrown into obviously a life threatening situation.  She is never really been in this sort of situation before so it’s a lot the movie my character spends sort of processing what’s going on.  How she’s always wanted to be a report and now she is sort of in this really bizarre circumstance and instead of being a cool, calm reporter she’s fighting for her life.  She is put into a situation where she has to kill some people on the island and she doesn’t really realize how much that effects her, actually having to kill someone.  As a reporter who sort of is distant from all of that, she doesn’t quite anticipate the effect that it has on her when she actually does it.  Dealing with that and also there is a romance with Mariel Hemingway’s character.  The report and the secret service agent end up connecting at sort of about half way through the film.  There are sparks of a future relationship between the two women.

Q.  How did you go about preparing for your role?  Did you have to go through an exercise regimen?

A.  Actually, I did put myself on a pretty strenuous routine to get myself prepared for it.  My character is a reporter so it wasn’t as important for the character, so much as it was for me as an actor to be prepared for the physical nature of the shoot.  It was a pretty intense shoot because we shot in a very abbreviated schedule.  So, we were doing a lot of action sequences, there would be days where we would be literally running through the woods.  Most of the film is us trying to escape so there is a lot of running, a lot of action sequences.  We had a few fight sequences that we hade to do in the water, so it was a pretty physical shoot.  There wasn’t a single day that we were shooting that there wasn’t at least half the day spent on some sort of rigorously physical activity.  Pretty much for every film that I do, even the romantic comedies, I try to get a good six to eight week routine before the film starts of working out and going to the gym, doing cardio to get ready for the shoot.  A lot of times you’ve got twelve to eighteen days of shooting and you have to be physically prepared to do that or you’ll just break down or get tired.  So, just probably about six to eight weeks of physical prep before I left. 

Q.  What originally made you want to be a part of this project?

A.  The script, you actually have two female lead characters who are strong and who are sort of dictating the action of the film is rare.  You don’t find that the female characters in action films typically are the heroes.  Both of these women are considered heroes in this film and the fact that they save the president and they’re not waiting for someone to come and save them is what is so attractive about the film.  Also, that there is a relationship between two women and it’s not the typical male hero gets one of the girls.  It’s the girl getting the girl this time around so it made it a fun project to do.

Q.  You got to work closely with Mariel Hemingway on the film, was there a lot of chemistry during the filming?

A.  Yeah, we actually pretty quickly established a friendship that made the filming fun to do.  Whenever you have a film and you have to do any sort of intimate contact, we had a couple scenes where our characters kissed and obviously if you can establish some sort of rapport with who you are working with the chemistry will come across much more believably.  So pretty quickly, I would say in the first two or three days, we got to know each other pretty well and it made the filming a lot more fun to do.  A lot of times you know right before, or as the director was yelling action, we were joking around with one another or trying to make the other one laugh before we had something to do.  So, it made all of those other scenes much easier to do once you establish some sort of friendship in between and we did that pretty quickly.  And Mariel has played gay characters before and she wasn’t uncomfortable with the subject matter at all, she’s quite used to it.  She’s actually played quite a few gay characters, there was no tension as far as that was concerned because that happens on occasion.

Q.  Do you have a most memorable moment from filming the movie?

A.  Yeah, I would say that the first day was pretty memorable.  We were out on a beach in New Zealand and they actually filmed the movie The Pianothere.  That’s  one of my favorite films ever and it’s a famous beach, the sand is black sand and we had to film the sequence from when our characters come out of the ocean after our plane has crashed into the ocean.  We were standing out there and it had to have been maybe fifty degrees out and the water was maybe fifty degrees.  We were in the ocean and we had to come out on to the sand and this was the first day of filming.  I thought if this is the way the whole shoot is going to be, this is going to be a pretty tough shoot.  It was probably an hour and a half, if you’re wet fifty degrees is pretty cold.  That was pretty memorable because that was a beach that I had always wanted to see and I am standing there with a couple of actors that I grew up watching.  It was kind of exciting to be standing next to them and doing a project, so I would say the first day is pretty memorable for that reason.

Q.  We know that you have your own official website.  How often do you get to answer fan mail?

A.  I just met with my web designer and we’re redesigning the website because I’ve had problems in the past.  I’ve gotten quite a few emails from fans trying to contact me but the way that the system was set up, I wasn’t able to respond to anybody.  So, my webmaster is redesigning my website to make a forum format instead of direct emails to me.  It was becoming overwhelming to try and answer, so now we’re going set up a forum that people will be able to ask questions and either the webmaster or myself will be able to answer them in a public format.  So, that’ll be a little bit better and we’re about to update the site again with new pictures, pictures from the two other films that I’ve worked on in the last year.  We’re going to put up information about those two movies, one is called Expiration Date which is a romantic comedy that Tom Skerritt produced that I filmed up in Seattle in January.  Then the other film that I worked on last summer is called The Pleasure Drivers and in that film I play an assassin.  Lauren Holly and Lacey Chabert star in that movie and I am going to get some information about those two movies up on the website plus those new pictures.  Probably in the next week or two all of the updates will be up on the website and it’ll be much more user friendly and much easier for me to respond to people.  I am excited that people have been contacting me, but I haven’t been able to respond the way that I would have wanted to.

Q.  Any idea when Air Force 2 Down will be released?  Will it be featured in the theater or will it go straight to video?

A.  It’s a made for TV movie, it’s for the Here! Network, which is a gay and lesbian pay per view network.  It will also be distributed to cable outlets such as Lifetime or TNT but it will be on the Here! Network in February, March or April of next year.  Most people are able to get the Here! Network, it’s just strictly pay per view so you would pay a small amount to get a block of time.  They have their own website, heretv.com, it was specifically made for that network.  Under that network it will be called Her Line of Fire because of the lesbian content.  We also shot an alternate version of a couple of scenes in the film for straight networks, like Lifetime and in that case it will most likely be called Air Force 2 Down.  So, it depends on where you are watching it, you’ll get a slightly different version of the story.  The other two movies I’m not sure when they will be released, because they are trying to hit the festival route.  Those films are trying to hit the festival route right now, they are both just finishing up post right now so I would hope in the next six months one or both of them will be premiering at a festival.  Especially The Pleasure Drivers, because  we finished that about a year ago and it’s a great film.  The director, his name is Andrzej  Sekula, and he was Quentin Tarantino’s cinematographer on Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.  So, he’s a renowned cinematographer and this is one of his first times out as a director.  It’s a great film, it’s got multiple storylines all sort of convening at the end of the film and you see how they all fit together.  It’s beautifully shot and a few scenes that I have seen of the movie are pretty good, so I’m excited for that one to come out as well.

Q.  Will you be making the festival rounds with the film when it is released?

A.  Yeah, I would love to, I am just waiting, we were hoping that they were going to try and get into Sundance this year but the film just wasn’t close enough.  Whenever we do have our premiere I will absolutely be in tow.  I am ready to go anywhere at this point!

Q.  Besides acting, what are some of your other passions?

A.  Writing, I am a writer, I am writing right now pilots for television, short films, full length features as well.  I am politically active as well, so it kind of all ties in with art in a way I suppose.  I am big into sports, I like watching professional sports and I like playing just about every sport.

Q.  What is your latest obsession?  Are you into any particular book, sport or activity?

A.  Well, I’m a huge Colts fan and I have been waiting my entire life, I’m a huge, huge Colts fan and I’ve been waiting, I think I was seven when I started watching the Colts play.  Now I think they actually have a chance to go all the way.  I know this season has just started.  I don’t get the Colts games out here in California unless they’re playing a Western team.  I would say that I am obsessed with trying to find a way to watch my team play.  I haven’t yet found that, we have cable and they don’t offer a package to get all of the NFL football teams.  Which I’d actually play, just to watch my team play, so that is what I’m obsessed with at the moment.  That, and getting my next paying acting gig.

Q.  What would you like to say to your fans and supporters?

A.   Stick around because there is a lot more to come.  I’m anticipating a lot more work in the next year and the stuff that I have done will be out.  I think that people will get a kick out of it, I played many different roles in the last year.  I’ve played an assassin in a film, a violent action film.  I’ve played the scorned love of the male lead in a romantic comedy.  I get to do comedy in that and in this film I play the damsel in distress reporter in another action film.  So, there’s lots of stuff this year and then I do anticipate another good year next year.  Stay tuned for more! 

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