MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD EXCLUSIVE (Part 2 of 2) Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
March 25, 2007
Having talked one-on-one with Mary a few months ago for her star-studded ensemble Bobby, we knew that she was a delightful interviewee who was all smiles and enthusiasm over her slate of upcoming films. So it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with her exclusively once more, this time during her promotional stint for the groundbreaking Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature Grindhouse.
Since we last sat down with Mary, she has wrapped shooting on the Bruce Willis action adventure Live Free or Die Hard and seen Black Christmas and Factory Girl hit theaters.
In this second half of our exclusive two-part interview, Mary talks about finding the comedy amidst mayhem in Black Christmas and Grindhouse, tackling accents in her acting, and, most amusing of all, being hooked on panda bear antics.
RadioFree.com: The unsubstantiated fanboy rumors about you playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie got me thinking: you've acted with the real deal in Sky High. What was it like working with Lynda Carter on a fun superhero flick like that?
MARY: It was amazing. She's so graceful, and she's the perfect Wonder Woman. I mean, you can see it when you see her in person. She's so statuesque, and she really is like a superhero. She's got these blazing blue eyes and this jet black hair. And she still looks as amazing as she did when she was playing Wonder Woman on TV, so I just was in awe of her the entire time. I thought she was amazing.
You shot many of the exteriors for Sky High at my collegiate alma mater. How did you like filming there in front of our library?
There were a lot of stairs that I had to walk down in my shoes that were about 12 inches high, and my villain suit. [laughs] I was deathly afraid of falling over and killing myself. But it was fun. It was fun having that environment of people being kind of excited and watching, and kind of [having] a live audience there. It was pretty cool.
You've gotten to be funny in so many of your movies. How have you liked delivering comedy even in the middle of horrors like Black Christmas and Grindhouse?
I love the comedy. And I love that a lot of the stuff that I've been doing, even though they may not be upright comedies, they're very comedic and tongue in cheek and sort of sarcastic and meant to be taken in stride and for fun. Even Grindhouse...It's considered a horror film, [but] so much of it was so comedic. And being able to play this character was really funny at times. And so many of the takes, when I wouldn't even realize I was being funny, people would be dying laughing behind the camera and stuff. So it was so much fun to play a character who is just endearing and fun.
What is one of your favorite comedic one-liners from your films so far?
One of the ones that, for some reason, in Grindhouse, stuck with all of us...And I guess out of context, it probably doesn't sound very funny, but every time we rehearsed it, everybody was always laughing, was [re-enacts the scene with the same inflection in her voice] "Oh, I love Pretty in Pink!" [laughs] That line, for some reason...
The Pretty in Pink line! Yes, that was memorable...
[laughs] Good. Yeah, when we were shooting it, it was a lot of fun. So that was one of the ones that Quentin always brought up as one of the line readings that he really loved.
Did you get to deliver that line with a bit of truth behind it?
Totally. Molly Ringwald...Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles...I loved all those movies growing up. So yeah, that was truthful. [laughs]
This wasn't your line, but "Crazy bitch, I can see your breath" from Black Christmas seems to be a fan favorite...
Yes, a lot of Lacey [Chabert]'s lines...I think she had a lot of the good one-liners in that. Like "I'd like to bury the hatchet with my sister right in her head!" [laughs] That's another one that people like to bring up.
I caught you in Factory Girl since our last interview together. Your screentime in that movie is only like 5 minutes...
[laughs] Or less.
...but your character Ingrid Superstar was totally cool, stood out, and was one of the highlights...
Oh, good! Awesome, thank you.
How long did it take for you to pick up her accent?
It was pretty quick. That role was thrown in at the last minute. They were in reshoots, and it was Harvey Weinstein...I've done a lot of his films. And he just was like, "Bring Mary in and see if she'll do a day on this show and do this role." And so they asked me if I'd do it, I was like, "I love that script, I love that movie, I'd love to be part of it," and showed up in Connecticut where they were shooting it, and I just did it. I watched The Sopranos a little bit, so I kind of got a little bit of that dialogue in my head. [laughs] And I listened to the real Ingrid Superstar, whose voice is pretty different than mine, so I didn't really try to match that. [does the voice] "Because she has this sort of high pitched New Jersey accent." So I didn't want to be quite that grating on the ears. So I did my own version of it, and it was so much fun to be that outside of myself and play someone who's so different.
How do you feel about doing accents in general? Is there one that you're really good at that we maybe haven't heard yet?
I'm pretty good with accents. I don't know, I think maybe it's from coming from somewhat of a singing background and being able to pick up cues and music and notes, and you sort of understand rhythm and how to pick things up very quickly. So I think that might be part of it. I've had auditions for a lot of British films, and people actually believe that I'm from England, and things like that. So I feel pretty confident about my accents.
I've grown so accustomed to you having a lot of finished movies awaiting release that it's kind of weird that most of them are actually out now. Do you have a new pipeline of films in the works?
Yes. There are a couple things in the pipeline. It's kind of like when you're in the period where it's close to happening but it could still fall apart, so you can't really talk about it because it would really suck if suddenly you have to say, "Oh, actually, never mind." [laughs] But yeah, there's a couple of really exciting things that I'm really looking forward to, and I feel like I could be just as excited about that as I am about a movie that I have coming out now, which is a really great thing to be able to say.
So you're not taking time off at the moment?
Yeah, I have no plans to take any time off. I want to continue the momentum that I'm on right now and just keep things going, and hope that I can keep moving forward.
And now for a totally unrelated question...What is your favorite black and white animal: panda, cow, penguin, or something else?
[laughs] Pandas right now, because I keep watching that panda sneeze clip on YouTube. Have you seen that? [laughs] That makes me laugh...The baby panda sneezes, and then the mama panda goes like, "Whoa!" And she gets all scared. [laughs]
[laughs] Ah, nice to know you're addicted to silly things on YouTube...