2000

Josie and The Pussycats

Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont wrote and directed this live action update of the cult cartoon, Josie and the Pussycats, about an all girl pop group. I played Wyatt Frame, the band's manager, who has an evil agenda for our three heroines. 

I was in the middle of editing The Anniversary Party while making this film. I was back and forth from LA to Vancouver all the time. Parker Posey and I are the two baddies. We were absolutely shameless. It's some of the most shameless acting I've ever done, and that is saying something 'cause I've done some shameless acting in my time. I also have this big hunk of plastic roast beef from the set in my house.

The film stars Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson as the eponymous heroines. 



The Anniversary Party

Jennifer Jason Leigh and I wrote, produced and directed The Anniversary Party. We also play the central characters, Joe and Sally Therrian, recently reunited after a 9-month separation, and throwing a sixth wedding anniversary party to prove to themselves as well as their friends that everything is all right. 

The other cast members include Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, Jane Adams, John C. Reilly, Michael Panes, Mina Badie, Parker Posey, John Benjamin Hickey and Denis O'Hare.

Jennifer and I first met while she played Sally Bowles on Broadway in Cabaret. The idea for the story came from Jennifer and I getting to know each other. We thought it would be nice to make a film with friends, and so, partly influenced by the experience she had had working on a Dogma film in Africa we set out to make a film that would feel real, with a crossover of who we all are in real life and who we all are in the film and to make it about grown-up issues and dealt with in a grown-up way i.e. not perfectly and a little messy.

Here's a video diary I made during the course of the film, and some interviews we did about it...

The film premiered at the Cannes film festival in 2001 and was released shortly after. We won a National Board of Review award and were nominated for two Independent Spirit awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay



Investigating Sex

I flew to Berlin to play Sevy, a painter, involved in a discussion of sex and sexuality based in a real-life investigation in the 1920s in the film, Investigating Sex.

Alan Rudolph directed, and the film also stars Neve Campbell, Nick Nolte, Robin Tunney, John Light, Tuesday Weld, and Til Schweiger.

I went to The Kit Kat Club when I was in Berlin. It was very racy. Just as racy as it is in Cabaret. I love going to places where I'm totally in a different culture. I crave that. It's nice to be in a place where you understand nothing or very little. You work very hard to understand the customs of the country.

I love this film and wish it had been seen by more people. Some dispute with German producers or something or other let it languish in litigation. It was released on DVD in the US under the rather tacky name Intimate Affairs.



Spy Kids

Robert Rodriguez directed the family spy romp, Spy Kids, about two kids whose parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugina) are captured in a mission, and they have to go and rescue them. I played the mad genius Fegan Floop, who has captured Mum and Dad, and will turn them into characters on his TV show if the kids don't get there soon. The film was shot in Austin, Texas and I loved every second of it. Floop is such a great part, and I got to rush around my castle being mad. I also got to sing a song that Danny Elfman wrote, which was amazing.

Spy Kids and Floop really connected with kids and I love the way that they still, as adults, come up to me to tell me how magical they found this movie.


1999

Get Carter

Stephen Kay directed this American remake of the Mike Hodges' classic Get Carter, which starred Michael Caine in the 70s.

This time round Carter was played by Sylvester Stallone, and I played Jeremy Kinnear, a young dotcom billionaire mixed up in some shady goings-on which resulted in the death of Carter's brother.

The film was shot in Vancouver and also starred Miranda Richardson, Michael Caine and Rachel Leigh Cook, who Alan went on to work with in Josie and the Pussycats.

What I remember most about this is that Mickey Rourke is a big chihuahua-loving softie and Sylvester Stallone is very well-read and knows a lot about the arts. 



The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

A prequel to the Universal Pictures Flintstones live action movie, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas stars Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Kristen Johnson as the Flinstones and the Rubbles.

I played two roles: The Great Gazoo, a green alien sent down from outer space to learn earthlings' mating rituals, as well as Mick Jagged, a Stone Age rock star who takes a fancy to Betty. The role of Gazoo was shot entirely on blue screen with me in a lot of prosthetics as well as a harness in which I was flown around a sound stage having to act to paper plates bearing Fred and Barney's names.

It was a pretty hard thing. There was a lot of chafing. But how often do you get to tell your niece and nephews that you are going to be playing Gazoo in a Flintstones movie?



Company Man

Company Man is a 1950s CIA romp starring Doug McGrath (who had previously directed me in Emma) as a nerdy grammar teacher who accidentally joins the CIA and heads up their operation in Cuba, just before the Bay of Pigs crisis.

I was cast as General Batista, the dictator of Cuba (natch!) who had been recently ousted by Castro. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Woody Allen, Dennis Leary, Ryan Phillipe and Anthony LaPaglia. It was shot in New York and Puerto Rico, and written and directed by McGrath and Peter Askin.

I had such a laugh on this film. I was exhausted because I was still doing Cabaret at nights, but it was such a good atmosphere on the set and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also loved playing a manic former dictator obsessed with household goods!

The film was released in February 2001.


1998

Titus

I took a hiatus from Cabaret to fly to Rome and play Saturninus in Julie Taymor's film Titus, of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Anthony Hopkins starred as Titus, and Jessica Lange as Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Other roles were played by Colm Fiore, Laura Fraser, Matthew Rhys, Jonathon Rhys-Myers and Harry J. Lennix.

The film was an extraordinary merging of times and ideas, and a visually stunning and emotionally charged experience. I had always admired Jessica and Tony, so to get to work with them on such an amazing project was really exciting to me. Although it was a difficult and at times really unhappy shoot for me, I really love this film and am so proud to be a part of it.



Urbania

On a break from Titus, I shot a cameo in Urbania by Jon Shear. I played Brett, a man dying from AIDS, who is visited by Dan Futterman's character in the midst of his personal odyssey.

I am so happy this film did so well. It is a really stylish and moving story. I loved my scene, and think Jon is a great director.

The film premiered at Sundance 2000.


1997

Eyes Wide Shut

I was really lucky to get the small but perfectly formed role of the hotel desk clerk in Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's last film.

Working with Stanley was a thrilling and surprising experience. Everyone talked about him being this scary, dictatorial sort of person, but I just found him to be one of the most warm, funny, interesting and interested people I had ever met. I felt so comfortable with him and I think that shows in the film. I really let loose with this character and he just encouraged me to go, and to try out new stuff. It was really great to pay so much attention to the nuances of a scene which, on an ordinary film, would have been shot in a day or less. (We took a week to do this scene!)

Tom Cruise was also lovely, so the whole thing is a very special memory for me. Especially because I went into it thinking it was going to be the opposite. And also now that Stanley has gone, I feel so honoured to have worked with someone who has revolutionized the art of film.

Here I am talking about my first meeting with Stanley....

 

 

 

And here is the scene....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and then me talking on BBC's Film 99 about being on the set...