Posted: 07/01/2008

 

Selma Blair Goes from a ‘Hellboy’ to ‘Kath and Kim’

by Paul Fischer



Interview


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Selma Blair walks in to our interview with a half smile, short-cropped Audrey Hepburn-style hairdo, as she busily promotes the comic-book sequel Hellboy II, in which she reprises her fiery role Liz Sherman. For Selma, it was important to develop her relationship with the red heroic Hellboy in part two of director Guillermo del Toro’s proposed trilogy. “I knew that when we left Hellboy I, Liz obviously had taken some control of her power. I mean, after all, she saved the day at the end of Hellboy I, and did embrace Red at the end of that movie, so there was only one way to go, which was to move forward and leave her sad sack of a life behind her, and become a more functioning, stable woman,” Blair explains in a Beverly Hills hotel conference room. “So it was interesting to go and move forward with Liz, and play her differently, and I kept wanting to play her as the Liz I knew. It was difficult for me to play her as a more stable girl, because the Liz I thought I knew was really so much more hesitant and afraid. But it was great to play her as a more engaged woman in life.”

Throughout the film, Blair confronts an array of mythical creatures but was gratified when she realized she would be working less with CGI than in most fantasy films of this type. “The thing about Guillermo that’s so wonderful, is, these are real monsters that were created. I mean, they were puppets that were there, everything in the troll market was really there, so you don’t have to deal with very much CGI. I mean, just the Golden Army was the main CGI thing, so that was the only thing that wasn’t really there. And thank God, because once you create the Golden Army, you’re doomed,” she adds laughingly. As for a Hellboy III, “Guillermo will be very busy with The Hobbit, but Hellboy II does set up Hellboy III as a very, very sad piece of material.”

The 36-year old actress says that it’s challenging to find the kind of work that interests you, especially having worked for the likes of Guillermo del Toro. “Guillermo spoils you so much, so everything’s going to seem pretty mundane after you walk off a Guillermo Del Toro set. I mean, how do you then go to, like, sitting in a living room, reciting regular lines, after you’ve been on the set of The Golden Army, or walking through Bethmora, or something.”

But her next project is different: the US TV series remake of the hit Australian satiric sitcom, Kath and Kim, which she says will have marked differences from its Aussie counterpart. “We’re actually adapting it to a US version. I play Kim, the daughter, and Molly Shannon plays the mother, and no, it doesn’t have to make sense mathematically. In the original version, Gina and Jane are the same age. It’s like a satire—they’re comedians and it doesn’t have to be accurate.” As with the original Kim, “I play this very self-absorbed daughter who is obsessed with tabloids and celebrities, and it takes place in Florida. I’m married to a great actor, Mikey Day, who works at the Best Buy. I think I’m a trophy wife. I still wear my clothes from when I was 13, I think I’m a really big deal which I’m not. Everything’s too tight on me, I think I’m gorgeous and I’m not, so it’s similar to the Australian one, but definitely just middle-class America.”

Though Blair just shot the pilot, she describes the tone of the new Kath and Kim as “like almost documentary style and kind of shot like The Office, or Arrested Development. But it’s funny and strange, and I think it’ll take a couple episodes for people to catch on to the tone. I don’t know if you’re going to get it the first episode, because it’s a little dry and a little weird.” And she insists it’s as satiric as the Australian original. “It’s like the Australian one. It’s not sitcom-y, which is why I think it might take a minute for people to get it, and it’s not so in-your-face, but there’s a lot of love. The mother and daughter really love each other, they’re really close, but my character’s a bit demented, I have to say, not to mention very whiny, very loud and based on two people that I know very well.”

Blair says she was looking for a different direction in her career. “I was in Budapest shooting Hellboy II, and I kind of thought, ‘You know, I think I’ve had it with locations for a while.’ It was pretty lonely being away, even though I loved everyone on the movie so much, but it’s like, ‘God. I’d like to kind of lay some roots down in one place for a while.’ I’ve been travelling so much, I feel like such a gypsy, and kind of just wanted to get settled, so I was kind of looking for a TV show.” And she says that she is comfortable doing comedy. “I really love comedy, though ironically I’m not very good with sitcoms, because I get really nervous in front of big crowds. I’m always a bit uncensored, and I say the wrong things too often. I’m just going to get in trouble on a sitcom. Things are going to end very badly, so it’s best I just don’t put myself out there every week in that way, which means this, was perfect. I had heard about it, and I really fought for it. I really had wanted to do it, they didn’t want me for it and no one thought I was right for it.” The actress recalls that the show’s producers “had a different idea of what Kim was going to be. I don’t know exactly, but I just don’t think I was anyone’s idea of it, so I just really fought for it. I thought it was amazing writing, and I think Ben Silverman picks amazing projects that he adapts. There are so few roles that are amazing women character-driven pieces that I just wanted to grab that one. This was kind of the first time that I really went after something, because I just don’t usually have that kind of drive,” the actress says, laughingly. “But it paid off. I was really happy to get it, I kind of made myself a little sloppier, because it was important that Kim thinks that she’s such a big deal and has the confidence, but she’s not, really.”

Blair even put on weight to land the role. “I don’t want to make this such a weight issue thing, but it was an issue that a lot of people had. ‘Oh, God, Selma can’t play this, because she’s a skinny Hollywood girl, and it’s so important that Kim doesn’t have those qualities, because middle America’s not like that.’ So, we just played it a little more middle of the road, but now I’m back at the gym, and the weight’s not coming off,” she says amidst peals of laughter.

Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.



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