Interviewing beautiful movie starlets can be disconcerting. Not only can they easily disarm a (male) interrogator with their looks, but also many of them have learned to put up impenetrable shields. They never let their guard down ... or at least not in a measly 20 minutes in a hotel room. Some of them can come across as cold fish. Gretchen Mol, who came to San Francisco a few weeks ago to discuss her role in The Notorious Bettie Page, was a delightful exception: Poised and polite and yet warm and engaging, she gave off an old-fashioned movie star grace that would have made Audrey Hepburn proud. (We discovered that we both once worked as ushers in movie theaters.)

In the interview, she discussed her wig, the psychology of posing, and her nude scene with live leopards. Everyone knows the story about how, working as a coat check girl in a hot spot restaurant, an agent "discovered" her, splashed her all over "Vanity Fair" and got her a role opposite Matt Damon and Edward Norton in Rounders. But even more engaging was this story about landing her first movie role, in Spike Lee's Girl 6: "It wasn't a huge role or anything, but there were a couple of auditions. I remember my agents were really staying on this project and they kept calling and badgering them. I remember when I got that call. The first thing I did was I took a bath. I just sort of felt this: I need to submerge myself. I love taking baths. I don't really understand the connection. I was just so excited. It was such an innocent time. It's so fun to think about it. It was just somebody saying, 'Welcome in.'"
categories Cinematical