June 2000 By Philip Berk
Charlie’s Angels as a blockbuster surprised no one.
Columbia knew they had a potenial franchise, based on the much celebrated and at the same time denigrated TV series of the 70’s.
To replace sex goddesses Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith
the studio chose a strange mix. Quirky Drew Barrymore, even more quirky Cameron Diaz, and a long shot Lucy Liu (from TV’s Ally McBeal) who almost steals the movie. To complement the trio they hired Bill Murray, who created some friction on the set, particularly for Lucy Liu.
Here then is the joint interview the girls gave because they refused to be interviewed separately.
WHAT FASCINATED EACH OF YOU ABOUT THESE WOMEN THAT YOU PLAY?
DREW: I loved that this man, Charles Townsend, believed they were capable of more and gave them the opportunity to do so. And the fact they were women who loved their jobs and enjoyed their life and had a great camaraderie and a lack of competitiveness — they’d go out there and fight crime–that I thought was just hot, it’s fun, it’s refreshing. And I thought it was a great time to make a film that could be fun for people. We often want to reflect and be emotional but we often want to enjoy life to the fullest, and if you can have a film that makes you feel like you want to get out of the theater and drive your car fast and be invincible afterwards, that’s what we wanted this movie to be.
DID YOU HELP CHOOSE YOUR CLOTHES IN THE MOVIE?
CAMERON: Yeah, the one thing we wanted to do – we all know that CHARLIE’S ANGELS as a television series was noted for the fashion of the time, that people were looking to it for like fashion but what we wanted with this, was to make our characters as accessible as we could, portray characters that were real people so girls could go, “Oh, I could be that girl!” so they wouldn’t be alienated by the high fashion. We all think that the clothes are beautiful in this movie and that they are fashionable but mostly they are stylistic, they are styles that fit each character. In other words, we wanted to look sexy, we wanted to look fashionable, but we also just wanted it to have the right style for our characters and be accessible to any woman.
LUCY, HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO WORK ON YOUR TV SERIES AT THE SAME TIME?
LUCY: Sometimes I was so worn out they had to prop me up. It was hard — I mean, it was really, really fun. I think at the time though–I didn’t think about next week or the day after, I just thought about–okay, I’m here today and then when I finish with today, they are telling me what I’m supposed to be tomorrow. And that’s how I did it. If I thought too much about it, I would go crazy, thinking oh my God, how am I going to balance it, how am I going to juggle it. Because we had night shoots at one point, and we’d get out like at four in the morning–and I had to go down to the gym at six–
WHO WERE YOUR FAVORITE TV ANGELS WERE?
LUCY: I didn’t have any favorite TV angels but I really liked Sabrina a lot, just because I used to play her when I was younger–because she had straight dark hair.
DREW : I loved Charlie the best, the man who gave them the opportunities to be angels. And I loved all the angels equally, I really did.
CAMERON: I loved all the angels. My sister used to get to play Farrah, and there wasn’t really any more room for blondes so they said I could play Bosley if I really wanted to get into it. So I shaved my head and combed part of it back–no, it was just sort of like–I thought they were all amazing women. To me, they were role models, they were just women who were there at a time that was very impressionable for me, and I thought, well, these are hot chicks who are really cool and are living life and having a good time. That’s not such a bad way to live. I’d love to do that myself.
THE ANGELS YOU PLAY –THEY NOT ONLY KICK ASS, THEY ALSO CRACK SLIGHTLY DIRTY JOKES — IS THAT A SIGN OF EMANCIPATION FOR YOU?
DREW: Emancipation. You know, I personally find a lack of uptightness refreshing. The type of comedy that I’ve always loved is subtle or spoofy or dirty or clean–I love all different types. Subtle like when Peter Sellers closed the toilet and rolled the toilet paper in THE PARTY and the whole thing comes out, like that’s the funniest moment I’ve ever seen in the world. And there’s nothing dirty about it. It’s just depends on what’s appropriate. I think you can tell when it’s gratuitous and when it’s pushing the dirty gross envelope, but I think it’s fun. I think that these women would be just as fun and respectful if they were very clean-living but I think it’s just as fun and respectful that they have a little bit of a wicked sense of humor. I think it’s hot.
LUCY: It gives them dimension, to have characters on screen that aren’t just one-dimensional, they have different sides to them, and they can revolve around that and represent that on film.
CAMERON: It makes it more interesting for you guys. It challenges your intelligence. A lot of times with commercial films, a lot of people think, okay, this is what the audience wants. Let’s give them all teen horror movies and when things click in, like something as simple as SIXTH SENSE even, it’s because there’s something behind it. I think there’s something behind this film which people will really enjoy
WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS IN THE MOVIE? THEY SEEM TO BE SO DUMB AND STUPID.
CAMERON: Don’t say that! No, seriously–
DREW: Oh, my gosh! No!
CAMERON: I don’t think so.We have an exceptional cast of men. What’s stupid about Luke?
DREW: He just wants to have a date with her and she keeps having to leave because she has a duty to take care of–
LUCY: He’s nice and kind–
CAMERON: He’s a nice guy…
HE’S NICE, THAT’S ABOUT IT–
DREW: I get it, okay.
DREW: Times have changed. Women think that nice is hot and jerks are unattractive.
YOU HAVE ALL DENIED RUMORS THAT YOU FOUGHT ON THE SET. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
CAMERON: I guess because the press weren’t allowed on the set, some people’s feelings were kind of hurt — they figured if they are not letting people come visit the set, that must mean they are trying to hide something. Our answer: we are making a movie and this is our creative process and we don’t want to have people coming in and disturbing that.
DREW: I think it’s the first time I’ve said no in like 85 interviews
LUCY: We also knew that once the film came out that people would see the chemistry that was on the screen and how everything worked out and that we achieved what we set out to do.
DREW: I think also you should accomplish what you set out to do before you talk about it. It’s so scary to promise it’s going to be a good movie and then deliver crap. That would be so terrifying.
DREW: Action, not words, that’s what I’ve always been taught and I do believe in that.
WHICH TOUCHES ON A SERIOUS ISSUE. THE INTERNET WORKED OVERTIME ON THIS. DID THAT END UP BEING A PROBLEM DURING FILMMAKING?
DREW: Well, I think it’s an asset or a problem, depending on which way you look at it. It’s a place where people get to state their opinions, and that’s all it is–it’s opinions.
COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE TRAINING CAMP WHERE YOU WEREN’T ABLE TO USE YOUR CELL PHONES?
DREW: It was weird–
LUCY: Drew set a really great precedent about guns and not having guns in the film, and I think within that challenge and within that responsibility to make kids come see the film, we wanted to conduct ourselves in a way that they look up to us, we don’t want them to think–okay, we go out there and we shoot people, and we dominate the world. Or if we are not going to use guns, we have to replace it with something extremely capable and extremely believable. We can’t just go out there and try to fake it and be really vain about it–we have to really make sure that it seems like we’re really able to do these things, strengthwise, mentally–I mean, part of the training, yeah, it was really intensive physically but most of it was mental. And I think if you have that amount of focus, if you have that amount of integrity behind what you do, the discipline behind that will come through in the film. And I think it really does, and I think if the film was funny in all those other aspects but the fighting was mediocre, it wouldn’t balance out and it would be kind of like “oh, it was okay but it wasn’t believable.” And we wanted to make it as believable as possible so we encouraged each other and we were encouraged by other people, the team that trained us, to really focus in and do it right because you want to be intelligent, you want to be beautiful, you want to be sexy, you want to be able to have the most advanced technology but you also want to be able to kick ass and you want to be able to do it well. We weren’t just like “pass the punch”–we would actually get hit and it would actually be painful, and I think that’s also a recognition that we’re human and the recognition that yes, we’re playing action heroes but we’re not action superpeople, you know what I mean? And that’s a nice touch–
CAMERON: And to have the opportunity to do that in your lifetime, most people spend their entire life sitting behind a desk. Our jobs allow us to go out there and learn Kung Fu from master Kung Fu filmmakers. We got that opportunity– and that was so amazing.
DREW, WHY WAS GUNS AN ISSUE FOR YOU?
DREW:I wanted it to make a big political statement and if you do that subliminally and subtly without patronizing or beating people on the head, you accomplish the mission a lot more.
WILL YOU DO A SEQUEL?
DREW: Well, if people like what they see. But we all want to work together again.
DO YOU LIKE BEING THOUGHT OF AS ROLE MODELS FOR YOUNG WOMEN?
DREW: Well, we love men and women. We are total equalists so we wanted to make this for all of them. Women hopefully will watch this film and think, I can be an Angel–and hopefully men will watch and say, I want to be with that girl. You know? I mean, it doesn’t alienate anyone. It was really meant to include everyone.
LUCY: It’s not a movie about feminist-bashing and it’s not male-bashing. It’s just what it is. It’s that simple. You don’t have to break it down into little tiny bits–
AS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, WHAT DID YOU (DREW) BRING TO THE PROJECT?
DREW: We had in mind a certain film that we all set out to make. There was a tone, characters, a certain angle we had to choose and how you remake CHARLIE’S ANGELS. It could be a spoof, it could be a direct remake, it could be, very serious, it could be one where we didn’t acknowledge the television show, it could be many different things, but we made our choices but I have to credit McG who is the ultimate man. it’s his optimism and his vast knowledge of culture, film, music–everything that exists in the world and his take on it, he wanted to have musical elements in this–He wanted to put chicks in it to celebrate sexuality, celebrate explosions, and make something really exciting, and that’s what we did.
LUCY, YOU HAVE BECOME A ROLE MODEL FOR ASIAN AMERICANS–WERE YOU AT ALL CONCERNED IN TAKING ON THIS FILM OF PERPETUATING A STEREOTYPE OF CHINESE PEOPLE?
CAMERON: We actually hired Lucy because we figured she wouldn’t actually do any Kung Fu because all she’d have to do is this (gesture) and people would think, Oh she’s Chinese, she knows Kung Fu, there it is. She’s an expert. So that’s why we actually hired Lucy Liu. (laughter)
LUCY: I think that people who have a very narrow sense of self and sense of culture will think that. My answer is – how come that you can’t turn it around and say, Wow! It’s so refreshing to have an Asian American–not particularly a Chinese or Japanese or Korean or whatever–be an Angel. Why not think that way? Why think the glass is half empty? Why not think–it’s kind of miraculous, if you think about it. If you think about it from the time that the series started until this time–when was the last time you saw an Asian American on screen doing any of these things and being an Angel–I specifically didn’t do an accent in the movie for the geisha role, I specifically didn’t do anything purposely in that sense, because people would assume she got hired because of that geisha scene. It’s not just Kung Fu. They are not Asian–how come they are doing Kung Fu? How come they are allowed to do Kung Fu and I have to be questioned on it? I think that you should think about that question–or people who have that in mind, they should think about the question and turn it around, and they move beyond the Stone Age.
TOM (GREEN) AND LUKE (WILSON) ARE IN THE MOVIE — HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
DREW: Well, I love Luke and we are really good friends. It’s ideal to work with your friends, that’s the bottom line. If you could all work alongside the people that you love, that would absolutely be the ideal in this world. As for Tom. I didn’t know Tom when I asked him to be in this film but I–I grew to love him very much.
WHEN WILL THEY MARRY?
DREW (JOKINGLY): We did get married last week in Cleveland. I didn’t want to talk about it but I’ll tell you now–we did get married last week in Cleveland.
DREW, YOU WERE THE FIRST ONE TO SIGN ON AND YOU ARE ONE OF THE PRODUCERS AND ALPHABETICALLY YOUR NAME COMES FIRST — SO DID THAT DETERMINE THE ORDER OF THE BILLING?
DREW: We thought a lot about it, and we were all different on the call sheet, all different on the billing–I get to have my name as the producer as well — frankly I wanted to be in the middle. I wanted to be in between the ladies. I wanted it known that Cameron was doing it–and that we had joined forces with Lucy. So it all fell into place organically.