August 2001
Foxy’s Sweet, Sweet Bad Ass Song : An Interview with “Ghosts of Mars” Pam Grier

Interviewed by Midas

Foxy’s Sweet, Sweet Bad Ass Song : An Interview with “Ghosts of Mars” Pam Grier

“My people were homesteading in Colorado before Emancipation
and we still don’t exist. So I got something to say!”

- Pam Grier

Pam Grier does have things to say and those of us interested in film would be wise to listen. She has seen it all and overcome the ups and downs that accompany being a black actress in Hollywood. However, she displays very little bitterness and nastiness and continues to thrive as the radiant woman who kicked butt during the blaxploitation era. By the way, Foxy is exactly what she is. Grier is as beautiful today as she was in Foxy Brown. That beauty should not be misconstrued as not being driven by intelligence and resilience. She recognizes the nature of the industry she is in and has put it in check with her sense of humor and spiritual and inner peace. She is in a good place and just loves the opportunity to act and perfect her craft. In this interview, Grier talks about her role in the “Ghost of Mars,” future projects, and the fortuitous position of being a generational bridge between the 1970s and the hip-hop generation.

M: At what point in the “Ghosts of Mars” did you know you would be the first one to go?

PG: We’re first in all the movies.

M: What was it that attracted you to this film?

PG: When John called me I would have done it without reading the script. I love science fiction. I have a wide stretch of film interests because everything is based on Greek tragedy. I like to do all kinds of films. I like serious films, the moneymaking blockbusters that don’t make any kind of sense and John Carpenter films. Each time you do a film you gain a lot of experience and build a visual resume where people get to know who you are. You get to do your work as an actor. I don’t believe that I should just do A-movies, I just do the work as an artist. And yes, I don’t care if Ice Cube, a rapper, is in the movie. I don’t care if he thinks this is just a hobby. He still has to work just as hard as I do. And Ice Cube put in the work. He got bruised, banged around and thrown around. He put his time in.

M: Was it an option for you to do some stunts?

PG: I asked John if he was sure he didn’t want me to do some of the stunts. He said that was OK. OK that was fine with me I was in and out and off to Montreal to work with Eddie Murphy on Pluto Nash. Natasha was like I should do those things, but I was like no girlfriend that stuff is for you as the lead. It costs to be the boss. (laughter) So I got a good opportunity to do a week on Ghosts of Mars and do other films. So now there are Negroes on Pluto.

M: How was it working with Eddie Murphy?

PG: I had a great time. I love working with a lot of different films and a lot of different people. That’s what I crave that diversity. I don’t know how I did it, but I worked 7 days a week. I told them to wash my clothes or I will buy clothes at the airport. I wear a lot of airport clothing.

M: Were you comfortable working action films?

PG: Very much so. I thought I would be Sheena of the Jungle as a little girl. I just love it. The first movie that I saw was Godzilla and I loved it. My family and relatives were in a search because I sat through the film 5 times in a row. I liked martial arts [films] and everything that I was told I should not do I did. So again, I wanted to do it all. I really do not care if it is a B-movie or not.

M: You are a star that has ties between generations. When children heard you were doing this film they probably also received information about you from their parents. They were able to tell the kids that Foxy Brown came from you.

PG: That’s right, that’s my child. I gave birth to her.

M: Do you have an opportunity to discuss your role as a main component of the blaxploitation films with children groups?

PG: I love the hip-hop nation. It is an art form that has allowed parents and children to bridge the gap because so much is sampled from the ‘70s like Ohio Players and James Brown. Through that homage, I am grateful when children come to me for information. This was also part of the Women’s Movement. I came from poverty and was part of those circumstances. My grandmother was Coffy and my mother was Foxy Brown, as she had 11 mouths to feed. They would stomp you or drive over you if they had to, whatever it took.

M: In this film, Mars is a matriarchy.

PG: Yes, I asked John about this. Is it because it has evolved this way? Is it because men are dying and procreation is done in the lab? I think it is because it is the end of human beings. It could be because women have been sent away from Earth to settle Mars. Who knows? John would not commit, but I needed to know because it gives me a subliminal way of reacting to the character. This is relevant when I am hitting on Natasha’s character. Everyone immediately says, “You’re a lesbian in this movie.” I say maybe not. Today, many people are engaging in same sex relationships and saying they are not gay. That happens a lot today. People are like we are going to get our nut, but we are not gay. (Laughter). This seems to be happening a lot in high school. Maybe she can have sex with both sexes and not be gay. Maybe my character is just someone who can have fun wherever she is. So these were the questions that came up regarding my character. It is not as simple as ABC, and it will give people something else to talk about besides this ugly motherfucker killing everybody.

M: Are there any plans to redo roles like Foxy Brown and Coffy?

PG: Well, Quentin (Tarantino) did a more up-to-date Foxy Brown with Jackie Brown. If we did it the agenda would have to be more. . . . well what made those films so successful was the political environment. It was the first time a woman had a gun. Your moms were not allowed to do these things. This was in the midst of the women’s movement. Women were not encouraged to get a degree. Even if they did, women would still receive 50% less in pay. Of course, it is ridiculous. So the backdrop was this political environment and that is what made them so good. I don’t know if the political environment is that conducive anymore.

M: What other projects are you currently involved in?

PG: At a certain point, I will be playing me.

M: The Pam Grier Story?

PG: Yes.

Midas - Who will play you?

PG: I am not sure yet, but at a certain point, I will be playing me. Phylicia Rashad would be an excellent mother, my mom. It’s going to be a nightmare. After I tell this story some people are going to be after me.