Jun 2002
In Good Hands with Bad Company : An interview with Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

In Good Hands with Bad Company : An interview with Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

What do Andie McDowell, Renee Russo, and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon have in common? All three actresses started their careers as models before they became well known for their acting roles. The difference between Garcelle and the other actresses is that she took a different path to get where sheís at now. She spent some time working on her acting range while doing a comedy show on TV, and now sheís on a drama show. With both shows on her resume, it enabled her to get a spot in the new Jerry Bruckheimer film BAD COMPANY, an action pact comedy-drama starring Chris Rock and Sir Anthony Hopkins. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Garcelle talks about the film and the choices sheís made in her life so far.

WM:Can you talk about your character in the film?

GBN: I play Nicole and sheís a CNN reporter. Sheís also Chris Rockís love interest and she comes back in his life to sort of ďclaim her manĒ and heís having a hard time and heís not falling for all her little tricks and the seductions and you know, heís fightiní it. And for good reason.

WM:Did you get to go to Prague? Did you like it a lot?

GBN: It was beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful. It was like nothing I have ever seen really. I mean, the structure and the buildings just phenomenal. My only thing about Prague is I didnít enjoy the food. Everything was goulash, everything was cheese, really heavy and another interesting aspect is that they donít have a lot of Black people there. So, it was interesting to be in a place; Ďcause here in America or LA in a big city you donít think about it on a daily basis; so going there and watching people react you know, differently or whisper or that was you know, wow, right, Iím not in the States, Iím not, you know, it was different.

WM:Can you talk about the big event that occurred just before you went. I mean I am still trying to figure out. You gave up your honeymoon? What happened?

GBN: I got married on Saturday and I was on the plane on Monday to go to Prague without my husband. He came to visit but itís hard when you are waking up at 5 am to go work to be on your honeymoon, itís not very sexy (laughter). It just wouldnít have worked! So we went afterwards. When I got back to the States we went to the Bahamas.

WM:What was his reaction seeing his wife up on that screen in that black sexy towel?

GBN: Heís okay. (Laughter) heís all right. I mean I have love scenes on NYPD Blue with Henry Simmons and if he can get over that he can get over anything.

WM:Did you know Chris Rock? Did you have any close encounters before?

GBN: Social encounters, never worked together but you know, wanted to and I had to actually read with him for the part. I read with Joel first and then read with Chris.

WM:Okay, so howíd you like working with him?

GBN: He was great. At first I thought, you know, okay a comedian. Iíve worked with comedians in the past and I thought, ďOh, is he going to be on,Ē is he always going to beÖ. And with Chris I found that he was really laid back and there was a real guy there. He had quiet moments. He wasnít always on or had to be always the funny one and I enjoyed that. I thought it was really refreshing.

WM:How was it working with Joel (Schumacher)?

GBN: I love Joel. Iíve always wanted to work with Joel. So, to get to work with him... Heís very nurturing. He made sure that I was okay, you know, really sweet and always had nice stories. I enjoyed the experience. And, what was great with Joel is because heís so good at what he does that if we did something in two takes we all felt like we had it. We moved on. Which is unheard of, because sometimes you know, youíre doing something ten times and you lose it and you know, the momentum, but he was actually. He was great. Iíd do it anytime.

WM:What was that other guy you were with on the set, Sir Anthony?

GBN: Oh, Tony! Tony Hopkins. A consummate actor, just classy. You know. At first I thought it would be very intimidating working with him but he was great. He came on, told everybody to call him Tony; he didnít have a big entourage, he was just, you know, a regular guy who had a great, great body of work.

WM:Having done NYPD Blue and then doing that kind of subject matter even though your involvement wasnít in the whole espionage aspect, tell me about the similarities and the differences in doing a cop show and this film?

GBN: I would think the similarities is just the fact that we deal with things that are sort of on the surface with whatís going on in the world and with cops on a daily basis especially after September 11th which is a little touchy subject. I think the fact that the movie has comedy, you know, comedic elements to it and in the end, we win and people can take light of it and itís not a downer, if you will, itís a fun ride.

WM:Are you now going to be doing more movies?

GBN: I would like to. I like working on TV Ďcause I have a family. Itís important for me to be home, but, you know, on my hiatusí if I can squeeze in a movie, better, you know thatís great, but I donít want to give up my day job. I like my day job.

WM:What is the climate of Hollywood now, with the wins of Halle Berry and Denzel?

GBN: Awesome. It was a great, great night for us. It was a great step forward. I know I was screaming and crying. It was just like, it was just about time. You know. And I hope I can get to the point one day when itís not so focused on the color of their skin, but just the fact that theyíre great actors and they deserve to win. You know, so itís a stepping stone everyday. Weíre getting closer to the goal of being ďequalĒ in this industry. You know, just getting to do good work. Thatís what we want to do. Itís not about ďoh, we want to be in a Black film or a white film, we just want to be in good films and continue to work.

WM:Is it strange making a movie about terrorism in the aftermath of September 11?

GBN: Well, we actually shot it before but yeah. Absolutely. Itís almost like; it was not a foreshadowing of what, you know, happened. It was just a really touchy time. I knew the movie would get pushed back once everything happened and I knew it wouldnít go away because itís funny because itís also, because itís a comedic element to it that it wouldnít just be put on the shelf and never seen.

WM:You went from comedy to NYPD Blue on TV. Did you feel you had to work a little extra harder to prove yourself?

GBN: Oh, yeah. I mean Iíve always had to prove myself. Because one, I started off as a model and people donít want to take you seriously if youíve done that. So getting Jaime Foxx was definitely a great thing for me Ďcause I hadnít done comedy to that extent. But also, then wanting to do something totally different after Jaime Foxx and getting a show like NYPD Blue where everybody knows itís like actors, actors. You know, it was hard driving on the lot. The first day was very intimidating. My first scene was with Dennis Franz and I thought ďheís going to eat me aliveĒ Iím never going to get out of there and I absolutely had to rise to the occasion.

WM:Are you looking at other scripts for films at this point?

GBN: Yes, I am. Iím looking at all types of things, but I want to do things that Iím not going to regret. I have a boy that Iím raising. I want to do good stuff and I think because I have a day job, I can be picky about what I do so that I donít have to take anything. You know? So when the right things come along, Iíll work.

WM:What was it like working with Jamie (Foxx)?

GBN: Jamie Foxx? Heís crazy. Heís literally crazy. He was a goofball. I mean heíd come in and youíd have to hear all these stories about what he did over the weekend and some of it you wanted to hear and some of it was like, too much information J. But heís great and heís really talented and Iím happy that he gets to show how talented he is. I think ďAny Given SundayĒ proved that heís an actor and I think ďALIĒ is another stepping stone for him and heís really talented. People just have to give him a shot. You know.

WM:Is there a role out there that you would like to put your footprints into?

GBN: Yeah. I would love to do an action film where I am the bad guy and I get to kick butt. I would love to do a romantic comedy. I just want to, I donít have to be elite in a movie. If itís a good character and if itís a good ensemble cast, thatís all good to me.

WM:Is Hollywood overcoming the stigma that being a model, coming from a beauty world that you wonít be accepted as a serious actress?

GBN: Sure, I think now itís a little easier because we have women that have made it. But, yeah starting off, people didnít want to meet with you. You walk into a casting office and you can see them rolling their eyes; like oh, yeah, sure. But you just got to stick to it and keep going to class and proving that you just got to persevere. Thatís the bottom line. You just have to keep doing it.

WM:Did you audition for the Jamie Foxx Show?

GBN: Oh, yeah. They had actually they had started to cast the characters and they had seen a bunch of actresses in LA and for some reason they just werenít happy with what they were getting, so they had another casting session and thatís when I came along. What I found out later, a lot of the actresses felt like, the producers felt like they were competing to be funny with Jamie and I had never really done comedy so I wasnít competing. I was perfectly happy to let him do his thing and just sort of be the straight man and I think thatís probably why I got the role; is that I didnít, you know, I could just set him up and he could just go with it.

WM:Who were some of the actress you looked at or you admired growing up?

GBN: I would say the main person would be definitely Diahann Carroll for me. Because I thought she always presented herself as an intelligent woman. As a strong woman and the fact that she was allowed to work and be a beautiful woman at the time where Black women werenít put in that position. You didnít get those roles. You were either the maids or something similar. You just didnít get them. So for me watching her be who she is and being allowed to do her thing was it for me. Diahann Carroll was it.

WM:Any projects lined up?

GBN: Yes. I did a film called ďSecond StringĒ that comes out next year with Jon Voight, Gil Bellows and Richard T. Jones. I play Richard T. Jonesí wife. Itís a movie about football players and she doesnít want him to give up. She loves the lifestyle of being the wife of a football player and hanging out with the women and the jewels and the cars and the houses and she doesnít want to give that up so, sheís a tough cookie.

WM:Is there a role you would not do?

GBN: There are a lot of roles I wonít do. I wonít do anything thatís degrading, I wonít do anything thatís that my son, couldnít Ė where itís embarrassing to him, embarrassing to my family and luckily the fact that I have a day job I can be picky on what I do. There are definitely a lot of things that I have passed on. And having a safety net of having a regular job has helped. If I didnít have a job and I needed a certain industry, whoís to say.

WM:Youíve worked with a fair amount of comedians. Is there any advice you can give somebody working with comics?

GBN: You just gotta let them go. Cause you never know what theyíre going to do. With Jaime Foxx weíd rehearse all week and once the audience came in, his adrenalin just went to another level so you sort of had to go with it. And just wait for a cue. Itís great improv work.

WM:Which is harder, drama or comedy?

GBN: Comedyís hard because itís all about timing. Because I was sort of like the straight man. It worked. I like drama. I tend to gravitate more to that.

WM:Do you have another big screen project in the works?

GBN: Iím taking the summer off to be with my family. Thatís what Iím doing. I just shot a Neutrogena campaign and itís the first time theyíve used a Black spokesperson. I just did that and now Iím just going to hang out. Be a wife and a mom.

WM:Why should anyone see BAD COMPANY?

GBN: Itís a fun ride. Anthony Hopkins is a strong actor. You have Chris Rock whoís funny but yet serious and this is a Jerry Brookheimer film. So, run, scream, and jump. Itís all there.