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September 2004
First Daughter: An Interview with Katie Holmes

First Daughter: An Interview with Katie Holmes

By Todd Gilchrist

Katie Holmes has spent much of her career playing typical teenagers and girl-next-door types with unerring precision; expectedly, the persona has begun to wear thin, and with "First Daughter", Holmes makes her first move towards adulthood- on screen, at least. In the film, Holmes plays the daughter of a sitting president who finds her life slipping further and further away from reality even as she attempts to reconnect with people and lifestyles that are positively commonplace for people her age. Heading off to college, Holmes' first daughter is flanked on all sides by secret servicemen, and discovers that she must make some serious choices as the child of a politician that she never expected to face. Holmes recently spoke to blackfilm.com about her experience on the film, about her upcoming project "Batman Begins", and the prospect of growing up on screen.

Does this part give you sympathy for First Daughters?

Katie Holmes: Definitely. When I was growing up I always fantasized about ŒOh God what would it be like to have your dad be the President and he's so powerful and you get to live in that big house and wear all these big dresses. I used to always think, you know you read something bad, and it's like Why are they acting up, they're presidential childrenŠvery judgmental. It was sort of insightful to go through again all of the different clippings from their lives and all of the sort of nasty things written and some good things. You sort of start to appreciate the level of their fame and how much pressure they really are under and how their lives for a certain amount of time are not their own and they do have to uphold a certain image and how that can be very hard for their souls and hard for kind of represses their a bit.

Do you relate to that yourself having gone through Dawson's Creek's height of fame?

KH: We had such a wonderful set of circumstances in Wilmington. Yes the four of us became famous literally overnight but we were in a small town and we always knew when people were coming down. We always knew when to behave. The rest of the time we had a lot of fun and really for six years we had a little bubble where we went to work everyday. We weren't being photographed or anything like that. We could get into fights, act up, and show up in a local coffee shop in nothing but our pjs. I do understand that fame does have its sort of set of rules if you want to apply them to yourself. I guess not rules but some pressures. You want to make sure you are a responsible person because you are, when you are in the public eye people look up to you. Especially when you're on a show that's geared toward young people you do want to be a nice role model. As much as you think God, how am I a role model? Well you are, so act like one. So I mean you just kind of fortunately as an actor and a celebrity in that sense. I feel like, personally, I can control how much I want to put out there. When I feel like I've had too much press or I'm in a fishbowl or something I just kind of go home or go on vacation. I still have my family they all live in the same city and my good friends are there when I've had enough of Hollywood I go home and see the people that know me and who I know.

Do you have any father-daughter traditions like the midnight cake?

KH: Yeah, in my family there is no such thing as midnight cake because my dad eats it all first and he's a very thin man. He's funny. Let's see, my dad and IŠwe go running together. We go for jogs. He got me jogging when I was 12 and that's where we have our talks.

How much of that cake did you eat?

KH: Oh, it was the best cake. They had all this cake so I got to a whole cake home. That was after the swimsuit scene.

How much input did you have in your role and how the character developed?

KH: I hadŠyou know Forest and I were in talks for about two months before we started shooting and I had been looking at different versions of this script close to a year before it came time to start shooting. I did have some input, but I'm not a writer so I kind of just went with it.

Was it always the same ending?

KH: That was the original ending. Then they re-cut it a different way where they ended up together. I'm glad that they put it back. The movie is very romantic and very sweet and I think to have them end up together is just not realistic. She has to go back to college, she's the daughter of the president and he's a secret service guy. They don't have a future right now, but they do have this wonderful love for each other.

Have you ever met the President?

KH: I have met President Bush. A couple years ago I hosted a television special, Christmas at the White House. I got to introduce him and meet President Bush and Mrs. Bush. I haven't met the daughters. They were taking exams the time I was there. They were very nice. It was amazing too...regardless of your feelings about where your candidates stand there's such an amazing energy when you meet the President of the United States. It's just, ŒOh God,' You meet celebrities and you meet movie stars and it's ŒWow, I've seen you in a movie, but oh you're theŠhello. It kind of takes your breath away.'

Did you see Chasing Liberty?

KH: I did not see Chasing Liberty. I was aware it was being made and I never read the script either. Maybe I should of, but I felt like I made the decision to make this movie and I really like Forest Whitaker. I just think he's a very talented director so I just concentrated on making the best movie we could make with this and I know they did as well. So I didn't really bother to get caught up in any competition that was sort of created around us.

What do you think of this poster basically selling this movie on you?

KH: Yeah. It's a little unnerving. I guess I do have nerve. I do take risks. I didn't know it was going to beŠI didn't know the background would be white and it would literally just be me. I guess it's kind of like being naked.

Did you have input into the color or costumes?

KH: Yes, I wanted the costumes to be very, very conservative. My first fitting it was a lot of clothing that looked a lot like what I wore for six years on Dawson's Creek. Jeans and shirts and I thought, ŒHmm I don't think so.' All the pictures that I've seen and even more so I wanted this character to be relatable, but just a bit more classic and her appearance to be a bit not like anybody else. She does dress much older. To me it was important because it was more the royal sense.

What was your favorite gown?

KH: My favorite one was the pink one and I actually got to keep it. Forest decided on that color purple. He had this love affair with purple. Last year I saw him and he had this Us Weekly with him and all theseŠI forget I think it was the SAG Awards and all these famous actresses were in that same color purple. He's like, See I was right I'm ahead of the times.

Was it the right time for a romantic comedy?

KH: It came at a time. I just finished Dawson's Creek. It was a movie I felt like sort of catered to the audience of Dawson's Creek. I thought Well that could be a good idea. I also just loved Forest. I don't know I liked the idea of a fairy tale movie. I'm kind of a sucker for that. I love doing darker things and edgier things, but sometimes it's kind of nice to go to the movies and just sort of be happy and escape.

Tell us about your character in Batman.

KH: I play Rachel Doss. I work in the DA's office and I'm Bruce Wayne's good friend growing up and that's all I can say.

Are you doing any stunt work for it or is more of a talkie role?

KH: It's more of a talkie role. I'm not into stunts. I'm not one of those girls. I like it real easy.

Did Michael Keaton give you any advice for being in a Batman movie?

KH: Unfortunately I didn't even know I was going to be in a Batman movie when I worked with Michael. He had shared some of his stories from his experience but we had no idea that maybe I was going to do the next one.

How many Batman films are you signed for?

KH: It's sort of more complicated than that question. They can have me if they want me for two more.

Is this another transition?

KH: I found it to be more challenging to be in a huge effects movie because a lot of the things aren't there so you have to trust the director and react to noting. With this particular project the cast was very intimidating and Chris Nolan is amazing, but I was just thrilled to be with these people you know I was like I have to do this so right and perfect. I think if I get to be in another maybe I'll relax a bit.

Was Christian able to help you because he's done that kind of effects work?

KH: I didn't tell Christian I was having a problem. It was fine.

Do you see doing something like that as a transition to more adult roles?

KH: I hope that as I get older and mature that I will be able to play more adult-like roles and hopefully it will happen naturally. And doing Batman I think will be helpful because it's a movie that brings a lot of exposure. I was so excited to be a part of something with such history. The experience was awesome. Everyday I was on set I was e-mailing my friends ŒI just rode in the batmobile, what are you doing?' [Was it cool]. It was so cool. I saw the mobile take off and go down the street and I was like ŒOK I get it I get why guys love cars. I am in love right now and all I want is that car.'

Have you been reading the comics?

KH: Yes. [Is your character in the comics?] No

What happened to Columbia?

KH: I shot the pilot for Dawson's Creek and was accepted to Columbia a week later.

Do you regret never going?

KH: I don't know. I had my own experience and we definitely grew up together and did a lot of thingsŠwe weren't limited in our ability to be 18, 19 20. We were just very in one sense very adult-like young kids. From what my friends tell me who did go to big schools, ŒOh you didn't miss anything.' I guess I'll never know, but I look forward to maybe someday going back and having the experience of being an older student. Some people say that they wish they could at an older age because they would appreciate it more.

Will it be like your character in the movie that was cordoned off?

KH: Well, I hope so because I've just worked too hard not to have that attention.

Some young actresses look at the career path of Reese Witherspoon and Julia Roberts and try to follow that path, Do you feel that same way?

KH: I feel like this business is so laced in luck and you can't really. You can do everything that somebody tells you will get you to that point and there's no guarantee and so I think it's most important to do things that you enjoy doing and that you'll be able to look back and say ŒOK I did have a career I did sacrifice a lot to do that wonderful thing that I love and I'm proud of what I did' instead of ŒYeah, I did all this stuff and I still never became the nextŠ' It's important for me to just do things that I like.

Did you have a favorite room in the White House?

KH: It wasn't in the White House. It was post 9-11.

Did Michael Keaton give you any advice?

KH: He told me to just stay positive. He wrapped two weeks before I did on this movie and he said Just don't get to tired because the audience doesn't know the order in which you shot so you want to make sure every scene is your best and get your rest.

Would you get back into TV if the right thing came along?

KH: I definitely would. Not right away just because I'm still sort of getting over the grind and the time it really takes and what it takes out of you to do a television show. I had the greatest time doing it, but I got out of it thinking what do I like to do? I don't remember. I haven't done any hobbies for six years.

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