What is it about Gina Gershon? I mean she just oozes sensuality... edginess... all kinds of things that can be wicked in excess. Even the press notes for her new film, One Last Thing (in theaters now), peg the actress as possessing "uncommon presence" a boast that stymies even Gershon.
"I have no idea what that means. Like, I'm an alien or something?" she laughs as TVGuide.com points out her "uncommon" classification. Or, she suggests while motioning to an imaginary appendage, "It's my 'tail' that makes me different?"
Working to take an introspective look at herself, Gershon later cops to filling "uncommon" roles. "Listen, I definitely like left of center. I've noticed that about myself," she says. "My agents will give me these scripts that are very mainstream and commercial, and I have never been attracted to them much."
Indeed, this is the actress behind the sexually charged personas in films such as Showgirls (more on that classic later). Bound. Prey for Rock & Roll. Risky/risqué fare to some, but catnip for actors like Gershon. "When I got [offered] Bound, it was coming off of Showgirls, and my agents were like, 'They're first-time directors, the character's a lesbian... you're basically ruining your career.' I said, 'Not only are these guys'" Larry and David Wachowski, now of Matrix and V for Vendetta fame "'first-time directors, they're supergenius directors.' As for the 'lesbian,' it was such a great script and a great part I just didn't look at it that way. So I gave them their commission and I fired them."
For One Last Thing, about a terminal teen (Will & Grace's Michael Angarano) whose dying wish is to spend a weekend with supermodel Nikki Sinclair (Sunny Mabrey, XXX: State of the Union), Gershon toned down her act a bit, playing the in-demand mannequin's increasingly frustrated agent, Arlene. It's a role that could easily have lent itself to cartoonlike caricature (see: Win a Date with Tad Hamilton), but Gershon makes Arlene's hate-to-love-my-client conflict real. "When I did The Player," she recalls, "Robert Altman said, 'Just be truthful. All the people [in our business] are so ridiculous, it's going to be funny regardless.' And I think that applies to the agent part there's something inherently ridiculous. She's a good agent and she cares about her clients, but at a certain point, when Nikki's screwing up so much, what are you going to do? You lie for them, and then you manipulate [the crisis to your advantage]."
Gershon is dipping into the entertainment-biz well yet again with the TV pilot she has at NBC, playing a studio head in Lipstick Jungle, from Sex and the City's Candace Bushnell. While she's hesitant to say much about the prospective gig "If it doesn't get picked up, I look like an idiot" she does reveal that even though her character is "amazing at her job, she's just trying to keep it together, be a good mother and not step on her husband's toes or emasculate him."
Classified by some as a sort of follow-up to Sex and the City (albeit one in which the women are career-centric and not men-centric), Gershon adds, "It's a very truthful portrayal of women in powerful jobs."
Segueing now to a tale of women in sexually powerful jobs, Gershon coincidentally fresh from catching the stage show Showgirls, The Best Movie Ever Made. Ever! reveals that yes, she is developing, as a writer and director, an off-Broadway musical adaptation of that which some will argue was not the best movie ever made. "[Showgirls scribe] Joe Eszterhas and I were at this 10th-anniversary thing in Vegas, and he [mentioned it to the crowd], and everyone went crazy!" Gershon reports with a laugh. "So there's a built-in audience."
Striking the right balance between adaptation/homage and poke-in-the-pasties parody, though, is the hurdle Gershon faces. "There's a [precise] way to go about this," she says. "It just has to be done exactly right to be really funny."
One Last Thing, also starring Cynthia Nixon, opens nationwide on May 5. A "day and date release," the film will also air on HDNet on May 19 and will be available on DVD on May 23.