If there's any justice in the world, acting vet Lois Smith will receive her first Oscar nomination next year for her sublimely wicked supporting turn in Steven Spielberg's thrilling futuristic cautionary tale Minority Report.
Although she's only in one scene of the film, it's certainly a memorable one: Attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the pre-crime program, Tom Cruise tracks down Dr. Iris Hineman (Smith) the eccentric old woman behind the revolutionary system. The duo's ensuing cat-and-mouse game is as tense as it is entertaining mostly thanks to Smith, who caps off the sequence by forceably grabbing Cruise and smooching him!
"He's a good kisser," the 71-year-old actress laughs to TV Guide Online. "He's an extremely charming, lovely person to work with." The unexpected advance, she adds, was an "inspiration of Steven's, and I believe it was a surprise to Tom." A pleasant surprise? "Everyone was amused [by the kiss]. And I never knew whether it would be used or not. Steven shot it different ways."
Smith whose diverse career has included roles in 1970's Five Easy Pieces and 1991's Fried Green Tomatoes discovered that the kiss had made the cut when she saw MR at Monday's New York premiere. That's also the first time she caught a glimpse of those creepy crawly vines that terrorized Cruise in the greenhouse. "I hadn't seen the effect before," she says. "Of course, I knew approximately what it was going to look like, but it was great fun seeing that."
Despite her alter ego's idiosyncrasies, Smith argues that Iris is not off her rocker. "I don't think she's batty," she insists. "My agent said she's manic, but I think that is basically because Steven wanted the scene to go extremely quickly. I mean, he was absolutely demanding that he wanted it at a breakneck pace, and I think that's what gives it the quality of being manic. It's like a mind that works so very fast."
And what of the possible Oscar buzz? Heck, if Anthony Hopkins can win a lead actor statue for 20 minutes of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs, surely Smith deserves a golden opportunity. "Well, I'm not a movie star like Anthony Hopkins," she demurs, "and I think that makes a difference in those things."