Two acclaimed directors with crazy amounts of cult-film cache. A whole lotta gorgeous women. Some outrageous movie trailers. And Kurt Russell. Add it all together and you get Grindhouse, the long-anticipated double feature hitting theaters this weekend and composed of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. Striving to survive in the former flick is Vanessa Ferlito, familiar to TV audiences from her runs on 24 and then CSI: NY. TVGuide.com welcomed the chance to ask the actress what a pretty girl like her is doing in a blood-soaked mess like this.
TVGuide.com: I humbly confess that I was battling a cold Wednesday night, and didn't get to catch the Grindhouse screening....
Vanessa Ferlito: Aw, you're crazy! Are you crazy? You should have gone anyway!
TVGuide.com: OK, don't rub it in. Anyway... what can people look forward to when they see it?
Ferlito: Oh, my god.... You know, there's so much to look forward to, and it's such a unique piece of art — and I'm not saying that because I'm in it. It's amazing. C'mon, it's Tarantino and Rodriguez.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about how the opportunity came to you. Were you a fan of either filmmaker going in?
Ferlito: Oh, a huge fan of Tarantino. I've known him for a couple of years now, and he actually wrote the part for me. He called me and said, "Hey, I have this script and there's this girl from Brooklyn.... " He kept talking about it and I was like, "OK, what's the deal?" And then he asked me if I would do it and I was like, "Are you kidding?! Of course!" I didn't really believe him until he started shooting.
TVGuide.com: You're in Death Proof, the half that has Kurt Russell as some sort of Chevy Nova-driving marauder who makes it his mission to mow down voluptuous girls in short shorts. Are you one of the aforementioned girls?
Ferlito: Yeah. Guilty!
TVGuide.com: Have you seen the finished double feature with the fake trailers and everything?
Ferlito: Yes, at the premiere. But Death Proof is going to be released on its own, so I haven't seen the full Death Proof, which is probably going to be like a two-and-a-half-hour movie. They had to cut it down [to 80 minutes] a lot because it's a double feature and it had to fit all the trailers.... When I first saw [the edit] I was like, "Oh, my god," but then I was like, "Well, it's not over after this." There's more to look forward to, so I'm psyched.
TVGuide.com: When are they releasing Death Proof on its own?
Ferlito: At the Cannes [Film Festival], and then in the U.K. it will be released on its own. And then obviously on DVD.
TVGuide.com: I can't even imagine the DVD possibilities for this....
Ferlito: Especially with all the "missing" reels.
TVGuide.com: What would you pack inside the super-deluxe collectors' special-edition DVD?
Ferlito: A Kahuna Boys cup. You have to see the movie to know what I'm talking about! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Which is your favorite of the fake movie trailers? I hear the one for "Don't" is rather good.
Ferlito: "Don't! Don't!" Yeah, it's really funny. They're all funny. Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" is really twisted. He's a twisted one. It's really disturbing.
TVGuide.com: Are there any not ridiculously hot girls in Grindhouse?
Ferlito: Oh, thank you.... I don't know, I guess it all has to do with a personal preference or style. There are all flavors — blonde or brown hair, brown skin, light skin, Italian....
TVGuide.com: I saw Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan on the cover of Rolling Stone this morning wearing nothing but machine-gun rounds....
Ferlito: How hot, how hot? I love Rosario... I've worked with her a couple os times, and I love her.
TVGuide.com: Any layouts featuring yourself to keep a lookout for?
Ferlito: Not just yet. It's a huge ensemble cast and they can't really.... Maybe after the full release, but for now they need one of each and they picked the right one from ours. She's so hot.
TVGuide.com: I understand that in this day and age, with everything being done with CGI, Tarantino really avoided all that, and made Death Proof gritty and real with no digital trickery.
Ferlito: Oh, no, nothing at all. This is what movies looked like back then, but with all the new technology — cell phones, text-messaging, modern cars....
TVGuide.com: How much screen time do you have with Kurt Russell?
Ferlito: A lot. A lot. There's a [lap] dance that's actually "missing"... a "missing reel."
TVGuide.com: I read one review that said Kurt Russell has never been better.
Ferlito: Oh, he's so good in it. So good. I have a lot of scenes with him, and the chemistry is great.
TVGuide.com: It's funny how this guy that I grew up with from all these Disney films, like Now You See Him, Now You Don't, pops up every now and again in these edgy, unexpected roles and just knocks it out of the park.
Ferlito: Yeah, that's fun. It shows his range. He's a great actor.
TVGuide.com: Now of course, being a 24 fan, I do miss you. Claudia was one of Jack Bauer's hottest honeys....
Ferlito: I know, and they should have locked me in [with a contract] right away. But I got a movie [Man of the House] after like the second episode and I had to go, because I had no idea what was going to happen with 24, if they were going to kill me or whatever. But they were great, and I was able to shoot both.
TVGuide.com: They planted these few seeds that so much more had transpired between her and Jack during his undercover druggie days.
If I were to have stayed on the show, I think we would have wound up going back to America together and having a relationship. He's so cute, Kiefer [Sutherland], and such a great guy.
TVGuide.com: When you left CSI:NY, part of the reason was to move back to New York City. How did that work out for you? Good decision?
Ferlito: You can't really have regrets with this stuff. You've got to take your chances. I had a taste for movies before this show — I had just wrapped one before I started the show — so it was hard to make that transformation and be on a procedural show like that. They were all great to me — [CSI creator] Anthony Zuiker is a doll, a gem, and I love him dearly.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, for the Q&A we ran when you left CSI: NY, he sent in this note calling you "a really talented and sweet woman who I think I'll work with in the future." So there's no bad blood.
Ferlito: Oh, no. There's no bad blood because I was so honest with him. I went to him and told him exactly how I was feeling, and he got it. We're great friends and I'd love to work with him again. I actually invited him to the premiere, but he just had a baby.
TVGuide.com: So if there's a "CSI: Brooklyn," you're there.
Ferlito: Maybe. I don't know, though. Tough call.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any new films lined up?
Ferlito: No, this is a tough act to follow. I haven't found anything yet that I really love. A couple of horror films have come to the table but....
TVGuide.com: It's too easy to be the gal being chased by the slasher.
Ferlito: Exactly. How do you follow up a Tarantino film? It's almost, like, impossible. I'll just wait for him to make another movie. [Laughs]