Rising to the challenge
First-time baddie, first-time director join forces for Unforgettable
LOS ANGELES — Former
Charlie’s Angels star Cheryl Ladd and producer Denise Di Novi have one Unforgettable thing in common — a first for both.
Ladd plays a mommie meanest and Di Novi makes her directorial debut in the thriller Unforgettable.
The movie features Katherine Heigl’s Tess who settles for revenge against her ex-husband (Geoff Stults) and his new wife (Rosario Dawson). Ladd portrays Tess’s mother.
Ladd and Di Novi offer their thoughts:
On Di Novi making her directorial debut after three decades of producing movies:
“It just felt like the right thing to do at the right time and an incredible oppor- tunity,” says the former
Canada AM reporter. On hiring Ladd to play the controlling mother of Tess:
“I’m so grateful to have Cheryl in the film,” Di Novi says. “I was really nervous about finding someone who was believable as Tess’ mother that had equal beauty, perfection, intelligence, obsessiveness and perfectionism.”
On how Ladd approached her portrayal:
“We talked about women who think they have to look great, have to be smart and present that Grace Kelly image,” she says. “It’s that kind of culture of perfection which is so unrealistic.”
On what Ladd decided motivates her mother character:
“She thinks she is a fabulous mother but so closed off to her own feelings she can’t find them,” Ladd says. “Mothers like that don’t realize they can be so hurtful with a word or a glance.”
On using that theme throughout the film:
“I call it the tyranny of perfection that we learn from our mothers, who learn it from their grandmothers,” Di Novi says.
On Ladd not being able to use personal experience to inform her portrayal:
“My mother was the antithesis of my mother in
Unforgettable,” Ladd says. “My mother was fun, kind and sweet. She was such a happy camper.”
On how Ladd’s mother in Unforgettable could be a metaphor for Hollywood:
“Yeah, definitely,” she says. “Being under a microscope is difficult, and that’s what Hollywood does to you. Everything about you gets talked about and criticized.”
On Di Novi’s assessment of her first directing experience:
“I’ve had made so many movies (as a producer) I didn’t think it was going to be a surprise,” she says. “As soon as I was on set that first day, I was blown away by how different directing is.”
On Ladd’s assessment of Di Novi as a director:
“Denise did a spectacular job,” Ladd says. “My husband said Unforgettable’s like the new generation’s
Fatal Attraction, and I think he’s right.”
On whether Di Novi will direct again:
“I’m going to start shooting in September,” says Di Novi. “It’s a female action movie called Highway One.” On what’s next for Ladd: “I say, ‘No,’ as much as I say, ‘Yes,’” she says. “I do a few things every year, but I can’t say what’s next yet.”