The power of moth­er­hood

In her new film, ‘11th Hour,’ and in her own life, Kim Basinger taps into her strong ma­ter­nal in­stincts.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Su­san King

The first days of film­ing the low-bud­get indie “The 11th Hour” in Ham­burg, Ger­many, were rocky for Kim Basinger.

She and Dan­ish wri­ter­di­rec­tor An­ders Morgenthaler “were not com­mu­ni­cat­ing well,” said Basinger, who won the sup­port­ing actress Os­car for her un­for­get­table turn as a pros­ti­tute in Curtis Han­son’s 1997 noir clas­sic “L.A. Con­fi­den­tial.”

”I didn’t think it was work­ing. I had to ease into the [char­ac­ter].”

Morgenthaler noted that the two had to “dance around each other. Af­ter two days, I went into her trailer and said you need to trust me com­pletely. I want to be your friend on the movie.”

Af­ter their frank dis­cus­sion, “we started to form our own lan­guage, our own com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Basinger said. “We stood up, got our sea legs and then we just started to skate to­gether beau­ti­fully.”

“The 11th Hour,” which ar­rives in the­aters and VOD on Fri­day, is an in­tense, dif­fi­cult drama about a suc­cess­ful, fortysome­thing mar­ried busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive named Maria who, af­ter suf­fer­ing her eighth mis­car­riage, is told she is too old to carry a child to term. Dev­as­tated by the news, she sets out on a danger­ous and ter­ri­fy­ing quest to ob­tain a child.

It was cru­cial for Basinger to buy into Morgenthaler’s vi­sion be­cause the direc­tor wrote the part of Maria

specif­i­cally for the actress.

“She has this spe­cial sen­si­bil­ity,” Morgenthaler said. “She is very, very frag­ile. Some in­ter­pret that as be­ing weak, and some in­ter­pret that as be­ing strong. I am one of th­ese peo­ple who in­ter­pret it as be­ing su­per­strong.”

Dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view, the con­tem­pla­tive actress, who is still one of cinema’s great beau­ties at 61,ad­mit­ted that fear was a big fac­tor in her de­cid­ing to play Maria.

“If I’m in­ter­ested in some­thing and there is fear in­volved, I will do it,” Basinger said. “I want to con­quer all of my fears be­fore I leave this planet. For me, the theme of the whole movie was find­ing the truth of one’s real be­ing. She has to go to the abyss to find the truth.”

It took sev­eral years for Morgenthaler to ob­tain fund­ing for the film. “I didn’t walk away from it ever,” Basinger said. “When it did actu- ally come to­gether, which kind of was the eleventh hour, I found my­self on a plane to Ham­burg.”

“I ac­tu­ally went into this col­lab­o­ra­tion hav­ing had no ex­pe­ri­ence with a star of her cal­iber,” Morgenthaler said. “I come from a Euro­pean tra­di­tion where every­body is do­ing ev­ery­thing. So I told her this is go­ing to be hard. This is not your typ­i­cal Amer­i­can movie set where you get a lot of at­ten­tion and a lot of ser­vice. This is go­ing to be rough, low-bud­get Euro­pean film­mak­ing.”

And he found Basinger to be com­pletely fear­less. “She re­ally just let go of her nor­mal guards in terms of shoot­ing a movie,” Morgenthaler said. ”We did tons of im­prov. We did 10- to 20-minute takes.”

Basinger noted that she wouldn’t have been able to give such a raw per­for­mance if not for Ire­land Baldwin, her 19-year-old model daugh­ter with ex-hus­band Alec Baldwin.

“What I have learned about chil­dren is that they are our great­est teach­ers,” Basinger said. “You are in their class­room. If you miss out on that, then you have missed out on a full ride. I know she’s taught me a lot. I brought her up as a sin­gle mom, and we are at­tached at the hip.”

Though Basinger has ap­peared in sev­eral movies since “L.A Con­fi­den­tial,” in­clud­ing re­unit­ing with Han­son for 2002’s “8 Mile,” the actress turned down a lot of movies be­cause she didn’t want to be away from Ire­land for an ex­tended time.

“I was there for ev­ery­thing,” said Basinger, who is also an an­i­mal rights’ ac­tivist. “She played soc­cer, she played bas­ket­ball. You don’t want to miss that. I felt it was so im­por­tant at least for one par­ent to be there all the time.”

Ire­land Baldwin re­cently left re­hab, where she had gone for treat­ment for emo­tional trauma.

Her daugh­ter, re­ported Basinger, is “do­ing great. Kids go through things. She’s only 19. We’ve all made choices and been around wrong peo­ple, and she took her own step in the right di­rec­tion. She starts film school next week, and she wants to study psy­chol­ogy. If I didn’t know her, I would be happy to meet her.”

Mean­while, Basinger, who has a small part in the up­com­ing Rus­sell CroweRyan Gosling film “The Nice Guys,” is read­ing a lot of scripts.

But act­ing isn’t her only in­ter­est th­ese days.

“I just love the jour­ney of this life,” she said. “I’ve got a lot to do. I don’t know ex­actly what that means. But I’ve al- ways kind of held true to one thing — I just want to be of ser­vice. If I can be a spokesper­son and speak up for women, men and an­i­mals or use any power that I have to bring more aware­ness to some­thing that needs a lit­tle boost or as­sis­tance in my life­time — that is re­ally my pas­sion.”

Jay L. Clen­denin Los An­ge­les Times

OS­CAR WIN­NER Kim Basinger plays a woman on a ter­ri­fy­ing quest to ob­tain a child in “The 11th Hour.”

Chris­tian Geisnaes Brain­storm Me­dia

KIM BASINGER in a scene with Se­bas­tian Schip­per in the low-bud­get Euro­pean film “11th Hour,” writ­ten specif­i­cally for her by direc­tor An­ders Morgenthaler.

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