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The women of Superman Returns: Parker Posey

Look! Up in the air! Superman Returns this month — and behind every superhero’s cape, there’s a good woman… and sometimes a bad woman. We had the chance recently to catch up with Kate Bosworth, who plays Superman’s love interest Lois Lane, and Parker Posey, who’s Lex Luthor’s main squeeze — the nefarious Kitty Koslowski. Here, meet Ms Posey, and check out what Ms Bosworth’s up to in part one of our interview!

Parker PoseySK: You steal this movie, everyone’s been saying.

Parker: Oh yeah. (sarcastic)

SK: You do! Did you enjoy flying around with Superman?

Parker: Yeah!

SK: Was it fun for you to play this role and just go for it?

Parker: Yeah. She, uh… Where should I start?

SK: Was she fun to play?

Parker: She was a great character to play. She’s on a journey… See, it’s a comic book part. It’s a part that started with kind of a look, and of course it started with the Richard Donner movie.

SK: Loosely based on that character in the Richard Donner movies, I think. Wasn’t there a musical… called “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman” that had some gangsters…

Parker: I have NO idea. That’s something we could go on the internet and find out!

SK: What attracted you to this role in the first place? You tend to be drawn to smaller movies.

Parker: I was doing this play. I was doing Hurley Burley for six months, you get a call like “They’re interested in you for Superman!” Well, okay… let ’em figure it out. And maybe I’ll get cast, you know, we’ll see. And um, can I read the script? “No.” Okay, well… is it good? I didn’t see X-Men. I usually don’t see these kinds of movies. But gosh, I hope it’s good, you know — it’s Superman.

I got the part and I said, “Am I gonna be able to read it?” you know, to do it? I Googled “Kitty and Superman” and there was a Kitty somewhere in the Superman world. She extracted, like, green energy from plants and solar energy from the sun and she would use this power in… not a good way. And Superman helped her kind of use her powers for good at one point. It was like… just like Google, you know? Very abstract. Like wow, maybe I’ll get to have super powers. (laughter) I’ll have Chris Lee calling me and I’ll be like “Does she extract energy from the sun?!” (laughter).

So they literally fly someone from Australia to deliver the script. And I read it at Cafe Mogador in the East Village in New York and yeah, that was like a movie in and of itself. It had this energy, just this (makes a whooshing noise). Already the world was being created. It’s a very… big, majestic movie. And I read it and I was like, “Thank god.” I thought it was really, really good. She was written a little more villainous, like a conscious villain, a baddie, like a bad girl? But I got away with not doing that.

SK: You made her more human.

Parker: Yeah, like she doesn’t see clearly what’s in front of her. She sees just material things, things that look pretty, she likes diamonds and pearls and I picture her having a pink room at one point. Just like a princess, as well as someone who will do anything for Lex. And Tess… what’s her name?

SK: Tessmacher?

Parker: Tessmacher watched a lot of TV in that first movie. She was always sunbathing and baking herself and watching television and I thought, well okay that’s good, let’s have Kitty look like someone who is obsessed with looking like that or has that kind of “I will look this way to please my man.” In a way she’s a kept woman, wearing my hair to look like a wig…

SK: That was real hair?

Parker: That’s my real hair. That’s what she does for Lex.

SK: Can we talk a little bit more about the fashion, and how much input did you have?

Parker: Louise, our costume designer, started with something different and then it became this kind of these little homages to Hollywood glamour. ’40s, ’30s… ’70s, ’80s… they had a huge room of vintage clothes that you would try on. “Oh, this feels right.” “This reminds me of the second Superman with the woman with the short haircut…” Remember she had that jumpsuit? Well, let’s put a coat over that and can I have a cap that’s kind of gangster so we get that kind of feel to that and can we have a shoemaker come in to design boots? I don’t want any pointy shoes, I want them round so she walks kind of like they’re keeping her bound in a way.

And when we got to set, maybe like three, four days into it, we were shooting at the Vanderworth mansion and it was a really long night and I said, “I want that dog, every chance I can get.” So then that’s what she holds on to and I think it’s such a great prop for her, and a great image to this woman who is in love with a man who isn’t loveable. Kate Bosworth & Parker Posey of Superman Returns

SK: You’re in the new Christopher Guest film?

Parker: Yes.

SK: How different do you think it will be, since he says it will be the last of these improv docu-comedies? How fun was it to go back to that world?

Parker: Every world is different, that he creates. The music world had its own feel and its own pathos, Best in Show had its own kind of thing, this is movies. It’s an independent movie called Home for Purim which takes place in 1945 in Valdosta, Georgia. So it’s southerners speaking Yiddish. There’s brisket and kugel on the table.

SK: Who do you play?

Parker: I forget her name. I play an actress named Callie Webb. I’m playing another part within the movie-within-the-movie. I bring home my lesbian lover to meet my parents as my mother is dying. It’s melodrama, so it’s different in that the camera is off the stilts and stationary. The interviews are all done through EPK, so that’s how the camera’s stationary. So it has a different kind of feel to it.

SK: Still improv?

Parker: Yes, but there’s a movie-within-the-movie that is scripted.

SK: So the interviews are all improv?

Parker: Yes.

SK: What about Boston Legal?

Parker: I don’t know. Hopefully I can wrap up Marlene or continue her. I loved it, I loved working on that, it was so much fun. Loved it. What a great group of people. Smart and interesting people, those people over there. James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen… I loved them, loved them. Playing really self-absorbed people, I’m so glad they’re not that likable, you know, but you do like them anyway, because they can’t deal emotionally with any situation at all. (laughs)

SK: If you got to choose where Kitty was headed, if they use her in the sequel, where would you like to see her headed and how do you guys think you get off the island?

Parker: I would like some kind of random thing to happen to Lex like a coconut falling on his head and him drowning. Or something that is kind of unbelievable that was meant to be and that she walks through the jungle, the island, and she’s at a resort. And that she’s actually obsessed with Superman and that her fandom and her obsession with him maybe gets her to Lex’s thing? I don’t know. But only because I see her as a fan.

SK: Are you signed up for the sequels?

Parker: Yeah yeah yeah. (laughter) I mean, I’m surprised that they didn’t make me sign my life. So who knows what it’ll be.

SK: This is your second comic book movie. You did Blade: Trinity.

Parker: Yes.

SK: Is there another comic book character that you’d like to do?

Parker: No. I don’t know.

SK: Wonder Woman?

Parker: I’m too old.

SK: No!

Parker: I like Isis. Remember that TV show? I would love that. Remember the crappy sets, how everything looked like the walls were just hinging apart, you could see the soundstage through the wall. There was that crow. You know, if it’s done bad like that, I think that would be cool. A kind of slick thing. I figured that would be really kind of funny. She’s like a professor of biology or something.

SK: You’ve done work with Hal Hartley recently?

Parker: Yes, we just finished Fay Grim in January and February. We shot it in Berlin. It’s a continuation of Henry Fool.

SK: How much fun is it working with Hal?

Parker: He’s great, he’s so smart. He’s so smart and talented and kind. This movie, Fay Grim, follows ten years later, my son is in school and he’s received a pornographic device in the mail of some binoculars with a harem or something happening. And I’ve lost control of my son, he’s like so much trouble, and Henry’s confessions, you know… I loved them, but everyone else thought they were just porn, it was horrible. And my brother Simon was a garbage man who’s now in jail for his poetry.

It’s so “art film”, I love it. He’s still in prison, I come home and CIA agent Fullbright, played by Jeff Goldblum, has… there’s word out that Henry was in Afghanistan in 1981. That he is like more mythological figure than we even anticipated in the first part, that his confessions are coded with links to terrorism and war and to Osama bin Laden types. Everyone I meet is either a spy or… it’s supposed to be all twisted up and confusing and I go off to Paris to find him and I’m a reluctant good person that kind of sees the world for what it is.

SK: Is it an adjustment going from an art house movie to a movie with a lot of special effects?

Parker: It’s just different. The scale is different.

SK: But the job’s pretty similar?

Parker: Yeah, to do the actual work there a relationship to every piece of material that you do. So if you’re doing something that’s like a twenty-two day shoot you’re so wrapped up, but this is like you need even more focus and more… more yoga. For the waiting.

SK: What’s next for you?

Parker: A movie called Spring Breakdown. Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch… it’s like a comedy. Like a beer, spring-break comedy. It’ll be fun!

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