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Leoni Online: The Articles — Insider Reel

Wassberg: If the world ended tomorrow, what would you do?

Leoni: (beat) It’s a fun question that I can’t answer. I think that even as I can look at my character, she lived this situation and even she didn’t even know what she’d do. (putting her finger quizzically to her mouth) Caught up in her ambition, she really needs this comet. I’d like to think (raising up her hands in a I-told-you-so gesture) that I don’t need a comet. I think I appreciate a lot of the blessings of my life. I suppose off the top of my head if I had a year left, I’d continue to do so.

Wassberg: When you wee approached with the script for DEEP IMPACT at then get-go, what were your thoughts? Did you think Is this just a big special effects picture? Why should you, as Tea, take this role.

Leoni: As it was presented to me, special effects were a given. It was Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks. We knew we’d have them. What attracted me most to this picture was the interest in the personal relationships for my character…her relationship with her mother…her relationship with her father…and that it was not just about special effects. I’ve heard, even in reference to the TITANIC, that as great as the effects were, at the end of the day, the TITANIC is a love story. What do you know? A good ole love story is what brings em in. In a way this movie, not quite just a love story, allows you to look at what you would do and, I know, when they were researching this movie they did not only look at the technical specifics of a comet hitting the planet and what the ramifications of that would or could be but also talking to teachers and psychiatrists and others about what we would do as a people. One thing that they did come up with and I agree with is smoking. (looking at me with a sardonic grin) Not many people would be on the patch during that last year.

Wassberg: They’d also be drinking a lot.

Leoni: Yep.

Wassberg: That is the one thing I didn’t see in the film. I didn’t see people partying a lot or becoming violent and out of control. Why do you think it was good that was left out?

Leoni: Because I think when we show things like that…One person had said that wouldn’t there be such incredible sexual promiscuity and recklessness? Yes, that’s possible. So is smoking. So is partying. So is suicide. I think that a lot of times the tendency, when you see movies, is that a lot of films feel the need to give you all of the answers…really hold your hand through every moment of it. What I like about this film and the fact that it doesn’t do that is that you are left to wonder. You don’t watch it and decide after what you see that this wouldn’t be you. We’ve heard a little bit that people are thinking…that they are wondering what they would do. (smiling…she feels triumphant) Excellent.

Wassberg: Now this film is directed by Mimi Leder, the first great female action director since Katheryn Bigelow. What do you think she brought to the film because she is not a male testosterone director? What did she bring to the picture that you liked?

Leoni: I think to credit Mimi because she’s a female or to applaud her efforts as a female would be insulting to her. She is a great director. That she is female? That always does well for us…to have a sister in the field, but Mimi’s technical expertise matches with the best of the boys. I don’t think she would applaud any distinction between herself and a male director. I think it would be an insult to some of the great male directors out there to say they couldn’t pull it off because they’re not female but Mimi…as a human being…she’s very sensitive. She’s as technical as she can be. She doesn’t leave behind performance at all…or even just the fact that sometimes, when we were doing the film, some of the ends of some of the days could be very morose…especially when you’ve been speculating about the end of the world all day. Mimi was always careful to allow for that and take it into consideration to be gentle in her direction.