Famke Janssen

Red carpets, Centerpiece screenings, gala events, filmmaker panels…this can only mean one thing, the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) is in full swing. One week down, and I have thoroughly enjoyed festing the days and nights away. One of the many highlights this past week was the Talk Back panel discussion on Actors as Directors that was held at the Nasher Sculpture Center. One of the panelists was actress Famke Janssen. You will surely remember her from her roles in X-Men, Golden Eye (yes the 6-foot-tall stunner was a Bond girl) and the hit FX show Nip Tuck. She has turned her attention to directing, and her directorial debut, Bringing Up Bobby, which she also wrote, screened this week at DIFF – the film stars Milla Jovovich, Bill Pullman, Rory Cochran, Marcia Cross and Spencer List.

What made you decide to step behind the camera and take on the role of director?
I’m a total film geek. I grew up in Holland, and my total perception of America was based on films. So, when I moved to New York, it turned out that Al Pacino did not walk around New York City with a gun all the time. Secondly, I find as an actor, you spend very little time acting. It’s always auditioning or trying to get a part; so much of it is in the hands of someone else. The amazing part about this journey I just went through is I had to be the driving force behind all of it. My boyfriend and I came up with the idea together, and then I ended up writing the screenplay. It just became this thing that’s all in your hands. And you live it day and night. It’s that being in charge of something and working really hard to get it that to me is the reason to do it over and over again.

What was your biggest learning curve during the process?
When I started the process and finally got to production, I asked all of my filmmaker friends what to expect, and my experience was totally different from everything they said. You just can’t prepare yourself for the experience. If you really knew how challenging and daunting it was going to be, you probably never would have started it.

And you spent the past several years working on this. Did you expect it to take as long as it did, and were you ever afraid of how the time away from acting would affect that part of your career?
I was really naïve. I thought every single time we had an actor or some money that meant we were actually going to start shooting, but of course you learn really quickly that it is truly called guerilla filmmaking for a reason, and you’re really in it for the long run because every time money comes in, it just as quickly disappears. Actors come and go as they please it seems, or they get pregnant or whatever natural disasters come their way. So, three years in, I realized this was not going to happen as quickly as I had thought; so, it was about five years to the completion of the film. It was a long journey and not knowing coming back to acting, after leaving the business at a crucial age, I was afraid that when I came back people would be like, “Oh, didn’t she retire?” It was a very scary endeavor all together, but then luckily enough. I just got two big jobs back to back as an actor.

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