Malin Akerman's acting resumé defies pigeonholing. She's done broad comedy in The Heartbreak Kid and Couples Retreat, comic book blockbusting in Watchmen, and NYC indie quirk in happythankyoumoreplease. As real-life South African photo editor Robin Comley in The Bang Bang Club, Akerman can also add drama to her ever-growing range. TBBC is the based on the real-life story of war photojournalists Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek, and Joao Silva, who covered the atrocities in South Africa during the death throes of Apartheid. Comley is their colleague, friend, and in Marinovich's case, lover -- the thread that holds them together as they try to navigate the everyday dangers and complexity of their political and personal surroundings.
Q: Why now? It's an important story, but what's your take on the timeliness of it?
Malin Akerman: I think, had we sat here a year ago, it still would have been relevant as well. I think it's fascinating because it just shows us how humanity hasn't really changed. It continually goes through this cycle of wars -- civil wars, religious wars. It's quite incredible. This script has been in production or pre-production for such a long time, so I think it's amazing that it's coming out at this time, and even just that we're sitting here today and that yesterday Tim Hetherington and Chris [Hondros] passed away in the same sort of way that Ken Oosterbroek did. It's incredible that the relevance hasn't changed a bit… I think there's never a wrong time to tell a story like this. It just happens to be extremely relevant to this day.
Q: The movie brings up some moral questions of the responsibility of the photographer. The story of Taylor Kitsch's character, Kevin Carter, is so tragic because you can't help but draw the parallel of this guilt of what he's seen and the questions of his culpability.
They all struggle through it, and if you talk to Greg Marinovich or Joao Silva, they'll tell you that's a constant struggle within them. And it's not to say they haven't tried to help before -- they actually have, and at moments, they've realized that them trying to get involved and help somebody who's being killed by a machete by a group of 20 people, they're actually putting their lives at risk by trying to intervene, so the best they can do at that moment is take a picture. But they go home at the end of the day and they are tortured for it… I don't have the stomach for that, to be able to take pictures, but again, thanks to them, we get to see it. So it is very controversial and it's debatable.
My personal opinion is, that's their job; they're there to take the pictures, and of course, there are moments where they do intervene and that famous picture of the vulture and the little girl, we find out there's actually a Red Cross just a few feet away, so it just happened to be an amazing, beautiful shot that he didn't need to intervene, but it's a controversial issue. People have different opinions about it.
What's the status of your upcoming Linda Lovelace project? And why do you think people, especially the actresses that are interested, are so interested in her story?
Last I heard we're supposed to start [shooting] June 15th. That's the last [I've heard]. But we've had a lot of dates along the way. [laughs] That's the thing with independent films; it's hard to find financing, but I think we're a go. We'll see.
For an actress, it's amazing to be able to play [a real person] -- I've definitely enjoyed playing Robin Comley who's based on a true story. It's so amazing. You have so much stuff that you can research. You have so much fodder. It's great. Linda Lovelace is a really interesting woman -- or Linda Boreman -- she's supremely complex and really, the story that we're telling is of a battered woman, an abused woman. It's not about the porn industry or anything like that; that's sort of the background of it all, but how did she get into that and what kind of a woman was she? She had a husband who brutally beat her on a regular basis, and… for me it's an investigation of why do battered women stay with their men? We all have that question, like, "Why don't you just leave?" You have opportunities to walk out that door, so what is it emotionally that keeps her there? Which I find very fascinating. You know, I studied to become a psychologist [in college], and so something like this is a really great psychological journey for me to study and sink my teeth in.
It also takes place over four or five years, and she goes from being this abused woman forced into prostitution and porn and then she comes out and becomes an anti-porn advocate but then at the end of her life, she actually poses for Playboy again… So for me, it's just a personal fascination with her. It could have been just a story based on a battered woman and I would have been just as interested, but of course, it's more interesting because people know who she was and to hear the story behind the scenes is really fascinating. You might look at Deep Throat a little different after this. [laughs]
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