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Nastassja Kinski

June 2004 Interview with Tony Bray

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The cunning Lady Bolton (Kinski) would enjoy using her blade on the young Princess. That's just good acting. Don't worry.

Whenever Robert Halmi, Jr. works on a Hallmark Entertainment project -- think "The Lion in Winter," "Dinotopia," "The Lost Empire," and "The 10th Kingdom" for starters, I know that viewers will be in for plenty of action and great costumes on parade in distant places seldom visited by American tourists. Halmi and Larry Levinson teamed up to produce Hallmark's new rousing adventure tale, "La Femme Musketeer," which will debut on Hallmark Channel Sunday, June 20 at 8pm.

In preparation for my interview with Nastassja Kinski, I had the opportunity to view an early copy of "La Femme Musketeer" to see her work in the production as a dangerous woman from the streets who connives and sleeps her way to a position of power.

It is only fair to say that I approached the movie with caution because I am a fan of the "Musketeer" movies that were filmed in the seventies with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee, Richard Chamberlain and Raquel Welch in lead roles. Director Richard Lester's films on D'Artagnan's (York) successful quest to join the Musketeers provided hours of laughter with scenes of sword fights that were a wonder to behold. I would like to report that the new Hallmark Channel movie also has amazing swordplay that will keep fans of that type of action in replay mode for hours.

In the new story, York reprises his role of D'Artagnan, not as a master swordsman, but as the father of a beautiful young lady (Susie Amy in the star-making role of Valentine) who longs to be the first woman to join the elite Musketeers. Do they need the young lady and her swift sword? Most definitely. Young King Louis XIV of France (Freddie Sayers) is set to marry the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (Kristina Krepela), sight unseen, in order to unify the warring nations. He needs the Musketeers to make sure his bride-to-be gets to France for the ceremony without being harmed by Cardinal Mazarin (Gerard Depardieu) or his evil followers led by Captain Villeroi (Marcus Jean Pirae in a brilliant display of evil). The end of the war will ruin Mazarin's powerful plans for his own future.

My lengthy interview session with Kinski follows. She was a delight on the phone, a caring mother who chooses her roles these days carefully because she knows that her children will be watching most of her films.

The Nastassja Kinski Interview

I'm a big "Three Musketeers" fan. I really think that the originals with Michael York were some of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

Michael York was so young and so beautiful.

I interviewed him two weeks ago as well. He's a great actor, wonderful voice. I love to listen to him. You play, and no offense, one mean broad in this movie. Lady Bolton was dangerous.

I know and I didn't like it. In the other Musketeer movies, that character was dark but she did display some sort of regret. Faye Dunaway, who I also love, showed that there was this battle inside of her that was present because once upon a time she loved one of the Musketeers. In my mind, she would have liked to be like Valentine, the Musketeer's daughter. She would have loved to be like her, but she had no other life. It was her way of surviving. Maybe nobody had ever taken care of her.

Lady Bolton would even commit murder to keep her place.

I hated that part of her.

That's funny. Most actresses like the chance to play mean.

I saw the other day on CNN the blond actress who was in "Little House on the Prairie." She played the angry one. There was a big interview on how she was mistreated as a child and she was only able to deal with and talk about it now. As a child, her role helped her to release her anger.

Lady Bolton releases a lot of something at times. Did you get hurt during any of the filming.

I did during this film. Not badly. I fell down the stairs.

You also take a pretty good fall on cobblestone.

There were a lot of chases.

What was your best memory in making this particular movie?

Observing the story. Thinking back when I was young, that a girl can succeed. It was hard for Valentine because she had to pretend to be a boy. I can relate to that because when I was very young, I felt that I had to be like a boy more. I didn't really want to. It wasn't really me, but I did. So I acted tougher than I was. But what I liked about Valentine was she had good parents. She had a father and mother who loved her. No matter what happened to her, she always had that in her heart.

I don't know the actress who played Michael York's wife, but she was terrific. Their playing together was fun to watch. It was obvious they loved Valentine.

Yes. It just showed how strong she was and how good she was. It's a family movie and it's nice for girls to see.

Have you ever worked with Michael York before?

Yes I have.

In what?

I played his daughter and we've become quite close, Michael and his wife. They're just the sweetest people to me. They are constant students of discovering things. They support each other. It is so inspiring to be around them.

Do you mind if I ask a couple of extra questions.

Of course not.

Did you study at Lee Strasberg's school earlier in your career?

I was fifteen. He was in Los Angeles. I was a little intimidated. Everyone called themselves by their first names and I didn't know a lot of people here yet.

Lee didn't let just anybody into his sessions. You had to prove your worth to be there.

I really loved his classes.

You also learned from Roman Polanski. What makes him such a great filmmaker?

He sees things from every point of view. He's an extraordinarily hard worker. I think he's worked for a long time, in every field. He's talented, passionate and has had an incredibly hard and full life that I'm sure you know about. I can not imagine myself having some of his experiences. You either swim or drown, but some like him go on and make every moment important. I think that's what he does.

I was very comfortable with him, but I was in awe a little bit. I wanted to learn every inch there was to learn and to understand everything there was to understand. I was just taking it in. I was also young. I saw all his movies.

If something was not right, he would become Tess. I'm not kidding. He would be just like her, completely into the character, doing it the way he saw her. I could understand it better than him explaining it. I think that's probably one of the ways he deals with different actors. He was very challenging and very serious, but at the same time, very comforting and trustful. He would be very serious, but he'd be very much like a child, enthusiastic like a kid.

You also worked with another inspiring director, Mike Figgis, with Wesley Snipes in "One Night Stand." It's a shame critics spent so much time talking about your love scenes with Snipes. The movie is about the effects of a chance meeting, not flesh. What makes Figgis so insightful?

I see him as a musician. He's close to music, as all directors are. I loved his "Leaving Las Vegas," the rawness of it and just everything about it. I think people don't give directors enough credit when they really like something. He should be admired for doing something completely different.

Did you ever have a chance to work in a communist country?

I worked in Moscow in a very interesting time. Mikhail Gorbachev was president. There was no food anywhere. There was no food for anybody. You had to deal underground to get food. The stores were really empty. At the end of the movie, they opened a McDonald's. It was amazing. The line was so long you couldn't see the end of it. They probably didn't have enough food for it. It was a big event just to get food. Before that, I would have either bread or smoked fish. Some days there was something to eat and other days there was nothing but potatoes. I got a bit of a feeling through making friends there that a change was definitely on its way. I loved it there. I loved the whole culture and art and people.

You have seen more than most of us. I really appreciate your time today.

Thank you. I enjoyed it.

End of the Nastassja Kinski Interview

Hallmark Channel has set up a special Father's Day site that features more information about "La Femme Musketeer." Be sure to drop by there to view a movie clip or to enjoy additional cast interviews. Roman Polanski fans will find current information about his projects at the Roman Polanski Vision Site.