Basinger goes back to basics
L.A. Confidential a career rebirth
By BOB THOMPSON
Kim Basinger's acting rebirth has not been greatly exaggerated. Most say proof is in L.A. Confidential, which is a gala tomorrow and one of the film festival's most talked-about movies.
That's saying something, since there are more than 230 featured entertainments at the 22nd edition starting today and ending Sept. 13.
In the Curtis Hanson movie based on James Ellroy's street-wise crime novel, Basinger plays a hooker involved with L.A. cops investigating a mass murder, circa the 1950s.
Tough stuff for Basinger to re-introduce herself after taking a three-year break from acting to have, and to care for, a baby, Ireland Elliesse, now 22 months old.
"This was a gamble," confirms Basinger by phone from L.A. last week as she was preparing to make the trek to Toronto this weekend. Joining her will be her daughter and her husband, Alec Baldwin, who is featured in another festival movie, The Edge.
They'll all be celebrating mom's celebrated return to the movie industry, because besides taking a "gamble" with the L.A. Confidential role, Basinger admits that sometimes she makes mistakes.
"I'm the worst at choosing what's going to be successful, and what's not," says the former model from Georgia.
"I've turned down things that I thought, 'Are you kidding, that won't make a dime.'
"For instance, Sleepless In Seattle. I said, 'This is embarrasssing.' That's how bad I am."
Previous to L.A. Confidential, Basinger received acclaim and some fame for roles in No Mercy, Nadine, 9 1/2 Weeks, Batman and The Getaway.
She's also had some courtroom infamy associated with her alleged Boxing Helena movie role no-show and her purchase of a town that eventually went bankrupt. Her husband was acquitted of battery charges after an incident with a photographer as they returned to their L.A. home with their just-born child.
To say that Baldwin and Basinger are media shy is an understatement.
"It is painful," she says of the media's glare. "We love one thing. We love between 'action' and 'cut.' All the other things just come with it.
"Yeah, we get raked over the coals some days. I think you have to have your feet on the ground and a sense of humor. You look at it like, 'What more can they say?' and laugh."
Besides, Basinger gets a reality kick every day from her girl "who makes me a nervous wreck and a little neurotic."
From one day to the next, her daughter reminds her of priorities.
"You just don't have time for your own b.s. anymore," says Basinger.
"I look in the mirror, and I have to say, 'You know something, you are not important.' "